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Thread: What are you reading?

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2004

    What are you reading?

    We got a movie and game version, so why not book?

    I got prompted to start this thread after my morning as I felt compelled to skip my usual breakfast to bike to nearby cafe, have a moffin and sip on a coffee while reading 75 pages of Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind. I don't think I can deny I am hooked. Interesting opening, a bit of a lull after (the whole "traveling troupe" was zzz, but I did enjoy his explanation of magic), and things picking up after Kote's troupe dies (YAY!) and he spends 3 years surviving in the city.

    That's how far in I am now, only ~200 pages; while it does feel a little cliche ("growing in a traveling band", "parents killed", "lonely kids learns to steal and beg on streets etc.[/b]), it's still keeping me engaged, and I am finding his descriptions of the world/setting more engaging than I normally have patience for (I lauded The Witcher books exactly because of how succinct the descriptions were). Also likes the little allegory of new Testament and Jesus.

    At the same time I am some 50 pages into Jetter's Infernal Devices which hasn't quite grabbed me as much as the other one, but I like that it is more action rather than description based. The mystery of the coin continues...

    So, what are you reading?

  2. #2
    Cuddly little misanthropic hate machine
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Location: someplace better than this
    We already have a thread.

    No harm in a reboot, though -- that one's gotten pretty dusty.

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2006
    Location: Washington DC
    I just finished reading a compilation of HP Lovecraft. I found it very interesting to read the stories that the Cthulhu mythos is based on, but also all the other fiction completely or at least somewhat unrelated to the Cthulhu theme or inbred New Englanders. I think The Colour Out of Space or Dunwich Horror are every bit as memorable, and could make for some good films (apparently there was a Dunwich Horror movie, apparently it was bad). I'm especially interested in the new movie based on At The Mountains of Madness, that has some real promise.

  4. #4
    Cuddly little misanthropic hate machine
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Location: someplace better than this
    The Colour Out of Space is perhaps my favourite Lovecraft story, though Dunwich is a classic as well.

    Lovecraft has fallen out of favor, with me, though, over the years -- the dude was a xenophobic shut-in with social views that were outdated even for the time. I still love some of his stories but his early ones -- some of which are otherwise his very best -- are rife with racist sentiment.

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2006
    Location: Washington DC
    Yeah, I didn't read Lovecraft for deep psychoanalysis or colorful characters. Most of his protagonists are projections of himself, his other characters (especially women) are flat cliches or even caricatures, his prose is pretty formulaic and predictable as far as horror writing goes, and like you said there's a lot of uncomfortable elements. What the guy had in spades, though, was imagination, and that's why I think it's great movie fodder, because the things that make his writing memorable nowadays would translate pretty readily to film. Doubly so now that CGI is about at the level to do justice to his monsters, which is why I am very excited for the Mountains of Madness film I mentioned.

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2006
    Location: Hamilton, New Zealand
    That At the Mountains of Madness film has been shelved. Del Toro is still keen to do it of course, but getting buy-in from the money men is difficult.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2006
    Location: Washington DC
    Well, fuck.

    Don't mean to derail the thread topic, but that's pretty disappointing. I'd think that a reasonably-popular IP like Lovecraft combined with Del Toro wouldn't have a problem securing funding.

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2006
    Location: Hamilton, New Zealand
    The producers and such were extremely keen on the pitch but not for the amount he wanted/needed. $200 million for what would essentially be, the current market place, an art/horror film isn't really going to happen. Maybe if del Toro's next few films make big bucks then he'll get the greenlight for this obvious passion project (much like Nolan got for Inception).

    In the interest on keeping the thread on track:
    Just finished the Denis Johnson short story collection Jesus' Son, a loosely connected series of tales concerning a heroin junkie only ever referred to as 'Fuckhead'. Less concerned with wallowing in the gory details of drug dependency as they are about chronicling some strange and aimless encounters in the margins of society, they've mostly got a slightly rambling and chaotic structure which, of course, fits with Fuckhead's occasionally tenuous grasp on just what the fuck is going on. They're not really concerned with conventional story beats but it's not so avant-garde that it's hard to get into. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad and almost always interesting, it's been my first exposure to Johnson's work and I rather liked it.

    Currently, tossing up whether to start Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem or finally dive into Gaddis' JR. The latter is 700+ page satire of capitalism, consisting of mostly unattributed dialogue with no chapter breaks. I really liked the party scenes that were written this way in The Recognitions, and the way characters would 'emerge' from the flow, and Gaddis also writes really fucking good dialogue but the no breaks for 700 pages might be a killer. If only there was something like a 'chapter break' mod. Seeing how crazy shit is around my place at the moment, I'll probably get into Fortress of Solitude then.
    Last edited by Angel Dust; 8th Oct 2012 at 00:22.

  9. #9
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    Right now I'm reading Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children.

  10. #10
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Quote Originally Posted by demagogue View Post
    Right now I'm reading Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children.
    Midnight's Children and The Satanic Verses are the two Rushdie novels that I enjoy pretty much unconditionally (even after spending ~3 years of working on Rushdie's novels). None of his later works have recaptured the wit, intelligence and compassion of those.

    I've just started reading Iain Sinclair's Lights Out For The Territory, a sort of hyper-acute psycho-geographic travelogue of London (no, I'm not entirely sure myself what that means). So far it's a fascinating if extremely dense read; however, I'm not sure it'll keep my interest for 300+ pages if the rest of the book is like the first 40-50 pages.

  11. #11
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    I haven't read a book in ages, just listen to audiobooks these days. The Song of Ice and Fire series most recently. On A Dance with Dragons now, it's not as gripping as the early books, but I'm gonna finish it anyway. Got Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash queued up next.

    Quote Originally Posted by Angel Dust View Post
    Just finished the Denis Johnson short story collection Jesus' Son...
    Ooooh, that sounds pretty interesting actually. Will have to check that one out.

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2006
    Location: Hamilton, New Zealand
    Quote Originally Posted by demagogue View Post
    Right now I'm reading Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children.
    I had a complicated reaction to that book. For the first 100 or so pages I was convinced it was one of the greatest books I had ever written but as it dragged it that feeling moved to boredom to outright dislike, culminating with my pretty much throwing the book down in disgust at the end. However, I do realize that one man's overworked, self-satisfied waffle is another man's treasure* and there was enough that I still grudgingly admired, Rushdie can certainly write, that I've been meaning to give him another shot. I'll put The Satanic Verses into the reading pile then, unless you guys have a better recommendation?

    * I'm a guy who when he found out the original draft of Infinite Jest was 400 pages longer was disappointed he didn't get that version. Hey look, a footnote!

  13. #13
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Quote Originally Posted by Angel Dust View Post
    I had a complicated reaction to that book. For the first 100 or so pages I was convinced it was one of the greatest books I had ever written but as it dragged it that feeling moved to boredom to outright dislike, culminating with my pretty much throwing the book down in disgust at the end. However, I do realize that one man's overworked, self-satisfied waffle is another man's treasure* and there was enough that I still grudgingly admired, Rushdie can certainly write, that I've been meaning to give him another shot. I'll put The Satanic Verses into the reading pile then, unless you guys have a better recommendation?

    * I'm a guy who when he found out the original draft of Infinite Jest was 400 pages longer was disappointed he didn't get that version. Hey look, a footnote!
    Heh. I wasn't a huge fan of Infinite Jest - it's definitely an amazing accomplishment, but I found the style grating, and I skipped most of the endnotes.

    If you ended up disliking Midnight's Children, you may feel the same way about The Satanic Verses, since Rushdie does many of the same things in it. I would definitely not recommend the later novels, because they largely feel like Rushdie's imitating himself and not all that well at that. The Enchantress of Florence isn't bad, but that's mainly in comparison with the novels that preceded it. Grimus (which he wrote before Midnight's Children) feels pretty different, but I felt there was very little to like about that book; Shame (Rushdie's "Pakistan novel", so to speak) is also somewhat different in terms of its tone, and shorter; more satirical and less given to bouts of fabulation than Midnight's Children.

  14. #14
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    Muslims are apparently universally despised around where I am, so I'm kind of reading it as a spiritual protest (I'm keeping to myself). Not that Rushdie is their most sympathetic proponent either, but I at least wanted to read another perspective for them in the region, and from the inside. Also to counter the idea the whole lot is somehow irredeemable. And the fact it opens in a peaceful Kashmir with a seemingly reasonable narrator gives me a little hope... I don't know where it's going with it though. I know the way history went.

    Also I'm trying to write my own stuff, and I wanted to take notes from other authors that might be roughly in the same style ... Writing about the real world but still this slightly surreal, otherworldly bent to things. I'm kind of fantasy-fatigued these days and want to find more about real places and situations I don't know much about, and the best parts of the real world can have a surreal quality too.

    Edit: It's fine so far. I like a lot of the imagery he uses, and how he constructs scenes and threads. He's not really hooked me with anything compelling so far; it's a bit far from my ken. But again I'm reading it a bit mechanically, to take notes, paying as much attention to how situations are constructed and what works as much as whether I "like" it.

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    What I still find amazing about The Satanic Verses is that it's actually remarkably sympathetic to religion/Islam; it's by no means an attack on Islam so much as on fundamentalism and on religion being used as a weapon against others. Rushdie completely lost this differentiation after the fatwa - which is understandable, but IMO it makes his writing sound a lot more like boring harangues.

  16. #16
    Still Subjective
    Registered: Dec 1999
    Location: Idiocy will never die
    Flashman's Lady.

    I'm just going through these. They are such a fun read, exciting and funny and with a lot of history in them. It's genius really.

  17. #17
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Yeah, so I picked up Infinite Jest, and read the first two pages... which describe a conversation between a bunch of deans, a coach, and the protagonist's uncle about his acceptance into the University's tennis academy. Right. So I closed the book and moved on to A Song of... A Game of Thrones: Book I. I can tell you one thing, while G.R.R. Martin has a great vision for high fantasy and sharply drawn characters, the actual writing is so prosaic and workmanlike it's almost well-nigh textureless, like munching on soggy week-old oatmeal. Makes it a bloody slog to read, when the series was paced like a ripping good yarn.

    Infinite Jest is supposed to be a challenging book; okay, so I'm down with that, but someone please tell me that's not because there's so much incidental shit shoved in the crevices of its conversations like the position of the protagonist's ankle and whether he should scratch his jaw or not, but because that shit eventually peels away to what amounts to be a good read.

    Next up: Sunstorm, the sequel to Time's Eye, from the late Arthur C. Clarke and some other English dude who wrote some books that are apparently 'hard' sci-fi. Well well, we'll see.

  18. #18
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2007
    Location: Sevastapol Station
    I recently finished "The Eyre Affair" by Jasper Fjorde. It is a very nerdy book. Kind of an Alt-universe if there was such a thing as time travel and people from the future changed things in the past to make things better. And modern day life is centered around classic literature. The main character (A Heroine named Thursday Next) is part of the police force that protects crimes against literature. My synopsis sucks, but it was a very good read, part Sci Fi and part Cop Drama. Werewolves, vampires, Charles Dickens. Apparently there is more than one book, so I might finish the rest.

    Also had to read Silence of the Lambs for a class. Turns out if you saw the movie you really didn't miss much from the book, and I don't normally think thats the case. Lecter is definitely the focus of the series, even if he isn't the big bad guy in this one. Without him there would be no story.

  19. #19
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2006
    Location: Hamilton, New Zealand
    Quote Originally Posted by Sulphur View Post
    Infinite Jest is supposed to be a challenging book; okay, so I'm down with that, but someone please tell me that's not because there's so much incidental shit shoved in the crevices of its conversations like the position of the protagonist's ankle and whether he should scratch his jaw or not, but because that shit eventually peels away to what amounts to be a good read.
    I would say some of the challenge comes from the length, the amount of characters and stories and the stylistic flourishes as much as for the everything-but-the-kitcken-sink-oh-fuck-it-throw-it-in-there-as-well approach. Having said all that I actually found Infinite Jest to be the least challenging 'challenging read' that I've ever read, simply because it also has the good grace to be highly entertaining and emotionally engaging at the same time as it is giving your brain a workout. There is always something interesting going on (even that opening scene you describe is not as straightforward as you think it is - keep reading.) and it all builds up to some rather powerful moments. That said, it is dense with detail and frequent digressions, so if DFW's 'maximalist' style isn't your thing, you might have a hard time. I'd say it's worth sticking around until Gately shows up anyway.
    Last edited by Angel Dust; 8th Oct 2012 at 22:29.

  20. #20
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    I very much liked the Gately bits, though in comparison I cared even less about the rest, especially the goings-ons at the tennis academy. There were some interesting parts there too (e.g. that thermonuclear war game they play), but little of it engaged me all that much. For whatever reason I've yet to find much American postmodern fiction that I fully enjoy. (And if I was more awake and hadn't just woken up, I'd probably come up with half a dozen titles of US postmodern fiction that I enjoyed. Perhaps after a full night of sleep...)

  21. #21
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    What it's lacking is that kind of relentless drive you get in some romantic or vanilla modernist lit, where every bit adds to the momentum of the whole theme... Otherwise you're getting swept left and right by ever more fluff going nowhere fast. The only catch is that the contemporary world doesn't work like that as much anymore. I mean people don't have all these social expectations & taboos to play with like they once did, so it doesn't matter as much what people do or say, if nobody cares all that much.

    I was thinking what kind of style I like the most, and looking back at books I've read, I'm going to say Alduous Huxley... with Brave New World actually not being the strongest example. But something like The Island or Chrome Yellow, he just has a playful but compelling style, and it's always entertaining to read how he constructs the scenes, the writing style in itself; and his books still have a point. If I wanted to write a book, I think that's a style I'd want to emulate.

  22. #22
    Moderator
    Registered: Feb 2001
    Currently Reading George Martin's Clash of Kings. Started with Game of Thrones back in June; I really need to find more time to read. And no, I haven't seen the TV Series.

    As an aside, reading on my Kindle Touch which I'm really very pleased with, e-ink screens really are easy on the eye.

  23. #23
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2002
    Location: Cologne
    Currently reading F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night and struggling a bit with it. Although Fitzgerald's short stories were just the work for pay he did to entertain his luxurious wife and lifestyle, I generally like them a lot better. They seem more focussed, pinning their subject and using the craftmanship to do so, whereas in his novels the craft sometimes overtakes getting on with the story. Oh well, I'll have some time on the weekend and probably that's all it needs to get into it.

  24. #24
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    I should really read Fitzgerald at some point. I haven't even read The Great Gatsby. In spite of years of studying English and American Literature, followed by years of teaching it, I have a couple of odd, embarrassing gaps in my reading, and TGG is one of them.

  25. #25
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2002
    Location: Cologne
    Given my own experience I'd suggest to start with his short jazz age tales, particularly Babylon revisited.

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