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What are you reading?

Discussion in 'Entertainment, Culture, and Sports' started by chorse123, Mar 13, 2006.

  1. StephenHero

    StephenHero Well-Known Member

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    I bought a bunch of books today. I'll dabble in each and see what sticks. If anybody has recommandations for books of essays, particularly strongly opinionated ones that aren't too dense, please shoot them my way. I've been going hard with Nabokov's Strong Opinions, which is an entertaining read.

    Lionel Trilling - The Moral Obligation to Be Intelligent
    Robert Hughes - Goya
    Robert Hughes - Culture of Complaint
    Joan Didion - Slouching Toward Bethlehem
    Umberto Eco - How to Travel With A Salmon
    James Clavell - Shogun
     
  2. noob in 89

    noob in 89 Well-Known Member

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    Does Nabokov rail against the Freudians in that? Because that would be fun.

    For light and opinionated, you might try Dale Peck's Hatchet Jobs, which includes his best essay, sort of a brief jeremiad against Rick Moody, Infinite Jest, postmodernism, pretty much any celebrated novel with long sentences. Then there's always James Wood, who's a bit more thorough and fair. I like his subdued rant against David Foster Wallace and 'hysterical realism', for one....though I can't recall what book that's in.

    I also just picked up Roberto Bolano's Between Parentheses, and though I haven't read much, it looks promising. A collection of small-ish, mostly newspaper articles, I think, but just glancing through, he tackles some somewhat fresh authors (like one of my favorites, Jose Donoso) and reportedly pulls no punches.

    I'd also love some recommendations for essays with an actual point of view. Sadly, they're a bit hard to find these days.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013
  3. StephenHero

    StephenHero Well-Known Member

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    He shits on Freud at least three or four times in separate interviews. In fact, he shits on nearly everything. The only things you leave the book believing he appreciates are butterflies, America, Ulysses, and the nuance of Russian verb conjugations. Does he like Hemingway? No. Gogol? No. Portrait of the Artist? No. Dostoevsky? No. Tolstoy? No. Socialism? No. Police? No. Students? No. No. No. No. He's never boring though, and he apparently took long baths, which is very dignified. Him and why would have been great friends.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  4. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad Well-Known Member

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    Eco's essay on authenticity in How To Travel With A Salmon is great.
    You might try picking up some prior year volumes (or this year's volume, of course) of the Best American Essays series. They can be hit-and-miss, but there are always at least a few strong selections.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013
  5. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad Well-Known Member

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    As I recall, he kind of liked E.B. White. And himself, quite a lot.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013
  6. Connemara

    Connemara Well-Known Member

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    I have that but have yet to dig in.
     
  7. StephenHero

    StephenHero Well-Known Member

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    I'm also looking for shorter modern novels, particularly ones that serve as good introductions to particular literary movements. European and Japanese, preferably.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013
  8. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad Well-Known Member

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    Semi-random suggestions (I'm assuming you're using "modern" to mean something like "written in the last century" as opposed to "written in the last ten years". If I'm wrong about that, my bad - most of these won't fit the bill):
    Tanizaki, Diary of a Mad Old Man
    Calvino, If On A Winter's Night A Traveler
    Camus, The Stranger
    Saramago, The Double
    Crace, Being Dead
    McEwen, Enduring Love
     
  9. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Well-Known Member

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    I preferred Clavell's Tai-Pan.
     
  10. Schizm

    Schizm Member

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    Clavell's whole Asian Saga is good......Currently listening to Noble House.
     
  11. ter1413

    ter1413 Well-Known Member

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    Read this book over a dozen times. very good read!
     
  12. javyn

    javyn Well-Known Member

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    Shogun has been on my ever expanding to-read list since I was like 15 back in 1994. This is the year I'll read that one. I need to do it next and finish before 12/31.



    Also, re: Asimov's Foundation saga I'm reading now.....very good but Asimov's no Frank Herbert. Interesting aside, this series is apparently what inspired Newt Gingrich to get into politics.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2013
  13. StephenHero

    StephenHero Well-Known Member

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    Shogun is fucking long. It's going back in the line for me. A couple more books arrived in the mail for me today:

    Frederick Forsyth - The Day of the Jackal
    Robert Hughes - Barcelona

    I've been meaning to read a cheap spy thriller, although I hear Jackal is better than that. I'm kind of excited to get into it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2013
  14. i10casual

    i10casual Well-Known Member

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    Oh man, I liked Barcelona.
     
  15. Cleav

    Cleav Well-Known Member

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    Fabulous book get in there!
     
  16. noob in 89

    noob in 89 Well-Known Member

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    Nadja and The Magnetic Fields are the ones that immediately jump out. Can't get more movement-y than the Surrealists, with their manifestos and fake earnestness. (Probably should be read in tandem with the manifestos and a viewing of Un Chien Andalou ).

    That said, I always thought the proto-surrealists (really any authors they tried to retcon as their own -- Jarry, Roussel, Lautreamont, etc.) were always better. There are two anthologies I like a whole, whole lot that would seem to tie into your quest.... The Book of Masks and Breton's Anthology of Black Humor.

    For a New Novel, by Alain Robbe-Grillet? Technichally essays, not fiction, but it probably spurred more of a movement than his novels. (Also I don't know which exact book would be most exemplary....) If you haven't read him, he's got some short stuff that should give you the general idea. There's also Nathalie Sarraute. Same movement. Short stuff in there somewhere.

    Then there's always Oulipo. Raymond Queneau's Exercises in Style is just plain awesome, regardless of historical significance. I think Georges Perec's Life: A User's Manual is the most famous work, though it's pretty long....maybe 500 pages, depending.

    Got Strong Opinions. Funny. Awesome. :slayer:

    .​
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2013
  17. clockwise

    clockwise Well-Known Member

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    I have lived 16 years in Hong Kong so Taipan and Noble House are special to me. Quite simplistic adventures but entertaining. I think Noble House will be more interesting for those who know Hong Kong a bit, Taipan can be enjoyed by anyone. Shogun is however Clavell's best adventure novel in my opinion. A must-read for anyone who likes adventures and is intrigued by Japanese culture.

    The Taipan (named Struan in the book) is Jardine by the way. Jardine House on Hong Kong island was the tallest building in town back in the 1970s, distinguished by its large round windows. Because of the shape of the windows and the character of the people working inside the building, local people gave it a special name: "The house of a thousand assholes". Jardine Matheson were the best opium traders in the 19th century, another version of Pablo Escobar's Medellin outfit but more successful in the long run.

    The Day of the Jackal is my all-time favourite among thrillers. I also loved The Odessa File and The Dogs of War. All Frederick Forsyth wrote after those three were awful. I don't understand what happened to him. Same can be said about another, albeit less excellent, thriller maestro. Robert Ludlum was very good in earlier books such as The Holcroft Covenant, The Matarese Circle, The Bourne Identity, The Chancellor Manuscript and The Osterman Weekend. He then turned into a poor imitation of himself.

    One recent recommendation in this thread was Junichiro Tanizaki's Diary of a Mad Old Man. I whole-heatedly concur. Tanizaki is wonderful and this short novel was the first I read of him. It got me hooked. Another excellent short novel of his is Naomi. His masterpiece (much longer) is The Makioka Sisters. Essential reading for fans of Japanese culture and damn good literature (very far from Clavell/Forsyth/Ludlum).
     
  18. Cleav

    Cleav Well-Known Member

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    Clockwise, good call. -+10 on the Forsyth three with Jackal top of that list. I very rarely re-read books and yet have read Jackal probably 5 times
     
  19. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Well-Known Member

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    If you haven't read Blaise Cendrars Moravagine and Breton Froth on the Daydream both are brilliant surrealist novels worth reading

    And waiting on Tatiana by Martin Cruz Smith to arrive been a big fan of the Arkady Renko books and recently found a first edition hardback of Gorky Park which I picked up for a $1 at a charity stall in excellent condition.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2013
  20. dragon8

    dragon8 Well-Known Member

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    The Everything Store-Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
     

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