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Author Topic: The Literary Thread  (Read 14664 times)

Snarky

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Re: The Literary Thread
« Reply #20 on: 19 Apr 2012, 10:02 »
As part of an attempt to read books written by female women, I also read my first Jane Austen (Mansfield Park) relatively recently. I also read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and the amazingly titled Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead which was bizarre and excellent.

I recently read Who was changed and who was dead off your recommendation, Ali. I thought it was pretty good, but (as mentioned above) I don't like it when the author doesn't seem to have any sympathy for many of the characters, and subtly or not-so-subtly ridicule them for their self-delusions and hypocrisy. It feels cheap to me. You made them up, so of course you can make them seem foolish!
« Last Edit: 19 Apr 2012, 10:06 by Snarky »

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Re: The Literary Thread
« Reply #21 on: 19 Apr 2012, 11:59 »
I recently finished Jonathon Strange and Mr Norrell and really enjoyed it. It was the most interesting use of magic in a book I've seen, I think, and I like how all the elements came together towards the end. It also had some beautifully imaginative and vivid scenarios.

I've also been catching up on the Discworld books - in the last month I've read I Shall Wear Midnight, Carpe Jugulum, Unseen Academicals, Soul Music and re-read Men at Arms. Really enjoyed I Shall Wear Midnight and Soul Music, the other were fairly standard Pratchett fare to me (that is, I enjoyed them but they weren't really outstanding to me).

On Dave Gilbert's reccomendation I've also been reading through The Dresden Files books - fairly standard gumshoe PI novels except the main character is a wizard. It started out kinda cheesy but I'm up to the 4th book and the series gets more compelling. One thing I find kills the immersion is the amount of trouble Harry Dresden gets in. He absolutely has the worst luck of any character I've read, and the way he goes from mishap to mishap makes me wonder why the author felt so compelled to beat him up so much.

On my "books to read list" at the moment is Snuff, A Canticle for Leibowitz and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

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Re: The Literary Thread
« Reply #22 on: 19 Apr 2012, 12:20 »
A Canticle for Leibowitz is a bit tedious at the beginning, but it's worth sticking with.

I've also been reading through The Dresden Files books - fairly standard gumshoe PI novels except the main character is a wizard.

This sounds amazing.

I just finished Motherless Brooklyn, which is about a PI who has tourettes and Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test which now just has me going around trying to figure out which of my colleagues would score more on the Hare checklist for psychopaths...

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Re: The Literary Thread
« Reply #23 on: 19 Apr 2012, 12:21 »
Oh, books! I also read them!

There are so many interesting suggestions in here! I haven't read a single, really, not one single book of the ones you mentioned. I did read The Gambler by Dostoevsky many years ago, and some Haruki Murakami books I found at the local dump (they weren't that bad), and I know Terry Pratchett exists. And I think I must have read I Spit On Your Graves by Boris Vian, only my copy was in French and my French is not very good. I did get and like the notion of a fake America, built from collective media memory like films and music, though.

I got an ebook reader about a year ago, and ever since then I've been reading a lot of badly formatted and sloppily OCR-scanned pdf copies of the great works of fiction. I just finished Italo Calvino's Castle of Crossed Destinies, which is an amazing collection of metafiction about the act of narrating. Before that, I read the second part of John Updike's Rabbit Tetralogy, a really, really intense book. I had read the first part some years ago and just discovered that Updike wrote one book at each turn of the decade, starting in 1960, and let his characters age in real time, which seems absolutely fascinating to me. It's as much an exercise in writing as it is a part of (fictional) cultural memory, totally embedded in the history of the US.

At the moment I'm reading Post Office by Charles Bukowski, which is great if you like Charles Bukowski, and not really great if you're sitting on a crowded bus with a headache. I have it in pdf form on my ebook reader, which is probably the lousiest way ever to read Charles Bukowski. In case of sudden battery death (which happens all the time and makes me want to break the reader in half, bring it back to the store and say "I only wanted to turn the page!"), I carry The Voices of Marrakesh by Elias Canetti in paper form. It oscillates between beautifully described literary snapshots of the city and moments of unbearable postcolonial gaze upon the "totally foreign and uncomprehensible" people. Like, a black coal vendor standing in front of his coal and you can only make out the eyes. Geez, and that guy was awarded the literary nobel prize?



I, object.

ThreeOhFour

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Re: The Literary Thread
« Reply #24 on: 19 Apr 2012, 12:43 »
A Canticle for Leibowitz is a bit tedious at the beginning, but it's worth sticking with.

I got through a fair bit of it on audiobook before I realized that I prefer to do the reading myself, and I found the story really interesting, so I want to start again, this time reading myself :D

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Re: The Literary Thread
« Reply #25 on: 19 Apr 2012, 13:15 »
I went to a used book store and dropped $100 this week, mostly on trying to fill out my PG Wodehouse collection (Wodehouse is the literary equivalent to comfort food for me), and some kids books for my son.

I also picked up At Swim-Two-Birds by Brian O'Nolan, which I've been dying to read since reading a synopsis of it last year, a nicer copy of Jerome K. Jerome's classic Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog), and a new lending copy of Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle, which is my favorite book.

Unfortunately for me, reading for pleasure is something I don't do much currently. I also bought some books by Barthes, Baudrillard, Foucault, Bakhtin and Raymond Williams that might figure into my dissertation, which takes up most of my time (which explains why I haven't made any progress on game making lately, but also why I've been posting so much as a method of procrastination).

Alex Cox's 10,000 Ways to Die, a retrospective of the Spaghetti Western.

I'm dying to read this one myself. I have a collection of hundreds of spaghettis, and often disagree with Cox on his overall opinions of film, but appreciate his analysis of the finer details.
« Last Edit: 19 Apr 2012, 13:20 by Eric »

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Re: The Literary Thread
« Reply #26 on: 20 Apr 2012, 00:02 »
When was I last here? What happened to the place?

Anyway, it seems you're doing something I do fancy, so yeah, I shall list the last few books I've read.

Been in Berlin lately studying German literature, so I've basically went through a collection of Short stories + Amerika from Franz Kafka. At the moment I'm doing two courses of Thomas Mann, essays, short stories and novels, having read Der Zauberberg and Buddenbrooks. And umm, well there's Nathan der Weise from Lessing, which is basically a drama, but I read it so meh. And I've been through Goethes and Heinrich Heines poems. Oh 2 books for my bachelors from Yade Kara, one being Selam Berlin and the other one Cafe Cyprus.

That with the transaltion work I do with R.A. Salvatore, I guess it's not such a wonder I haven't been around for a while, is it? :D

Dave Gilbert

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Re: The Literary Thread
« Reply #27 on: 26 Apr 2012, 01:11 »
On Dave Gilbert's reccomendation I've also been reading through The Dresden Files books - fairly standard gumshoe PI novels except the main character is a wizard. It started out kinda cheesy but I'm up to the 4th book and the series gets more compelling. One thing I find kills the immersion is the amount of trouble Harry Dresden gets in. He absolutely has the worst luck of any character I've read, and the way he goes from mishap to mishap makes me wonder why the author felt so compelled to beat him up so much.

You're only on book #4? Oh, Harry goes through much worse...  ;D

Snarky

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Re: The Literary Thread
« Reply #28 on: 06 Oct 2014, 21:49 »
Thread necromancy!

Thought I'd revive this thread on account of having read The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero this weekend. For one thing it's a fun book; loosely a ghost story, but mostly about cracking clues to a mystery hidden in an old house, with a cute couple of misfits as the investigators. Some people have said it's House of Leaves' funnier cousin; it reminds me most of Locke and Key (but again, more light-hearted).

But it's also a very adventure gamer-y book. Like I said, it's about trying so solve a mystery hidden in an old house, with puzzles, cryptic codes, hidden clues, "NPCs" they have to get information from, old journals to read, creative repurposing of objects, etc. The leading duo also make for a good adventure game team, with different abilities and limitations (kind of like Rosa and Joey). And the story is classic adventure game pulp stuff, with ghosts, a secret society, murders, preposterous pseudoscience and discoveries that might change the world. Think Gabriel Knight + Broken Sword + Indiana Jones. (Yet it's specific enough that it doesn't just feel like a mishmash of ideas stolen from other things.)

And oh yeah, at one point they get tired of their investigation and take a break to play... Monkey Island.  (nod)

So if you're looking for a light read, I can recommend The Supernatural Enhancements.

Re: The Literary Thread
« Reply #29 on: 07 Oct 2014, 00:05 »
Sounds good, Snarky. I'll keep an eye out for it.

I'm currently reading All You Need Is Kill, the book Edge Of Tomorrow is based on. It's really fun. Totally different to the film but just as playful and exciting. If you haven't seen the film or read the book, it's about a man who keeps dying in a battle against these aliens called Mimics, but every time he died he wakes up at the exact same time the day before and is able to take his memories and skills ( though not muscle strength) with him into each loop so that eventually he can help win the battle. Very fun.

The book I read before this was Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, which I had been meaning to catch ever since our Gone Girl book club last year (both books have been/are being made into movies, and I father Gone Girl opened just the other night to rave reviews).

The book I'll be reading next is Slaughterhouse Five, which I found in a 100 yen bin the other day :-)

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Re: The Literary Thread
« Reply #30 on: 07 Oct 2014, 00:30 »
I'm reading and nearly finishing Dan Brown's Inferno, and before you start: Somebody has to read best-selling authors!
It's been a nice and smooth experience through Florence and Istanbul famous places. Dante's Inferno is omnipresent and so are many artists and authors that made work based on his master piece. A nice and sometimes interesting adventure, although I don't get why Langdon, the main character, does not show any sexual drive towards the hot women he meets on his adventures. It's no big deal and art doesn't need to be sexualized to be good but sometimes it feels like I'm reading some juvenile book and it gets hard to give Brown a serious review.
Working on a RON game!!!!!

Re: The Literary Thread
« Reply #31 on: 13 Oct 2014, 07:28 »
Been grazing on the biographical pastures of Wikipedia and assorted historical material on anything relating to monarchy, neoreactionism, and generally the civilizational questions posed during the Enlightenment Era.  Drinking deep of the Bourbon Kings, Thomas Hobbes and Carlyle, the great doubters in the human species to be self-governing.  Mostly, this entertainment of the usual Devil's Advocate position is research for my upcoming AGS title, Neofeud.  Though I daily find the Jeffersonian, essentially universal precepts of Western representative democracy, the "Egalite, Liberte, Fraternite" that permeates modern civilization as questionable, even fundamentally flawed.

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Re: The Literary Thread
« Reply #32 on: 15 Oct 2014, 11:48 »
I love reading, but I don't read as much as I'd like to because of depression and ADHD.
Anyway, I'm almost done with Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett. It's a good book, but not among my favorites.
Next on my reading list is Parasite Eve by Hideaki Sena. I've been really into japanese horror novels the past couple of months. (tip: the Ringu books by Koji Suzuki are way better and more bizarre than the movies) 8-)

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Re: The Literary Thread
« Reply #33 on: 15 Oct 2014, 15:35 »
I just finished Italo Calvino's If on a winter's night a traveler, which I've been reading off and on for a while.

I have very mixed feelings. I hated the second-person narration at first, where it seems like the author addresses the reader directly (it opens with "You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler." *puke*), but after a couple of chapters it becomes clear that the "you" described is a distinct character within the book, and the device is just mildly annoying.

The story is basically that a guy ("you," or "the reader") sits down to read Italo Calvino's newest book, but after a few pages he realizes that there's been a mistake at the printer: not only are the same pages repeated over and over (and out of order), but they aren't even from the right book. He meets another reader, a woman, who is in the same situation, and together they try to track down the rest of the story they had begun reading, but the next book they find turns out to be yet a different one. So the book alternates between chapters where the reader follows the trail of various books, none of which he ever manages to finish, and chapters which are supposedly the beginnings of each of those books. (It's sort of like Cloud Atlas, if you only had the first half of the book and a separate frame story.)

I found the individual openings, each in different styles, to be very much a matter of diminishing returns. On the other hand, as the reader's story starts going off the rails it becomes more entertaining, which compensates. And there's a certain episode towards the end (based on the Arabian Nights) that managed a particularly neat trick I've never seen before.

In between I'm rereading various books by Alistair MacLean. Sort of the Lee Child or Clive Cussler of his day (1950s-70s), MacLean wrote dozens of action novels where manly men overcome impossible odds fighting the forces of the Third Reich (e.g. The Guns of Navarone, Where Eagles Dare), communist agents (e.g. Ice Station Zebra, The Secret Ways), or terrorists/divers evildoers (e.g. The Satan Bug, The Golden Rendezvous). As you may have noticed from that list, many of his books were filmed. My grandparents had a bunch of his books (from my dad and uncles) that I ate up as a kid, but I hadn't read any of them for years, and they've been mostly out of print for decades. Now they're being reprinted in a new nice, cheap paperback edition, so I picked up a bunch of them.

No, they don't entirely hold up: the characters are paper-thin stereotypes (the good guys in Where Eagles Dare are so sickeningly noble that they risk their critical mission to save or avoid killing German soldiers, for example), the books are almost ridiculously sexist, and after a while you start recognize a certain formula to them. But MacLean has a great facility for high-concept premises, and a way with plot twists that keeps things interesting. While there's plenty of action, the heroes are more often playing a game of trying to outwit rather than outfight their opponents, which is always fun. Recommended for Ian Fleming fans.

Re: The Literary Thread
« Reply #34 on: 25 Oct 2014, 06:10 »
I recently picked up The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah, which is the continuance of Agatha Christie's works. Since I've read all of her novels, I figured I'd give the 'new Christie' a shot. I actually ended up loving it. Lots of respect to the author who really must have studied and analyzed Christie's work. I highly recommend it if you're a mystery kind of person.

I'm totally finding this thread when I need a new read 8-)

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Re: The Literary Thread
« Reply #35 on: 28 Nov 2014, 13:08 »
Oh yeah? I'm a big Christie fan, so I might give that a go.

Most recently I read The Martian by Andy Weir. You may have heard of it, it's been getting a lot of hype and is supposed to be filmed next year by Ridley Scott and about half the cast of Interstellar. Basically, following an accident on a Mars mission, astronaut Mark Watney is believed dead and gets left behind. While the equipment on the base can recycle air and water, he has no means of communication and only enough food for a few months. The situation looks hopeless, but with ingenuity and a strong will to survive, he tries to hold on for as long as he can. It's been called "Robinson Crusoe on Mars," which is a pretty good description (or maybe Robinson Crusoe crossed with Apollo 13): it has a lot of that same appeal of seeing someone solve life-and-death problems by jury-rigging technology and working out how to produce basic necessities. And it's very much a "hard sci-fi" novel: it doesn't play too fast-and-loose with the science, which is important for the whole thing to be credible, even if some lucky breaks seem a bit too convenient. Overall, ridiculously good fun, and strongly recommended.

Re: The Literary Thread
« Reply #36 on: 02 Dec 2014, 10:35 »
I've just completed the Gillian Flynn Hat-trick and read her first novel Sharp Objects. As debuts go it's a great book, although you can clearly see how she has improved since writing this book. There was a 'twist' at the end but I had guessed it. I thought I was going to be proved wrong, right up until the final few pages and then it was revealed, And it was a rare case where I was upset to be proven right. Nevertheless, cracking read. If Flynn teaches us anything it is that women are all lunatics.

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Re: The Literary Thread
« Reply #37 on: 27 Nov 2016, 16:18 »
Thread returns!

I've been pretty stressed out the last few months, so my reading has been mental comfort-food: I reread Treasure Island (yup, still good!) and Red Harvest (OK).

Most recently I thought I'd give The Dresden Files a try, since Dave Gilbert is such a big fan. I read the first two, and... I'm not sold. The plotting is OK (though the villains are obvious very early on in both books), but the characters are paper thin, and the writing is, well, awful. Two examples:

-The first book has Harry Dresden making a metaphor where he refers to himself as "the home team" during a fight that takes place in his enemy's house and "place of power". If you're in an away match, you're not the home team!
-In the second book (which involves no less than five different types of werewolves/wolf creatures, in what must surely be some kind of joke), Harry observes in one chapter that another character is not a werewolf, because a werewolf is human and this character doesn't have a human soul. Yet in the very next chapter, he constantly refers to this character as a werewolf. (In fact, on the first few occasions he doesn't even use the person's name or any other kind of identifier, so it's immensely confusing who he's even talking about when he refers to "the werewolf".)

Re: The Literary Thread
« Reply #38 on: 27 Nov 2016, 16:30 »
Finally got round to reading Philip K. Dick's "The Man in the High Castle".  Unfortunately, one of my children has hidden it.  So far it seems a very interesting idea but it's a rather difficult read in that most of the writing is done in a very clipped, abrupt manner with little to no flow.  This has clearly been done deliberately but I need to get further in to know how much it works for me as a reader.

Did eventually finish Clive Cussler's "Sahara", quite an absorbing read (and nothing at all like the film!).  Have also started an indie author Michael Blackburn's sci-fi story "Roko's Labyrinth", all about a post-apocalyptic world with what's left of humanity battling AI, seems really good so far.
 

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Re: The Literary Thread
« Reply #39 on: 27 Nov 2016, 19:11 »
I did read Do androids dream of electric sheep (the novel blade runner (not wierd science)) is based on by pkd recently. It is a lot different from the movie, mercer doesn't appear in the movie once. And the human android sex part is too short, or rather just hinted at :P Still a good read! I'm considering getting an electric sheep rather than a natural one, they are really hard to find and quite expensive. *takes out the Sidney to look 'em up*

Atm I'm almost done with the first book of the The Hyperion Cantos. Really well written interesting scifi stories weaved together to one giant space epic. Go read it if you like scifi. Now I see why WHAM! would call some of the spaceships in his (forum?)games Shrike ;-D


The books I did read before that were Moby Dick, which is just cool and a great read even today and A Floating City by Jules Verne. The latter is also well written but not that great and yet another (but more boring) travel story by JV.
« Last Edit: 27 Nov 2016, 19:14 by selmiak »