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Books... (Read 217076 times)

spidermonkey09

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#1425 Re: Books...
July 09, 2019, 10:29:48 am
I recently finished the Sportswriter by Ford and was left distinctly underwhelmed. Didn't really see what all the fuss was about; I thought the prose was clanky and the 60's folksy American tinge to it made me cringe. Takes all sorts though; am I better off trying another one?

Recently finished An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro which I thought was a masterpiece; one of his best.


andy popp

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#1426 Re: Books...
July 09, 2019, 11:35:18 am
If you didn't like The Sportswriter then I definitely wouldn't recommend trying any of the other three Frank Bascombe novels (I adored them). Canada is the only other novel I've read, which many people rave about - I thought it was good but not outstanding. To Dave C I'd recommend starting with The Sportswriter - the Bascombe novels are also highly regional being very largely set on the New Jersey shore.

andy popp

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#1427 Re: Books...
July 09, 2019, 12:17:44 pm
Four standouts from the first half of this year (though there have been others): two history books and two short story collections.

Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error. This classic of "history from below" that explores in microscopic detail the everyday life of a small village in Pyrennes at the close of C13th and beginning of the C14th. Wonderfully rich and humane.

William Cronon, Natureís Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West . Brilliant, highly original history of the rise of Chicago in the C19th and its relationship to the growth and expansion of America, particularly the way it acted to funnel huge volumes of commodities (pork, beef, wheat) east. A seminal book in both environmental history and the history of capitalism.

Katherine Anne Porter, Pale Horse, Pale Rider. I'd not heard of this author (1890-1980) before but this is very powerful, atmospheric collection of southern US set stories to rank alongside Eudora Welty and Carson McCullers.

George Saunders, Tenth of December. Saunders made his name as a short story write but I'd only read his brilliant but deeply eccentric first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, which now seems less of a one-off, both that book and this collection of short stories displaying Saunders' ability to summon up a great range of voices with considerable economy. I found this funny, sad, sardonic, sympathetic, prescient, and always humane.

DaveC

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#1428 Re: Books...
July 09, 2019, 03:43:41 pm
I read Ladurie's Montaillou a few years back and agree with you 100%.
Also agree about the Saunders short stories. If you want to try something different from him try The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil, a short and plainly satirical novel/novella that is quite unlike anything else I've ever read,  inventive, beautifully written,  and just plain weird.

Ged

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#1429 Re: Books...
July 09, 2019, 07:28:27 pm
I just finished the road (in about 3 sittings). Best book I've read in years. It's extremely unsettling. I had to read something else before going to sleep. Highly recommended.

spidermonkey09

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#1430 Re: Books...
July 09, 2019, 11:17:38 pm
I just finished the road (in about 3 sittings). Best book I've read in years. It's extremely unsettling. I had to read something else before going to sleep. Highly recommended.

The section with the child tugging his dads sleeve as the zealots walk towards them across the field still gives me the shivers. Utterly brilliant book.

Not sure if you've read any other McCarthy, but if you haven't I highly recommend No Country for Old Men (even if you've seen the film) and especially the Border Trilogy, starting with All The Pretty Horses. That trilogy is the best literature I have ever read I think, absolutely peerless.

sheavi

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#1431 Re: Books...
July 10, 2019, 10:20:18 am
Just finished 'The Places in Between' by Rory Stewart which I thought was excellent. Plus Helen Morts Black Car Burning was very good.

Duma

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#1432 Re: Books...
July 10, 2019, 11:04:03 am
Helen Mort is on one of the recent jamcrack episodes if you're interested

Ged

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#1433 Re: Books...
July 10, 2019, 08:32:02 pm
I just finished the road (in about 3 sittings). Best book I've read in years. It's extremely unsettling. I had to read something else before going to sleep. Highly recommended.

The section with the child tugging his dads sleeve as the zealots walk towards them across the field still gives me the shivers. Utterly brilliant book.

Not sure if you've read any other McCarthy, but if you haven't I highly recommend No Country for Old Men (even if you've seen the film) and especially the Border Trilogy, starting with All The Pretty Horses. That trilogy is the best literature I have ever read I think, absolutely peerless.

Thanks, will give them a try

cheque

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#1434 Re: Books...
July 12, 2019, 10:09:28 am
Plus Helen Morts Black Car Burning was very good.

I just read and enjoyed this.

I reread itís spiritual cousin M John Harrisonís Climbers (both are novels about Peak-based climbers by Peak-based climbers who were previously associated with other types of writing) a few months back too. Iíd forgotten everything about it but I realised that reading it when Iíd only been climbing for a few years and had a lot in common with the protagonist had a massive effect on me.

BCB, despite having superficially similar subject matter is a much more wide-ranging book than the claustrophobic, detail-orientated Climbers but also narrower in the sense that itís specifically about Sheffield and the crags and villages very close to it. As I say, I can relate personally more to Climbers and it also feels a bit more accomplished but I canít help feeling like BCB is a better novel in a lot of ways. You can certainly tell which one was written by a female poet and which was written by a male sci-if author.

andy_e

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#1435 Re: Books...
July 12, 2019, 10:49:49 am
I recently re-read parts of Climbers too after it having been one of my favourite books when I was at school. A lot of the romanticised imagery I remember from it actually came across far more stark, masculine, almost dismissive in its tone. I always remember it being bleak (my passage published in Over the Moors guidebook was clearly heavily influenced by it) but it shocked me with how cynical it seemed.

Your description of Black Car Burning makes me want to go and read it!

DaveC

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#1436 Re: Books...
July 14, 2019, 01:03:37 pm
Thought i'd chuck in a few of the best non-fiction I found last year:
Burning Down the Haus, Tim Mohr A great book that follows a small group of young East Germans who discovered punk via British military radio in the late 70s and maybe, possibly, they started a revolution that brought down the Berlin Wall. Entertaining, readable prose, a great  story and a plethora of intriguing characters who defied one of the most totalitarian states in the Communist bloc and made for one of the biggest surprises of my reading year.
The Order of Time, Carlo Rovelli Italian physicist Rovelli's concise and very personal guide to our current knowledge of space-time is a fabulous little book and if the subject takes your fancy this might be the book for you.
Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean, Jonathan White My best non-fiction read of 2018, an entertaining and engaging tour of the ocean tides, how they work, why they vary so much with a grand tour of many of the world's tidal hot-spots (eg Bay of Fundy, Mont St Michel). A great book.
RisingTideFallingStar, Philip Hoare This authors third venture into the world of water is a composite tale of all the ways we interact with and have come to terms with our planets oceans. As with his previous works, Leviathan and THe Sea Inside, it is full of beautiful prose and a range of eccentric and sometimes mad characters, another fine read.