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Author Topic: Probably the best book I've never read
Mat Pereira
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I read 'If This Is A Man' after Richie Manic quoted Primo Levi in an interview in the music press in the early 90's. This is because I am incapable of finding things out for myself and need to be told what to buy by pop stars.
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Gangster Octopus
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Hey, that's nothing. I buy what I'm told by strangers on a web-site...
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Mat Pereira
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Heh.
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Tubby Isaacs
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Anyone read The Compleat Angler?

I showed Gangster Octopus, Steveee and Oolon the churchyard where it was published.

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Ginger Yellow
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What Wictred said - read both, PG. If This Is A Man is one of those rare life-changing books. As for the Pinker, it's fascinating if you're into linguistics, although bear in mind that Pinker's focus on a variant of Chomskian universal grammar and evolutionary psychology puts him somewhat on the fringe of the mainstream these days. He doesn't give anything like as much weight to things like pragmatics as he should, and a lot of what he writes is speculative. But I strongly recommend it anyway. If you've got time, Jackendoff's Foundations of Language provides a more up-to-date counterbalance with more of a focus on how the mind processes language.

As for myself Don Quixote, which I plan to read later this year, Crime and Punishment and The Faerie Queen are the big gaps for me. Oh, and the Epic of Gilgamesh. Does anyone know a good translation?

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Purves Grundy
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So; If This Is A Man, eh?

Fucking hell.

I wish I could say something more insightful, but it's a topic that's overwhelmed better men than the likes of me.

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Lardinho
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It doesn't really do it justice to call it "Brilliant", does it? That's just too mundane a word.

I sometimes wonder if it's the best book I have ever read.

(My copy came combined with The Truce, a less staggering book but they work together incredibly well).

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lyra
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The Periodic Table is definitely one of my favourite ever books, as well.

Shamefully I'm stuck halfway through Don Quixote. Although I just watched a pretty good film interpretation so that might help.

I'd like to be clever enough to read Pynchon but I'm not sure it'll ever happen.

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The Batebe of Toro Foundation
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I haven't read If This Is A Man.

Ezra Pound's Cantos is next in my to-read pile, after I'm through Gaddis. I reckon that probably merits mention here.

Plus, what GY saidn about Pinker and Jackendoff

[ 25.02.2008, 18:37: Message edited by: The peak of El Toro-quino ]

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thom
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Jackendoff is not a counter-balance to Pinker; the two aren't that far apart. If you want to take pragmatics and the cognition of communication seriously then Sperber and Wilson's Relevance Theory is an absolute must, but we are getting into quite specialised territory here. Not that anybody should be put off, but be warned that it's not written for the same audience as Pinker's stuff, and is consequently very dense. The same is true of Jackendoff's book though.

The Language Instinct is an excellent read for anybody who wants an accessible book about linguistics. It well-enough written that it can still be enjoyed even once you're very aware of the issues with Pinker's thinking, as I am these days.

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The Batebe of Toro Foundation
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Jackendoff's book is very technical, but I'd disagree that it's especially dense, at least insofar as that suggests impenetrability. He's just a superb writer of scientific prose...
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Lardinho
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I stalled about 150 pages into Don Quixote. On the grounds that I couldn't carry on reading it, I consider it to fail on two counts of "best book I never read".

As for Pynchon, I read Mason and Dixon a few years ago and really enjoyed it. Hard, hard work, though. Such hard work that I've had Vineland on the bookshelf ever since and not had the courage to pick it up.

The Periodic Table is wonderful.

The best book I never read might be something by Brillat-Savarin

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The Batebe of Toro Foundation
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I read the Crying Of Lot 49 by Pynchon, and found it hard going. Gravity's Rainbow, though much longer and denser, was paradoxically easier because it was possible to get into the rhythms and logic of it a bit more. I think they call ti the "Joanna Newsom" effect.

The Recognitions, which I'm reading now, is obviously a huge influence on Pynchon in terms both of style and structure. But I'm finding it much easier to follow. This, arguably, is either because I'm further used to the Pynchonian style, or because i haven't go to the trul;y weird bits yet.

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smallweed
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I'm the other way round, I breezed through (and thoroughly enjoyed) The Crying of Lot 49, tried to follow it up with Gravity's Rainbow, and stalled a couple of hundred pages in. I will go back to it though.

Didn't like Vineland.

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The Batebe of Toro Foundation
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I read Harold Bloom on Vineland - he is appalled "that a writer of Pynchon's calibre can produce a work of absolutely no merit whatsoever."

It's very funny.

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