misc book thread

Started by jenkins, August 13, 2013, 02:18:30 PM

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let's see. quick and easy
it's common for me to hear dissatisfaction about the writer jonathan franzen, from a variety of people who like to read books and talk about books, whether on the internet or in person.
it's less common but also likely for me to hear from specific types of art/culture people about how marvelous franzen is.

franzen stated that he wants to be marvelous with literature. could google quote what he said, some thing about literature not being taken seriously enough and he wants to be quite serious about literature.
franzen took his oprah deal because of course 500,000+ people buying his book was healthy decision making.
in the lit world, david foster wallace is across-the-map taken seriously. when you hear disdain for dfw, what's striking about it is how uncommon it is. on topic, franzen was one of two major friends for dfw, before dfw killed himself.

i read as much as i watch movies. often. and i've never read franzen. not a book of his, not a sentence. i think maybe ~2-3 sentences of his i've read, in passing and by accident. for the simple reason that no one has sold me on him

so i started this topic where people can talk about franzen. it started here

trashculturemutantjunkie [13|Aug 01:36 PM]:   perplexed by how hated jonathan franzen is in the lit world. he's the mulligan of irl
trashculturemutantjunkie [13|Aug 01:36 PM]:   can someone tell me why he's viewed as stupid for saying this: Jonathan Franzen: I'm struck by how different in feel The Informers and The Sound of Things Falling are from the Latin American "boom" novels of a generation ago. I'm thinking of both their cosmopolitanism (European story elements in the first book, an American main character in the new one) and their situation in a modern urban Bogotá. To me it feels as if there's been a kind of awakening in Latin American fiction, a clearing of the magical mists, and I'm wondering to what extent you see your work as a reaction to that of Márquez and his peers. Did you come to fiction writing with a conscious program?
polkablues [13|Aug 01:50 PM]:   My issue with that is it feels less like a legitimate question asked with the intent of actual illumination and more like Franzen trying to self-consciously prove his intellectuality.
polkablues [13|Aug 01:53 PM]:   My issue with Franzen in general is that The Corrections is a superficial Kurt Vonnegut imitation that tricked a bunch of people into thinking it's great literature.


idk in the future i might shift this entire topic over to a more generalized literature-oriented topic. for today:

QuoteTN: Franzen wrote an essay describing the reader-writer relationship as either Status based or a Contract model, emphasizing the decision to either err on the side of difficulty without compromising aesthetic, or sustain the reader's trust. For whom do you write?

SDLP: Are those my only two choices? If so, then I reject them both as dully simplistic. Ultimately, why or for whom I write is of no moment to me; I'm too busy writing to much care. But if I were to engage with the spirit of your question, I suppose readers would do well to manufacture a state of artistic openness.

sdlp = sergio de la pava, whose equal in movieland is steve mcqueen or carlos reygadas or whomever you hear and see while thinking "holyshit, thank god"


bonus quote for béla tarr fans:

QuoteThe White Review — What do you read apart from the classics such as Kafka?

László Krasznahorkai — When I am not reading Kafka I am thinking about Kafka. When I am not thinking about Kafka I miss thinking about him. Having missed thinking about him for a while, I take him out and read him again. That's how it works. It's precisely the same with Homer, Dante, Dostoevski, Proust, Ezra Pound, Beckett, Thomas Bernhard, Attila József, Sándor Weöres and Pilinszky...


sergio de la pava's personae was released today. in my above post i compare him to "steve mcqueen or carlos reygadas" and that feels artistically appropriate now because, while his first book was raved upon and ignited conversations about esoteric publishing and etc, personae is seeding questions about construction

initial reviews have suggested there's too much sdlp, and he maybe needs an editor to trim for the reader. haven't critics said the same about mcqueen and reygadas?

it's apparently difficult to read, by its intended nature. ideas from an ancient greek (aristotle! so damn common) are spotted through the narrative. well, ok, i've been to wikipedia about energeia, and while it's not fun to have homework prep a book, it's fun to learn a thing for the sake of a good read

points seem illustratable by the table of contents and the first page of the book:

are you already tired? diminish (or equalize) your fears:

that's why they paint him next to other people like gass and dfw and pynchon (pynchon also has a new book, but i know which pynchon book interests this board)

i'd enjoy bookclubbing this with someone here. seems unlikely but could happen. publishers weekly review for basic info


^^ haven't bought it, haven't read it  :oops:

ahhhem. all the readers are crazy today of course, because there's a new haruki murakami short story in the new yorker, and this is how it begins:

QuoteHe woke to discover that he had undergone a metamorphosis and become Gregor Samsa.


tl;rl (too long;reading later)


don't think anyone anticipated the smash hit of my bookclub (jk)

giving myself an excuse to do this. everyone knows murakami? i'm going to quote him, so --

QuoteSamsa had no idea where he was, or what he should do. All he knew was that he was now a human whose name was Gregor Samsa. And how did he know that? Perhaps someone had whispered it in his ear while he lay sleeping? But who had he been before he became Gregor Samsa? What had he been?

defines the nature of this piece: the character begins as the demetamorphosized(sp?) version of the metamorphosis character gregor samsa. he doesn't know anything about himself except he's human, and his room doesn't tell him anything (eerie)

QuoteSamsa looked down in dismay at his naked body. How ill-formed it was! Worse than ill-formed. It possessed no means of self-defense. Smooth white skin (covered by only a perfunctory amount of hair) with fragile blue blood vessels visible through it; a soft, unprotected belly; ludicrous, impossibly shaped genitals; gangly arms and legs (just two of each!); a scrawny, breakable neck; an enormous, misshapen head with a tangle of stiff hair on its crown; two absurd ears, jutting out like a pair of seashells. Was this thing really him? Could a body so preposterous, so easy to destroy (no shell for protection, no weapons for attack), survive in the world? Why hadn't he been turned into a fish? Or a sunflower? A fish or a sunflower made sense. More sense, anyway, than this human being, Gregor Samsa.

lol. murakami! jealous to the fullest. samsa learns his human body and its operations, since he's not a bug anymore. murakami is  excellent at giving the conception of being human an artistic pulse. it's quite amazing and hilarious

(mentioning a hilarious bird paranoia.)

Quote"Is this the Samsa residence?" the woman said, craning her head up to look at him. Then she twisted her body all over. Much the way the earth twists during a violent earthquake.

how can murakami do that??? how can he so effortlessly blend? i enjoy all kinds of writing, as with movies, and i can't help being surprised and delighted by people who are line-for-line great

QuoteSamsa closed the door behind her. She stood there, looking him up and down. It seemed that his gown and slippers had aroused her suspicions.
interpreting mechanics of social interaction. i'm cracking up

QuoteOnce again, the woman writhed suddenly. Samsa had no idea what this action meant or what its purpose was. Yet he was drawn by instinct to the complex sequence of movements.

notice: the earthquake metaphor that enticed me earlier is now becoming important. murakami's examination and investigation of what it means to be human and how humans interpret the world and interpret each other is so good

QuoteBack bent, the young woman took the heavy black bag in her right hand and toiled up the stairs, much like a crawling insect.
the insect reason -- idk what to say, i'm dying. "There was so much in this world that he had to learn." i'm laughing so much

Quote"Just talk?"

"There is so much I want to ask you," Samsa said.

"About what?"

"About this world. About you. About me. I feel like there are so many things we need to talk about. Tanks, for example. And God. And brassieres. And locks."

the romance, of course! earning its title

QuoteSamsa certainly had no idea what lay ahead. He was in the dark about everything: the future, of course, but the present and the past as well. What was right, and what was wrong? Just learning how to dress was a riddle.

it's true, right? murakami is using a fiction story, based on a fiction story that blended the bizarre with the ordinary, to blend the ordinary with the bizarre

Quote"Look out for birds," he called after her. She turned and nodded. Then she walked out to the street.
^^lol. certain running jokes/themes i'm omitting for the sake of people who haven't read this, but i already mentioned the bird one and it makes me laugh every time



I love Murakami's prose, but his plotting has a tendency to disappear up its own ass. It works fine in short story form, but in my limited experience with his novels, it makes them a little unbearable.
My house, my rules, my coffee


aww. to which book are you referring? he's numerous. maybe it was a wacky one? oh wait. maybe it was a wackier one?

as an adult he went to a ball game and decided to become a writer. that's how it happened, not that he wanted to be a writer since he was little and kept reading proust or etc. part of what makes him captivating is his unique life-learned perspective, and his interests in broad cultures (as opposed to a dominant lit culture orientation). true enough, he pisses off certain serious literature people. for example: the nobel. everyone knows his nobel will come, and some people can't believe that hasn't already happened, and some people don't want it to


To be fair, I've only read 1Q84 and about half of Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Like I said, the actual writing is fantastic, the ideas and themes are strong, I just question his capability (or possibly his desire) to frame them into a narrative. If he were to abandon plot altogether, I think he would be entirely in his element and I would enjoy his novels much more.
My house, my rules, my coffee


Yes, I agree entirely. I far prefer Murakami's short stories to his novels.



Quote from: polkablues on October 22, 2013, 12:26:25 AM
To be fair, I've only read 1Q84 and about half of Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Like I said, the actual writing is fantastic, the ideas and themes are strong, I just question his capability (or possibly his desire) to frame them into a narrative. If he were to abandon plot altogether, I think he would be entirely in his element and I would enjoy his novels much more.

I would suggest giving some of his shorter novels a try. South of the Border, West of the Sun is one of my favorites.


Quote from: jenkins<3 on October 22, 2013, 04:51:08 AM
crazy talk

i'm blaming 1Q84

I wouldn't be a proper fan of his work if it wasn't for Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman which is just fantastic.


my point: happy you're reading and talking about reading! however you see it, glad you're seeing it

blind willow, sleeping woman for the curious (is your life ebooked? recommended)

but idk 'bout curiousness 'cause no one seems interested in the short i linked. it is indeed a short. i'm blaming new yorker


I'm interested! I just don't have much to say (anymore).


recently my book reading has been roadblocked. because i have a bookstack and i was multireading and anyway things spiraled then froze. today i thought "what the fuck is going on with me and book reading" then of course i wanted to get back in action. i don't like it when i'm not book reading

charles willeford's i was looking for a street had been sitting in my bookstack and i started that, then i felt like reading a pulp novel

pulp novel -- i've arrived at a bookclub idea. check it out. how's it look? does it look pretty good? you know the dress. you know the suit. you know the cigarettes, the bars and beaches and thugs and mysteries and etc. this bookclub idea can seduce someone(s) here maybe. it's fun and easy. not all bookclub ideas are fun and easy. the ones i've mentioned here previously aren't fun or easy. soon(ish) i'm going to read philip roth's sabbath's theater, which is 464 pages and that's notsobad, so drenk and i can chat it

idk, seems possible to hear "oh, i'll read this with you"

jim thompson, you know him? he wrote the killer inside me, pop 1280, the getaway, the grifters. those were turned into movies. i like him a lot. he worked with kubrick also. you can wiki him:

a swell-looking babe has that kinda funny title, people on amazon like it, it's cheap, and it's 160 pages. so it's a bookclub possibility. here's its description from amazon:

QuoteIt was supposed to be only a temporary job--something to pay the bills until Dusty could get his feet back on the ground and raise enough money for medical school. After all, there's nothing wrong with being a bellboy at a respectable hotel like the Manton--that is, until she came along.

Marcia Hillis. The perfect woman. Beautiful. Experienced. Older and wiser. The only woman to ever measure up to that other her--the one whose painful rejection Dusty can't quite put from his mind.

But while Dusty has designs on Marcia, Marcia has an agenda of her own. One that threatens to pull the Manton inside-out, use Dusty up for all he's worth and leave him reeling and on the run, the whole world at his heels.

A richly-imagined crime narrative of the Oedipal and betrayal, A SWELL-LOOKING BABE is Thompson at his very best--a cornerstone in Thompson's enduring legacy as the Dimestore Dostoyevsky of American fiction.

hell yeah. andalso,

today i learned about charles williams. he's option b. here's how wiki describes him:

QuoteOf Williams's twenty-two novels, sixteen were paperback originals—eleven of them Gold Medals; he is described by Gorman as "the best of all the Gold Medal writers." Pulp historian Woody Haut calls Williams the "foremost practitioner" of the style of suspense that typified American pulp literature from the mid-1950s through the early 1960s: "So prolific and accomplished a writer was Charles Williams that he single-handedly made many subsequent pulp culture novels seem like little more than parodies." Fellow hardboiled author John D. MacDonald cites him as one of the most undeservedly neglected writers of his generation. O'Brien, singling him out as especially "overdue" for "wider appreciation," describes Williams as a stylist consistently faithful to "the narrative values which make his books so entertaining and his present neglect so inexplicable."

As of mid-2006, only three of Williams's novels are in print in the United States: River Girl, Nothing in Her Way (1953), and A Touch of Death (1954). As of 2013, sixteen of Williams's novels were released as e-books by Mysterious Press.

he sounds like a terrific find. i haven't seen movie versions of him, of which dead calm is supposedly the best, and i haven't read him either. has anyone read him? i clicked amazon links and read descriptions and feel most interested in

177 pages. amazon users don't seem thrilled by it, but they don't seem thrilled by him in general. he seems kinda off the map. the diamond bikini's description:

QuoteRaised at the racetrack, a boy comes to live on a Texas farm

Billy doesn't know how to read a book, but give him a racing form and he can tell you everything about a pony that you'd ever want to know. He and his father live on the road, traveling from Aqueduct to Hialeah and back again, until an overzealous Welfare lady demands they settle somewhere more wholesome than the track. Not knowing anyplace wholesome, Billy's father takes him to Texas instead, to live on his brother Sagamore's farm.

There Billy meets bootleggers, gangsters, and the beautiful Miss Choo-Choo Caroline, a Chicago stripper who is wearing nothing but a tiny, diamond-encrusted G-string when she disappears. Uncle Sagamore, an enterprising brute, sees this as a chance for profit. For a boy with gambling in his veins, there could be quite a lot to learn.

let's see how this goes. if you've read this far, good start to the club imo