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  1. #1851
    Sam's Avatar
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    I have finished Her Body And Other Stories. Machado has a way of writing that is properly gripping. 'The Resident' in particular. There's another story which is presented as (but is in fact not) a series of synopses of the episodes of the first twelve series of Law & Order: SVU. It's batshit insane. She might very well be a genius.

  2. #1852
    Sam's Avatar
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    Anyway, having reached the age of 33 1/3 without, somehow, ever having read any Dickens (apart from a children's abridged version of A Christmas Carol), I have decided to begin Bleak House tonight. It's 949 pages long. This guy had better be at least as good a writer as Andy Weir, or I'll be disappointed.

  3. #1853
    Amor de Cosmos's Avatar
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    Bleak House is one of his best. You won't regret it.

  4. #1854
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amor de Cosmos View Post
    Bleak House is one of his best. You won't regret it.
    Along with A Tale of Two Cities of course.

  5. #1855
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    Quote Originally Posted by SouthdownRebel View Post
    Just started Inglorious Empire by Shashi Tharoor - an account of the impact of colonial rule on India, based on his speech to the Oxford Union. Suffice to say it doesn't make comfortable reading, but I think that's all the more reason to do so.
    Then youíd probably like what Iím currently reading (if you havenít already read it, natch): Churchill's Empire: The World That Made Him and the World He Made, by Richard Toye. Itís a novel, uncompromising and forensic examination of the complex historical figure that Churchill was (the New York Times talks of "The two Churchills"here).

    The blurb from amazon.co.uk:

    A charmer and a bully, Winston Churchill was driven by a belief that the English were a superior race, whose goals went beyond individual interests to offer an enduring good to the entire world. No better example exists than Churchill's resolve to stand alone against a more powerful Hitler in 1940 while the world's democracies fell to their knees. But there is also the Churchill who frequently inveighed against human rights, nationalism, and constitutional progress the imperialist who could celebrate racism and believed India was unsuited to democracy. Drawing on newly released documents and an uncanny ability to separate the facts from the overblown reputation (by mid-career Churchill had become a global brand), Richard Toye provides the first comprehensive analysis of Churchill's relationship with the empire.

    Instead of locating Churchill's position on a simple left/right spectrum, Toye demonstrates how the statesman evolved and challenges the reader to understand his need to reconcile the demands of conscience with those of political conformity.

  6. #1856
    Sam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amor de Cosmos View Post
    Bleak House is one of his best. You won't regret it.
    After the first few chapters, I can confirm that Mr Dickens can string a sentence together.

  7. #1857

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    This weekend read Graham Swift's Last Orders which was not bad though reading in a second language (Cockney) is always a drag, and Peter Stamm's To the Back of Beyond, which I can only describe as like a norm-core JG Ballard, though that's not really accurate. Enjoyable though.

    Also, if you have any intrest in pop-econ books, Westlake and Haskel's 'Capitalism without Capital", about the rise of the intangible economy and it's implications is a good read, too.

  8. #1858

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    I've finally taken the plunge and decided to actually start a book blog. Am doing my picks of books of the year here and here

  9. #1859
    Sam's Avatar
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    You need to remove the 'wordpress.com/post' from the front of those URLs, AG. Right now they take those of us with WordPress accounts to our own 'Write a new post' page, and (I assume) direct anyone without an account to the WordPress sign in page.

    Here's what your fiction review link should look like and here's non-fiction part 1.

  10. #1860
    Sam's Avatar
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    Oh, also: nice idea, and I wish I could read as quickly as you. Although given I've barely had any work for all of this year, it's a good thing for my bank balance that I can't.

  11. #1861

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    You need to remove the 'wordpress.com/post' from the front of those URLs, AG. Right now they take those of us with WordPress accounts to our own 'Write a new post' page, and (I assume) direct anyone without an account to the WordPress sign in page.

    Here's what your fiction review link should look like and here's non-fiction part 1.
    Ah, ok. Have never used wordpress before. Will remember that, thanks v.much.

  12. #1862
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    Frequent flights to Betchuwanaland aside, I honestly have no fucking idea how you get through so many books. You work, you have a spouse, children, you sleep, attend sporting events, and occasionally meet very, very handsome men for random lunches. Do you speed-read or have some advanced technique? Like...seriously. What's the secret?

  13. #1863
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    Nice URL for commercialization. So Many Bookstore Ad.

  14. #1864

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    Quote Originally Posted by WOM View Post
    Frequent flights to Betchuwanaland aside, I honestly have no fucking idea how you get through so many books. You work, you have a spouse, children, you sleep, attend sporting events, and occasionally meet very, very handsome men for random lunches. Do you speed-read or have some advanced technique? Like...seriously. What's the secret?
    1) I'm reasonably disciplined about reading. I keep pretty organized lists of what I want to read and how quickly I want to get through it. I try to stick to 150 pages a day or so.
    2) corollary to 1 - since I plan my reading, I can bunch books on similar topics together. That seriously cuts down on time, because you'll get whole sections where you realise "I've read something pretty similar in the last couple of weeks, i can skim this"
    3) Not all of the things you note above are firing at 100%. For instance, we haven't had lunch in over a year.

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  16. #1866
    Sam's Avatar
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    You've done it again! After clicking publish, you need to actually go to the page you've just published and copy the URL from there (or use the 'Get shortlink' button that will appear just underneath the title in the editor page). Once you click publish, you're still on the edit page.

    Non-fiction part two

    2017 top 20

    I am enjoying the posts, by the way.

  17. #1867
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    Just finished 'Youngblood' by Matt Gallagher, the former US Army captain whose war blog was banned by the military, and whose memoir 'Kaboom' (which I haven't read) came out as a consequence. 'Youngblood' is like an on-the-ground sister novel to Ben Fountain's brilliant 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk'. It's more in-your-face, but at the same time a bit too drawn out, although that does give you the necessary feel of being ensconced in a US military base just outside of a shit-hole insurgent Iraqi town. It's very competently written, for the most part, and sometimes I was happy to keep reading and sometimes I almost gave up because I didn't much engage with the plot or feel much for the characters except for, strangely, the narrator's decommissioned brother back in the US. Needless to say it served only to confirm my view that UK/US intervention in Iraq was a colossal fuck-up from start to present (this is clearly the writer's view too), so in that respect - given that its author probably did and saw it all - it's an important book. Semi-recommended.

  18. #1868

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    Anyway, having reached the age of 33 1/3 without, somehow, ever having read any Dickens (apart from a children's abridged version of A Christmas Carol), I have decided to begin Bleak House tonight. It's 949 pages long. This guy had better be at least as good a writer as Andy Weir, or I'll be disappointed.
    I've just started "Our Mutual Friend" , my first Dickens for about 10 years. a Mere 767 pages.
    "Bleak House" is one of the ones I've read previously. and I agree with Amor. You certainly won't regret it.

  19. #1869

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    Sam: Better now??

  20. #1870
    ursus arctos's Avatar
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    Yes, that works.

    Did you fix the Tweet as well?

  21. #1871
    Incandenza's Avatar
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    FFS, get it sorted Anton.

  22. #1872
    Incandenza's Avatar
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    I recently finished October, by China Mieville. A got a bit lost with the names, I think I might have done better if I had a physical copy of it but I read it on my Kindle. I find it annoying to go back to previous pages/bookmarks with e-books, whereas with an actual book you can just set a bookmark or flag and easily go back and then find your place again. But aside from that, I really enjoyed it. He's a very good writer and the final chapters leading up to and on the October Revolution were gripping. You really get a sense of how quickly things were moving in Russia, day by day, and how the Revolution could have turned out very differently.

    I hadn't read any fiction for a while now, so I started Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend last night. I literally have no idea what any of her books are about apart from the fact that people love them (though I had never heard of her until her identity was revealed), and the English covers of her books are pretty lame.

  23. #1873
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    Inca, to follow up on October you may be interested in 1917. It's a selection of poem and prose written between 1917 and 1919 and edited by the brilliant Boris Dralyuk who did the translations of Red Cavalry & Odessa Tales by Isaac Babel. Those two titles are must reads by the way.

    Reading Red Cavalry and Quiet Flows The Don (which desperately needs a new translation) this year did get me thinking about the latitude authors appear to have had in portraying the more barbaric side of the Red Army. I can't decide if it was actual freedom to write in that period or if showing the reds murdering and raping was just seen as acceptable.

    On a different subject I really think people should read The Aesthetics of Resistance, vol. 1 (and sadly the only volume currently translated).

    Blurb
    "Spanning the period from the late 1930s to World War II, this historical novel dramatizes anti-fascist resistance and the rise and fall of proletarian political parties in Europe. Living in Berlin in 1937, the unnamed narrator and his peers—sixteen- and seventeen-year-old working-class students—seek ways to express their hatred for the Nazi regime. They meet in museums and galleries, and in their discussions they explore the affinity between political resistance and art, the connection at the heart of Weiss’s novel. Weiss suggests that meaning lies in embracing resistance, no matter how intense the oppression, and that we must look to art for new models of political action and social understanding. The novel includes extended meditations on paintings, sculpture, and literature. Moving from the Berlin underground to the front lines of the Spanish Civil War and on to other parts of Europe, the story teems with characters, almost all of whom are based on historical figures. The Aesthetics of Resistance is one of the truly great works of postwar German literature and an essential resource for understanding twentieth-century German history."

  24. #1874

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    Quote Originally Posted by ursus arctos View Post
    Yes, that works.

    Did you fix the Tweet as well?
    No, that seems like effort. I'll get it right from here on in.

  25. #1875
    Sam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anton Gramscescu View Post
    By George, I think he's got it!

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