Books Thread

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Shakespeare
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Re: Books Thread

Post by Shakespeare »

Shakespeare wrote:
Mon Oct 05, 2020 12:37 pm

halfway through this now:
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reserving full judgment for now but its sure easy to read
this remained true but thats about it. i get why it became such a massive seller but beneath all the sex and drugs and i didnt find it all that compelling a story. i read it in basically two 200 page chunks and in between it was hard to muster the enthusiasm to get back into it.

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Re: Books Thread

Post by beantownbubba »

Shakespeare wrote:
Mon Oct 12, 2020 6:44 pm
this remained true but thats about it. i get why it became such a massive seller but beneath all the sex and drugs and i didnt find it all that compelling a story. i read it in basically two 200 page chunks and in between it was hard to muster the enthusiasm to get back into it.
Were the "good parts" any good? I don't remember the deets, but it was pretty hot stuff back in the day; I imagine it's fairly tame by current standards.
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Shakespeare
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Re: Books Thread

Post by Shakespeare »

cant speak to its period but it all seemed definitely tame by todays standards. the drugs were almost perfunctory, despite giving the book its title, and the sex was generally more implied than anything

more of an interesting time capsule than a great book but still glad i read it

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Re: Books Thread

Post by Flea »

Shakespeare wrote:
Thu Oct 15, 2020 9:32 am
cant speak to its period but it all seemed definitely tame by todays standards. the drugs were almost perfunctory, despite giving the book its title, and the sex was generally more implied than anything

more of an interesting time capsule than a great book but still glad i read it
That could also describe "Catcher In The Rye". Read it again a year or so ago, time has not been its friend.
Now it's dark.

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Shakespeare
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Re: Books Thread

Post by Shakespeare »

ive been curious how that would read a second time. ive only read it once, several years out of peak-salinger fandom age, so it was pretty easy to take it warts and all without needing it to mean the world or whatever. i enjoyed it then and probably still would to some extent now but its at the very least a protagonist that could do with some time off in todays world

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Shakespeare
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Re: Books Thread

Post by Shakespeare »

speaking of time capsule books
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went back and forth on this a lot while reading but ultimately i think i liked it with some substantial reservations. some of it hasnt aged all that well (the upper class navel gazing mostly, which became so much so fast i read like 30 pages then paused for three weeks before ultimately finishing the rest in a day) and it sure could have used tighter editing. that said, it managed to be a deeply psychological novel set to a fairly good story and that's not a simple line to toe. im no prude but ill say i found it most interesting when it toned down some of the explicit sexual talk, which in places felt a bit too shock value heavy for the actual content it had to offer

probably still more important than good but definitely a perspective i could stand to explore further in my reading. glad i read it at any rate

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Shakespeare
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Re: Books Thread

Post by Shakespeare »

i also finished this over the weekend but wouldnt say i enjoyed it much at all
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good writer and im sure the satire in here (its a barely veiled commentary on some literary peers) is sharp for its goals, but it all just felt kinda empty. just not the kind of book that hits me on any level at all

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Re: Books Thread

Post by beantownbubba »

From distant memory I think you're dead on re both Jong & Maugham. You seem to be aware of the sensation Fear of Flying was on its release so I won't belabor the point. I've never really gotten Maugham, fwiw.
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Shakespeare
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Re: Books Thread

Post by Shakespeare »

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Loved stoner but not sure I'll finish this. It's well written but between its story (basically a history of the roman empire post-caesar) and it's format (short letters and observations to and from a ton of different characters) it's proving to be a bit much to get a handle on. not at all what I want to read right now. I'll keep at it for a bit before giving up, as it's not even that long

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Premise was interesting (bio of the titular character, more known as a historical footnote to her husband and father, both notable writers) but I didn't find her story itself all that notable so it kinda fell apart in a hurry for me. Hard to rate something that clearly does exactly what it set out to do but I didn't care for it. Might have been better served as part of an anthology on such figures rather than a whole book of it's own

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I loved the fixer but that's the extent of my malamud exposure so far. 100 pages in and this is great. A surreal sci-fi/religious fiction mashup about the last man on earth and a chimpanzee on an island.

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Re: Books Thread

Post by John A Arkansawyer »

Shakespeare wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 6:43 pm
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Loved stoner but not sure I'll finish this. It's well written but between its story (basically a history of the roman empire post-caesar) and it's format (short letters and observations to and from a ton of different characters) it's proving to be a bit much to get a handle on. not at all what I want to read right now. I'll keep at it for a bit before giving up, as it's not even that long
Always nice to see a local boy's books! This one has never come to hand for me. I'm totally with you on Stoner.
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Shakespeare
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Re: Books Thread

Post by Shakespeare »

took about two weeks but i finished this on saturday:
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where to even begin!

ive found his movies hit or miss (most recently a miss on im thinking of ending things) but i did actually like this a lot. its absolutely charlie kaufman, a jumbled mess of painfully meta neuroses, but generally lands on the right side of self aware and genuinely hilarious in places. it could have very easily been edited down to a more manageable length (one of its subplots in particularly was very cringer and immediately dated satire) but i never felt like it totally dragged, at least not for long enough that i ever doubted id finish.

plot concerns an insufferable film critic that stumbles upon a 3 month long animated masterpiece no one has seen, and in bringing it back to NYC to share with the world it catches fire and leaves just a single frame. cue a series of attempts to jog his memory and reap the rewards of someone elses work.

oddly it was the parts where the narrator tries to mentally piece together the film he saw and lost that are least interesting for me. sorta like thats where it starts to feel too much like the books just a big jab at kaufmans day job. the plotlines around that were much more interesting.

certainly not for everyone but im very curious to see if he'll attempt another novel, especially if he does so with less veiled (or blatant) criticism of his own work and critics.

blew through this as a sort of breather afterwards:
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thought it was ok but like a lot of sci fi leaning stuff it just rings a bit empty for me when it gets into its wider point. concerns a fugitive hiding on a deserted island that a bunch of tourists come to visit.

next up:
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little over 400 pages so not antkind epic but still something to settle into for a few days. really high hopes for this based on his the edge of sadness, which is one of the more reasonable and sympathetic presentations of faith i think ive ever seen. only got through 20 pages last night but seems like another slow burning character study, this time based more around politics. stoked!

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Re: Books Thread

Post by jr29 »

Cole Younger wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2012 10:05 am
Just finished My Cross To Bear by Gregg Allman. Pretty entertaining read. In an odd twist of fate, I got to meet Chuck Levell a few days later. Good guy.
I just read Gregg's book. It was very, very entertaining.
I'd kinda love to hear Dickey's response to some of the stuff Gregg said but I believe they semi-patched things up near the time of Gregg's death so it's probably better left alone.

I do follow Duane Betts on instagram and he's posted pics of he and Dickey camping with Gregg and one of his sons in the mid-1980's. None of that kind of stuff was in the book. You'd never know anything like that ever happened if you judged by the book.

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Re: Books Thread

Post by Flea »

Perhaps the most beautifully illustrated erotica I've ever seen.

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Now it's dark.

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Shakespeare
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Re: Books Thread

Post by Shakespeare »

Image
Very good. Felt like it had a lot more to it than just a baseball book. Wouldn't say it quite stuck the landing (ending was incredibly rushed and I thought it could have taken things beyond the playing field a lot more since it played with some pretty universal themes. Felt on the verge of getting into the darker post playing career of the elite athlete that doesn't get talked about often enough) but I've not been let down by a malamud book yet


next up and exactly halfway through so far
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first of his ive tried. more thoughts when im done but certainly some timely aspects to this one

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Re: Books Thread

Post by Ty Webb »

I'm surprised to not see https://www.david-joy.com/ mentioned in this thread.

He's a wonderful young Appalachian author with four novels (https://www.david-joy.com/books), the first two (IIRC) of which feature some DBT references.

Y'all enjoy!
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Shakespeare
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Re: Books Thread

Post by Shakespeare »

Shakespeare wrote:
Mon Dec 07, 2020 10:24 am

next up and exactly halfway through so far
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first of his ive tried. more thoughts when im done but certainly some timely aspects to this one
i enjoyed the hell out of this

i thought the ending got just a tad too messy perhaps but overall i really liked it and can definitely see a reread in the future. it played with a lot of postmodern elements that could easily come off lazy or preachy but didn't, perhaps in large part because it was so consistently hilarious. balanced things out nicely. curious to see how his other work does in this regard.

dude has an incredible feel for banter. book was full of snappy back and forths that weren't exactly brief, but i never found myself glancing across the page to see how much longer this would go one. feel like ive read a lot of writers that hammer that kind of thing into the ground but not here

also enjoyed how, though theyre not 100% unrelated, you can almost treat the three parts of the book as totally separate short stories

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Re: Books Thread

Post by Flying Rabbit »

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I really enjoyed this one. Quick read. Wanna read about a guy who was so big that Sir George Martin almost produced him? Influenced Frank Black? Was on a bowling team with John Fahey?! This is the dude.

Image

Just started this one.

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Re: Books Thread

Post by beantownbubba »

Saw Anthony Braxton at the Bottom Line in NYC many decades ago. Brilliant musician and really good show but for me more in the "appreciate rather than love" category. On stage w/ him and his band he had this huge -I've never seen before or since - saxophone that had to be at least 6 feet tall. It promised interesting developments but he literally did not touch it all nite. Maybe it was some uber avant garde thing but if so it went over my head.
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Re: Books Thread

Post by John A Arkansawyer »

beantownbubba wrote:
Wed Dec 16, 2020 11:50 am
Saw Anthony Braxton at the Bottom Line in NYC many decades ago. Brilliant musician and really good show but for me more in the "appreciate rather than love" category. On stage w/ him and his band he had this huge -I've never seen before or since - saxophone that had to be at least 6 feet tall. It promised interesting developments but he literally did not touch it all nite. Maybe it was some uber avant garde thing but if so it went over my head.
I love Braxton. Got to see him in Chicago with the quintet in 1980. Tuesday, August 26, I believe. It was an awesome night. Son Seals, too, but I'd seen him before and since. Just a wonderful show.
The sooner we put those assholes in the grave&piss on the dirt above it, the better off we'll be

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Re: Books Thread

Post by beantownbubba »

chuckrh wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 4:54 pm
chuckrh wrote: ↑Sun Sep 20, 2020 8:03 am
Finally got my hands on this one. Enjoyable and professional, of course. The first question of any book this long is did it justify the length? I'd give that a split decision. It certainly moves along at a nice pace. Worth reading especially if you're into the Cormoran Strike series, but I think this is noticeably the weakest of the overall excellent series.
What used to be is gone and what ought to be ought not to be so hard

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Re: Books Thread

Post by pearlbeer »

Image

REALLY enjoyed this book, not only a fantastic history of the Grand Canyon, but an a few epic adventures as well.
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Re: Books Thread

Post by beantownbubba »

beantownbubba wrote:
Wed Dec 16, 2020 12:15 pm
chuckrh wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 4:54 pm
chuckrh wrote: ↑Sun Sep 20, 2020 8:03 am
Finally got my hands on this one. Enjoyable and professional, of course. The first question of any book this long is did it justify the length? I'd give that a split decision. It certainly moves along at a nice pace. Worth reading especially if you're into the Cormoran Strike series, but I think this is noticeably the weakest of the overall excellent series.
LOL. I guess I haven't been doing this for long enough. That was supposed to be a pic of the cover of Troubled Blood by Robert Galbreath.
What used to be is gone and what ought to be ought not to be so hard

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Re: Books Thread

Post by beantownbubba »

beantownbubba wrote:
Wed Dec 16, 2020 12:15 pm
chuckrh wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 4:54 pm
chuckrh wrote: ↑Sun Sep 20, 2020 8:03 am
Finally got my hands on this one. Enjoyable and professional, of course. The first question of any book this long is did it justify the length? I'd give that a split decision. It certainly moves along at a nice pace. Worth reading especially if you're into the Cormoran Strike series, but I think this is noticeably the weakest of the overall excellent series.
LOL. I guess I haven't been doing this for long enough. That was supposed to be a pic of the cover of Troubled Blood by Robert Galbreath.
What used to be is gone and what ought to be ought not to be so hard

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Re: Books Thread

Post by bovine knievel »

pearlbeer wrote:
Wed Dec 16, 2020 12:31 pm
Image

REALLY enjoyed this book, not only a fantastic history of the Grand Canyon, but an a few epic adventures as well.
That’s an amazing book.
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chuckrh
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Re: Books Thread

Post by chuckrh »

beantownbubba wrote:
Wed Dec 16, 2020 12:15 pm
chuckrh wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 4:54 pm
chuckrh wrote: ↑Sun Sep 20, 2020 8:03 am
Finally got my hands on this one. Enjoyable and professional, of course. The first question of any book this long is did it justify the length? I'd give that a split decision. It certainly moves along at a nice pace. Worth reading especially if you're into the Cormoran Strike series, but I think this is noticeably the weakest of the overall excellent series.
I agree. A bit too much soap opera for me but it was a good read nonetheless.

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Re: Books Thread

Post by Flying Rabbit »

beantownbubba wrote:
Wed Dec 16, 2020 11:50 am
Saw Anthony Braxton at the Bottom Line in NYC many decades ago. Brilliant musician and really good show but for me more in the "appreciate rather than love" category. On stage w/ him and his band he had this huge -I've never seen before or since - saxophone that had to be at least 6 feet tall. It promised interesting developments but he literally did not touch it all nite. Maybe it was some uber avant garde thing but if so it went over my head.
Haha, as I've gotten older, I've come to a place where I don't have to like everything. But I at least try to recognize the musicality and artistry of what is being put forward. When I was first getting serious about bands and the streams were all new, I thought there was something wrong with my ears if I didn't like something that was critically lauded. And when I say "like", read it as adore. There's just some things my ears and feeble brain just are not going to recognize, or gel with. I respect that you took a chance, saw him perform, and said you know what, I can dig this -- but I'm probably not going to reach for it over other albums.

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Shakespeare
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Re: Books Thread

Post by Shakespeare »

catching up here:
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Loved this. 1946 noir, and the more stuff like this I read the more it's becoming my go to if I want something Im about guaranteed to finish in short order. This one was started a friday night and finished sunday morning. Every chapter a cliffhanger and it dragged it's plot and cast out perfectly. no waste at all.

Concerns a guy framed for his wife's murder and his prison break/attempt to start over while figuring out who did it. I read it in a collection of five goodis novels and I'm quite stoked for the rest

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reading this among the handful of crime novels ive read recently was interesting, since this is almost not about the crime itself at all. quite enjoyed its methodical approach, though it did start to drag a bit in the actual trial section. oddly it wasnt even the legalese that did it, more the frequent inner monologues of the defense attorney. didnt add much and made that half of the book feel oddly paced compared to the pre-trial bit, which seemed at odds with how i imagined the actual timeline.

overall i really liked the book though. gave me a new appreciation for the mindsets and minute to mi nute ins and outs involved in a trial like this.

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I've been meaning to get into more of the big russian writers for a while but those books are all so long, plus the names, just seems so daunting. this is a crisp 300 pages (and the sparse way my copy is typeset makes it really more like half that) though. breezed through it in a day

For about two thirds of this it was well written but kinda boring but it took off in the last hundred pages, into some wild shit I didn't see coming at all. Incredible ending. Greek tragedy level over the top karma

As it established it's characters I was mostly thinking the whole young mistress aspect was all it had (probably skewed by knowing nabakov wrote lolita) to offer but even at that point it seemed to deliberately not be super lecherous about it. Eventually it seemed like there was no need to make margot so young anyway but I guess it did make the ending ultimately funnier that she was only 16

Probably will take a crack at lolita in the near future cuz of this

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Re: Books Thread

Post by beantownbubba »

You know how it feels to come across a great, obscure find in a genre you love? Well, that's me and Joe Ide's IQ series. I'm on the last book of those published so far (there will be at least one more) and it's by far the weakest, but the others are fantastic. It's hard to be fresh and original in the crime genre, but Ide manages it. BTW, "IQ" is a double entendre - it's the hero's initials and he's really, really smart. What's really fascinating, especially in this day and age of sensitivities, is that Ide is a Japanese-American writing about a Black American in an almost entirely African-American, largely ghetto, setting. I would have said it's impossible, and my 'hood cred is sorely lacking so maybe my lack of experience is contributing but damn these characters seem authentic, real, relatable and very human in all the best ways (including having some less than ideal characteristics). The mysteries are secondary to the characters and their interaction and development, but they're not bad and are good enough to keep the stories moving along. Really quick reads, too, so you won't have to invest much time to check 'em out.

Just getting into Denise Mina, a well regarded writer in the "Scottish noir" tradition. So far so good.

A Beautiful Crime - I didn't find it as good as its notices, and the crime/heist at the plot's center isn't very interesting but the author captures Venice beautifully and writes really well. I would put it in B/B+ territory w/ it being docked one grade for not really being a crime story (not that a book has to be in that genre, only that if it's advertised/promoted that way it ought to follow through).
What used to be is gone and what ought to be ought not to be so hard

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Re: Books Thread

Post by John A Arkansawyer »

Shakespeare wrote:
Mon Dec 28, 2020 10:54 am
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Probably will take a crack at lolita in the near future cuz of this
Arkansaw's greatest novelist--sorry, Charles Portis and Melissa Scott--Donald Harington was also Arkansaw's biggest Nabokov fan, as this novel shows:

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I can't decide whether this one or the one before it, The Choiring of the Trees, was Harington's best. I do like the other cover better and wish it were the one on my copy:

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Check out the first five chapters courtesy of Pittsburg State University, which probably means more to me than any other campus I've never stepped upon:
~ O N E ~

EKATERINA YOU WERE, and you were not at all. You were from a land faraway, once upon a time and upon no time at all, where stories always begin, "There was, and there was not at all...," as if to confute truth or affirm invention, in celebration of the imagination's freedom to transcend the stubborn facts of "reality": you were, and still are, Ekaterina: all of this is real, and not a word of it is true: you escaped the clutches of a sadist named Bolshakov (a real name) who could not separate truth from fiction, and you came to America.

There was and there was not at all a great city in an eastern state, a city devoted to the manufacture of a hard but malleable metal commonly used in straight pins, a hilly city at the confluence of two rivers of Indian names and the beginning of a third, a city that, like you and I, gave up smoking -- oh, why do I have to shield its name? You did not choose the city, except to whatever extent it may have been chosen for you by your guardian angel, Anangka, and you suspected that Anangka was still half asleep from jet lag, or, at best, becoming frustrated and grim in her efforts to provide a destiny for you.

No, you were sent to this city involuntarily, under the aegis of the Fund for the Relief of Russian Writers and Scientists in Exile, whose New York (a real name) office had met your plane, had interviewed you (in both Russian and English, noting that you were not sufficiently fluent in the latter, and making you a gift of a purse-size paperback, Akhmanova's Russian-English Dictionary), had given you in dollars the equivalent of 176 rubles, enough to last out that month of December, and had put you and your pasteboard suitcase (containing one change of clothes, basic toiletries, and a few souvenirs from "camp") on a bus for the ride of 365 miles to the city of your referral. "Wait," you'd said in English to your agent from the Fund, before he put you on the bus. "Am I Writer, or am I Scientist?" He had laughed, thinking your question in jest, and had made no move to answer it.

The bus ride passed through some snow-covered farm country where the people, called Amish (a real name), still wore old-fashioned clothing, and the women wore black bonnets. You were wearing a black scarf wrapped around your head like a bonnet, or babushka, knotted into a bow beneath your chin. It covered all of your hair -- or rather, your lack of hair, which was just beginning to grow back from the last time it had been shaved in camp. None of your fellow passengers seemed to make anything of your headgear; maybe they thought you were some kind of Amish.

You were, and you were not at all, at least not any longer, Svanetian. It was nothing like Amish: rural and old-fashioned, yes, but not deliberately so, and not particularly religious. Just as the county in which I spent my last years, and our ultimate destination in this story, was and is the most remote of all the seventy-five counties in that (unnamed) state, Svanetia is the most remote district, formerly principality, of the rugged mountains of the Southern Caucasus in Georgia, once part of a communist confederation called the Soviet Union, now independent again but anxiously so. You had not been home for three years, since they sent you to camp, at the age of twenty-four, and that was a dozen years ago from now, and you still have not been home...except in some of your splendid writings.

Just the other year, and not any year at all, the people of Georgia, making a bold move to assert their independence from the still-existing Soviet Union, established as their president the self-same Zviad Gamsakhurdia who had been your mentor and friend, and whose arrest as a political prisoner by the Communists had led to your arrest. Zviad (your stringing of consonants is going to give me some trouble, although we ghosts are multilingual) was not a Svanetian, but a native of Tbilisi, or Tiflis, the capital, and a son of the writer, Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, whose work you admired, and Zviad was a lecturer in English (American Literature) at Tbilisi University when you taught there (not, alas, in English). He had published your first poems in his samizdat journal Okros sacmisi, which means in Georgian "Golden Fleece," and you can remember when you fantasied being Medea to his Jason, you were twenty-three and he was thirty-six, and in his fifties he became president of the whole country, something you couldn't have comprehended in those days when the Kremlin still had all of you under its iron fist.

But you hadn't gone to jail for Zviady. You had gone to jail for Georgia, and for Svanetia, and for the honor of the royal name you carried, Dadeshkeliani, and for human rights everywhere: after Zviady's arrest you became co-chair of the Tbilisi Watch Committee, to observe and protest the violations of human rights that were occurring all around you. By then you had stopped writing poetry. No one, as I discovered myself some years ago, reads poetry.
The sooner we put those assholes in the grave&piss on the dirt above it, the better off we'll be

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Shakespeare
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Re: Books Thread

Post by Shakespeare »

couple of recently finished books:

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didnt really like this much, certainly less than sister carrie. decent enough story to keep interest despite its length and general wordiness (but oh god, the wordiness. there were some sentences in here i had to reread half a dozen times just to get what was going on, and the amount of pages that were single paragraphs with no breaks was brutal) but i felt like nearly all of its broader commentary missed the mark. maybe it came off different in its time but it had so many character choices that were clearly deliberate by dreiser but felt wildly off and left a bad taste in my mouth. clyde griffiths sucked as a lead, there was no reason to have any sympathy for him, but it sucked more that none of the more privileged types that, wittingly or not, set about his downfall got anything in the way of consequences. there is something there as a commentary on the society that produced it, but not enough for me. add in the last ~60 pages that were essentially a separate treatise on capital punishment and religion and it felt overall well intentioned but poorly executed.

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short and sweet. didnt love it as much as dark passage but it was a nice way to kill an afternoon. unfolded its story (innocent man hunted down for his role in an armed robbery) nicely from several perspectives. not really a hang on every word kind of thriller so it kinda just came and went for me, but not a bad thing

next up
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about a quarter of the way in and finding this more boring than anything so far

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