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Old 07-17-2015, 06:28 PM   #796
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China Miéville's The City & the City is a damn good read.


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Old 07-20-2015, 11:12 PM   #797
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Book 2 was the toughest read for me but it is the one many people seem to consider the best. It was tough in that much of it is about parenthood which I generally have no interest in reading about (though this was not an ordinary parenthood book by any means). At the same time, it also covers the most intellectual territory - lengthy digressions about art and philosophy - which made it both challenging and rewarding. Looking back on it, I think perhaps it is the best so far though not the one I enjoyed reading the most.

Funny story about Book 3...I was sitting in a coffee shop completely engrossed in the very delightful Book 3 when Roxy Music's "Avalon" came on. I stopped reading and just felt this "ahhhh" moment. I love that song, who doesn't love that song, right? Well, apparently the barista didn't love that song because she stopped it abruptly halfway through the song leaving me and the guy next to me at exactly the same moment yelling, "Whoa!! You don't do that to Avalon!"

Fast forward a couple of hours, I'm back at home on the couch with Book 3 which I just could not put down. Suddenly there's the teenaged Karl Ove listening to Avalon, in pretty much the same "ahhhh" moment I had just had.
I forgot to post this earlier when I finished, but I found Book 2 excellent. He is so good in juxtaposing the mundane stuff with big thoughts. I was drawn by his relationship with Linda, even though there's nothing particularly different about it; it's just life. And I sort of really like Geir.

There's a wonderful passage where he freaks out about one of the kids making a huge mess at the table while eating, and then he realizes he is acting like his father. His commentary is so poignant - the idea that you can rationally identify what's happening, but can't escape it. Anyways, it resonated.

And here's a story: I was in Norway a few weeks ago and was asking everyone, somewhat obsessively, about their views on the book(s). Expectedly, it is very divisive. But one of the people I met was really angry at Knausgard for what she believed were deeply inaccurate and unfair portrayals of regular people. Norway being such a small country, everyone knows someone who knows a character from the book. Anyways, this woman apparently knows one of Karl Ove's love interests from his college days in Bergen, and swears that he invented most of the stuff. Jeffrey Eugenides tells a similar anecdote about a dinner he had with Knausgaard in his review of Book 4 in the Times. Anyways, I don't think it changes anything regarding the book, but it raises some interesting questions about the boundaries between fiction and life (I like that James Wood basically treats Karl Ove as a fictional character in his New Yorker review).
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Old 07-22-2015, 09:43 PM   #798
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I forgot to post this earlier when I finished, but I found Book 2 excellent. He is so good in juxtaposing the mundane stuff with big thoughts. I was drawn by his relationship with Linda, even though there's nothing particularly different about it; it's just life. And I sort of really like Geir.

There's a wonderful passage where he freaks out about one of the kids making a huge mess at the table while eating, and then he realizes he is acting like his father. His commentary is so poignant - the idea that you can rationally identify what's happening, but can't escape it. Anyways, it resonated.

And here's a story: I was in Norway a few weeks ago and was asking everyone, somewhat obsessively, about their views on the book(s). Expectedly, it is very divisive. But one of the people I met was really angry at Knausgard for what she believed were deeply inaccurate and unfair portrayals of regular people. Norway being such a small country, everyone knows someone who knows a character from the book. Anyways, this woman apparently knows one of Karl Ove's love interests from his college days in Bergen, and swears that he invented most of the stuff. Jeffrey Eugenides tells a similar anecdote about a dinner he had with Knausgaard in his review of Book 4 in the Times. Anyways, I don't think it changes anything regarding the book, but it raises some interesting questions about the boundaries between fiction and life (I like that James Wood basically treats Karl Ove as a fictional character in his New Yorker review).
Now a third through Book 4 and looking back, I do think Book 2 is the best so far. I really loved his long philosophical conversations with Geir. Book 4 is my struggle. It is painfully boring so far compared with the others but I am going to plow on through and hope it gets better. I'm in til the end with the series regardless.

That is really interesting about the people you met in Norway. Maybe calling it a novel (or autofiction) is where he gives himself license. You certainly do see throughout the books that even though he believes himself to be a very good person, in his youth at least he was kind of a jerk a lot of the time. And how could he possibly remember all these details? He had to have made a lot of it up. And people remember different things. When me and my two sisters get together and talk about the past, it's like we didn't grow up in the same house. We have completely different memories.

You didn't get any spoilers about books 5 and 6? Not even a hint about how the last two books were received, and what the hell that Hitler essay in book 6 is about?? Well, we wait...
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Old 07-23-2015, 12:45 PM   #799
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Now a third through Book 4 and looking back, I do think Book 2 is the best so far. I really loved his long philosophical conversations with Geir. Book 4 is my struggle. It is painfully boring so far compared with the others but I am going to plow on through and hope it gets better. I'm in til the end with the series regardless.

That is really interesting about the people you met in Norway. Maybe calling it a novel (or autofiction) is where he gives himself license. You certainly do see throughout the books that even though he believes himself to be a very good person, in his youth at least he was kind of a jerk a lot of the time. And how could he possibly remember all these details? He had to have made a lot of it up. And people remember different things. When me and my two sisters get together and talk about the past, it's like we didn't grow up in the same house. We have completely different memories.

You didn't get any spoilers about books 5 and 6? Not even a hint about how the last two books were received, and what the hell that Hitler essay in book 6 is about?? Well, we wait...
Yeah, I think his books lead to interesting questions about memory and subjectivity. Anyways, it something I come across again and again. He is very good at reconstructing (or remembering) his internal emotional state during even more mundane events, which is not an easy skill. But after a while you start to notice that some of the factual descriptions are obviously biased, as the things we tend to remember, or forget, are meaningful in themselves. I digress.

I avoided spoilers while in Norway, and some of the people I talked with had actually abandoned the series before the end. I didn't even know about the Hitler essay (although the title of the series made me think that there would be a connection at some point). Anyways, I'm going blind. Just started book 3 this morning on the subway. Book 4 has yet to be released on paperback, I think (and my OCD will force me to get the same collection as 1-3), so it will take some time until we get to the end.

Something I did learn: the Norwegians pronounce the K in Knausgard.
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Old 07-23-2015, 03:58 PM   #800
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What series are you both referring to? I am lazy and 'can't' find it.
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Old 07-23-2015, 05:19 PM   #801
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Karl Ove Knausgard's 6-volume autobiographical series My Struggle. Here's the reference: http://www.amazon.com/My-Struggle-Ka.../dp/0374534144

Joyful is on Vol. 4 and I just started Vol. 3.
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Old 08-25-2015, 09:15 AM   #802
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I'm finally done with Book 3 of My Struggle, which was definitely the most pleasurable read of the first 3 volumes (but I consider Book 2 to be the best one). There's a strange thing with this series in that I'm always drawn by the books when I'm reading them, but don't feel compelled to read them when I'm doing something else. So it has taken me forever to finish each volume. I feel it's time to take a break from this series, which works just fine as Book 4 will not be released on paperback until early 2016.

I'm quickly reading Stephen King's On Writing, which is a good art-of-the-craft book. The first half is an autobiographical section which gives some interesting nuggets about how he came up with some of his stories. Apparently Carrie is based on him being surprised at the existence of tampon dispensers in girls' restrooms. Yeah.
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Old 08-25-2015, 10:21 AM   #803
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I've never read On Writing, but ever passage from it I've seen has been excellent. There's really no excuse.
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Old 08-25-2015, 10:39 AM   #804
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I've never read On Writing, but ever passage from it I've seen has been excellent. There's really no excuse.
It's a very short and readable book, so it won't take you more than a few days.
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Old 08-25-2015, 10:44 AM   #805
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Awesome, good to know!

Also, about the tampon thing, I didn't know that but I will say it makes total sense now. Because that man, and clearly De Palma as well, have no idea how a woman's body works. Carrie is a great story, but the inciting action for the entire plot has always cracked me up because it's so absurd.
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Old 08-25-2015, 11:49 AM   #806
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Awesome, good to know!

Also, about the tampon thing, I didn't know that but I will say it makes total sense now. Because that man, and clearly De Palma as well, have no idea how a woman's body works. Carrie is a great story, but the inciting action for the entire plot has always cracked me up because it's so absurd.
Supposedly, he asked his wife to help him understand the minds of high school girls. Which makes it even more hilarious, as he clearly seems to have missed the mark.
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Old 08-26-2015, 07:43 PM   #807
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Books Part V, featuring Benny Profane and the Whole Sick Crew

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I'm finally done with Book 3 of My Struggle, which was definitely the most pleasurable read of the first 3 volumes (but I consider Book 2 to be the best one).

I agree with that. Book one was fascinating, book two was the most intellectually challenging, three was just a real pleasure. Four started out boring and did get better but really lacked the depth of the others. It was the only one of the four where I put it down and read a few other books before returning to it, and I did that more than once.

I'm glad for a long break before book five is released next spring.

I saw the DFW film "The End of the Tour" a couple of days ago. A must-see for fans, which is why I mention it in the book thread and not the movie thread. Jason Segel was extraordinary.
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Old 09-22-2015, 03:10 AM   #808
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I've read Nineteen Eighty-Four in English for the first time after reading it in late elementary school a long time ago. Amazing stuff. I forgot how hopelessly dark it was. Orwell pulls no punches and his vision is at the same time fantastically surreal and way too prophetic and reminiscent of certain parts of the world today. The ending is just perfect.

Reading The Satanic Verses now. I wasn't expecting to enjoy Rushdie's writing this much. Charming, playful, with amazing command of language. And English is his third language for pete's sake.
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Old 10-19-2015, 02:43 PM   #809
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I'm reading Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt. I read Teacher Man in college and enjoyed it pretty well. There's something Bono-ish about the writing style, which must be some underlying Irish thing.
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Old 10-28-2015, 09:27 AM   #810
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I'm quickly reading Stephen King's On Writing, which is a good art-of-the-craft book. The first half is an autobiographical section which gives some interesting nuggets about how he came up with some of his stories. Apparently Carrie is based on him being surprised at the existence of tampon dispensers in girls' restrooms. Yeah.
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I've never read On Writing, but ever passage from it I've seen has been excellent. There's really no excuse.
I'm reading On Writing now, and almost done with it. Being a writer myself, its been great to get lessons from King while also learning about his life and how he grew as a storyteller.
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