Author Topic: What are we reading?  (Read 89268 times)

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Garam

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1545 on: December 12, 2015, 11:43:22 PM »
0
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'The Logic of Animal Conflict' made the cover of Nature in November 1973. 'Game Theory and computer analysis,' the authors concluded triumphantly, 'show...that a 'limited war' strategy benefits individuals as well as the species.' With the newly introduced and formally defined concept of the ESS, it was a paper that would impact the study of the evolution of behaviour dramatically. Down at Soho Square most days, searching for Aberdeen and Peg Leg Pete, George had other things on his mind.

“As I hardly need tell you,” Al wrote to him from Buffalo,

the moral and religious precepts of the Gospel reflect a profound understanding of human nature. I would think they are intended to identify goals toward which we should strive, given our frailties...to live up to them literally may be to attempt more than human nature can manage and, I suspect, more than we actually intended. Trying to live up completely by such principles might produce little in the way of peace of mind. And, it would seem to me, that where behaviour based on religious precepts does not yield peace of mind, the eventual result will almost inevitably be the erosion of belief itself.

But George was deep in the forest on the path he had set for himself. “I can't remember whether I told you anything much about my way of life,” he wrote to his brother, Edison.

I have no home, so use my business address as a mail address...Usually I wear brown Levis, sneakers, and a colourful shirt. Many times each month I find myself reduced to one penny, a half penny, or zero. Most of my possessions have been given away, including my watch and coat (but i'll have to pick up a coat somewhere now with winter coming on). Everywhere I go I keep running into down-and-out alcoholics, to whom I give when I have anything, and with whom I sit and drink from their bottle if they offer me a drink. Increasingly I find myself on the opposite side from the police. Many of my friends have done time, and I've been in a house that was raided and had my things searched then, but I haven't yet been busted...I do a lot of smoking, and also smoke cigarettes, though I haven't yet developed a fag habit. A substantial amount of my time is given to trying to help people in almost any way they ask me or seem to need help, whether it's by giving them money, cleaning a filthy kitchen, talking to a landlord, shopping for a housebound person, or trying to solve some mathematical problem for somebody here at work. A lot of this helping is of old people, especially women in their eighties. I live very cheaply and have been reducing my debts (which are large) fairly rapidly since I became homeless...in spite of vast amounts of time missed from work, plus eccentric behaviour such as sleeping here often and doing my laundry in the men's room and trying to borrow money from everyone in the department, my professor and the department chairman are friendly to me. (In fact, most people are friendly to me except the police, who seem to instinctively dislike me nowadays). I haven't gone to church for six or eight weeks, but I visit and try to help old people in connection with a church that I have often attended. I usually wear a cross of some aluminium-appearing or pewter-like metal around my neck, except that people keep asking me for it (especially old, sick people and down-and-out alcoholics) and I've given away seven of them and don't have any now and won't be able to buy another until pay-day). I generally try to say 'yes'.

Then he ended, 'And now what's up with you?'

It was an amazing transformation from the prim, short-haired, gangling IBM worker he had been just a short seven years ago. Even Smoky was really starting to get worried about him, as was Paul Garvey, a homeless wreck serving time at Her Majesty's Remand Centre in Richmond, Surrey.

But George was happy, perhaps the happiest he had ever been. A kind of peaceful quiet had finally descended on his soul. Lately he'd met 'a bloke named Keith who is a follower of the Guru Maharishi,' and the two enjoyed conversations on a park bench over chips and coffee.

He was enclosing a picture of himself, he wrote to Kathleen, taken in his office by a photographer; the best faculty photo, people said, in all of the department. In it he is wearing a colourfully striped shirt and dark bow tie, sporting a wry smile above a scraggly red beard, counterbalanced by fine hair brushed back above a broad forehead. Only the eyes confuse an otherwise joyful portrait: Tucked behind dark-rimmed glasses, one is small and kind, the other open wide and strangely empty.

He was feeling so good that he decided to send Kathleen a special surprise. His only likely source at the time was in Nottingham, where, he divulged to his daughter as if reading her a bedtime story, the sheriff who hunted Robin Hood had lived. But in the end he took out the quid's worth of pot, pressed between the pages of a C. S. Lewis book stamped for California. He had just moved to a new squat, and ended up smoking it himself.

Life among the destitute, as the 'Monthly Message' of the London Healing Mission newsletter admitted, was 'certainly never dull.' There was an alcoholic woman beater whose partner George had hid from him and who was demanding to know where she was. Increasingly he would come around the Galton, insisting to see George, and, when refused entry by the guard, would yell from the pavement and up to his office. George refused to divulge the woman's whereabouts and soon was keeping his own whereabouts secret, too. 'The reason for the secrecy,' he explained to Kathleen after half apologising for smoking the reefer,

is mainly one very difficult man who has been coming around where I work to look for me and causing trouble. A week ago Monday he pissed publically on the front steps of the genetics building, smashed a bicycle lamp, scattered the contents of some student's satchel around, and shouted his best obscenities.

The people he was living among and helping weren't always as friendly as he was, but, having been enveloped in a halo of serenity, George wouldn't allow this to dampen his mood. “I expect that one cover-illustrated article in Nature compensates for one urination at the front entrance to the building,” he joked to Kathleen. His sense of humour was still very much alive.

The administrators at the Galton weren't happy about the down-and-outs who were showing up, still less for their urinations and assaults on students. Late in the fall, George had met a young IBM programmer from America at the Russell Square Underground Station who turned out to share his liking for Proust plus his total lack of direction and great inability in pronouncing unfamiliar names. Excited, George took him back to his office and they spent the evening talking about Proust and computer programming. As it happened, the young American was wearing blue jeans, leather boots, a green poncho, and had about a three-day stubble. Wary of George's exploits, the beadle immediately pegged him as an alcoholic and pressured Harry Harris into introducing a new rule against late night and weekend working without special permission. CABS tried to help by sneaking  George a key to the statistics library, but he was discovered. Soon he was no longer coming in to his office at UCL. Too quickly his colleagues at the department were losing contact with him. Most thought he'd gone off the deep end. “He'd certainly flipped,” one of them recalled.

Then, in Mid-November, Al Somit arrived in London for a visit. The UCL photo may have made George look healthy and chipper, but that was only a head shot and after a rare shower to boot; the professional photographer hired by the Galton had obviously done some magic. In reality things were very different. Al hadn't seen George for about eight years and was dismayed and appalled at what he now found: he'd first met him in the weight room at the University of Chicago, offbeat perhaps but handsome and muscular and hard; now George was as sinewy and gaunt as an old man, the spring in his step all but vanished. He was grungy and oily and shabbily dressed, his teeth were beginning to rot, his outgrown hair was as brittle as hay, his fingers yellow from smoking. They joked together like in the old times at the co-op before Al shifted, inevitably, to a more serious tone:

“I'm not going to give you money for the new pair of shoes you obviously need unless you promise not to give it to these two leeches,” he said to him in a coffee shop, eyeballing two alcoholics who had been on George's tail. George thanked him but said he couldn't make such a promise, and that no amount of convincing would help. It was the same old George, he thought, always contrary, always at the extreme. Holding his hand out with a smile to say good-bye, Al walked away from his old friend with the pound notes still deep in his pocket.

“It was nice to see you again though, in all honesty, I think I would have preferred finding you in somewhat other circumstances,” he wrote upon his return to Buffalo, suddenly feeling worried and regretful.

It occurred to me, as I reflected on our discussion, that you may be confusing the notion of serving your fellow man with loving your fellow man. If the former, surely there are more effective ways than the one which you have adopted.

Then he added, with a candor far removed form their usual wise-cracking: “The latter may, in fact, be quite removed from your capacity – or mine.”

wilder

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1546 on: December 14, 2015, 12:45:40 AM »
+4


Cinema is full of neurotic personalities, but few things are more transfixing than a woman losing her mind onscreen. Horror as a genre provides the most welcoming platform for these histrionics: crippling paranoia, desperate loneliness, masochistic death-wishes, dangerous obsessiveness, apocalyptic hysteria. Unlike her male counterpart - 'the eccentric' - the female neurotic lives a shamed existence, making these films those rare places where her destructive emotions get to play.

Films covered include The Entity, The Corruption of Chris Miller, Singapore Sling, 3 Women, Toys Are Not for Children, Repulsion, Let's Scare Jessica to Death, The Haunting of Julia, Secret Ceremony, Cutting Moments, Out of the Blue, Mademoiselle, The Piano Teacher, Possession, Antichrist and hundreds more!

polkablues

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1547 on: December 14, 2015, 01:20:20 AM »
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Let me know if that's any good, it sounds up my alley.
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Reelist

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1548 on: December 14, 2015, 07:38:46 AM »
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Ditto. That's a nice snag and I'm always up for this kind of subtextual film criticism, the last one I highly enjoyed being "Men, Women & Chainsaws" ...of course, I'd need to rewatch a bunch of the movies listed first as they've just been sitting on my shelf.

jenkins

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1549 on: January 08, 2016, 02:36:59 AM »
+1
i'm not actually reading these chapbooks tonight, i'm staring at their covers online while feeling less alone in this universe:





this one's a book from the writer of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, and i can relate to it by basic principle: [edit: i have no idea why it's on the Pion

"I must whisper it to you—not because Im ashamed but because it is so Dear to me that I must keep it close to me by whispering—"

jenkins

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1550 on: March 21, 2016, 08:14:55 PM »
+1








"I must whisper it to you—not because Im ashamed but because it is so Dear to me that I must keep it close to me by whispering—"

jenkins

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1551 on: April 10, 2016, 01:55:52 PM »
+1


Wiki paraphrase:
City of Night is a gay novel written by John Rechy, notable for its exposé approach to and stark depiction of hustling, as well as its stream of consciousness narrative style. The narrator shares many characteristics, including his ethnicity and relative age, with the author at the time. City of Night inspired film director Gus Van Sant to write the screenplay for My Own Private Idaho. Toby Ross in his film "Paper Dreams" makes a clear mention of the book and the influence it had on his career and thousands of young men who used this book as an inspiration for migrating to the big cities and imitation of the protagonist's life style.



Wiki paraphrase:
John Francisco Rechy is a Mexican American novelist, essayist, memoirist, dramatist and literary critic who has written extensively about gay culture in Los Angeles and wider America, among other subject matters, and is among the pioneers of modern LGBT literature. His debut novel City of Night, published in 1963, was a best seller and is widely considered a seminal work in 20th century literature.

quote from James Baldwin letter to the publisher regarding the book:

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[Rechy's] tone rings absolutely true, is absolutely his own... He tells the truth, and tells it with such passion that we are forced to share in the life he conveys... This is a most humbling and liberating achievement..

epigraph:

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"The City of Night: perchance of Death, But certainly of Night...."
--James Thomson, The City of Dreadful Night

book's first line:

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Later I would think of America as one vast City of Night stretching gaudily from Times Square to Hollywood Boulevard--jukebox-winking, rock-n-roll-moaning: America at night fusing its darkcities into the unmistakable shape of loneliness.

paragraph of the book, from page 2, which made me have to make this post:

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At first the day was beautiful, with the sky blue as it gets only in memories of Texas childhood. Nowhere else in the world, I will think later, is there a sky as clue, as blue, as Deep as that. I will remember other skies: like inverted cups, this shade of blue or gray or black, with limits, like painted rooms. But in the Southwest, the sky was millions and millions of miles deep of blue--clear, magic, electric blue. (I would stare at it sometimes, inexplicably racked with excitement, thinking: If I get a stick miles long and stand on a mountain, I'll puncture Heaven--which I thought of then as an island somewhere in the vast sky--and then Heaven will come tumbling down to Earth....) Then, that day, standing watching Winnie, I see the gray clouds massing and rolling in the horizon, sweeping suddenly terrifyingly across the sky as if to battle, giant mushrooms exploding, blending in that steely blanket. Now youre locked down here so Lonesome suddenly youre cold. The wind sweeps up the dust, tumbleweeds claw their way across the dirt....

bold is my personal emphasis, just fucking tucked into a parenthetical mid-paragraph. italics are from the book.

what really itches my skin is how Los Angeles he is. better later than never, is the saying.
"I must whisper it to you—not because Im ashamed but because it is so Dear to me that I must keep it close to me by whispering—"

jenkins

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1552 on: April 20, 2016, 11:32:47 PM »
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^City of Night is flatout the best reading i've had since... The Savage Detectives, back-back, in terms of the empowering effects the writing is having on my perception of the possibility and potential of words.

so now i'm all up in words again, where i love to be. Maggie Nelson was a big factor as well. i quote her saying "artistry trumps mastery." i'm going to finish City of Night then supposedly i'll read next these books i'm buying in my frenzy:



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"When you sell a man a book," says Roger Mifflin, the sprite-like book peddler at the center of this classic novella, "you don't sell him just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue—you sell him a whole new life." In this beguiling but little-known prequel to Christopher Morley's beloved Haunted Bookshop, the "whole new life" that the traveling bookman delivers to Helen McGill, the narrator of Parnassus on Wheels, provides the romantic comedy that drives this charming love letter to a life in books.



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Best known for The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov is one of twentieth-century Russia's most prominent novelists. A Dead Man's Memoir is a semi- autobiographical story about a writer who fails to sell his novel, then fails to commit suicide. When the writer's play is taken up for production in a theater, literary success beckons, but he is not prepared to reckon with the grotesquely inflated egos of the actors, directors, and theater managers.



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A book length collaboration between two underground legends, Charles Bukowski and Robert Crumb. Bukowski's last journals candidly and humorously reveal the events in the writer's life as death draws inexorably nearer, thereby illuminating our own lives and natures, and to give new meaning to what was once only familiar. Crumb has illustrated the text with 12 full-page drawings and a portrait of Bukowski.



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The Red Lobster perched in the far corner of a run-down New England mall hasn't been making its numbers and headquarters has pulled the plug. But manager Manny DeLeon still needs to navigate a tricky last shift with a near-mutinous staff. All the while, he's wondering how to handle the waitress he's still in love with, what to do about his pregnant girlfriend, and where to find the present that will make everything better.

Stewart O'Nan has been called "the bard of the working class," and Last Night at the Lobster is one of his most acclaimed works.
"I must whisper it to you—not because Im ashamed but because it is so Dear to me that I must keep it close to me by whispering—"

jenkins

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1553 on: April 27, 2016, 02:56:37 AM »
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i'm still currently ordering and ordering books, although aside from some pages it doesn't even count as reading them yet.

recently i've been chatting with people about the philosophy of solipsism and the fact that i have my solipsism and you have yours and we're all these people trying to get along, you know, and this is related to i care about these books now but i'm not sure there are many people here who do, but i don't hold it against you, since i probably don't care about your things (we can laugh about this).

this is human stuff and i'mma whatever-whatever disinterest.

the Greeks, you know. the cradle of Western civilization. they've been on my mind recently, since i figure everything i talk about in Automanifest the Greeks have mentioned. and i've been putting this to the test. which has, yes, produced its riches.

the first one i mentioned in shoutbox, it relates more to the movie The Witch than Automanifest, but i like how playful and rich with character it is:



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Written towards the end of the second century AD, The Golden Ass tells the story of the many adventures of a young man whose fascination with witchcraft leads him to be transformed into a donkey. The bewitched Lucius passes from owner to owner - encountering a desperate gang of robbers and being forced to perform lewd 'human' tricks on stage - until the Goddess Isis finally breaks the spell and initiates Lucius into her cult. It has long been disputed whether Apuleius meant this last-minute conversion seriously or as a final comic surprise, and the challenge of interpretation continues to keep readers fascinated. Apuleius' enchanting story has inspired generations of writers such as Boccaccio, Shakespeare, Cervantes and Keats with its dazzling combination of allegory, satire, bawdiness and sheer exuberance, and The Golden Ass remains the most continuously and accessibly amusing book to have survived from Classical antiquity.

so where did thinking about this book take my thoughts? well into the idea of books, and in particular my fascination these days has been with picaresque novels, which are absolutely still my favorite types of novels. this is how wiki quotes it being described:

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A picaresque narrative is usually written in first person as an autobiographical account.
The main character is often of low character or social class. He or she gets by with wit and rarely deigns to hold a job.
There is no plot. The story is told in a series of loosely connected adventures or episodes.
There is little if any character development in the main character. Once a picaro, always a picaro. His or her circumstances may change but they rarely result in a change of heart.
The picaro's story is told with a plainness of language or realism.
Satire might sometimes be a prominent element.
The behavior of a picaresque hero or heroine stops just short of criminality. Carefree or immoral rascality positions the picaresque hero as a sympathetic outsider, untouched by the false rules of society.

the idea of the picaresque novel and travel books and the idea of journeys and people encountered, things like that, basically the idea of storytelling for as long as stories have existed, that's my favorite stuff. so i did what? well i ordered the first book that established this idea:



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While elements of Chaucer and Boccaccio have a picaresque feel and may have contributed to the style, the modern picaresque begins with Lazarillo de Tormes, which was published anonymously in 1554 in Burgos, Medina del Campo, and Alcalá de Henares in Spain, and also in Antwerp, which at the time was under Spanish rule as a major city in the Spanish Netherlands. It is variously considered either the first picaresque novel or at least the antecedent of the genre.

The protagonist, Lázaro, lives by his wits in an effort to survive and succeed in an impoverished country full of hypocrisy. As a picaro character, he is an alienated outsider, whose ability to expose and ridicule individuals compromised with society gives him a revolutionary stance. Lázaro states that the motivation for his writing is to communicate his experiences of overcoming deception, hypocrisy, and falsehood (desengaño).

that's exactly what i still do today. absolutely. still the same human stuff. i'd say the contemporary update is one has to realize one's part of the problem too. or simply me as a person i am, i'm part of the problem, my problem.

looking forward to either fully reading these books or consuming their ideas alone. books and movies alike, i follow the compass in my heart, same as everyone with everything.
"I must whisper it to you—not because Im ashamed but because it is so Dear to me that I must keep it close to me by whispering—"

wilder

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1554 on: April 27, 2016, 07:04:45 AM »
+1


In The Correspondence Artist, an unremarkable woman has been carrying on with an internationally recognized artist, largely via e-mail. To protect her paramour's identity, she creates a series of correspondent, alternative lovers in a self-destructing roman à clef.

Gotta thank jenkins for turning me on to this author Barbara Browning. I’m reading the book and simultaneously digitally roadtripping through interviews with her.

A page on her site about The Correspondence Artist features this choice quote:

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Writing a fictional work about love, I began to realize how inherently fictional love always is.

This interview, “The Internet works like the subconscious”, is a nice tour through her brain.

And here's a cool talk about the book she wrote afterward, I'm Trying to Reach You, which I'm watching out of context since I haven't read it yet, but it doesn't seem to matter:



Jenkins hit a bullseye with this one this is so my area.


And I'm quoting this:

i care about these books now but i'm not sure there are many people here who do, but i don't hold it against you, since i probably don't care about your things (we can laugh about this).


jenkins

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1555 on: November 29, 2016, 03:26:52 PM »
0


plot:

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New Grub Street opens with Milvain, an "alarmingly modern young man" driven by pure financial ambition in navigating his literary career. He accepts that he will "always despise the people [he] write(s) for," networks within the appropriate social circle to create opportunity, and authors articles for popular periodicals. Reardon, on the other hand, prefers to write novels of a more literary bent and refuses to pander to contemporary tastes until, as a last-gasp measure against financial ruin, he attempts a popular novel. At this venture, he is of course too good to succeed, and he's driven to separate from his wife, Amy Reardon, née Yule, who cannot accept her husband's inflexibly high standards—and consequent poverty.

the author's wiki is dramatic:

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On 25 February 1891, he married another working-class woman, Edith Alice Underwood. They settled in Exeter, but moved to Brixton in June 1893 and Epsom in 1894. They had two children, Walter Leonard (1891–1916) and Alfred Charles Gissing (1896–1975), but the marriage was not successful. Edith did not understand his work and Gissing insisted on keeping them socially isolated from his peers, which exacerbated problems in the marriage. Whereas Nell was too sick to complain about his controlling behaviour, some historians believe Edith stood up to him with arguments; whereas she may have suffered uncontrollable and violent rages as Gissing claimed in his letters to Bertz - from this distance in time it is impossible to know the truth. Gissing exerted his revenge - or protected the child from continual violent assaults since he stated in letters the child's safety was in danger - in April 1896, when Walter was spirited away without Edith's knowledge and sent to stay with Gissing's sisters in Wakefield. Gissing claimed this was to prevent the boy being a victim of Edith's violence, but he strongly disliked the way she represented him to his son. Alfred, the younger child, remained with his mother. The couple separated in 1897, though this was not a clean break - Gissing spent his time dodging Edith and afraid she might seek a reconciliation. In 1902, Edith was certified insane and was confined to an asylum. At this time he met and befriended Clara Collet who was probably in love with him, although it is unclear whether he reciprocated. They remained friends for the rest of his life and after his death she helped to support Edith and the children.

gloomy closing paragraph:

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In 1897 Gissing met H. G. Wells and his wife, who spent the spring with him and his sister at Budleigh Salterton. Wells said Gissing was "no longer the glorious, indefatigable, impracticable youth of the London flat, but a damaged and ailing man, full of ill-advised precautions against the imaginary illnesses that were his interpretations of a general malaise."

people who live and write of the tricky life i'm magnetized by owing to relatability.
"I must whisper it to you—not because Im ashamed but because it is so Dear to me that I must keep it close to me by whispering—"

Jeremy Blackman

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1556 on: December 15, 2016, 09:16:32 PM »
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Unwrap My Heart is about a teenage girl who falls in love with a mummy.

It's essentially a parody of Twilight and other supernatural YA romance.

23-min book reading here:

http://read-weep.com/#!/bonus-content.php/unwrap-my-heart-live-reading
"Hunger is the purest sin"

jenkins

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1557 on: January 14, 2017, 04:24:38 PM »
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i'm glad there's a post in here to help me remember when i discovered John Rechy's City of Night, which book, reminder, inspired Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho, was cited by David Bowie as his favorite book, has a James Baldwin letter of praise at its beginning, and it's absolutely the most impressive book from and about Los Angeles which i've heard of and read. the book was transformative for me and that's been mentioned now.

these are books published in 2016 which were transformative in my life --



this book was also about my life, i could tell



playfully terrified and similar to Walker Percy's Lost in the Cosmos



it's a fucking book about a dude living in Yellow Springs, Ohio, off royalties from his self-published books, sold over the internet, and this whole concept plus reality makes me shit myself really



sometimes one just lets oneself be marketed, short stories



confession: i haven't opened this book yet, which arrived to me with that fucking cover and wrapped in plastic, and all i knew i just know this is a keeper



legit called by some the golden age of nonfiction, our time period, and that's because women are writing awesome creative nonfiction, and this is a tops from the year, as Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts was last year



bite-sized philosophy and a fractal narrative, plus he's Spanish-language, come on



he's the Alex Ross Perry of the literary world, which means i kind of hate him and appear to like the same things he does



never forget: trashculturemutantjunkie, and what bizarro fiction has created, the reading community they've built, from Portland, from sci-fi and fantasy and teenage feelings, they're basically kids books for adults, i adore the entire enterprise



this is the Scandinavian version of American Mary, i.e. it's better focused and more introspective



Scandinavian but also experimental, since the lines, you know, but really it's the same as everything else, just written differently



it's not my first year reading her, is the thing, and basically she's exactly who i want to be



two in a row, regarding writers whom it'd just be better if i was them, the poetry book sensation of the year, i bought it like everyone else



poetry book, though in particular i like the inciting prose



this is actually the most recent for me and i've barely read from it, so all i know is it has that sharp prose which is common, writerly, it's shorts, its 5.5x7 format trips me out, and it's a symbol here at the end for how this year i basically i looked around and found all this great writing currently being produced and easy as hell to run into okay
"I must whisper it to you—not because Im ashamed but because it is so Dear to me that I must keep it close to me by whispering—"

jenkins

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1558 on: January 15, 2017, 06:58:21 PM »
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^ i was slightly surprised by the number, myself, plus later i thought of what i'd left out.

the first is actually the most influential novel of the year for me, so it's extra-ridiculous i'd forgotten about it, except also he's a longtime favorite, and the second is the first novelization of a movie i've ever read



"I must whisper it to you—not because Im ashamed but because it is so Dear to me that I must keep it close to me by whispering—"

 

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