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What are we reading?

edison · 1568 · 167246

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Reply #1560 on: January 19, 2018, 09:04:32 AM
One of the most relentlessly horrifying, brilliantly rendered works of historical "fiction" I've ever encountered. Getting through it at a slightly slower pace than I'd like, my work schedule making it particularly difficult to just sit down and devour this morally-challenging (to put it lightly) behemoth. My highest recommendation, and I'm only about 300 pages in.

Bret Easton Eliis had this to say about it: "Almost finished with THE KINDLY ONES by Jonathan Littell which I bought when it came out years ago but only picked up in the last couple of months and am convinced it’s a masterpiece—a 1000 page novel narrated by a young German rising through the SS in the final years of WW II with a guaranteed horror every seventy pages or so (Stalingrad, Auschwitz). I am not recommending this novel to everyone—it will be impossible for some people with a monstrous narrator. It’s actually an overwhelming act of sympathetic imagination and I was both horrified and mesmerized and never bored even though the book definitely has—because of its immersive quality—its narrative digressions."
"Do you laugh at jealousy?"

"No, I don't even laugh at seasickness! I happen to regard jealousy as the seasickness of passion."


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Reply #1561 on: March 18, 2018, 07:57:53 PM

Rebecca Solnit slays, is basically what i'm saying. how did i find about her? not even from someone i know, no, but from the internet, she was just listed around the things i liked and there i went. the same thing happened with me and Mary Oliver. do i think Mary Oliver lives up to her reputation? that's another thing i'm saying. here's Solnit:

The places in which any significant event occurred become embedded with some of that emotion, and so to recover the memory of the place is to recover the emotion, and sometimes to revisit the place uncovers the emotion. Every love has its landscape. Thus place, which is always spoken of as though it only counts when you’re present, possesses you in its absence, takes on another life as a sense of place, a summoning in the imagination, with all that atmospheric effect and association of a powerful emotion. The places inside matter as much as the one outside. It is as though in the way places stay with you and that you long for them they become desires—a lot of religions have local deities, presiding spirits, geniuses of the place. You could imagine that in those songs Kentucky or the Red River is a spirit which the singer prays, that the mourn the dreamtime before banishment, when the singer lived among the gods who were not phantasm but geography, matter, earth, itself.

There is a voluptuous pleasure in all that sadness. and I wonder where it comes from, because as we usually construe the world, sadness and pleasure should be far apart. Is it that the joy that comes from other people always risks sadness, because even when love doesn’t fail, mortality enters in; is it that there is a place where sadness and joy are not distinct, where all emotion lies together, a sort of ocean into which the tributary streams of distinct emotions go, a faraway deep inside; is it that such sadness is only the side effect of art that describes the depths of our lives, and to see that described in all potential for loneliness and pain is beautiful? There are songs of insurgent power; they are essentially what rock and roll, an outgrowth of one strain of the blues, does best, these songs of being young and at the beginning of the world, full of a sense of your own potential. Country at least the old stuff, has mostly been devoted instead to aftermath, to the hard work it takes to keep going or the awareness that comes after it is no longer possible to go on. If it is deeper than rock it is because failure is deeper than success. Failure is what we learn from, mostly.

A Field Guide to Getting Lost.

and on top of all that, she has a book dedicated to walking. it's titled Wanderlust: A History of Walking. you know it's like, clearly worth my time here, since i like to write about these things, and because of how well she writes.

she also wrote Men Things Explain To Me, which cover i had seen but which book i hadn't read. i knew about it. for some reason i thought Sheila Heti wrote it. Sheila Heti can "bring it" as well. Men Things Explain To Me brought mansplaining into the cultural lexicon, although that word isn't in the book and Solnit isn't a fan of it.

basically in life as far i can tell i share movie interests with gay men and writing interests with women.

honestly if i made a list of female writers slaying nonfiction it'd be a long list. that's truth.


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Reply #1562 on: April 04, 2018, 08:50:46 PM
Thinking about buying the new Space Odyssey by Michael Benson which is about the process of making 2001, but I'm trying to avoid the new hardcover price (which would be in Canadian where I am, plus the shipping). https://www.amazon.com/Space-Odyssey-Stanley-Kubrick-Masterpiece/dp/1501163930

Other books I've read recently:
-1Q84 by Murakami.
-The Master of Us All by Mary Blume. Read because of Phantom Thread.
-Poetry Notebook by Clive James. I don't always agree with him and his level of self-importance is off the charts, but that's what I enjoy about reading his stuff. Half the time, his arrogance and confidence in thinking he's right is funny and very entertaining, and then the other half he does have insight (he is really well read and intelligent -- and he's always sure to frequently point out the former to you ;) ).
-The Association of Small Bombs by Majahan. I bought it because, IIRC, it was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize. It turned out to be OK.
-A bunch of stuff by Evelyn Waugh. His novels are really funny and sort of absurdist. The Loved One is particularly a romp, and would also make a good modern film (I believe someone did do an adaptation way back).

I have some more on my shelf that I'll maybe get to, but none are totally grabbing my attention: Neuromancer by William Gibson, Adventures of Kavalier and Klay by Chabon, White Noise by Don DeLillo, Oil! by Upton Sinclair, Amsterdam by Ian McEwan. In all honesty, I'm in the mood for some good nonfiction, though, and I think something about Kubrick and his process is just the ticket (another that looks good is Stanley Kubrick and Me from his driver, Emilio).


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Reply #1563 on: April 08, 2018, 05:42:53 AM
One of the most relentlessly horrifying, brilliantly rendered works of historical "fiction" I've ever encountered. Getting through it at a slightly slower pace than I'd like, my work schedule making it particularly difficult to just sit down and devour this morally-challenging (to put it lightly) behemoth. My highest recommendation, and I'm only about 300 pages in.

This book came to my attention thanks to your recommendation. So far it's spectacular.


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Reply #1564 on: May 03, 2018, 11:06:31 AM
Long Distance Runner recommendation in the shoutbox reminded me. Murakami wrote a great memoir of sorts about the creative endeavor, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. The PDF is up online, and I recommend it to any of yall looking for nonfiction or the observationz of a prose-legend.

Currently reading Kafka Goes to the Movies , having just finished John Hawkes' lush and invigorating novel Whistlejacket


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Reply #1565 on: June 08, 2018, 06:06:26 PM
just whitnail, let's introduce this book to an american audience!

it's a Norwegian book about a love and sex and stuff. it's good. and I am reading it now.

Just Withnail

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Reply #1566 on: October 26, 2018, 07:05:24 PM
Oh my god yes! Sangen om den Røde Rubin. The Song of the Red Ruby. I remember absolutely loving it but it's about 11 years since I read it. It's the sequel to the also great "Lasso Rundt Fru Luna" ("Lasso Around The Moon"). They're about young Ask Burlefot who wants to be a violinist (?) and his love and sex adventures. They vere very really controversial in Norway and led to the so called Mykle case, trying to convict the author Agnar Mykle on obscenity charges.

I don't remember them in too strong detail, only floating images and massive amounts of sadness, frustration, fear, not knowing who one is or who one wants to not know that with, with small piercing moments of intense joy inbetween, often not spoken out in as that at all, but just as a description of gratitute for the way someone looks at you. In hindsight I can see that the feelings of weight in these relations he has throughout the book has mirrored the feeling of weigh I've ended up having in my relationships since I read it. Back then I hadn't seen the looks or wants he describes, but since I have and they've showed me a little how to handle them.

I do remember this heartwrenching speech at the end, when Ask has put his artistic plans away and is reading a very dry speech about...something? Don't remember, but it's something extremely dry and unromantic at some professional, a little conservative, gathering, reading from a piece of paper, but simultaneously, internally, pouring his heart out to his girlfriend who is sitting next to him, politely smiling. Outside: "boring, dry stuff, facts" and internally: "you know this is all for you? you know this speech is for you?". A horrible description of a scene that worked so perfectly for me, and that I'm about to seriously rip off for my own script.

KJ, do you know the part? I can't find my copy, could you maybe snap a foto of the part if you know which one it is? I'd love to read it again.

Edit: Christ, I just stumbled on somebody quoting the heartbreaking last line, that goes in the direction of the scene described above: Love is something other people don't know about. Love is a lonely thing.

Something Spanish

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Reply #1567 on: March 18, 2019, 08:32:19 PM
I've heard of coincidences, even experienced a few in my lifetime, but the ramifications of what I'm about to share with you are still freaking me the F out. It may certainly be taken as a minor occurrence of happenstance, still, like, man, it's really nuts to me. In short, this past Saturday, I was running on the treadmill listening to the Joe Rogan podcast. I have not been listening to it as of late, missing dozens of episodes in the interim. The previous day, Friday, I listened to a recent one featuring Bill Burr, dug it mucho, and followed it up the next day with an episode featuring a guest who recently wrote a book on Hunter S. Thompson. Out of the dozens upon dozens of episodes I could have chosen, that was the one I went with. Had never heard of this writer before, figured I like Hunter, I know Rogan is a fan his, so it'd be cool to hear the two talk Duke for two hours. During the podcast the guest mentions this book, a biography on Jan Wenner titled Sticky Fingers, as having some great Hunter related content, at the same time praising this Wenner book as just a great read in general. I'm thinking, sounds like a cool book, would like to peep it one day. Less than four hours later I'm in the pool of my apartment complex, go to take a leak, come out the bathroom only to notice a book laying on top on the trash lid. Curiously I pass by to see what book someone forgot or discarded, and it's a mint hardcover of Sticky Fingers. Like, holy shit man, that is weird, because had I not listened to this podcast I doubt I would have even thought about grabbing it, but told myself if no one claims it by the time I'm through with these laps that sucker is mine. Suffice to say, I'm 80 pages deep and it's a really good read. But what are the odds, out of all the books that this book would be placed in my path mere hours after learning of its existence. That's some life affirming shit man. Had to share that quickie tale because like i said, it's still freaking me out.