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Posts posted by Thyroid

  1. It's kind of cute (and I do mean that in the most non-patronizing, sincere way possible) how Jake always says useful things, but peppers it with self-doubt. That is solid advice, man. No need to say it's dumb.

    Rad drawings in this thread. I'll contribute something when I've finished moving house.


    It will not be rad.

  2. I've read a few Mahfouz novels, and I'm not really sure I understand your point. Are you saying non-Western literature doesn't deal with every day life -- because the Mahfouz books I read definitely did -- or are you trying to say something about the use of language?

    I'm saying that the language itself informed the literature; because Arabic is so majestic but blunt, the stories were the same way. There's no room for the mundane. Arabic is about hammering words in; English is carefully chiseling them out.


    Ask a person which band is their favourite, and they'll answer "Van fucking Halen". They need to emphasize with the fucking. Well, in Arabic, you don't need to do that.


    The stories, in other words, were a reflection of the language itself.


    As for Mahfouz: 20th century literature was different. Novelists finally adapted modern Arabic, which is far less grandiose, and the stories themselves were a bit of a push-back against the fantastical realm that the work had been set in - hence why Ahmed Shawqi and Naguib Mahfouz's books are more familiar to modern readers than the weird, philosophical, fantastical ones that preceded them.


    This is mostly my theory, I should hasten to add, but it's one I find makes a lot of sense.


    Either way, Arabic literature has traditionally been the polar opposite of English/American in this regard, and therefore so has the criticism.

  3. I'm amused by how much criticism on this board is rooted in traditional Western criticism without questioning several assumptions, such as the three-act structure. Western literature is all about exploring the state of the family in post-millennial America. It is subtle. The stuff most people admire is rooted in everyday existence.

    The world greatly varies on how literature is viewed, and reading a book by a Pakistani novelist or a classical Arab poet - say Al Mutanabbi - with certain assumptions is an exercise in frustration.

    Take Arabic. It's a grandiose language, but allows for a lot of curve; the letters are quite blunt, but the way they are distributed allows for incessant flow. This results in the language being musical and magnificent, but completely blocks it from any sort of subtlety. This also meant that most great Arabic literature was capital R Romantic or at least partially of the fantasy genre.

    If authors like Naguib Mahfouz write more commonly-accepted "literary" novels, it's because they switched from classical to modern, guttural Arabic, which allows for a bit more subtlety, especially in the dialogue.

    So approaching international literature can be tricky business if you do it with your set of assumptions unquestioned.

    I'd actually be interested in seeing the Thumbs Cast tackle something like that. Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima and (I'm struggling to think of something suitable minus context, so let's go with 20th century literature) The Thief and the Dogs by Naguib Mahfouz come to mind.

  4. You have not seen bad film until you have seen Samurai Cop.


    I saw it on YouTube after an all-nighter once and was out of breath from laughing fifteen minutes in.


    It's better than The Room.




    This is how they caught the guy in the previous clip. 


    And this is just more, because why not:

  5. Everything I've read in the last three months, I've quit. Nothing is holding my attention and I fall asleep on the third paragraph. Chalk it up to actual, thorough exhaustion.


    The books are: Catch-22 (Joseph Heller), Candide (Voltaire. It's 110 pages, and still a struggle), A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (James Joyce), Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf), The Inheritors (William Golding), The Dragonbone Chair (Tad Williams), and The Colour of Magic (Terry Pratchett). There's a few more, actually, but these are the more recent failures.


    Maybe I'll snap out of this state soon and read something.


    By the time I was getting into A Dance with Dragons, my patience with the A Song of Ice and Fire series was hanging by a thread. I labored through half the book before tossing it across the room and reading a wiki. 


    I don't regret it one bit. There's only so many preposterously detailed descriptions of tunics that I can take. 

    I'd say pick it up again once The Winds of Winter hits. I suspect it'll be worth it.

  6. I gave-up on Catch-22 three chapters in. The first chapter is funny, and with a point. The second chapter reads like an experimental draft in dire need of editing. The third chapter continued this trend, and I realized I'm too tired these days to put in the required mental effort to figure-out why there's a dead man in blah's tent. I'm setting it aside for now.

  7. Anyone get serious Tony Soprano vibes off the first character?

    Anyway, I've been waiting for them to revolutionize the GTA formula for years. Very exciting.

  8. The Winds of Winter is coming-out in 2014, if we - and recently GRRM - are being optimistic.


    I'm not stirring that craving until we're a day away, although I just felt the itch.



    This thread reminds me how much I've fallen out of sync with the literary world recently.


    When I moved to Boston I, for various reasons, got incredibly into literature. I read a ton of books and listened to a bunch of book podcasts and always new what new literary fiction was coming out or on the verge of coming out, and what everyone in that world thought about it. But since moving back to San Francisco, I've been reading less and and much less up to date on that whole scene. It's actually a real bummer. I'm finding it hard to recreate those specific conditions that led to those tendencies on my part.

    Don't feel too bad. There are so many great books out there - classic, new, contemporary, genre, literary - that keeping-up with all the new releases is an exercise in fruitlessness. If you spent the rest of your life reading only great contemporary novels, you'd hardly put a dent in. This is why this thread was created: to throw the spotlight on stuff and see if we can shine some gold.

  9. Yeah, I'm pretty excited for The Winds of Winter myself. And The Doors of StoneThe Wise Man's Fear was, despite its flaws, very satisfying in the sense that it hit the notes I wanted it to: the overall tragedy's seeds are watered, but meantime it's rollicking fun. But, I don't think we're getting a resolution on at least a couple of plots, which Rothfuss probably wants to do in an another trilogy. I wish he wouldn't, but he's the one telling a story, not me.


    This might not be the most interesting kind of answer or something that's even entirely relevant to this topic buuuuuutttttt I've just realised after reading your post that I have no idea what books I'm excited for. Actually, it goes further than that. I couldn't name one single book that's coming out soon, never mind one I'm interested in. This might sound a bit stupid but where exactly do you find this sort of thing out? 

    I check websites like The Millions and Full Stop! I don't usually know what's coming-up either, mind you, which is why I thought this thread would be useful.

  10.  said it on Twitter, but I'll rephrase it for here: to have people who have never met you mourn your loss is an incredible thing. Bravo to Ryan Davis for having that be the memory he has left, and what a goddamn tragedy it is for his new family and his old friends.

    That's very true. Even I felt upset, though I've barely read GiantBomb in recent years.


    Farewell, Mr. Davis.

  11. What's an upcoming book you're excited for, and why?

    Bleeding Edge, by Thomas Pynchon. I like Pynchon plenty, though he can come off as pretentious (or maybe I don't get his genius, whatever). Anyway, this looks like a potentially brilliant mess. A detective/person running a fraud investigation business looks into the finances of a billionaire CEO, and things go from good to bad.


    "She soon finds herself mixed up with a drug runner in an art deco motorboat, a professional nose obsessed with Hitler’s aftershave, a neoliberal enforcer with footwear issues, plus elements of the Russian mob and various bloggers, hackers, code monkeys, and entrepreneurs, some of whom begin to show up mysteriously dead. Foul play, of course."


    I'm unsure about the bit with the hackers and code monkeys, but otherwise it looks okay.


    - Night Film, by Marisha Pessl. Because it's apparently a genre-"melding", morphing, sprawling tome of a story. 


    His Wife Leaves Him, by Stephen Dixon. Supposedly a about "a bunch of nouns" (love, guilt, sickness, loss, etc). I'm mostly interested in it because it's about a "jilted man" and it's 600 pages long. Makes you wonder how he got that much out of a simple idea. More seriously, though, it's supposedly rather ambitious.


    The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton. Because she wrote The Rehearsal and that was excellent.

  12. My decision was/is based on personal issues that are rooted in that sort of thing.


    Although in this case I meant leaving the country, haha. :)