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Old 10-03-2013, 12:33 AM   #316
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That's far too young. I just heard. This is really upsetting for me. I really love his books. I know they're not high art, but they're fun. A lot of fun. Reading them makes me happy. It's not like I've come close to reading all of his books, but knowing he's not going to write any more of them...
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Old 10-03-2013, 12:37 AM   #317
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I've never read anything by him.
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Old 10-03-2013, 12:39 AM   #318
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I guess it all depends on whether or not you like those airport books. You know what I'm talking about. The Grishams and Pattersons, but instead of court room dramas, you get CIA/FBI/Political thriller/dramas.

If you like the movie Patriot Games, you'd probably enjoy the book, since it's almost exactly the same.
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Old 10-03-2013, 04:18 AM   #319
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I've never read anything by him.
Neither have I.
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Old 10-06-2013, 07:08 PM   #320
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Crap. This "working" thing cuts into my reading time.

Anyway, the latest ones:

Some Tame Gazelle and Jane and Prudence, by Barbara Pym. She may be an acquired taste; I don't know. But I acquired it long ago, and I love her books. Some Tame Gazelle is well-known, but I think Jane and Prudence is her masterpiece. If you asked those in the Barbara Pym Society, they may agree with me. STG is about two middle-aged spinster sisters: one is on the lookout for young curates to love and care for (in a non-sexual way), and the other harbors unrequited love for the local, married Archdeacon, who's really a pain in the ass. Men don't look good in this novel; they don't in most Pym novels. She had a tough time with them in her life. It's not mean-spirited; they just come off looking helpless and spoiled. Jane and Prudence is funny and gentle and I love it. Jane's a happily married, non-domestic village rector's wife, and Prudence is her best friend. Pru falls in love easily, and Jane sets her up with the languishing playboy widower in the village. Gentle hilarity ensues.

The Old Bank House, by Angela Thirkell.

This is another in the Barsetshire series. The war is long over, but rationing continues. The middle class, landed gentry is seeing their way of life changing more quickly than they can process it, but Thirkell finally seems to be adjusted to it. There are still flashes of bitterness, but she seems to be realizing that the replacement world (or the Brave New World as she ironically, angrily calls it) might be not as bad as she thought. Mr. Adams, a self-made millionaire, is slowly being accepted into proper, county society. He'll never truly be one of them, and everyone knows it, but they all like and respect him. Old characters marry into good families; Lady Emily, that last link to the pre-war titled landed gentry, dies in her 80s. And Mr. Adams gets engaged to Lucy Marling, who is from a very old, very respected, now very cash-poor landed family. Thirkell is really very funny in her gentle observations of people and their behavior.


The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett, by Tom Angleburger.

The latest in the Origami Yoda series, this one is part one of a two-parter. Kind of annoying. It's all about the horrors of standardized testing, but with an understanding that the adults at the school are just as under the gun as the kids are. It's almost as funny as the first one in the series. So far Angleburger hasn't written himself dry.
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Old 10-19-2013, 05:45 PM   #321
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The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (Chabon, 1988): this was the only major Chabon that I had yet to read (I haven’t read all of his “minor” stuff, but will get there eventually), and I was impressed at the quality of his debut. All the traits that make him such a great writer are there: the exuberant prose, the identity crisis (in this case, about sexuality), the father-son relationship. Some of the characters are perhaps not as well fleshed out as in his later novels, but it’s a beautiful coming-of-age story anyways. And it probably contains one of my favourite quote of his: “Every woman is a volume of stories, a catalog of movements, a spectacular array of images”.

The Sun Also Rises (Hemingway, 1924): I wish I had liked this a bit more than I did. Hemingway’s writing doesn’t do anything for me, even though I empathize with what he wants to achieve. By stripping things down to what he thinks is essential, I think he often veers too close to innocuous. I also don’t think he’s good at writing female characters; they are often more window dressing, or dummies designed to allow him to explore his male characters’ psyche (or their masculinity). All the booze also made me partly drunk just by reading it. The high point for me was the description of the bull fights. His writing style is particularly suited for that, and the raw text matched its object perfectly.

I read these two back-to-back at Dalton’s suggestion. While I see some of the similarities he was pointing to, I’m not sure if I agree that they are all that comparable. Chabon, to me, is much closer in style as well as in substance to Fitzgerald, particularly in terms of character development. I do think that Chabon, like Hemingway, is better at writing male characters, but almost everything else pointed to Fitzgerald instead. I specifically thought of at least a couple of stories from Flappers and Philosophers while reading Mysteries… (Heads and Shoulders and Bernice Bobs Her Hair), in particular Chabon's exploration of the characters’ reaction to class mannerisms, sophisticated banter, etc. The description of the party at Riri's also made me think of Gatsby a bit. Anyways, just my two cents on the comparison.

You did see the connection and you felt it deeply. Let it in ...
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Old 10-26-2013, 03:17 PM   #322
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I am here. I have finished Infinite Jest.

It took me three months, but to say it was worth is an understatement. In many ways, David Foster Wallace is such a magnificent troll. He wrote a 1079-page book that really should be read twice to understand the magnitude of it all. The ending basically demands a reread, since there are many clues all throughout the mammoth novel that one tends to forget since so much time is spent on reading the damn thing. But it is such a great, funny, entertaining, poignant and ambitious piece of literature. I laughed out loud more than I did reading any other book (maybe not a fair winner since it is at least twice as long as some of the other funny books I've read), albeit on the other hand, there is a constant feeling of melancholy and loss that serves as a nice contrast. Not to mention dozens of grotesque anecdotes, products of a brilliant mind whose imagination is almost unparalleled, whose outrageous writing frustrates you and leaves you in awe at the same time, and whose loss unfortunately still lingers over the world of American literature.

Certainly one of the finest novels I've ever read, and I hope I will find the time and patience to get back to it some day.
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Old 10-27-2013, 01:04 AM   #323
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Well-said. Agree on everything.
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Old 10-30-2013, 10:32 AM   #324
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I wish I had the patience to finish it in the first place. I'm still working on the thing, but I'm slowing down. I hit passages that really work for me then run face-first into others that just kill it for me.
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Old 10-30-2013, 10:42 AM   #325
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Where are you at right now? There have been frustrating parts for me, but the great stuff, which is overwhelmingly dominant, made them go away instantly.
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Old 10-30-2013, 03:46 PM   #326
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Hmm no sure off hand. Probably 400 or so pages in. Basically not a big fan of the pages-long run on sentence/graph style of writing, so when there's roughly 20 straight pages like that about an AA meeting or how stressful drug addiction is I immediately stop giving shits.
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Old 10-30-2013, 06:15 PM   #327
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Well, the AA meetings are some of my favourite parts in the book, so I'm just going to say good luck and I do hope you finish it.
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Old 10-31-2013, 09:08 PM   #328
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I started The Salmon of Doubt, which is a compilation of writings by Douglas Adams that were found on his computer after he died, along with articles and columns that he wrote for newspapers and a manuscript of the novel he was working on before he died, The Salmon of Doubt. Everything I've read so far has made me think "Wow, this guy was cool."

I was assigned to read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight for school, too. It's hard to get into the flow of it.
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Old 11-01-2013, 08:30 PM   #329
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I found a used copy of that Adams book but haven't got around to it.

Need to bump that up in the queue.
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Old 11-03-2013, 10:52 PM   #330
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Who I Am, by Pete Townshend

In the long run, I liked this very much. I loved the parts about the formation of the Who, and the early years. I was hoping for more insight into the music, but I was happy with the little that was there. One thing that really stuck in my craw, though, was toward the last third of the book, when in one paragraph, he'd both whine about how his marriage didn't seem to be working, and then hope that he and his new mistress girlfriend could continue to grow in their relationship. Guess what Pete, if you want your marriage to work out, you should probably stop constantly cheating on your wife. Other than that, I could take to ego tripping/insecurities just fine. I did like the book very much.



Buffalo for the Broken Heart, by Dan O'Brien

A friend recommended this to me, and she was spot on. It's by the guy who sells the buffalo meat we eat. (And it's amazing buffalo meat.) He writes about his love for the Great Plains and its disappearing and destroyed ecosystem. He says that cattle and homesteading have destroyed the Great Plains because neither can be supported up there. He gives plenty of evidence for this, intertwined with the story of how he transformed his failing cattle ranch into a natural buffalo ranch that wasn't failing as badly. He writes convincingly and humorously about the needs of the Plains and its animals. Parts made me laugh and a part nearly made me cry. He's a terrific writer. I usually don't like modern accounts of the West, but this one was really good.
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