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    How are you finding the slog?

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      Originally posted by Lucia Lanigan View Post
      Current Reading - Books best thread

      Ferdinand Pessoa's Book of Disquiet. The idea's great - assembled fragments written under various heteronyms that amount to a kind of anti-book which reflects more closely your experience of life - but each one of these characters is saying exactly the same thing: "*sigh*, I'm a bit separate from it all". It ain't that deep, just a bit enervating. There's been a whole world of fuss made about this guy but I'm about ready to bail.
      I took this on my Easter hols - had been looking forward to it for ages after reading the first page in the book shop when I bought it about two or three years ago. Fucking hell, what a drag - like being stuck with a whiny but wordy adolescent wondering what's it all about and why is he so above all the idiot mortals foolishly living their lives and not boring the shit out of everyone by constantly asking deep questions. The only good thing I can say about it is that whenever I picked it up - morning, afternoon, or night-time, or during my customary insomnia at four in the morning - it put me straight off to sleep. So in that sense, the perfect holiday book - very restful. I made it to page 72, begging for something to happen, anything to happen, just the smallest incident in the street to relieve the tedium. I didn't bring it home.

      Also had Volume 3 of Orwell's essays along (1943-45), so at least I had something else to turn to. Not as great as Volume 2 - he sounds constantly bored with the war, and attacks the same targets over and over again (Tories, fascists, communists, pacifists, nut-job leftists, believers in the after-life). But every page contains something worth reading, every column and review is at the very least interesting, at best funny, enlightening and entertaining. These works are so valuable to me that I've considered paying a stupid amount for the four hardcover originals on Ebay to replace my battered paperbacks, bought for a dollar each second-hand some years ago at Chevy Chase library. But I can't justify paying the amount asked for just four books.

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        After my recent toe dip into more highbrow literature I'm back at my level, I recently finished THE HITLER DIARIES by Robert Harris. I had a vague recollection of the whole affair but reading it was an eye opener on how stupid,vain and greedy people in positions of power really can be,it takes stupidity of the highest order that cunts like David Irving and Rupert Murdoch come out of whole affair as the sensible ones.

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          Supermarket by Bobby Hall / Logic.

          Now, how should I put this...uh....this is the sort of book I admire. Full props to him for pulling it off. Fuck it if you can't write; just write anyway. It's outsider art. It's punk. It'll have people reading...who don't normally read. All that good stuff. And I mean all that. Good for you Bobby / Logic. You've done something neat.

          You've also pulled off a literary heist. Your book is dogshit. It's terrible. (Yet it's a #1 bestseller!). It's a book about writing, about supermarkets and about mental illness written by a guy who doesn't understand the first thing about writing, supermarkets or mental illness.

          Bobby / Logic is a DJ or rapper or something, and 'after a week of binge-reading great literature, decided to try writing a book himself'. And it shows. A book called Supermarket, about a guy writing a book called Supermarket which he's researching by working in a supermarket. And it gets worse from there. Yes, there's a love interest. Yes, there's an antagonist. Yes, there's a narrator / hero. And there's a story and plot and action and all that. There's also some of the worst writing I've ever read. There's also about a million instances of glaring stupidity (i.e., the armed guards come to pick up the store's receipts once a month...totaling $100,000. Now, I'm guessing that just a bit of research would show that grocery stores do about $100,000 a day, and that the armed guards do daily pickups. But that's quibbling.)

          Bobby / Logic also breaks the fourth wall from time to time for no apparent reason. But hey, style. He also has issues with standard narration. At one point, our hero and his doctor are walking in the garden of a mental hospital [of course they are] and sit down on a bench. Within a sentence or two, they 'continue talking as they walk in the garden'. But...but...they just sat down.
          Dialogue is stilted. Everyone is over-expository pretty much all the time. People say 'haha' when something they say is funny. It's breathtaking at times.

          In the end, resolution. It makes no sense. Literally, it just makes no sense. There's a mental illness twist that defies all logic or reason or medical basis. But the books ends, so I suppose that's something.

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            The Wall, John Lanchester - oddly unsatisfying dystopia. A bit flat and unengaging.
            Cage of Souls, Adrian Tchaikovsky - China Mieville-lite (a little bit Iron Council, a little bit Scar). Reasonable read.
            A Memory Called Empire, Arkady Martine - space politics. Not bad.
            Wakenhyrst, Michelle Paver - gothic mystery, less horror/supernatural than her previous (excellent) Dark Matter and Thin Air. Good characterisation.

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              Originally posted by imp View Post
              'Winter' by Ali Smith. The cover is smeared with praise from all the right places. It's fucking awful - pretentious, clunky, way too pleased with itself, and I only read it to the end because I had nothing else with me in the airport/plane the other day and got so far I thought I might as well finish it off.
              Just read the review of 'Spring' in the last-but-one issue of Private Eye - a perfect take-off of her terrible style. Glad to know it wasn't just me thought it was shite.

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                Boom Town, by Sam Anderson, which doubles as a standard season-with-a-sports-team (OKC 2012-23) and a history/biography of (and love letter to) Oklahoma City is everything a sports book should be.

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                  Currently ploughing my way through the epic Joe DiMaggio: The Hero's Life by Richard Ben Cramer, at the behest of the Second Captains book club. DiMaggio comes across as thoroughly awkward and unlikable, yet at the same time fascinating, and the book in general is actually pretty interesting as a document of life in America at the time. I'll give Cramer the benefit of the doubt over the liberal use of some rather unsavoury terms of phrase, assuming again he's just trying to capture the reality/language of the time (indeed, DiMaggio's nickname is a racial slur). As sports biographies go, it's not a quick or easy read, but I'm persevering and still feel highly engaged with the story, even though the end of DiMaggio's playing career arrives about halfway through the book.

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                    I have just started Independent People by Halldór Laxness. I only state this because 'Books' is uncharacteristically buzzing with activity today and I want to maintain the literary momentum.

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                      Alright then, I just finished Warlight by Michael Ondaatje, and absolutely loved it. It's about a teenage brother and sister after World War II in London. Their parents have to 'go away' on business, and they are left in the care of two strangers who are clearly trusted, but also clearly up to no good. Later in life, they piece together exactly who their parents were and what went on during and after the war, when things were murky and peace was uncertain. I won't say more, but it's marvelous. (3.7 on Goodreads, natch).

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                        Originally posted by imp View Post
                        I have just started Independent People by Halldór Laxness. I only state this because 'Books' is uncharacteristically buzzing with activity today and I want to maintain the literary momentum.
                        That is a genuinely wonderful book. You should love it.

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                          I have indeed loved the first 30 or so pages, but am handicapped by the usual habit of falling asleep after two pages very time I have some actual free time to read. Should be finished by August.

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                            Read Erik Larson's The Devil in The White City couple of weeks ago and finished Madeline Miller's The Song of Achilles yesterday.

                            The Larson is a remarkable true story of the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. The challenges faced by those behind it - in particular Daniel H Burnham the chief architect - before and during its completion. Incredible it ever happened...The story is then used by Larson as the backdrop to the true story of HH Holmes who built a hotel to house the crowds flocking to Chicago for the fair. It contained various hidden torture chambers and its own crematorium. No one knows how many he killed.

                            The writing gets a bit sensational in places but you come away from the book wondering "how did I not know about this before now?!" If architecture and true crime are your thing, it's worth a go.

                            The Song of Achilles actually came before Circe and I'm glad I read Circe first. Whilst TSofA is well worth a read, I'm not sure I would have rushed to read Circe. TSofA was Miller's first book and isn't as polished or assured in its storytelling as Circe. But I still wanted to pick it up and read it. The love story of Patroclus and Achilles is beautifully told. Achilles' anguish at the end [SPOILER ALERT] when Patroclus is killed by Hector and his treatment of Hector's body is excruciating (in a good way).

                            Moving on to much lower brow concerns now - The Girl In The Spider's Web...

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                              The World's Columbian Exposition is indeed fascinating in multiple respects.

                              It essentially gave birth to the city we now know (including its long history of institutional racism).

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                                DITWC is brilliant. As is Dead Wake, about the sinking of the Lusitania. Put that high on your list.

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                                  Agree with WOM about DITWC.

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                                    Originally posted by Lang Spoon View Post

                                    Would be interested to hear yr opinion on God Emperor.
                                    God Emperor of Dune was where I gave up on the series.

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                                      Originally posted by WOM View Post
                                      DITWC is brilliant. As is Dead Wake, about the sinking of the Lusitania. Put that high on your list.
                                      Done.

                                      And thanks for that link ua.

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                                        Started Book 1 of Karl Ove Knausgaard's "My Struggle" series. Was skeptical from what I've heard of it, but I've been grabbed by the mundanity so far.

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                                          Stephen King's latest potboiler "The Outsider" which I picked up discounted, after a period of almost 30 years of not reading him.

                                          I've almost finished it in a day. It's hokey, and has the usual King unpleasantness in parts (and has a weird fixation with bosoms) but I really can't put it down.

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                                            In fact, I've finished it in less than a day. I can't recall the last time I did that.

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                                              Originally posted by elguapo4 View Post
                                              After my recent toe dip into more highbrow literature I'm back at my level, I recently finished THE HITLER DIARIES by Robert Harris. I had a vague recollection of the whole affair but reading it was an eye opener on how stupid,vain and greedy people in positions of power really can be,it takes stupidity of the highest order that cunts like David Irving and Rupert Murdoch come out of whole affair as the sensible ones.
                                              Is that the same book as Selling Hitler? Read it a few years ago and really enjoyed it.

                                              Actually, while we're discussing Rupert Murdoch, another vote for Bad Blood. Although he'd sunk a load of cash into Theranos, he also refused to kill the Theranos investigation at the WSJ because he trusted his journalists.

                                              Currently reading Hitler's Monsters, a history of occult beliefs in Germany, with a focus on Nazism. In the late 19th / early 20th century, there was mainstream belief in some very odd ideas indeed.

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                                                Just read Apples are from Kazakhstan by Christopher Robbins, mostly because I've never read a book about Kazakhstan before and it sounded interesting and half decent. Not bad, a bit amateur travels really. But a lot of it reads like a hagiography of Nursultan Nazarbayev who the author gained access to, so it left a bit of a sour taste.

                                                Now onto With Their Backs To The World by Ĺsne Seierstad, a book written either side of FR Yugoslavia/Serbia's October Revolution, and formed of a series of vignettes of Seierstad visiting and revisiting Serbs she made contact with, contrasting their experiences and lives before, during and after the fall of Milosevic. Not her best book but definitely worth a read.

                                                I really do need to read Bad Blood though. So many people have recommended it to me, not to mention OTF which is a reliable source of good reading material.

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                                                  Deciding I fancied a light read, and seeing as she checked out recently, I alighted on Anita Shreeve’s The Pilot’s Wife, which my wife romped through on holiday last year and it’s on our shared kindle account. To be fair, it’s a decent enough diversion with a plot that rattles along, but it’s very much in the “popular fiction” category and has no depth or much sign of decent literary content.

                                                  Looking for a review, I found this from the NY Times, which just about sums it up as a frothy irrelevance. Ouch.
                                                  http://movies2.nytimes.com/books/98/...07jamisot.html

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                                                    Originally posted by Toby Gymshorts View Post
                                                    Stephen King's latest potboiler "The Outsider" which I picked up discounted, after a period of almost 30 years of not reading him.

                                                    I've almost finished it in a day. It's hokey, and has the usual King unpleasantness in parts (and has a weird fixation with bosoms) but I really can't put it down.
                                                    Almost the same as you from the early 80s to the mid nineties I was a King obsessive, now I only buy his short story collections, like you I bought THE OUTSIDER but I thought it was awful dreck and, as you say, unpleasantly nasty.

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