What are you reading today/book club

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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby Ques » Mon May 30, 2016 5:01 am

just read Black Box by Jennifer Egan, written in the form of multiple tweets all in the second person, a really pleasurable and intoxicating read. gonna try and pick up her a visit from the good squad whenever I find an english language book store

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/ ... eads%20(39)&CNDID=38341178&spMailingID=8987647&spUserID=MTA5MjQyMjQxNzk1S0&spJobID=922826207&spReportId=OTIyODI2MjA3S0
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby Iliam » Tue Jun 14, 2016 10:59 am

Iliam wrote:The 3rd Book for the Care-tags Book club will be:

*** The Argonauts *** by ~ Maggie Nelson ~

Image

It's a short read, around 170 pages ~ easily readable in a few days.

Spoiler:
There's a New Yorker profile of Maggie Nelson to help you decide whether you want to read it (you should).

If you like the The Lover's Discourse by Barthes then you'll probably enjoy this book.


Please post your thoughts, facts and opinions by the 29/5/2016.


If you're going to buy the book, please don't buy from amazon.com or affiliates if you can help it.
Buy from your local independent bookstore if you can afford it (link about how writers are poor).


The new date is the 1/7/2016. Germinal, pirx and I have already read the book so hopefully we'll be able to get a good discussion going.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby pirxthepilot » Wed Jun 15, 2016 4:57 am

eh unnecessary
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby BIGBEE » Thu Jul 07, 2016 4:44 pm

I'm about halfway through the book.

I really like it so far, never read anything like it. kind of feels like the book is ripping my mind open (I don't mind this). Really fucking with my world view as a straight suburban male. Wish I could have read something like this in high school instead of fucking romeo and juliet. I think after finishing this I will try read some of the texts that she references/analyzes or whatever anyone reccomends.

when I finish it I'll try and write up some thoughts, but I feel pretty out my comfort zone talking writing about this book rather than say, yelling at teenagers over the internet about brand synergy.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby weqe » Fri Jul 08, 2016 12:32 am

Recently read:A Scanner Darkly, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (philip k. dick), The Crossing (cormac mcmarthy)

Working on: Cryptic: The Best Short Fiction of Jack McDevitt (jack mcdevitt), The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft (h.p. lovecraft, edited &noted by leslie s. klinger)
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby soko » Fri Jul 08, 2016 3:46 am

Just finished The Grapes of Wrath. Really beautiful prose in the description and narration but had a lot of trouble getting used to the rural Oklahoma and California farmer dialects that the characters speak in. Super gloomy novel with crazy amount of parallels to this day. I wish there had been more stuff about the labor movement and migrants — it seems like Steinbeck went a long way to parallel their story with that of the Israelites which is cool but it made it a picaresque traveling novel for half the book and a bit boring for one hundred and fifty or so pages. Also weird to read a super American novel while traveling in rural Italy — did not fit the vibe. Glad I read it though, I'd been meaning to for a while.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby pirxthepilot » Sat Jul 16, 2016 10:04 am

Iliam wrote:
Iliam wrote:The 3rd Book for the Care-tags Book club will be:

*** The Argonauts *** by ~ Maggie Nelson ~

Image

It's a short read, around 170 pages ~ easily readable in a few days.

Spoiler:
There's a New Yorker profile of Maggie Nelson to help you decide whether you want to read it (you should).

If you like the The Lover's Discourse by Barthes then you'll probably enjoy this book.


Please post your thoughts, facts and opinions by the 29/5/2016.


If you're going to buy the book, please don't buy from amazon.com or affiliates if you can help it.
Buy from your local independent bookstore if you can afford it (link about how writers are poor).


The new date is the 1/7/2016. Germinal, pirx and I have already read the book so hopefully we'll be able to get a good discussion going.


well?
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby Iliam » Mon Jul 18, 2016 5:46 am

I enjoyed this book. Its fragmentary structure appeals to me and I am sucker for this kind of format. It seems to suit books that sit on the edge of autobiography and criticism like Barthes’ The Lover’s Discourse and Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes, Anne Carson’s Beauty of the Husband and Red, or Renata Adler’s Speedboat, which are all probably antecedents to Argonauts. The fragmented style seems to have something of the discontinuous logic of the internet; the juxtaposition of different pieces that reveal meanings through contrast. That isn’t to say that the meaning generated by these spaces is random. When and how the different segments of the book are placed relative to each other seems very deliberate and revealing. I found the space between these sections/ fragments inviting and I liked having that pause. At one point Maggie Nelson recounts Anne Carson giving a talk on “leaving space empty for God to enter”, which seems to have become embodied in the book’s form.

Pirx was worried or something about the possible heaviness of the frequent quotations and references. But actually, unlike her previous book The Art of Cruelty, the references and quotations rarely feel distracting or gratuitous to me. A big problem with Cruelty was that its various readings felt scattershot. Nelson’s individual criticisms of different artworks and texts felt poorly resolved into a larger whole. I found the different threads more successfully held together in Argonauts. Its fragmentary style actually allows for a better integration of Nelson’s wide and slightly intimidating range of reading. The range of subjects (queer identity, family and motherhood), are bound together by her focus on falling, dissolving, messiness, “going to pieces”. Instead of working from a stable or authentic position on identity/ family/ bodies, the book records of Nelson’s re-thinking about these categories so as to confront and be comfortable with their constant dissolution and various reformations. I liked that the book linked together this instability within family structures, gender and queer identity, contemporary motherhood and contemporary politics. The personal is still the political. I enjoyed the books implicit argument that no one area of life can bracket itself off from any other (which imo is why to insist on the separation of art and politics is almost always fallacious).

I still don’t fully understand why this book is was so compelling to read (for me at least). It maintained my attention in a way that it doesn’t completely make sense. What makes it propulsive? Did anyone else find it as “unputdownable” (sorry) as I did?
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby rjbman » Fri Jul 22, 2016 3:08 pm

I'd like to suggest The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin as the next book. It's a science fiction book from the 70s that was received warmly by both science fiction and literary communities for its themes, which include "anarchism and revolutionary societies, capitalism, individualism and collectivism, and the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis. (Wikipedia)".

Let's try and read it by August 27th.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby Northwest » Thu Jul 28, 2016 12:36 pm

Thanks to this reading club I discovered I absolutely adore Maggie Nelson and her writing. The Argonauts was an excellent and unusual read for me. Unusual mostly because of the structure, which helped me take her writing one step at a time. I read in an unusual/abnormal way when I read prose, and can find myself missing out on savoring excellent writing. This kind of structure allowed me to enjoy her sentences and their construction in a way that was alien to me.

I enjoyed it so much I went to the library and managed to get The Art of Cruelty through inter-library loan. Not to knock the Argonauts, but this blew it out of the water from my perspective. While a more academic work (not that The Argonauts isn't academic, but it's focus is more on that intersection of intellect and emotion) I found it profoundly moving on an emotional level. Referenced as the book she wrote during her pregnancy, The Art of Cruelty is all about the construction/fallacy of the justification that "frankness about the human condition" means it is okay to assault a viewer/participant of your art with something that has the capacity to do more harm than good. It also addresses the beliefs surrounding this false narrative, and the responsibility of the participant to choose not to view this kind of art/this choice as self-preservation and courageous rather than sheltering/cowardly. Easily my favorite passage of the book is when she hops effortlessly between world religions to distinguish between the "sword of death" and the "sword of life." It is well worth reading for yourself and was a profound and joyful experience for me.

I also read A Trip to the Stars and American Gods for summer entertainment, and thoroughly enjoyed both. A Trip to the Stars if you couldn't get enough of The Goldfinch/1Q84, and American Gods if you want to be up on the latest show being produced by Bryan Fuller and the "holy shit if he does with this what he did with Hannibal this is going to be unreal" feelings I so enjoy. Also, American Gods is just a blast as far as its structure referencing mythological patterns of construction.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby pirxthepilot » Sat Aug 06, 2016 7:02 am

the way she writes/feels her way through things is nearly always interesting but i found TAOC pretty unsatisfactory. skates over different ontologies of thinking in a slightly wiki-type way, general approach is modelled around notions of self-hood that are very rooted in a particular period/environment (early c21st US academic communities)
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby gruff » Wed Aug 10, 2016 2:18 am

I'm reading Gibson rn for the first time, pattern recognition as the book store didn't have neuromancer in when I stopped by. I'm enjoying it immensely, but I can't help but wonder how someone who doesn't care about fashion would read it. There's so much attention put into the clothing in both subtle and overt references, does it bog the story down if you don't have at least a survey level of brands (and cosmetics- the sideways reference to MAC cosmetics ticked me)? Or maybe you just read it without thinking any further into it. Either way the book indulges two of my hobbies at once which is fun. I also wonder how many references are going straight over my head since I put all my stat points into fashion knowledge.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby bels » Wed Aug 10, 2016 4:15 am

Like many of us here, Gilliam is addicted to objects rather than concepts so I doubt a lack of stat points will let you down in the reading. I reread it recently and think it's the best Gibson though, followed by neuromancer.

If you want a Gibson book that DOES bog down in it's references (fashion and otherwise) then Zero History is the one
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby bels » Wed Aug 10, 2016 5:09 am

Pirx I don't want a print out of you asking William Gibson whether you should hem your trousers to crop or let them pool. That's between you and him.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby BIGBEE » Wed Aug 31, 2016 12:33 pm

Really crazy how interconnected all the segments in the Argonauts are. It is almost modular in a way how every segment can be compared to every other segment. For such a short book it feels very big.

I dont think the book is fragmentary though (maybe I'm misunderstanding) it feels like a long continuous thought. One downside of this is that it's cery to go back and re-read sections of the book.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby BIGBEE » Wed Aug 31, 2016 12:37 pm

Also I dont think I understand the crux of the book, rechristening the ship and saying I love you, very well.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby rjbman » Wed Aug 31, 2016 1:07 pm

rjbman wrote:I'd like to suggest The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin as the next book. It's a science fiction book from the 70s that was received warmly by both science fiction and literary communities for its themes, which include "anarchism and revolutionary societies, capitalism, individualism and collectivism, and the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis. (Wikipedia)".

Let's try and read it by August 27th.


It's a little bit past the 27th, and I'm curious what other people thought.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby pirxthepilot » Wed Aug 31, 2016 1:08 pm

well, this is the Barthes paragraph she's obviously referencing (can't remember if she quotes directly).

'The ship Argo
A frequent image: that of the ship Argo (luminous and white), each piece of which the Argonauts gradually replaced, so that they ended with an entirely new ship, without having to alter either its name or its form. The ship Argo is highly useful: it affords the allegory of an eminently structural object, created not by genius, flintstone, determination, evolution, but by two modest actions (which cannot be caught up in any mystique of creation): subsitution (one part replaces another, as in a paradigm) and nomination (the name is in no way linked to the stability of the parts): by dint of combinations made within one and the same name, nothing is left of the origin: Argo is an object with no other cause than its name, with no other identity than its form.'

at the start of this discussion i mentioned plato's notion of the khora- originally in greek this was the 'in-between ' or third element-outside of the polis proper yet still a part of the city. plato gives the word another, massively important structural usage - one which in derrida's reading exposes a fault-line that runs through all of western metaphysics, one which is connected to the 'female' , the bodily, the abject. and like the modest actions that barthes talks about, it's a word that plato takes from common usage.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby BIGBEE » Wed Aug 31, 2016 1:14 pm

Thank you for linking that.

I wonder why barthes used the Argo as an example as opposed to the ship of theseus which is the more well known substitution- identity thought experiment.

I guess it doesn't really matter.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby BIGBEE » Wed Aug 31, 2016 1:27 pm

pirxthepilot wrote:
at the start of this discussion i mentioned plato's notion of the khora- originally in greek this was the 'third place' -outside of the polis proper yet still a part of the city. plato gives the word another, massively important structural usage - one which in derrida's reading exposes a fault-line that runs through all of western metaphysics, one which is connected to the 'female' , the bodily, the abject. and like the modest actions that barthes talks about, it's a word that plato takes from common usage.



What is derridas reading of the term?
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby pirxthepilot » Thu Sep 01, 2016 3:31 am

eh it's impossible to summarise derrida's arguments, they're so dense, far-reaching and elliptical. more so than any other philosopher.

but very crudely, in the 'timaeus' plato describes the figure/space of the khora as something outside of (but essential to) the categorical types that make up the universe (forms/ sensible things). it's absolutely necessary to the whole structure: the place in which sensible things are inscribed/generated (hence the 'female' readings- progenitive space, womb, nurse etc- developed by julia kristeva, luce irigiray and others).
derrida unpicks the double logic at work in plato's very description of the khora to show that it fundamentally resists representation, and in this sense troubles/dismantles the polarities and distinctions which are the ground of western logic/metaphysics. it calls into question the very possibility of meaning; it contains within itself the 'other' of meaning.
in the context of maggie, this reading invokes the disruptive potential of femaleness, otherness etc towards the epistemological and political distinctions that are the foundation of the republic/polis. but as i said the khora is structurally necessary, and so there's a problem: you can't just banish these elements, the way socrates dealt with poets.

(developing this further: you could lock them away- literally or figuratively- via, say, the laws maggie mentions in the novel. but that won't stop them from exerting a baleful influence, at least that's what sophocles' antigone- and later freud- tells us.
this makes me think of that piece about the recent rigged elections in the congo i linked to a while back, where the true winner is under house arrest but knowledge of the hijacked result spread via peer to peer network apps like firechat after the dictator threatened to shut down the internet).

@bels i know i know REFERENCES but he asked
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby vgtbls » Thu Sep 01, 2016 1:52 pm

rjbman wrote:
rjbman wrote:I'd like to suggest The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin as the next book. It's a science fiction book from the 70s that was received warmly by both science fiction and literary communities for its themes, which include "anarchism and revolutionary societies, capitalism, individualism and collectivism, and the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis. (Wikipedia)".

Let's try and read it by August 27th.


It's a little bit past the 27th, and I'm curious what other people thought.


I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was a bit slow to build momentum, and I'm not a huge fan of the present/flashback structure but it was well executed. Le Guin's ability to totally embrace the concept of revolution without making a Utopia of Anarres really made me happy.

Urras was a pretty blatant cold war sendup, but given that this was published in 1974 it has shocking staying power.

The underlying themes of motherhood/sacrifice/duality came through VERY neatly across a bunch of relationships. All while sneaking in a message about Terra (Earth) destroying ourselves by failing to adapt. What a fantastic mind.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/29/books ... riter.html
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby RycePooding » Thu Sep 01, 2016 2:07 pm

Just finished A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. What a charming read, highly recommend (and would love to chat about it with anyone who has read it!)
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby Ques » Sun Sep 04, 2016 4:01 pm

just finished On Western Terrorism, a conversation between Noam Chomsky and Andre Vltchek. really interesting hearing their perspectives on things, although I wish they had furnished citations as I question a lot of their 'facts'. for instance, their historical timeline at the end has blatant factual errors wrt tiananmen square.

something problematic to me is how they say that the colonialized peoples are brainwashed if they begin to integrate with the culture/society of their colonizers; i feel that the book gives them no agency and disregards the possibility that they know what they're doing, and understand that the only way to gain power under such a system is to work within it, while simultaneously being aware of what they're doing

until I read this, I'm embarrassed to admit, I had no real idea of the problems plaguing India today, and in general the history of partition and what's going on in kashmir. as well, I really need to further educate myself about east timor, south american socialism, and the history of cuban foreign aid.

i highly recommend the book as a jumping off point if you're interested in learning more about 'western terrorism', but it does leave me wanting a lot more.

off to the book store to pick up a copy of the white man's burden
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby vehk » Sun Sep 04, 2016 5:01 pm

finished house of leaves the other day, i liked it but the narrator guy was kind of annoying and i don't get what i'm supposed to take from his random drug adventures and sex with literally every woman he met lol, all the parts about the house itself were really good though

i looked around on the old internet to see what other people thought after finishing it and saw a few people saying things like "when i finished this i couldn't sleep for weeks... so disturbing" "well done that means you processed it correctly" which i thought was a bit overdramatic, it wasn't really that disturbing a book! maybe i am just dumb and didn't read it properly

the concept of a book being about a guy who finds a book, which is about a film which doesn't exist is kind of funny though i liked it
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby ramseames » Thu Sep 08, 2016 9:30 pm

has anyone bought the rerelease of Let My People Go Surfing yet?

i have a copy of the original and I'm wondering if there's enough new stuff to justify grabbing it
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby thephfactor » Sat Sep 10, 2016 8:30 pm

rjbman wrote:
rjbman wrote:I'd like to suggest The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin as the next book. It's a science fiction book from the 70s that was received warmly by both science fiction and literary communities for its themes, which include "anarchism and revolutionary societies, capitalism, individualism and collectivism, and the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis. (Wikipedia)".

Let's try and read it by August 27th.


It's a little bit past the 27th, and I'm curious what other people thought.


I absolutely loved this book. Extremely grateful to @rjbman for recommending it, I really want to read more of the author's work as a result. Sorry it has taken me so long to finish it.

The two settings of Anarres and Urras allow Le Guin to really illustrate and contrast the Utopic and the Realistic elements of sci-fi in a very effective and edifying way. I fell in love with the anarchist society of Anarres, but I couldn't have done so if it had been portrayed as anything other than a revolutionary project with every flaw and conflict revolutionary projects contain in our own world. It's an extremely idealized society, of course, but with extreme actions and rhetorics underlying it, a castle in the sky that nonetheless convinces the reader of the plausibility of it's elevation in the context of the work.

To me, if there was any one political message Le Guin sends in the work, it is an urgent, desperate plea for true internationalism. The revolutionary project of Anarres is fundamentally flawed: it's a self-imposed exile, it's an abandonment (as we see all too poignantly and brutally when Shevek reaches Urras), it's exclusion. This, and the resistance of those on Anarres to collaboration with Urras and the aliens, is reminiscent of the "Socialism in One Country" of Stalin's USSR. Le Guin's hope for human emancipation is in internationalism, a revolution that transcends national lines.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby dakaf_fal » Sun Sep 11, 2016 9:45 pm

I'm in the middle of reading The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer and it's been a struggle. For a best seller with wide popular appeal I've found it surprisingly dull. The writing seems formulaic. Occasionally there's some nice description or an interesting scene, but mainly I'm just waiting for something to happen. Or for a reason to care about any of the characters. Anybody read this one and want to offer some insight? Am I doing Mailer a disservice, or is he simply a lackluster author? There's so many fantastic war novels that taking on one so prosaic feels like a chore.

@adiabatic I think it's more that it was his first novel. He wrote it when he was only 25 and not long after getting out of the army. Mailer admits that in retrospect his writing is at times rough and unpolished. I've revised my opinion somewhat, the book has potential and a few very nice segments but remains lacking on the whole.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby alby » Fri Sep 30, 2016 10:18 am

I just finished Norwegian Wood by Murakami and was quite hooked by the end. It took a long time for me to realize what the book was about, but in the last 50 pages or so I really loved it. I stayed up to 2:30 AM reading and smoking and felt very good when I finished the novel. I have heard it's the most accessible book by Murakami. I had started 1Q84 last year, but only got a third of the way through and never finished. It didn't quite catch my interest in that first third. Anyway, I'm looking for a book similar to Norwegian Wood. I enjoyed the coming of age and revelatory aspect of the book, and would like to read more books like that. Any suggestions?
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby ramseames » Wed Oct 05, 2016 5:08 pm

Why do all these articles about ferrante's identity being unmasked criticize the journalist for revealing it but then turn around and include the name/photo?

Hypocritical fucks
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