Author Topic: What are we reading?  (Read 115855 times)

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Mr. Merrill Lehrl

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1455 on: May 10, 2011, 07:16:23 PM »
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I'm ready to talk about it now.

spoilers

So many penetrating moments in the book, but also terrific stretches of character and flashes of beauty.  Did you become bored in the moments that were meant to express boredom and thereby permitted by narrative logic to be boring themselves?  I admit I sometimes did, especially in the late chapter that's a long conversation between the equally boring (for completely different reasons) Meredith Rand and Shane Drinion.  Although that chapter had its shining moments too.  What do you think about its flaws as unfinished material and potentially inert subject material versus the development of Wallace's style and voice and the many successful moments?  I thought the pros vastly outweighed the cons.

A personal favorite chapter of mine was number 8, which is I believe Toni Ware's backstory.  Beautiful crushing prose and the most terrific landscape descriptions I've ever seen from Wallace.  David gets a blowjob from the Iranian Crisis in a closet due to a case of mistaken identity!  Classic, really funny David moments, also the long, long car trip to the IRS headquarters, although some of the self-referential aspects didn't click due to his early death, especially the beginning of his first chapter when he's talking about lawyers and publishers and stuff.  That's too bad.

I give the book a thousand golden moons.  What about you?
“If I had to hold up the most heavily fortified bank in America,” Bolaño says, “I’d take a gang of poets. The attempt would probably end in disaster, but it would be beautiful.”

JG

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1456 on: May 11, 2011, 05:15:37 PM »
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I'm ready to talk about it now.

spoilers

So many penetrating moments in the book, but also terrific stretches of character and flashes of beauty.  Did you become bored in the moments that were meant to express boredom and thereby permitted by narrative logic to be boring themselves?  I admit I sometimes did, especially in the late chapter that's a long conversation between the equally boring (for completely different reasons) Meredith Rand and Shane Drinion.  Although that chapter had its shining moments too.  What do you think about its flaws as unfinished material and potentially inert subject material versus the development of Wallace's style and voice and the many successful moments?  I thought the pros vastly outweighed the cons.

A personal favorite chapter of mine was number 8, which is I believe Toni Ware's backstory.  Beautiful crushing prose and the most terrific landscape descriptions I've ever seen from Wallace.  David gets a blowjob from the Iranian Crisis in a closet due to a case of mistaken identity!  Classic, really funny David moments, also the long, long car trip to the IRS headquarters, although some of the self-referential aspects didn't click due to his early death, especially the beginning of his first chapter when he's talking about lawyers and publishers and stuff.  That's too bad.

I give the book a thousand golden moons.  What about you?

Firstly, I think the media strategy of talking about the book in terms of whether or not its actually boring is just sort of cute and unnecessary. Its a good book, and if its ever boring its not because of the subject matter. Its the same factor in a lot of his work. Wallace explained a lot, and, very often, dryly.

The chapter you mentioned (Rand and Drinion) was actually one of my favorites. Wallace's prose seems to me most effective when narrating from the perspective of another character (even if its "David Foster Wallace," though I agree - if there was one chapter that DFW's suicide cast a weird glow over - it was his "memoir" chapter.)  However, you mentioned Ch. 8, and if there is one chapter that I struggled with on my first read through - it was that one. So I guess that just shows you that we are different types of readers.

Ultimately, I think its a great work, though incomplete (as opposed to IJ, which feels complete in its incompleteness, ie. its decision to not further traditional plot points) ... It feels like a scattering of wonderful chapters from some masterwork, but, having read the notes at the end of the novel, maybe its better that way? Its like like having this really vast canvas, but no one room can hold the canvas, so its spread out across many rooms. You can see the work, but only in bits and pieces, and in this case, the doors to some of the rooms have been locked. But if you squint hard enough you can kind of see the whole thing. Could the guesswork ultimately be apart of the book's charm?

I would recommend Pale King first as a supplement to his other work, namely IJ, because if there is one thing this novel did for me it was clarify that Wallace's fiction was on a very specific track. I recall the Fogle's "doubling" chapter, which is essentially a novella, entirely readable unto itself.. In that section, Fogle discusses the effects of the drug obetrol and hits on a sentence that eerily recalls the opening moments of IJ ("I am in here...") Moments like that are abound throughout the novel, beyond thematic echoes - relationship dynamics, structurally...

I'll think about it for weeks to come. I too give it many gold moons.


Mr. Merrill Lehrl

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1457 on: May 11, 2011, 05:59:51 PM »
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Its a good book, and if its ever boring its not because of the subject matter. Its the same factor in a lot of his work. Wallace explained a lot, and, very often, dryly.

I don't know if it's a media strategy so much as a natural reflex as a reader.  Sometimes the subject matter is boredom, and as a book on boredom you ask yourself what's boring about it, how is the author portraying boredom?  You're right and wise to say that conversation about boredom has become disproportional to larger questions, and I think that's because the book is new and it's one of the easiest and most obvious themes to tackle.  But we can ignore it if you want.

Quote
The chapter you mentioned (Rand and Drinion) was actually one of my favorites. Wallace's prose seems to me most effective when narrating from the perspective of another character (even if its "David Foster Wallace," though I agree - if there was one chapter that DFW's suicide cast a weird glow over - it was his "memoir" chapter.)  However, you mentioned Ch. 8, and if there is one chapter that I struggled with on my first read through - it was that one. So I guess that just shows you that we are different types of readers.

I thought in Chapter 8 and other moments in other chapters DFW was casting a kind of forlorn shadow over the midwest, tones of misery and longing like you see in southern gothic, but given the DFW twist.  These moments were really powerful for me.  I was potentially being hard on the Rand and Drinion chapter, and like with the boredom theme it's DFW himself who supplied me with the ammunition to criticize the chapter, in the form of Rand's observations on Drinion and vice versa.  Some of my favorite lines were in the chapter, and Drinion's levitation was a wonderful wtf.  It also has a richly textured and believable atmosphere.

Quote
Ultimately, I think its a great work, though incomplete (as opposed to IJ, which feels complete in its incompleteness, ie. its decision to not further traditional plot points) ... It feels like a scattering of wonderful chapters from some masterwork, but, having read the notes at the end of the novel, maybe its better that way? Its like like having this really vast canvas, but no one room can hold the canvas, so its spread out across many rooms. You can see the work, but only in bits and pieces, and in this case, the doors to some of the rooms have been locked. But if you squint hard enough you can kind of see the whole thing. Could the guesswork ultimately be apart of the book's charm?

I plan to geek out and visit the university the papers are going to be stored at once they're released to the public.

Quote
I would recommend Pale King first as a supplement to his other work, namely IJ, because if there is one thing this novel did for me it was clarify that Wallace's fiction was on a very specific track. I recall the Fogle's "doubling" chapter, which is essentially a novella, entirely readable unto itself.. In that section, Fogle discusses the effects of the drug obetrol and hits on a sentence that eerily recalls the opening moments of IJ ("I am in here...") Moments like that are abound throughout the novel, beyond thematic echoes - relationship dynamics, structurally...

Yeah you alluded to this in the other thread, but I find it's really hard to convince people to take the time to read Infinite Jest, and I'm hoping the attention surrounding him right now might lead people to him in whatever form is most appealing to them, including the reading of Pale King first.
“If I had to hold up the most heavily fortified bank in America,” Bolaño says, “I’d take a gang of poets. The attempt would probably end in disaster, but it would be beautiful.”

ᾦɐļᵲʊʂ

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1458 on: May 16, 2011, 02:32:00 AM »
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Really comprehensive and articulate about the art of Japanese comics and the man who greatly pioneered what manga is today.
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72teeth

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1459 on: May 16, 2011, 03:23:17 AM »
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just finnished "Never Let Me Go" by Kazuo Ishiguro... now im reading "Middlesex" by Jeffery Eugenides... want to read Tom Perrotta now
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Mr. Merrill Lehrl

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1460 on: June 09, 2011, 05:35:36 PM »
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Speaking of DFW (which JG and I were), samsong's recent post reminded me of a great passage from the Writer's Thesaurus.

personally i was really surprised that a film that utilized so many archetypes and familiar symbols/imagery could still be as moving as this was.

Quote
utilize
This is a puff-word. Since it does nothing that good old "use" doesn't do, its extra letters and syllables don't make a writer seem smarter. Rather, using "utilize" makes you seem like either a pompous twit or someone so insecure that he'll use pointlessly big words in an attempt to look smart. The same is true for the noun "utilization," for "vehicle" as used for "car," for "residence" as used for "home," for "indicate" as used for "say," for "presently," "at present," "at this time," and "at the present time" as used for "now," and so on. What's worth remembering about puff-words is something that good writing teachers spend a lot of time drumming into undergrads: "Formal writing" does not mean gratuitously fancy writing; it means clean, clear, maximally considerate writing. --David Foster Wallace

No offense to samsong who uses a lot of dynamic words in order to emphasize and dramatize his viewing experiences.  That's his style and everyone should have a personal style.

Also:



I want to read American Genius next, as this thread reminded me.
“If I had to hold up the most heavily fortified bank in America,” Bolaño says, “I’d take a gang of poets. The attempt would probably end in disaster, but it would be beautiful.”

ᾦɐļᵲʊʂ

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1461 on: June 25, 2011, 11:33:02 PM »
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I imagined this would be rough, being firsthand accounts both by the author and interviews with survivors of the Gulags... But it is absolutely brutal.  If your'e fascinated by the era and want to learn about the sheer hopelessness of forced labor camps, by all means, check out this book.  
"As a matter of fact I only work with the feeling of something magical, something seemingly significant. And to keep it magical I don't want to know the story involved, I just want the hypnotic effect of it somehow seeming significant without knowing why." - Len Lye

children with angels

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1462 on: June 29, 2011, 11:36:32 AM »
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Does anyone happen to have a copy of the March 2004 issue of The Believer?



I need to check some page number references for an article I'm writing. Specifically, I'm trying to find out the page numbers for the article 'Notes on Art So Bad It's Good', by Douglas Wolk. I realise it's an extremely long shot, but if anyone's able to help a brother out, I'd be eternally grateful!
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Mr. Merrill Lehrl

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1463 on: June 29, 2011, 03:59:49 PM »
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Just came out. Any fans? Let's book club.
“If I had to hold up the most heavily fortified bank in America,” Bolaño says, “I’d take a gang of poets. The attempt would probably end in disaster, but it would be beautiful.”

Sleepless

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1464 on: August 02, 2011, 12:08:09 PM »
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A quick search yielded no thread dedicated to comic books, so I figured this is as good a place as any... I'm not a huge comic book guy but every couple of years or so I get back into them again. Last time I did, I read the entire Tintin collection. But wondered if anyone had heard about the massive DC reboot? On August 31, they are releasing brand new #1's of 52 different titles, in what appears to effectively be a mass reboot on dozens of different titles.

I'm wanting to at least take a look at Aquaman and a few of those Batman titles; think it could be pretty cool. Anyone know any more on any of this? I don't know whether it's worth trying to pre-order some place to at least see which ones I'd be interested in, or whether it's likely most stores would be pretty well stocked so I can browse and choose.

Anyway.... discuss away...

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1465 on: August 02, 2011, 02:49:50 PM »
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A quick search yielded no thread dedicated to comic books

You lazy bastard.

Quote
I'm not a huge comic book guy but every couple of years or so I get back into them again. Last time I did, I read the entire Tintin collection. But wondered if anyone had heard about the massive DC reboot? On August 31, they are releasing brand new #1's of 52 different titles, in what appears to effectively be a mass reboot on dozens of different titles.

I'm wanting to at least take a look at Aquaman and a few of those Batman titles; think it could be pretty cool. Anyone know any more on any of this? I don't know whether it's worth trying to pre-order some place to at least see which ones I'd be interested in, or whether it's likely most stores would be pretty well stocked so I can browse and choose.

Anyway.... discuss away...

They'll probably be awful, this isn't really the first time something like this has happened.  And "why does it happen?", you may be wondering.  Because ongoing serials with no end in sight just keep expanding the mythos until it gets so unwieldy that not even the virginest fanboy can fathom what's happening.  I'm not really that stoked about the reboots because DC staples are all cuddly, child-safe shit heaps.

If you want to catch up on Aquaman and Batman, you should also catch up on Tiger Beat so you can stay hip to the pacing and plot depth.
"As a matter of fact I only work with the feeling of something magical, something seemingly significant. And to keep it magical I don't want to know the story involved, I just want the hypnotic effect of it somehow seeming significant without knowing why." - Len Lye

Sleepless

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1466 on: August 02, 2011, 03:08:30 PM »
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I knew there was one! I swear I looked but couldn't find it! So what's the deal here, you seem to know what's going on. Are they actually rebooting all these titles back to issue 1, or are the existing titles continuing, these are just going to run parallel? It seems to be a case of the former, but I wonder if that won't necessarily stop them from bringing in older characters with all their baggage which new reboot readers won't be familiar with. An example of why this is concerning is the whole two Arthur Curry nonsense from when they tried to change up Aquaman a couple of years ago. I'm not too worried about them being too kiddie-safe, because I never really read superhero comic books growing up a whole lot, so I'm partly interested in this reboot for the sake of some square one onwards stories I can pass on to my son. He's still young enough now that he'd just rip the pages to shreds, but some years down the road it would be cool to pass of a stack of comics to him to discover.

Either way, I can't believe that what seems to be such a massive event concerning several prolific characters hasn't had much publicity. It's hardly like I live with my head under a rock, yet today was the first I'd heard of this. DC needs to get some better PR and marketing people.

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1467 on: August 02, 2011, 03:19:28 PM »
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ᾦɐļᵲʊʂ

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1468 on: August 02, 2011, 03:46:13 PM »
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I knew there was one! I swear I looked but couldn't find it! So what's the deal here, you seem to know what's going on. Are they actually rebooting all these titles back to issue 1, or are the existing titles continuing, these are just going to run parallel? It seems to be a case of the former, but I wonder if that won't necessarily stop them from bringing in older characters with all their baggage which new reboot readers won't be familiar with. An example of why this is concerning is the whole two Arthur Curry nonsense from when they tried to change up Aquaman a couple of years ago. I'm not too worried about them being too kiddie-safe, because I never really read superhero comic books growing up a whole lot, so I'm partly interested in this reboot for the sake of some square one onwards stories I can pass on to my son. He's still young enough now that he'd just rip the pages to shreds, but some years down the road it would be cool to pass of a stack of comics to him to discover.

Either way, I can't believe that what seems to be such a massive event concerning several prolific characters hasn't had much publicity. It's hardly like I live with my head under a rock, yet today was the first I'd heard of this. DC needs to get some better PR and marketing people.

All I know, is that they're re-imagining all the origins and everything so that new readers can get in at ground zero and longtime readers can be given the middle finger for sticking with the series for so long try out something new!

I'm not sure of the parallel nature, and fanboys will be fanboys, I'm sure they'll continue to eat it up.  I'm sure they'll continue to print the old ones, too.  But I'm not absolutely positive.


Also

Writing Movies For Profit

A coworker was raving about this, should I just pick it up?  Based on his description, it's an absolutely hilarious, edifying and quick read.
"As a matter of fact I only work with the feeling of something magical, something seemingly significant. And to keep it magical I don't want to know the story involved, I just want the hypnotic effect of it somehow seeming significant without knowing why." - Len Lye

polkablues

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #1469 on: August 02, 2011, 07:13:34 PM »
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But wondered if anyone had heard about the massive DC reboot? On August 31, they are releasing brand new #1's of 52 different titles, in what appears to effectively be a mass reboot on dozens of different titles.

Now you're in the *spoiler* place.

 

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