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Community => The Rumpus Room => Topic started by: KyriakosCH on 06 Apr 2020, 21:41

Title: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 06 Apr 2020, 21:41
If there already is such a thread, please unite this with it :)

As for myself, I am reading Ubik, by P.K. Dick.

I am generally focused on niche writing (symbolism/allegory), and rarely go over the ww2 mark... But K. Dick is somewhat of a variation of Borges, albeit in different scope (and very different personality), so I have read a few of his works.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: Sinitrena on 06 Apr 2020, 22:11
In Germany, we have a publisher that specialises in very cheap, low quality (thin paper, no proper cover, small, doesn't survive reading more than two times) editions of classic (mostly german) literature, usually used in schools because they are so cheap. When my mother stopped teaching, I "inherited" a whole collection of them and for half a year now I've been reading one after the other. Currently, I'm reading Immensee by Theodor Storm.

In general, I prefer fantasy, light reading to distrect myself from the world.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 06 Apr 2020, 23:23
In Germany, we have a publisher that specialises in very cheap, low quality (thin paper, no proper cover, small, doesn't survive reading more than two times) editions of classic (mostly german) literature, usually used in schools because they are so cheap. When my mother stopped teaching, I "inherited" a whole collection of them and for half a year now I've been reading one after the other. Currently, I'm reading Immensee by Theodor Storm.

In general, I prefer fantasy, light reading to distrect myself from the world.



 :-D
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: milkanannan on 07 Apr 2020, 20:24
Oh wow I haven't heard Erlkonig in a very long time. Every time I hear it I can't help but hope it ends differently. :~(

I posted this to another group, but I'm reading one of the Discworld entries.

(Cool idea for a thread, KyriakosCH. ;))
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 07 Apr 2020, 21:20
Thanks :)

Of what I have read from Goethe, it is my favorite. But I can't read him from the german text, so I have to suppose it was why I didn't like Faust (part 1) much, other that some scenes.

I now read Ubik. It is interesting, but I can't say I liked it that much. Same deal with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.

Maybe because, unlike with Borges, there isn't any center of the labyrinth.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: Blondbraid on 07 Apr 2020, 21:37
I haven't found it in traditional printed form, but I've read most of the short stories that make up The King in Yellow via Wikisource (https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_King_in_Yellow), and hope to get around to read the last of them during Easter.

Quite atmospheric, and they have stood the test of time well. Anyone fond of the works of Edgar Allan Poe should read them.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: Crimson Wizard on 08 Apr 2020, 01:55
I haven't found it in traditional printed form, but I've read most of the short stories that make up The King in Yellow via Wikisource (https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_King_in_Yellow), and hope to get around to read the last of them during Easter.

Quite atmospheric, and they have stood the test of time well. Anyone fond of the works of Edgar Allan Poe should read them.

Thank you for reminding, I was planning to read this at some point, so why not now :).

Coincidentaly I only learnt about this book recently (or maybe remembered again after a long time, it's hard to tell), after listening to this piece on youtube (although it's a Lovecraft-inspired rather than based on original):
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 08 Apr 2020, 01:58
^I have read a couple of the King in Yellow stories. Including the main one (with the casket carrying car and the watchman of the graveyard).
I read those years ago and I recall that while the central idea (the book, the yellow sign etc) was cool, the actual story was imo rather underwhelming.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: Blondbraid on 08 Apr 2020, 09:42
^I have read a couple of the King in Yellow stories. Including the main one (with the casket carrying car and the watchman of the graveyard).
I read those years ago and I recall that while the central idea (the book, the yellow sign etc) was cool, the actual story was imo rather underwhelming.
Yeah, while I can see the influence and similarities to Lovecraft's writing, I'd say the stories I've read so far feels more like poetic dramas
with supernatural elements to them rather than the cosmic horror the titular King in Yellow have been associated with in pop culture,
which would certainly be disappointing for a reader hoping for Lovecraftian horror.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: Laura Hunt on 08 Apr 2020, 10:04
My favourite part of The King in Yellow is the collection of short prose "poems"/fragments titled The Prophets' Paradise. They are so creepy and evocative that the actual stories pale (hehe) in comparison. Actually, there is a small reference/homage to this section in If On A Winter's Night, Four Travelers: https://twitter.com/deadidlegames/status/1204425833026347010 ;)

Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: Blondbraid on 08 Apr 2020, 14:37
My favourite part of The King in Yellow is the collection of short prose "poems"/fragments titled The Prophets' Paradise. They are so creepy and evocative that the actual stories pale (hehe) in comparison. Actually, there is a small reference/homage to this section in If On A Winter's Night, Four Travelers: https://twitter.com/deadidlegames/status/1204425833026347010 ;)


Indeed, and it's all the more impressive that most of the poems manage to do so while being very symmetrical in structure and repeating the same phrases in a way that really makes you ponder the meaning of the very words.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: Mandle on 08 Apr 2020, 15:09
Just finished re-reading (for the fifth time) "Boy's Life" by Robert R. McCammon, who is better known for deliberate (and fun) sci-fi schlock like "Stinger" and "Swan Song".

"Boy's Life" (nothing to do with the Robert DeNiro movie "A Boy's Life") is a wonderful book about the magic of life in a 1960's American small town seen through the eyes of a 12 year old boy. In the town of "Zephyr" everything that we believed in and wished was real as children, even the stuff that scared us, is real. "Old Moses", the local legend monster that lives in the river, exists, the Voodoo queen "The Lady" and her husband "The Moonman" have magical powers, and the ghost of a tragic hotrodder still drives his car along the twists and turns of the out-of-town backroads around October, to mention just a few of the many, many subplots. Despite the story wandering through so many little stories, everything is perfectly tied together in the finale of the central plot, which is a murder investigation with the feel of a Hardy Boys novel. Of course, such a story would not be complete without the "coming of age" and "losing the innocence of childhood" theme, which is handled perfectly.

One of my favorite books of all time, which I have dreamed of turning into an adventure game many times but the sheer work of doing so is just too daunting.

I'm amazed that there isn't a movie. Right now would be the perfect time, with nostalgia being a huge seller.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: TheFrighter on 13 Apr 2020, 18:24

Uh, have I post only books translated in english? I mostly read italian writers.

_
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 13 Apr 2020, 19:15
^You can post about any writer.

I am thinking of reading Foucault's Pendulum, in english. I once tried reading it in greek, but the first chapter was very boring. I generally know the plot too, but it may be interesting :)

Edit: And so I started reading it. Currently read 1/10.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 15 Apr 2020, 22:14
Hm, now read 90 of 309 pages of Foucault's pendulum. Will read the whole book. It is quite slow in its development, and can't say I am enthusiastic about the actual way of development, but since I now more or less the plot I will keep reading :)
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: Mandle on 16 Apr 2020, 08:04
Hm, now read 90 of 309 pages of Foucault's pendulum. Will read the whole book. It is quite slow in its development, and can't say I am enthusiastic about the actual way of development, but since I now more or less the plot I will keep reading :)

I've read that... Don't want to give any spoilers but... I've read that...
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 16 Apr 2020, 21:52
I am on page 109 and would have abandoned the book if I didn't recall a friend telling me 5 years ago that she was ready to abandon it at a similar point (later on said it was the best novel she ever read).
But in my case... I am rather disgusted by Eco's writing on the brazilian adventure. :)

I have to suppose that Borges* and Kafka wouldn't have approved either. Likely neither would Pessoa.

*Borges, a writer Eco mentions a lot of times, certainly wrote far more pitiful melodramatic passages, but - to his obvious and poignant defense - almost entirely after he collapsed as a writer in the mid 50s and became a parody of what he once was. Foucault's Pendulum, on the other hand, is supposed to be Eco's greatest work, so disgust should not be as easily caused by it.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 17 Apr 2020, 22:07
While I am continuing my attempt to read Eco (and still feeling disgusted), I read this nice short story by Leopold Lugones: https://www.erbzine.com/mag18/yzur.htm
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 18 Apr 2020, 09:12
Half-way through now.
The more I read, the more I am surprised this is a famous book. Granted, it may still become interesting or impressive, but... most colossoi aren't really able to stand on feet of clay.

In particular I am surprised by the women in the book. They seem to be just one person, playing the same ridiculous role, which might as well have been entirely omitted.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: Snarky on 18 Apr 2020, 10:20
Maybe wait until you're finished to give your thoughts? Liveblogging it is not, in my opinion, necessary. (I read the book a long time ago. I thought it was pretty good.)

For those who are going a little stir-crazy stuck at home, I can recommend the J.G. Ballard short story "The Enormous Space" (available in War Zone and The Complete Stories).
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 18 Apr 2020, 16:56
Nothing and no one is necessary, believe it or not.
That said, there are ways to salvage even the brazilian adventure and the monotone female type. Maybe a conspiracy.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: TheFrighter on 18 Apr 2020, 17:48

After some weeks I finished to read Atlas shrugged, Ayn Rand's most notable novel.

I have to admit that I discovered this novel just because in a website it is tagged with the works of Stanislaw Lem (one of my favourite writers) due the mix of sci-fi and philosophy. So I purchased and then read it.

Well, after the huge reading (about 1500 pages!) here is my impressions:

- sure a great epic and a good writing. The sci-fi element is marginal in the end, the philosophical is very impressive.
- great personality main characters.
- a story so modern that could happen even today.

But in my opinion this great novel also have his cons:
- Ayn Rand didn't talk explicity of capitalism and communism, but her idea of the proletarian system seems superficial and stereotypical. And it's strange considering her high culture.
- it seems more than atheist, I'd say is againist every religion. In particular induism, maybe is a criticism about Gandhi?
- and againist "modern philosopher" that deny the existence of the mind and the matter (nihilist?). But in general, it's like she say: my philosophy is right, all the others are wrong.

Well, these are just my opinions!  :)

_
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 19 Apr 2020, 02:35
^What was your view regarding Foucault's Pendulum, Frighter? (assuming you read it :) ).

The following, in the spoiler, is one of Belbo's writings, and appears in page 209 (of 309) :

Spoiler: ShowHide
"I was with Dr. Dee in the Golden City. We went along narrow and evil-smelling passageways not far from the cemetery of the Jews, and Dee told me to be careful. "If the news of the failed encounter has spread," he said, "the other groups will even now be acting on their own. I fear the Jews; the Jerusalemites have too many agents here in Prague..."
It was evening. The snow glistened, bluish. At the dark entrance to the Jewish quarter clustered the little stands of the Christmas market, and in their midst, decked in red cloth, was the obscene stage of a puppet theater lit by smoky torches. We passed beneath an arch of dressed stone, near a bronze fountain from whose grille long icicles hung, and there another passage opened. On old doors, gilded lion's heads sank their teeth into bronze rings. A slight shudder ran along the walls, inexplicable sounds came from the low roofs, rattlings from the drainpipes. The houses betrayed a ghostly life of their own, a hidden life...An old usurer, wrapped in a worn coat, brushed us in passing, and I thought I heard him murmur, "Beware Athanasius Per-nath..." Dee murmured back, "I fear quite another Athanasius..." And suddenly we were in the Alley of the Goldsmiths.
There, in the gloom of another alley-and the ears I no longer have, at this memory, quiver under my worn cap-a giant loomed up before us, a horrible gray creature with a dull expression, his body sheathed in bronze verdigris, leaning on a gnarled and knobby stick of white wood. The apparition gave off an intense odor of sandalwood. Mortal horror magically coalesced in that being that confronted me, yet I could not take my eyes off the nebulous globe that sat atop his shoulders, and in it discerned, barely, the rapacious face of an Egyptian ibis, and behind that face, more faces, incubi of my imagination and my memory. The outlines of the ghost, in the darkness of that alley, dilated, contracted, as in a slow, nonliving respiration....And-oh, horror!- instead of feet, I saw, as I stared at him, on the snow two shapeless stumps whose flesh, gray and bloodless, was rolled up, as if in concentric swellings.
My voracious memories....
"The golem!" Dee cried, raising both arms to heaven. His black coat with broad sleeves fell to the ground, as if to create a cingulum, an umbilical cord between the aerial position of the hands and the surface, or the depths, of the earth. "Jezebel, Malkuth, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes!" he said. And suddenly the golem dissolved like a sand castle struck by a gust of wind. We were blinded by the particles of its clay body, which tore through the air like atoms, until finally at our feet was a little pile of ashes. Dee bent down, searched in the ashes with his bony fingers, and drew out a scroll, which he hid in his bosom.
From the shadows then rose an old rabbi, with a greasy hat that greatly resembled my cap. "Dr. Dee, I presume," he said.
"Here Comes Everybody," Dee replied humbly. "Rabbi Allevi, what a pleasant surprise..."
The man said, "Did you happen to see a creature roaming these parts?"
"A creature?" Dee said, feigning amazement. "What sort of creature?"
"Come off it, Dee," Rabbi Allevi said. "It was my golem."
"Your golem? I know nothing about a golem."
"Take care, Dr. Dee!" Rabbi Allevi said, livid. "You're playing a dangerous game, you're out of your league."
"I don't know what you're talking about, Rabbi Allevi," said Dee. "We're here to make a few ounces of gold for the emperor. We're not a couple of cheap necromancers."
"Give me back the scroll, at least," Rabbi Allevi begged.
"What scroll?" Dee asked, with diabolical ingenuousness.
"Curse you, Dr. Dee," said the rabbi. "And verily I say unto thee, thou shall not see the dawn of the new century." And he went off into the night, murmuring strange words without consonants. Oh, Language Diabolical and Holy.
Dee was huddled against the damp wall of the alley, his face ashen, his hair bristling on his head. "I know Rabbi Allevi," he said. "I will die on August 5, 1608, of the Gregorian calendar. So now, Kelley, you must help me to carry out my plan. You are the one who will have to bring it to fulfillment. Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchymy. Remember," he said. But I would remember in any case, and William with me. And against me."


Unfortunately, the more I read - and now only 100 pages from the end - the less I like this book. It seems ridiculous at times, and that piece is a good example of that. "Athanaseus Pernath" is a figure in Meyrink's novel "The Golem". The whole passage in Foucault's Pendulum seems to me very silly and lowly.

Anyway, one doesn't abandon a book merely 100 pages from the end, so I will read on  (nod)
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: lorenzo on 19 Apr 2020, 11:40
Speaking of Meyrink, I just finished reading Walpurgis Night. I thought it was quite good and I like what I've read of the author so far (The Golem, and some short stories).
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 20 Apr 2020, 00:29
^I only read the Golem, cause afaik his other works aren't translated to Greek. I was looking for some of the short stories, but a few of those German authors really are obscure here & The Golem is the one thing you can find (albeit in a rather bad translation).

Still better than Grillparzer, who as far as I know just isn't translated. I read one of his stories in English, cause Kafka was very interested in it.
 At least a few of Robert Walzer's works are.

Now 80 pages from the end of Foucault's Pendulum. Reading with no joy, just boredom and disbelief  :-\
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: Mandle on 20 Apr 2020, 04:30
Reading with no joy, just boredom and disbelief  :-\

My own opinion which you can read now or after you're done, or not all all...
Spoiler: ShowHide
As I said, I read it... I didn't like it. I didn't see the point. Maybe it's something about character arcs and social commentary that gets people fired up about this book. Or maybe it's just people wanting to seem superior to others who "didn't get it", but I thought the book was incredibly boring. It's admirable to include arcs and subtext and such in a book, but the main thing is the story and I would even rather read a "gasp" Dan Brown worldwide ancient conspiracy story than read Foucault's Pendulum again. For me it was pretentious bullshit.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 20 Apr 2020, 11:23
Reading with no joy, just boredom and disbelief  :-\

My own opinion which you can read now or after you're done, or not all all...
Spoiler: ShowHide
As I said, I read it... I didn't like it. I didn't see the point. Maybe it's something about character arcs and social commentary that gets people fired up about this book. Or maybe it's just people wanting to seem superior to others who "didn't get it", but I thought the book was incredibly boring. It's admirable to include arcs and subtext and such in a book, but the main thing is the story and I would even rather read a "gasp" Dan Brown worldwide ancient conspiracy story than read Foucault's Pendulum again. For me it was pretentious bullshit.


Thanks. I don't think there is any insightful social commentary either - things said better elsewhere. As for the arcs... now, 55 pages from the end, I still see something boring. I think I was very misled by a synopsis I read years ago, which made it sound interesting. The characters aren't interesting, and contrary to views expressed about low art in the book, they aren't compensated for that by being "real" either.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: Snarky on 20 Apr 2020, 13:24
My recollection is that it's a tongue-in-cheek depiction of life in academia in the seventies–eighties, probably somewhat autobiographically inspired, wrapped up in a spoof conspiracy thriller. The complaint that it is ridiculous in parts therefore seems to miss the point.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: Mandle on 20 Apr 2020, 14:12
My recollection is that it's a tongue-in-cheek depiction of life in academia in the seventies–eighties, probably somewhat autobiographically inspired, wrapped up in a spoof conspiracy thriller. The complaint that it is ridiculous in parts therefore seems to miss the point.

And that's all great things to put in a book behind the main story, but for me story comes first and I just found it muddled and boring. You can say "missed the point" but that's like someone just not getting a joke.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 20 Apr 2020, 14:37
^Indeed. I was just surprised that so famous a book is basically low art. I am also surprised that there are people who think Eco has non-trivial similarities with Borges.
At least Borges was an actually important writer.

Edit: I once had reflected that, of the important writers, Borges may be the least lyrical.
Even so, Eco is about as lyrical as a potato...
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: Mandle on 20 Apr 2020, 15:15
^Indeed. I was just surprised that so famous a book is basically low art.

I have to comment here that I don't ever really consider something "high-art" or "low-art". For me, it's more about how much enjoyment I get out of it.

I love the Sex Pistols. I love Stephen King (especially the cocaine-fueled novels like Tommyknockers). I love Dan Brown-esque schlock page-turners. I have little patience for "high-art" works, except when they are just really really actually good like "Of Mice And Men" and "Something Wicked This Way Comes".

If it's good for me and I like it then I will eat it up. If I feel like I need to have read somebody's thesis on it to understand it then nice to have never met it and goodbye.

Probably the best book I was ever forced to read in high-school was The Great Gatsby. My classmates thought it was just homework to read a few pages each night, but I stayed up until like 3AM and read the whole book because I was that engaged with the story. Then we were forced to write essays about how the color yellow in the book represented corruption, and how the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg referred to T.S.Elliot's poem, and my own eyes started to glaze over and I kind of made a pact with myself that it's story first and subtext in there if anyone wants to find it, but don't push it as the main agenda.

Story!
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 20 Apr 2020, 15:34
:)

In my view, for something to be "high art" it has to be at least enjoyable. Art has to at least make you feel or think. I mean... composing some cryptographical series of passages may be "intelligent", but it isn't art in the first place - neither is mentioning a thousand writers, as Eco did in Foucault's pendulum*. So yes, instead of "low art" I could have just said "non-art", but in a sense everything is art so it wouldn't really help much.

*he seems to me to stay in the surface, perpetually. Impressive that he read all that, but then again he never appears to mention anything of importance for any of the authors there. Eg for Athanaseus Kirchnerr, I got as much info from his wiki page as I did from Foucault's Pendulum, and the same - apparently - for (eg) Cagliostro.

Art should at least make you feel. A mocking presentation of academia (even assuming this is what the book was about) is not art, imo.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: Snarky on 20 Apr 2020, 15:40
And that's all great things to put in a book behind the main story, but for me story comes first and I just found it muddled and boring. You can say "missed the point" but that's like someone just not getting a joke.

I think it's fine not to like it because you didn't find the story or storytelling gripping (though of course, there are many great novels that tell stories that might seem trivial or boring just in terms of plot), as long as we're not trying to force it to be something it was never meant to be and then judging it for not meeting those expectations.

For example, I didn't particularly enjoy (https://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=44856.msg636498394#msg636498394) Italo Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveler, which has a good deal in common with Foucault's Pendulum, but it would be pretty misguided to complain about the lack of resolution or coherence between the chapters, or that it didn't match some particular tone I had arbitrarily decided it should aim for.

That's what I find so exasperating about Kyriakos' criticisms. And yes, as far as I can tell, he literally does not get the joke.

I was just surprised that so famous a book is basically low art.

What is this obsession with "high art" and "low art"? Eco is pretty square in the middle of postmodernism, rejecting those distinctions. Doesn't the whole concept of writing a conspiracy thriller brimming over with literary theory make that obvious?

it's story first and subtext in there if anyone wants to find it, but don't push it as the main agenda.

Story!

I'd only object that not all books have to be the same. You can have some where story is paramount, others where the characters, atmosphere, beauty of language, ideas, message, comedy, symbolism or subtext are the selling points. All can be great in their own way.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 20 Apr 2020, 15:44
Well, it would be good to not assume to know the other person. But if that fails, you can always imagine that Foucault's Pendulum is so famous because hordes of people "got the joke" :P

"Postmodernism" doesn't have much to do with why Eco's book may leave a bad impression. Let's not revert all the way back to one of Christian Andersen's stories...

Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: Snarky on 20 Apr 2020, 18:01
Well, it would be good to not assume to know the other person.

I just know what you post, dude.

But if that fails, you can always imagine that Foucault's Pendulum is so famous because hordes of people "got the joke" :P

Well, yes. Anthony Burgess, for example: "For while it is not a novel in the strict sense of the word, it is a truly formidable gathering of information delivered playfully by a master manipulating his own invention – in effect, a long, erudite joke."

Perhaps it'd be more interesting to hear your theory of why the novel was so popular and critically acclaimed.

"Postmodernism" doesn't have much to do with why Eco's book may leave a bad impression. Let's not revert all the way back to one of Christian Andersen's stories...

HC Andersen? What are you talking about?

Your main complaints as far as I can make them out is that the book is "lowly" and "silly," plays intellectual games and drops too many gratuitous references to other books. And you don't think that has anything to do with postmodernist style? (Or modernist, if you prefer, since many of these tendencies span both movements.)
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 20 Apr 2020, 22:27
I don't think further arguing will be productive. Hopefully other books can be reported upon.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 21 Apr 2020, 04:58
Late period De Maupassant is always good. Here is a very short, but imo powerful story: http://www.online-literature.com/maupassant/251/
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: Mandle on 21 Apr 2020, 10:34
Re-reading The Mothman Prophesies by John Keel... Not a great work of literature by any means but one of the most disturbing books I have ever read.

I believe in science and have little faith in happenings and explanations for them that veer away from what is known by science.

But this book still freaks me out and I love it. It's either the story of the author going slowly insane and imagining what he witnessed, or the story of the author being driven insane by what he witnessed.

Either way, by the end of the book he is out of his mind and even admits so.

If it wasn't for the fact that other credible people also witnessed a lot of the stuff he did then it would be easy to write off.

Lovely escape into weirdness no matter what level it is taken on.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 22 Apr 2020, 00:31
^I recall that the movie, with Richard Geere, was interesting - but I saw it many many years ago...

PS: Just when I thought Foucault's Pendulum couldn't get any worse, Cthulhu is mentioned.

 (roll)

Imo this is worse than the various other Mickey Mouse references (literally Mickey Mouse, in this case), cause the self-indulgence is over 9000.
I think that some books haven't been written up to now not because no one could write them, but because the idea to write them would make any actual writer cringe.

edit2: Thank heavens, it is finished now.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: Mandle on 22 Apr 2020, 22:32
^I recall that the movie, with Richard Geere, was interesting

Yeah, I also like the movie a lot. I gotta respect that the screenwriter could adapt a book that is basically just a jumble of anecdotes, historical stories, witness interviews, and personal experiences of the author, into an actual movie with a through-story and still keep the feel of the original book. Of course this also means that many things happen in the movie that do not happen in the book, or at least do not happen personally to the author, but these things do have a similar feel to things that happen in the book, but condensed or dramatized.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 21 May 2020, 22:25
I can't find an english translation of Robert Walser's Jacob von Gunden book (I do have an english translation of it, which I bought in London as a student, but I'd expect by now the internet to actually help not not have to look for stuff in your library :/ ).

Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 06 Jul 2020, 10:06
Reread "The Gospel according to Marc", by Borges.
Seems to be his last decent story (I personally dislike "The Book of Sand"), and in the prologue of the collection one finds the author's note that the story was inspired by a dream of someone else (like his earlier story, Emma Zunz).

The story itself is nice. A student arrives at the pampa, the vast plains of Argentina, and cannot leave due to a flood. His only company are three workers of the land, employees of his cousin (the cousin invited him, then left to the city). The student is curious enough to start reading parts of the bible to the silent and illiterate farmer family, and this leads to a disastrous misunderstanding - cause they end up thinking he is Jesus and his death on the cross will save them.

I like that the student doesn't fight back. He isn't active and seems to live in a dream, expecting to return to Buenos Aires. The almost feral farmers, on the other hand, are calculative enough to provide themselves with a reason to hate him enough so as to make the murder possible - but the murder only happened because they convinced themselves it is an act of their salvation.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: brandonhayd on 22 Dec 2020, 20:58
I also recommend The Great Gatsby, by F Scott Fitzgerald)
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 21 May 2021, 13:36
Bump.
I actually am reading a few books these days.

Near the end of Hofstadter's Goedel-Escher-Bach (which is 800 pages long, so that's something).
Some biography of Conway (a lot shorter).
A largish short story by Algernon Blackwood (The Man whom the Trees Loved). This may end up being terrible.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: Stupot on 22 May 2021, 01:10
I’m currently reading “The Clocks” by Agatha Christie. So far so good, but it’s still in the early stages.

I also read Ender’s Game not long ago. Very cool book. I had never realised there was a whole Ender saga out there. I’ve been wondering whether to pick up one or two of the other books, but I don’t really have the time to delve into a whole literary universe. I might just stop there.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: lorenzo on 23 May 2021, 08:32
Near the end of Hofstadter's Goedel-Escher-Bach (which is 800 pages long, so that's something).
So, is it good?

A largish short story by Algernon Blackwood (The Man whom the Tress Loved). This may end up being terrible.
I found that Blackwood's stories sometimes are really good and memorable, other times quite mediocre. I don't think I've read that one.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 23 May 2021, 12:00
Hofstadter's GEB is good, yes :) It was published in 1979 and is quite famous. I finished reading it now, and will re-read in the future. It can be helpful if one wants many parallelisms to formal systems, so as to form an idea about what the Godel incompleteness theorem is about.
That said, I am currently reading one of the main books he lists as his influences for writing GEB, DeLong's "A Profile of Mathematical Logic", which seems to be better and more concise - and 'only' 320 pages - but GEB is less strictly about mathematical stuff, so it certainly stands on its own and is worth reading if you are interested in this subject.

Regarding Blackwood, yes, he has his own serious shortcomings as an author. I think Lovecraft mentions this particular story in his treatise on Weird literature (but not as a great story; maybe it just isn't as bad as some of the others). Obviously he regarded the Willows as the best story (I haven't read that, but I plan to - tried a few times and gave up, likely because I already know the plot...)
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: lorenzo on 24 May 2021, 21:55
The Willows is a nice story, but probably not very interesting if you already know what's going to happen. ;)
Some of his short stories I read years ago weren't bad, like The Wendigo, others were disappointing.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: Mandle on 25 May 2021, 15:10
Currently re-reading "The Dark Tower" series by Stephen King. What an interesting series of books to read once you know the history of his life over the decades it has taken him to write them.

Book One: The Gunslinger: A psychedelic tribute to the spaghetti-western, horror, and sci-fi genres that King just put out when he was riding high on his addictions and didn't give a second thought if anything made sense as long as it was cool as fuck, and it all is. The "Naked Lunch" of the series, with slightly more control.

Book Two: The Drawing Of The Three: King is still high AF while writing this, but it grounds the reader much better in the world of Roland, The Gunslinger, as he experiences our world, in New York, in three different time periods that all tie together very nicely... King still hasn't fallen into his self-admitted problem of not knowing how to end the story because it's a series.

Book Three: The Wastelands: For me, this is the masterpiece of the series. I love everything about this book, from the "there was a boy/there was no boy" paradox to drawing Jake through and solving it, and the giant cyborg bear with maggoty parasites invading its robot brain, and then the city of Lud and Blaine The Mono, obsessed with riddles... And the cliffhanger ending...

And then a few years went by without an update and then:

Book Four: Wizard And Glass happened... and I read it and I was, to be honest, pissed off. It is mostly a flashback to The Gunslinger's youthful first love and the main story hardly moves forward at all. And, yeah, the Wizard Of Oz stuff is just stupid.

And then for a few more years, nothing... and then more years: nothing...

About two decades passed. King wrote a lot of other very good and not so good books and it seemed like he was done with The Dark Tower series and we would never get an ending.

And then Stephen King got hit by a car.

And then, after many painful months of recovery, his wife, Tabitha King, told him "Just finish it."

And, for the first time really understanding that he only had a limited time on this earth, he wrote the next books of the series, and he wrote with a fucking vengeance.

Suddenly, after two decades of waiting, the continuation of the series was coming out in books that grew from a normal King book thickness, into twice that, and then into books that could be considered "excessive force" in a court of law if you ever hit a home-invader with one to take them down and it killed them by accident.

And then I finished the final book after everything in the story had gone off the rails in every wonderful way possible: I actually put my hand over the last page of the book as I was finally at the end after 20+ years so I wouldn't give into temptation to look at the final sentence on it.

Then I hid every line as I read down the last page with my hand and I got to the final line and read it.

And I thought "That was pretty good."
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 25 May 2021, 18:09
The Crocodile, by Dostoevsky (have read it before, many years ago).
Continuing A Profile of Mathematical Logic. It is pretty impressive how the author, who was an academic, wastes no time to present the crisis with geometry that led to the non-euclidean versions. Certainly the tone in this book is a million times more austere than in GEB (which may end up not being as great a thing as I originally felt :) ).
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: TheFrighter on 29 May 2021, 20:35

Some months ago I read  David Foster Wallace's The Broom of the System and Luke Rhinehart's The Dice Man, but I have a doubt: are maybe two incomplete novels? Because in both the editions I found some words are missing in the last page... Is it a misprint?  ??? I was unlucky in the picking the books?

_
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 01 Jun 2021, 23:02
Roughly 1/4 into the DeLong book, and nearing the end of the Blackwood novelette.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 03 Jun 2021, 13:05
Now finished reading THE MAN WHOM THE TREES LOVED.
44 pages of next to nothing.
It is somewhat similar to Lovecraft's The Color out of Space, but at least the latter provides a reason for the inanimate objects to acquire some form of life.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 06 Jun 2021, 08:12
Started reading Penrose's The Emperor's New Mind.

Books piling up = not good.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 09 Jun 2021, 15:13
Σince for a while now you can really find all sorts of university papers online, it is not that rare to by (ill) chance read one which simply is not useful if you wish to learn about something, but has been written purely to convince the overseeing professor that the student has a decent understanding of the subject. Which is another way of saying that the uni paper is directed not at someone who tries to learn something out of it, but to someone who will establish if the given subject was presented without mistakes and provides sufficient proof that you know about it.
To use a metaphor, you couldn't learn something (non-trivial; you could notice the letters etc) about the japanese language, if you were reading a text in japanese and you didn't speak the language - but if you were aware of japanese, you certainly could appreciate if there were any mistakes or other issues.

This was - due to bad luck - what happened to me with the first ever Godel Incompleteness uni paper I read - it was a greek diploma work, of some undergraduate. The paper simply can't help you understand anything if you already don't know what virtually everything is.

By contrast, today (after much hesitation; as a result also of that old paper which I first saw half a year ago...) I actually started reading Godel's own paper where he presents his Incompleteness. After having read three other books on this (like I said, when you are met with something terrible at first, you overcompensate  := ).
Godel's own paper is only 34 pages. Of course it does help me that I know what it is already, and the methods used, but still it is the antithesis of the first paper (for another reason too: he was presenting a new ideα).
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: Babar on 23 Jun 2021, 05:04
Just finished reading Flatland yesterday. While it is 90% "look at this awesome idea I came up with" and only 10% plot, it was quite interesting to me in how it helped me (realise that I can't really) visualise higher dimensions:
Take a point and move it in one direction, you get a line.
Take a line and move it normal to its line of motion, and you get a square/rectangle
Take that square/rectangle and move it normal to its plane, and you get a cube/cuboid.
Take that cube/cuboid and move it normal to itself, and you get a tesseract (and so on)

Has given me greater appreciation for why this game (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EfiilXN6S8) has been over 7 years in the making  :=.
Also pretty funny how the preface to the second edition had the author address logical (how come 1d items had (tiny) thickness and 2d items had (tiny) depth?) and moral (what's up with the treatment of classes and women in your story?) issues.

Now I need to figure out something engaging from the classics (i.e. can download for free) of sci-fi to read next.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: Manu on 23 Jun 2021, 07:50
After reading (2 times) Sapiens, I finished Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari. Really mind-blowing.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: KyriakosCH on 23 Jun 2021, 17:28
Reading Blackwood's Wendigo (mentioned by Lorenzo). 2/5ths in. May be good - certainly better than The Man Whom the Trees Loved.
Title: Re: What book are you reading?
Post by: Stupot on 24 Jun 2021, 00:58
I’ve started reading The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. So far so good. Very simple but interesting concept. 4 siblings go to a fortune teller who tells them each the day they will die. I’m not too far into the book yet but I’m enjoying it so far. Anyone else read this?