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Old 01-23-2014, 10:48 PM   #376
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109 East Palace: Robert Oppenheim and the Secret City of Los Alamos by Jennet Conant

Really fascinating, readable book about (duh) Los Alamos and the secret atomic bomb project. More about the scientists and their families living in secret in the makeshift city, but also (also duh) about the bomb and its ramifications.

Discovered this book at a shop in the Santa Fe plaza where the office/entrance to the project was located. Really glad I read this; will have to make a point to visit Los Alamos next time I'm in Santa Fe. There must be a museum or something there other than "glory be to the atomic bomb! USA! USA!" jingoism that I'm told exists there.
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Old 01-24-2014, 01:26 AM   #377
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I just watched that movie for the first time last weekend. It was... very, very odd. I didn't know if I should laugh or be horrified. I've never read the book and had no idea what it was about. For some reason I always assumed it was some kind of spy story.

You're supposed to both laugh and be horrified, except that the movie does a godawful job presenting things in that manner. But I imagine it would seem pretty strange if you had no idea what was coming. Me, I just sat there thinking "who was the dumbass who thought Art Garfunkel would make a good Nately?" "Where is ex-PFC Wintergreen?" "The little things that come directly from the book are totally overshadowed by how much everything else just sucks."
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Old 01-26-2014, 01:31 AM   #378
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I started reading Catcher in the Rye some time ago, just the first few chapters. I enjoyed it then but wasn't fully engaged by it. Anyway, I read the rest today and found I really loved it.

I can understand why some would hate it. The plot is meandering and most side characters wind up underdeveloped because Holden doesn't get close to anyone except his sister. 95% of your enjoyment of this book hinges on your opinion of Holden. Personally, I loved the dialogue and inner monologue and found the language pretty cutting edge for its time.

Along with Fahrenheit 451, it was probably the most fun I've had reading a high school literature class staple. But if you find it insufferable, that's reasonable as well. It treads a fine line between indulgent crap and insightful genius. I just liked the way Holden spoke.
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Old 01-26-2014, 03:43 AM   #379
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I started reading Catcher in the Rye some time ago, just the first few chapters. I enjoyed it then but wasn't fully engaged by it. Anyway, I read the rest today and found I really loved it.

I can understand why some would hate it. The plot is meandering and most side characters wind up underdeveloped because Holden doesn't get close to anyone except his sister. 95% of your enjoyment of this book hinges on your opinion of Holden. Personally, I loved the dialogue and inner monologue and found the language pretty cutting edge for its time.

Along with Fahrenheit 451, it was probably the most fun I've had reading a high school literature class staple. But if you find it insufferable, that's reasonable as well. It treads a fine line between indulgent crap and insightful genius. I just liked the way Holden spoke.
Hey, my other favorite book with 'catch' in the title.

I can agree with your post. Doesn't mean I'm not disappointed when people say they hated it (because hey, it's my other favorite book with 'catch' in the title). But to make it into that South Park meme: if you don't like Holden, you're gonna have a bad time.
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Old 01-26-2014, 11:14 PM   #380
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I started reading Catcher in the Rye some time ago, just the first few chapters. I enjoyed it then but wasn't fully engaged by it. Anyway, I read the rest today and found I really loved it.

I can understand why some would hate it. The plot is meandering and most side characters wind up underdeveloped because Holden doesn't get close to anyone except his sister. 95% of your enjoyment of this book hinges on your opinion of Holden. Personally, I loved the dialogue and inner monologue and found the language pretty cutting edge for its time.

Along with Fahrenheit 451, it was probably the most fun I've had reading a high school literature class staple. But if you find it insufferable, that's reasonable as well. It treads a fine line between indulgent crap and insightful genius. I just liked the way Holden spoke.
You never had to read this in school?

I strongly urge you to read Salinger's Franny & Zooey (the favorite of most of the author's big fans) and Nine Stories. They're more mature, far more powerful works, if not as seminal.
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Old 01-27-2014, 01:28 AM   #381
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You never had to read this in school?

I strongly urge you to read Salinger's Franny & Zooey (the favorite of most of the author's big fans) and Nine Stories. They're more mature, far more powerful works, if not as seminal.
No, I had a lot of other crap I could hardly stand instead. I'm glad that I was able to read it purely for enjoyment.

Thanks for the rec, it's Salinger's authorial voice that takes it to the next level, so I'm exited to read more.
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Old 01-27-2014, 02:50 AM   #382
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That's probably another reason I liked catcher in the rye, I didn't actually have to read it for school either. I read it for fun in 9th grade, and it didn't come up in English class til 10th grade, where we were given the choice between that, Lord of the Flies, and some third book I don't think anyone picked. I went with Lord of the Flies because I'd read that already as well, and let's face it, that book is tailor made for high school English class dissection. My paper pretty much wrote itself and I didn't have to grow to dislike Catcher in the Rye in the process.

You know what other book I absolutely loved from high school English class? John Knowles' A Seperate Peace. Unfortunately, when I re-read it a few years ago it just annoyed the shit out of me. But that was the first book I still liked after having to pick it apart for a bullshit essay on symbolism and crap.
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Old 01-27-2014, 02:23 PM   #383
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Finally getting around to reading Gladwell's "David and Goliath" - oh how I love that guy.
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Old 01-28-2014, 01:43 PM   #384
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For more from the "how did you not read that in high school" category, I just finished The Great Gatsby.

Was glad to see it live up to the hype.
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Old 01-28-2014, 02:58 PM   #385
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You know what other book I absolutely loved from high school English class? John Knowles' A Seperate Peace. Unfortunately, when I re-read it a few years ago it just annoyed the shit out of me. But that was the first book I still liked after having to pick it apart for a bullshit essay on symbolism and crap.
That was very good!

There's a few books I did not read in high school, especially since I took a creative writing/journalism course one year and not the regular English course. So with that, I'll put The Catcher in the Rye on my to-read list.
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Old 01-29-2014, 05:55 AM   #386
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Holy shit. I read a book in one day.... Not sure when I last did that. But once I started Ender's Game, I just couldn't stop. I really, really loved that book. Maybe it's just because I haven't read any Sci-fi in a while and I just adore the genre, maybe because I kept imagining Harrison Ford being a scruffy, grumpy old man... Who knows.


Now to watch the movie and be utterly disappointed.
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Old 01-29-2014, 08:16 AM   #387
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Surprise, surprise... The film is ass!
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Old 01-30-2014, 01:21 PM   #388
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My reading's been kind of erratic lately. Still somewhere in the middle of Infinite Jest. Going to refocus on that again soon though and finish the damn thing.

First though I'm finishing Vineland my first Pynchon. I like the way it moves, he's a fantastic writer, creative and blah blah blah my biggest problem is that it isn't nearly as funny as it's trying to be. There are fucking hundreds of jokes in here, from actual jokes, to word play to sly comedic descriptions and so on, and maybe one out of every 10 lands. Haven't laughed out loud once yet, but usually it's completely inoffensive. There are a few moments though where I just want to be like ugh fuck you, which stop me in my tracks, but whatever. Compared to Infinite Jest, which I'm not sure I actually like more as a novel... well, at least that one is fucking hilarious.

Also read Rabbit, Run, my first Updike as well. Loved it. I know he's something of a reviled or revered writer depending on who you ask, and I get what a lot of respected authors and critics dislike about him. However, his skill in prose, in writing about the quotidian, the mundane and the everyday in particular is astounding, and he achieves some really transcendent passages and ideas through that. Which is right up my alley. Also his characters (his male characters at least so far in my reading) are wonderfully realized in their perfectly everyday lack of exceptionalism.

My favorite readings lately though have come from Yasunari Kawabata, spurned on by my first novel of his I read Sound of the Mountain which was adapated in 1954 to a film by Mikio Naruse. Excellent film, even better novel (or novella, one of my favorite things about Kawabata is how compact and minimal his works are). Maybe my favorite I've ever read at this point. I've also read Thousand Cranes, The Master of Go and Snow Country is a short period, and would rank them as such after Sound of the Mountain in decreasing order of preference. His writing, requiring a lot of faith in his translators naturally, is in a poetic haiku-esque form, each cadence and word intricately chosen for heightened meaning and lyricism, even in the translations. These novels are keenly attuned to nature, pathology and patterns of human behavior. They're also wonderfully expressive in that sparse style in observation of love, lust, guilt and the tensions of passing from history into the present and future.
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Old 01-30-2014, 09:58 PM   #389
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First though I'm finishing Vineland my first Pynchon. I like the way it moves, he's a fantastic writer, creative and blah blah blah my biggest problem is that it isn't nearly as funny as it's trying to be. There are fucking hundreds of jokes in here, from actual jokes, to word play to sly comedic descriptions and so on, and maybe one out of every 10 lands. Haven't laughed out loud once yet, but usually it's completely inoffensive. There are a few moments though where I just want to be like ugh fuck you, which stop me in my tracks, but whatever. Compared to Infinite Jest, which I'm not sure I actually like more as a novel... well, at least that one is fucking hilarious.
I've only read a couple Pynchon (and am still trying to get through V so I can start Gravity's Rainbow) and his humor is definitely inconsistent, often eye-rolling.

Stephen King is a far worse culprit in this regard, for comparison's sake.
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Old 01-30-2014, 10:15 PM   #390
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Can't argue you there.

Though for my money what I've noticed so far Pynchon's humor is more intellectual or pseudo-intellectual so when it falls flat it's even more eye-rolly than King's more blue-color sensibilities. Still, yeahhhhh, King can be rough with that.
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