What are you reading today/book club

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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby fen » Sun Feb 19, 2017 5:14 pm

Just got finished with Idoru by William Gibson. Had only read Neuromancer before this and kind of expected more amph fueled technobabble. This one turned out to be surprisingly grounded tbh. The story was 3/5, but some of the ideas were pretty interesting.

Firstly, this book kind of predicted the rise of the darknet, which I think is impressive in 1996. But idk I was a kiddo in 1996, maybe the internet was more developed by that point than I think. Also got into a lot of issues re: internet anonymity, how to present yourself when physical limitations are removed.

The cooler concept was the Idoru themselves, which are synthetic/animated popstars. I feel like this must have been the inspo for Gorillaz, but I think the immediate recognition of Damon Albarn kind of ruined it. I hope musicians play around with this more in the future. We're already seeing music becoming way more visual, with artists spending more time creating strong consistent imagery for their albums/branding. E.g Kanye, Tyler, A$AP Rocky for sure (sorry i don't know much outside of hip-hop). Seems like the jump to creating animated representations/avatars for your music would open up a lot of cool creative space.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby Ques » Sun Feb 19, 2017 5:54 pm

a friend of mine met the translator of the vegetarian, apparently she only learned korean because she thought she could make more money translating korean than with any other language, and her korean isn't actually that good

:heck:
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby Ques » Sun Feb 19, 2017 7:43 pm

can anyone explain the gist of benjamin's the task of the translator to me in basic english
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby Cowboy » Wed Mar 01, 2017 9:41 am

Read Grapes of Wrath it was fantastic
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby dakaf_fal » Sat May 27, 2017 12:51 pm

I just finished reading The Volcano Lover by Susan Sontag. I've been meaning to read some Sontag for a while and picked this up when I found a copy at my local bookshop. Sontag's a great judge of human nature, it was a pleasure to see how she developed the personalities of the novel's characters. The plot came off a little flat, but I didn't mind too much because the writing was so enjoyable. This read like Sontag's response to magical realism, it maintains a level of absurdity that you'd expect to find in a Salman Rushdie or Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel only without the more fantastic elements. I'm not a huge nonfiction reader, but I think I might give one or two of Sontag's essays a try.

@wolflarsen I found a copy of Banana Yoshimoto's [img]Asleep[/img] in a used bookstore when I was visiting Philadelphia a couple weeks ago, so that's next up!
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby rjbman » Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:26 pm

Does anyone use goodreads? Would love to follow folks!

here's mine, stop by, say hi
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby brlmski » Tue Jul 18, 2017 10:33 pm

add me @rjbman
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby rjbman » Thu Jul 20, 2017 2:34 pm

101 Books to Dive Into This Summer: A Reading List - from TED.

There's a lot of interesting books here, added about 10 to my Goodreads.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby vehk » Fri Jul 28, 2017 5:10 pm

can anyone recommend something good and relatively recent (like the last 40 years or so) that's written in english? feel like i'm mainly reading translations which is fine but obviously not the same experience as reading in the original language
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby wogbog » Fri Jul 28, 2017 6:29 pm

otessa moshfegh - eileen if you want something weird
katherena vermette - the break if you want something sad
paul beatty - the sellout if you want something goofy

i wanted to finish this with "____ if you want something glad" but i can't think of anything lol (robert fulghum maybe??)
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby rjbman » Fri Jul 28, 2017 7:14 pm

infinite jest is basically recommended so often so as to be overblown but i found it fantastic, hype notwithstanding

obv will shill every gibson book written but i'm an especially huge fan of the Blue Ant trilogy

if you like short stories, try Ken Liu's The Paper Menagerie
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby soko » Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:10 pm

Anne Carson - Canadian poet, possibly best living poet, a classicist academic as well as translator of epics, plays, creator of original works, Autobiography of Red, Decreation, Plainwater, others
Maggie Nelson - poet, academic, essays and poetry, brilliant intertextuality, theory applied to examine and make sense of lived experiences, Argonauts, Bluets
Joan Didion - California writer, journalist in 60s,70s, novels and plays but essay collections better, New Journalism, personal accounts of broader cultural moments, issues, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, The White Album
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby CMYK » Fri Jul 28, 2017 9:21 pm

Stuff I've enjoyed:

Redeployment - Phil Klay
10:03 - Ben Lerner
Remainder - Tom McCarthy
White Noise - Don DeLillo
All The Pretty Horses - Cormac McCarthy

(I'm horribly white male based in my fiction reading :( I'm sure others will have more divers recommendations though.)
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby cormac » Sat Jul 29, 2017 9:33 am

I'm an English major who's thought for a long time that Victorian flaxy (and premodern literature in general) is really boring to read, and not able to be connected to my interests in current political theory and cultural stuff. Read Jane Eyre earlier this summer and I think I was definitely wrong on the first point, probably on the second too. It was just really well-written prose--I can definitely see that era of literature's general occupation with historical and purely aesthetic methods. Would recommend.

I also finally finished Baudrillard's Simulacra and Simulation, and I'm trying to finish Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition in the next month (this topic isn't restricted to fiction, is it?). I will momentarily be starting to crusade to prove postmodernism can be revolutionary, stand by
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby rjbman » Sat Jul 29, 2017 1:34 pm

We haven't had a "book club" choice in a while - does anyone have suggestions for the next book we should consider?
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby wogbog » Sat Jul 29, 2017 3:07 pm

i havent done any care tags book clubs but i just bought kafka - metamorphosis
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby Cowboy » Sat Jul 29, 2017 8:17 pm

I've read God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater twice now and loved it both times.

Has changed the way I see the world in that I try to be like Eliot a lot.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby cormac » Sun Jul 30, 2017 10:12 am

I made the timely choice to start The Handmaid's Tale this morning, and the first few pages have drawn me in more than most books do, excited for it now.

@cowboy do you read books more than once very often? I've found it a personal quality that I do not, really ever.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby Cowboy » Sun Jul 30, 2017 10:24 am

Nope never

Nice prof pic that's a good album
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby INNIT » Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:27 pm

mildude wrote:I'm an English major who's thought for a long time that Victorian flaxy (and premodern literature in general) is really boring to read, and not able to be connected to my interests in current political theory and cultural stuff. Read Jane Eyre earlier this summer and I think I was definitely wrong on the first point, probably on the second too. It was just really well-written prose--I can definitely see that era of literature's general occupation with historical and purely aesthetic methods. Would recommend.


the form of the victorian novel is what makes it so boring (strap yourself in for a novel that linearly spans multiple generations and several decades!!!). most things english majors read from the premodern periods are super canonical and just lame AF (shakespeare is LAME, dickens is LAME), but also foundational to postmodern critical theory (derrida and hamlet, freud and hamlet, foucault and victorian discourse, deconstruction and victorian poetry, barbara johnson and melville, etc). the latter is what makes reading victorian, restoration, elizabethan, etc literature worthwhile (imo), even if most of these texts have since become boring/overstudied/arbitrarily granted godlike status.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby Bobbin.Threadbare » Mon Jul 31, 2017 5:23 am

Just got through all of the Dark Tower series (started last November) did not enjoy Stephen King's writing style here that much and slogged through it because Katy and I were both reading it. That said I really enjoyed some of the books and overall it was really positive.

Halfway through (an audiobook of) The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman which a few people have recommended to me. It's a kids book but I'm really enjoying it and Neil himself narrates.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby wogbog » Mon Jul 31, 2017 8:55 pm

INNIT wrote:the form of the victorian novel is what makes it so boring (strap yourself in for a novel that linearly spans multiple generations and several decades!!!). most things english majors read from the premodern periods are super canonical and just lame AF (shakespeare is LAME, dickens is LAME), but also foundational to postmodern critical theory (derrida and hamlet, freud and hamlet, foucault and victorian discourse, deconstruction and victorian poetry, barbara johnson and melville, etc). the latter is what makes reading victorian, restoration, elizabethan, etc literature worthwhile (imo), even if most of these texts have since become boring/overstudied/arbitrarily granted godlike status.

shake is great imo! even for those into fancy modern stuff

and emily bronte wilkie collins and george eliot are awfully fragrant writers

dickens is kinda stuffy stuff for old people but he's got his cleverness
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby INNIT » Mon Jul 31, 2017 11:41 pm

wogbog wrote:shake is great imo! even for those into fancy modern stuff

and emily bronte wilkie collins and george eliot are awfully fragrant writers

dickens is kinda stuffy stuff for old people but he's got his cleverness


yah many people enjoy shakespeare, it's just too bad that i was arbitrarily required to take two full classes on him in my undergrad instead of on achebe, lorde, pynchon, etc. related: my favorite shakespeare play is "measure for measure"

there were many elizabethan playwrights just as good as if not better than shakespeare (marston, chettle, middleton, kyd) yet because shakespeare has been so heavily canonized/basically masturbated to by academics, they receive virtually 0 attention.

we also have a tendency to look back at old white dudes and deem them creators of "great prose/poetry" elevating them to the status of "author-god" or equating them to composers from antiquity. as the result, books like "hard times" are praised as "masterfully crafted" or "aesthetically beautiful" when in reality, dickens/collins were publishing serialized novels; every chapter they tacked on came with a fat chunk of change. and so, voila, long as fuck victorian novels; the length of the narrative determined by nothing more than market forces. but you'll still have to do 3 survey courses on the 19th century in your english degree, because canon

(sorry for the rant, of course these are all just my opinions)
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby cormac » Thu Aug 03, 2017 11:26 am

wogbog wrote:
dickens is kinda stuffy stuff for old people but he's got his cleverness


I read the first few chapters of Hard Times and BSed the rest, but I enjoyed his style. At least that one had more overt silly humor, satire of utilitarianism and capitalism, name-play than I'd noticed previously.

@wogbog
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby rjbman » Thu Aug 03, 2017 12:19 pm

Image

Our book for August(ish) will be: The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

Why don't we try to finish this by the end of Labor Day weekend? September 5th or so
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby talkin2snakes » Thu Aug 24, 2017 5:00 am

anyone read any octavia butler? or samuel delaney?
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby INNIT » Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:01 pm

lol... looks like i'll be doing research for a victorian literature database this fall.... many victorian novels on the horizon
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby dakaf_fal » Sat Sep 09, 2017 1:10 pm

I'm a little late, but just finished reading The Ministry of Utmost Happiness last night.

I've been interested to read this because it's the first fiction Arundhati Roy has written since the Booker prize winning The God of Small Things two decades ago. While The God of Small Things took a more personal scale, telling the story of a single family, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness takes a grander, national scale. The narrative is disjointed, switching between multiple narrators, proceeding in a non-chronological order, and often digressing into lengthy tangents or flashbacks. It feels intentional rather than sloppy, reminding me of Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Salman Rushdie novel without the magical realism. Roy also channels some of the humor and absurdity I expect from Marquez or Rushdie, though it's much darker. Her use of humor is mostly sardonic, used for the purpose of criticizing capitalism, wealth inequality, Narendra Modi, and the Kashmiri conflict.

While I recognize that her work is closely tied to her politics, at times I felt like the book suffered from trying to do too much in an effort to make the political statement that Roy wanted. It's not politicized to the extent of say, a Rand novel, but there are moments when the narrator is acting as a two-dimensional stand-in for Roy. I won't spoil anything, but the ending also seemed uncharacteristically uplifting considering the bleakness of the rest of the novel. Overall it was an enjoyable read, though perhaps didn't live up to my high expectations. Thoughts from anyone else?
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby Cowboy » Sat Sep 09, 2017 1:54 pm

I read Crime and Punishment and enjoyed it.

Reading 100 years of Solitude now
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby rjbman » Sun Sep 10, 2017 8:19 pm

dakaf_fal wrote:I'm a little late, but just finished reading The Ministry of Utmost Happiness last night.

I've been interested to read this because it's the first fiction Arundhati Roy has written since the Booker prize winning The God of Small Things two decades ago. While The God of Small Things took a more personal scale, telling the story of a single family, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness takes a grander, national scale. The narrative is disjointed, switching between multiple narrators, proceeding in a non-chronological order, and often digressing into lengthy tangents or flashbacks. It feels intentional rather than sloppy, reminding me of Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Salman Rushdie novel without the magical realism. Roy also channels some of the humor and absurdity I expect from Marquez or Rushdie, though it's much darker. Her use of humor is mostly sardonic, used for the purpose of criticizing capitalism, wealth inequality, Narendra Modi, and the Kashmiri conflict.

While I recognize that her work is closely tied to her politics, at times I felt like the book suffered from trying to do too much in an effort to make the political statement that Roy wanted. It's not politicized to the extent of say, a Rand novel, but there are moments when the narrator is acting as a two-dimensional stand-in for Roy. I won't spoil anything, but the ending also seemed uncharacteristically uplifting considering the bleakness of the rest of the novel. Overall it was an enjoyable read, though perhaps didn't live up to my high expectations. jorts from anyone else?


Hey, I also felt this book was weird. It's definitely not something I would have normally picked up, so I'm grateful to whoever suggested it.

I do feel this was going for a sprawling book, weaving together interconnected stories into a single one, but I think it fell flat. There was a lot of characterization, but ever too often I'd find myself reading about one of the characters then suddenly the prose spends a few pages talking about a random different person (with no line break!) then the line breaks when it returns to the original character. Just incredibly frustrating to read and very inconsistent. Likewise, the plot would shift and jump to more people, expanding out from Anjum to encapsulate other people, but it never felt very smooth. I gave it a 3/5 on goodreads, since it did have its moments, but ultimately wasn't able to accomplish the sprawling epic very well.

Regarding the ending, I did think that it was a change in tone from the rest of the book. But I think that's okay - the point of the book (from the title on) was that while individual moments may be bleak, there's ultimately happiness to be obtained.
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