ThunderPeel2001

Books, books, books...

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On 21/02/2018 at 2:09 PM, dartmonkey said:

Hi everyone. I'm halfway through listening to On The Road and I'm on the cusp of throwing the towel in. I started reading it years and years ago but couldn't get very far with it, so I thought the audiobook would be a good way to tick it off the list. But i've spent 5 hours feeling nothing but creeping boredom. The period is relatively interesting, and I get that, in context, it must've been quite something. But I just can't seem to find a way into it. I'm guessing that there's nothing in the second half that'll grab me if the first half hasn't. Has anybody here read it and, if so, what did you take from it?

 

I remember thinking Dharma Bums a much better book, though it's been a very long time since I read that and On The Road. Desolation Angels had its moments, too.

 

I've always found Kerouac very difficult to go back to. His stuff can be patchy in the extreme, and there's a lot that could be said, and has been said, about quality vs quantity in his work. He was probably an important writer for his time but for me his thing just isn't quite interesting enough compared to some of the other more considered writers of mid-century American fiction. Truman Capote was being a bit mean when he said 'it's not writing, it's typing', but...

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Finished Ninefox Gambit. It's an intriguing setup that doesn't pay off. I liked the idea of mind games between the two protagonists (Cheris and Jedao), it wasn't explored as much as I hoped later on. In fact, the whole back half of the book feels weak - from the point where the battle is won, there isn't really anything to drive the plot forward, and all sense of urgency is lost.

Spoiler

The Kel attack, but must know that Cheris survived, so where's the follow-up? Then the enemy agent comes over, and that feels especially contrived as a means of getting Cheris a way out. It doesn't make sense from the point of view of said agent's motivation. The only other threat on the table, the Hafn fleet, never arrives.

Perhaps you have to read the sequel, but on the strength of the first installment, that's a "no" from me.

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I read The Poisoner's Handbook. I liked it a lot! It's a very readable but still very detailed account of the early days of toxicology in New York, and how much of the era was reflected in the way people died.

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I took some time off from wasting time on the internet which gave me time to read:

 

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. I had put it off because I really enjoyed Cloud Atlas and wasn't sure if Mitchell could follow it up. I the fantasy elements are sometimes a bit weak but overall I enjoyed it.

 

I have been working my way through John le Carré's novels. I read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy a few years ago but rounded out the rest of the Karla trilogy last year. The most recent one I finished was The Little Drummer Girl which was a very slow burn but very, very good. It's about Palestine and Israel so it still feels very current.

 

The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir. A foundational text in 20th century feminism, famous for the line "One is not born, but rather becomes, woman." If I remember the feminist theory I read during college this has been taken to mean that de Beauvoir was separating sex and gender in 1949. That wasn't quite the impression I got from that line in context, but it's a big book.

 

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado. Possibly the best short story collection I have ever read. I can only describe it feminist magical realism, but it is much more than that. Highlights include "The Husband Stitch" (which you can read here) and "Especially Heinous," which is the summary of 272 fictional episodes of Law & Order SVU.

 

Sappho translated by Mary Barnard. Gorgeous fragments of a 2500 year old Greek poet. Also recommended: sapphobot on twitter.

 

There are probably other books since the last time I posted in here but I can't remember.

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On 4/8/2018 at 8:47 PM, Atlantic said:

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado. Possibly the best short story collection I have ever read. I can only describe it feminist magical realism, but it is much more than that. Highlights include "The Husband Stitch" (which you can read here) and "Especially Heinous," which is the summary of 272 fictional episodes of Law & Order SVU.

 

 

You can also read Especially Heinous here

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I've recently finished I Am Legend which I got through pretty quickly. I was surprised to see that it got so much flak when it was first released, but I think it's worth a read if you like dystopian stuff. I also connected to it pretty strongly as my girlfriend and I just moved to Vietnam and we were feeling pretty lonely considering the whole "we've got no friends and don't know anyone here" thing. 

 

I also read The Wasp Factory which I liked it a lot. It's creepy, unsettling, quite funny and has a good pace to it. I think I would've loved it if I had read it in my teens as. Anyone else read 'em? 

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The Wasp Factory is excellent indeed, Iain Banks is a treasure that we lost way too early.

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It's interesting how little Snow Crash feels like a parody now that the zeerust is setting in, the internet and the culture that Stephenson was drawing from has begun to influence real-world culture, and we've got a better idea of Neal Stephenson's sensibilities re: momentum-killing infodumps, wild mood swings, creepy sex shit and abrupt endings.

 

Of course, it also exposed the fault-lines in cyberpunk as a genre, to the point where people can say 'clockpunk' with a straight face. If the rest of the world's collapsed, but the hackers are doing okay, can you really say they're the punks?

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