What's everybody reading?

For discussions of subjects relating to literature and theater.
Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6478
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Apr 12, 2011 11:38 am

I've spent much of my year reading 2666. There's something a bit draining about reading anything so long (nearly 900 dense pages), and there were times in the mid-section that I was tempted to put it aside a while and vary my routine with something else. But every time I got that notion, I'd read a few more pages, and think, no, ths is too damn good to not complete now. Ultimately, I got to the final "book", and flew through that. The book is truly a major piece of work, and I regret it's the last we'll see from Bolano.

Damien, is Water for Elephants respectable fiction, or just a crass best-seller? By the time I was aware of it, it was too late to track down initial reviews. Was it highly-enough rated, or something more along Kite Runner lines?

My movie tie-in -- finished in a few days, a real change after 2666 -- is One Day, which will be Scherfig's follow-up to An Education. It won't be the easiest project to translate to screen, as it's dependent upon a structural trick (vaguely borrowed ftom Same Time, Next Year) and the best stuff in it is the characters' interior lives -- the bare bones of the plot aren't terribly interesting and, in a couple of spots, the book turns cheaply melodramatic. Anne Hathaway is probably a good choice for the fenmale lead; Jim Sturgess will have his work cut out for him making likable a character who's largely an asshole; and Patricia Clarkson seems perfect for the mother role, though it's questionable how much screen-time she'll get.

Okri
Tenured
Posts: 2608
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:28 pm
Location: Edmonton, AB

Postby Okri » Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:38 am

Finished Hisham Matar's latest, now on the new Gandhi biography that's causing so much controversy in India.

User avatar
Damien
Laureate
Posts: 6331
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 8:43 pm
Location: New York, New York
Contact:

Postby Damien » Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:50 am

Movie Tie-in: Water For Elephants
"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell

anonymous1980
Laureate
Posts: 5212
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 10:03 pm
Location: Manila
Contact:

Postby anonymous1980 » Tue Apr 12, 2011 12:21 am

I'm currently reading Pride and Prejudice and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies at the same time. If you're gonna read the latter, make sure to read the former. It makes it funnier.

User avatar
kaytodd
Assistant
Posts: 846
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2003 10:16 pm
Location: New Orleans

Postby kaytodd » Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:06 pm

This is the first post in this thread in almost four months. I hope that is because we are all too busy reading quality literature. I think the world is improved a little bit every time somebody reads a piece of quality literature.

March (Geraldine Brooks). Many of you will remember this as the winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Just finished it and thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought it was an interesting idea for a novel when I first heard about it. I know there is a lot of "fan fiction" based on Star Trek, Lord Of The Rings and Star Wars. The idea of "fan fiction" based on the Little Women novel seemed a strange idea but it turns out to be a good idea that resulted in a very entertaining novel.

We all remember that a major part of the novel Little Women was the letters Mr. March, the girls' father and Marmee's husband, sent home while he was serving as a chaplin in the Union Army during the American Civil War. March tells the story of Mr. March's war experiences. There are well written scenes of horrific battles, horrific scenes at military hospitals and of the horrific conditions and treatment of the former slaves after their plantations were taken by Union troops. There are also flashbacks telling March's decision to join the army from his point of view and how he and Marmee first met and the early years of their marriage.

As you would expect, Brooks lays on the sentimentality a little thick (consider the source material). And the story is moved along by some pretty remarkable coincidences. But Brooks' descriptions of the beauty and tranquility of March's pre-war years and the horror of the war years are expert to say the least. And her use of mid nineteenth century American dialogue seem (to my non expert ears) completely genuine yet accessible and entertaining. And she does a great job of getting into the mind of a man whose religious and moral principles should have kept him out of the war but, at the same time, left him no choice but to get involved. Not a masterpiece, but I recommend it.




Edited By kaytodd on 1302550661
The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving. It's faith in something and enthusiasm for something that makes a life worth living. Oliver Wendell Holmes

dws1982
Tenured
Posts: 2991
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 9:28 pm
Location: AL
Contact:

Postby dws1982 » Sun Dec 12, 2010 7:36 pm

Helprin can be verbose, Tee, and A Soldier of the Great War is even longer than Winter's Tale. Don't know if you've read it, but that might be a deterrent for you. But I think it's very much worth it. I actually have Winter's Tale sitting on my shelf, but I haven't gotten around to it. Partially due to time, and partially because I'm not sure how well I'll take to the fantasy/magical elements. I might try to get a set of his short stories (maybe The Pacific, which Amazon had on discount recently) and try them next.

Haven't read any other O'Connor, Magilla (and The Last Hurrah is one of the few late-era Ford's I haven't seen recently, so I don't remember much at all about it), but The Edge of Sadness is way overdue for rediscovery. It's a great novel, and a pretty quick and easy read too.




Edited By dws1982 on 1292200687

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 15704
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Postby Big Magilla » Sat Dec 11, 2010 9:44 pm

I didn't think anyone read Edwin O'Connor any more.

I vaguely remember The Edge of Sadness which I read in the early 60s when I was a prolific reader. I have fonder memories, though, of The Last Hurrah, which i read around he same time, the movie version of which I must have watched every year on Election Day from the time it became available on home video until the last few years.
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6478
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Dec 11, 2010 8:23 pm

dws1982 wrote:I know a lot of people may not like Helprin because of his politics, but I think this is an absolutely essential work.

My larger problem with Helprin is how verbose he is. (And, as anyone here can tell, I'm plenty verbose myself) I thought parts of Winter's Tale were absolutely unimprovable...but the whole thing went on so long it inevitably lost traction at certain points. I have better tolerance than many for oversized projects, but he pushes even my limits.

dws1982
Tenured
Posts: 2991
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 9:28 pm
Location: AL
Contact:

Postby dws1982 » Sat Dec 11, 2010 7:18 pm

Been too busy to read much lately, but the last two I read, back in the spring, are two of the all-time greats: Edwin O'Connor's The Edge of Sadness and Mark Helprin's A Soldier of the Great War. The Edge of Sadness is one of the more obscure Pulitzer-Fiction winners, probably because there isn't a major "plot" to speak. It's about a middle-aged priest in an unnamed New England city basically trying to find some meaning in his life after falling into a deep depression. A Soldier of the Great War is a lot more sprawling (the only way it could be successfully adapted would be as a HBO miniseries, but I'd prefer it be left alone), about a 75 year-old professor recounting the story of his life; it's very funny at times and unbearably sad at others, extremely moving in the way it portrays all of the joys and disappointments of life. I know a lot of people may not like Helprin because of his politics, but I think this is an absolutely essential work.

Okri
Tenured
Posts: 2608
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:28 pm
Location: Edmonton, AB

Postby Okri » Mon Nov 15, 2010 8:08 pm

Finished Philip Roth's latest and the biography on Sam Steward. The latter was quite good; the former just okay. I miss the mid-90's Roth.

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6478
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Nov 11, 2010 8:45 pm

My wife asked me what Freedom was "about", and I had inordinate trouble supplying anything like a plot description. Yet, while I was reading it, I felt myself engaged every moment in a classic "what come next" story telling sense. It's a spawling book, one filled with striking insights, page after page; wonderfully three-dimensional views of multuple characters; and imaginative incidents from first to damn near the last pages.

With all that, for a long time I was asking myself, what oes it all mean?/how does it all hang together? And then the last sentence of the book caught me so off-guard my eyes just filled with tears. This is some kind of major work -- but not one easily digested or discussed.

Okri
Tenured
Posts: 2608
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:28 pm
Location: Edmonton, AB

Postby Okri » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:04 pm

Currently reading Dreyfus: Politics, Emotion, and the Scandal of the Century by Ruth Harris. Enthralling so far, with a note that I only knew of what happened in the most general of terms, so it's very informative.

I also started I Curse the River of Time but much like Peterson's previous book, I just couldn't get much into it (well, I got halfway but it was overdue).

Franz Ferdinand
Adjunct
Posts: 1327
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2004 3:22 pm
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Contact:

Postby Franz Ferdinand » Tue Oct 12, 2010 8:48 pm

Howard Jacobson just won the Man Booker Prize, so I will undoubtedly start that sometime in the coming weeks. Also Mario Vargas Llosa. I love having books/authors endorsed to me by people who know better!

I am returning to the fantasy realm, having started Brandon Sanderson's mammoth new book The Way Of Kings, still in preparation (always) to begin Robert Jordan's The Wheel Of Time saga. Aside from that, I seem to be starting and abandoning more books than I am actually finishing.

User avatar
Sonic Youth
Laureate
Posts: 7436
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 8:35 pm
Location: USA

Postby Sonic Youth » Mon Oct 04, 2010 10:03 pm

Still loving my kindle.

I'm on a Willa Cather kick. Having read One of Ours, A Lost Lady,[i] and [i]O! Pioneers (a re-read), (with My Antonia next in line), I can confidentally say Willa Cather is one of my very favorite American authors.

Washington Square - Prototypical Henry James novel with a difference. In this case, the dying aristocracy that the innocent female protaganist is struggling against is American, not British. A bigger difference is that it's much less heavy-handed than most James, which may be why it's the James novel most non-James fans admit to liking.

The Return of the Native - Thomas Hardy. James novels are populated with single-minded character traits who unfailingly outwit themselves. Hardy's characters are more recognizably human. It's an exercise in blinkered perspective played for tragedy instead of farce. Except for the ominpresent "reddleman", everyone has only limited understanding of what is going on and of what other people's motivations are, and everyone acts rashly with the limited information they've given. Each unfortunate maneuver logically follows what came previously, affecting all that's to come next, like a Rube Goldberg machine. I usually find such stories too frustrating, and it takes humanity and grace for me to overlook the cruel, calculating narrative.

The Clouds, Lysistrata - Aristophanes. The Marx Brothers go ancient. There's something oddly comforting in knowing they told fart jokes 2,500 years ago. Clouds is much more entertaining. At least it follows the basic, time-honored dramatic structure. As for Lysistrata, I guess it's meant to be seen, not read. It's barely an anti-war play. Anti-inefficient bureaucracy is more like it.

A Widow for One Year - The first John Irving novel I've finished. It's also the fifth Irving novel I've started, and the last. That's all I'll say about that.

The Egyptologist - Arthur Phillips. AKA, the Akash Maharaj story. Good, wicked fun.




Edited By Sonic Youth on 1286248254
"What the hell?"
Win Butler

User avatar
OscarGuy
Site Admin
Posts: 12545
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 12:22 am
Location: Springfield, MO
Contact:

Postby OscarGuy » Mon Oct 04, 2010 10:27 am

Just started Gregory Maguire's third Wicked novel: A Lion Among Men.

I'm surprised at just how much I remember of the backstory of both prior books considering it's probably been at least a year or more since I read them. And style shock is setting in. Switching from Sue Grafton to Gregory Maguire is a strange change.
Wesley Lovell
"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." - Benjamin Franklin


Return to “The Cam Dagg Memorial Theatre and Literature Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests