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|>>|| No. 6584
This was better, definitely scratched a philosophical itch and seemed to be saying something interesting about models, maps, children, all sorts of reproduction and their eventual decomposition, a very melancholy book by the end of it and kept thematically tight.
I did find myself becoming exasperated at the lengthy descriptions of the history of Bichon, William Morris and the lives of flies but they were there for a good reason in the end.
|>>|| No. 6585
I've been fairly critical of Miéville in the past but reading this I think he's finally matured as a writer. It has many of his favourite themes (anti-fascism, partisans, mech-people, urban fantasy, etc) but they're assembled cogently, the world makes "sense" and is full of interesting stuff he has clearly researched extremely thoroughly. At just over 100 pages, unlike Embassytown you don't get the sense that he's stretched out a small number of ideas needlessly for the sake of being the length of a novel.
If you're going to read anything of his, let it be this.
|>>|| No. 6586
Some superficial similarities to Close to the Knives, but pre-AIDS so somewhat different. It's not unlike a series of character studies in segments tied together into an over-arching narrative of the narrator's own journey. Lots of very real, very lonely and insecure people. A very powerful piece of writing.
>“It’s strange that we should have to force ourselves not to love—or share, if you dont like that other word—even force ourselves not to acknowledge that love is possible. And so we make the world even more rotten than it was when we discovered its rot; justifying ourselves by saying it’s the only way: Get tough. Or be swallowed by it. And we further that original alienation. . . . And by ‘rot’ I mean only all the things that repress and forbid—the rot created by people in order to keep themselves from facing the real horror—within themselves—the coldness, the lack of understanding—. . .”
|>>|| No. 6594
Someone lent me their copy of this, recommending it.
Nope. Nopenopenope. Empty calories for the brain. An immensely dislikeable Gary Stu protagonist in a fedora and the friend zone. Fuck this book and fuck Patrick Rothfuss.
|>>|| No. 6595
Everything is a copy of a copy and the copy is the reality. This is really dense to read and takes a lot of digesting, even though it's not saying much that couldn't be more easily summed up by someone who just accepted the presupposition and wasn't trying to argue it. If you define everything as a copy, doesn't that render the distinction between copy and reality, and from there the entire thesis, meaningless? I think postmodernism is quite possibly little more than crypto schizophrenia. Deleuze and Guattari don't even bother with the crypto part. Still, it's interesting and they make me feel funny when I read them.
|>>|| No. 6597
I can't say I got anything out of this or really understood anything more than the general idea. This is touted as "theory fiction" which means it's a knowingly false psychoanalysis of war for oil through some sort of Mesopotamian religious lens. It's not even a headfuck, just a barrage of invented Theosophy and Numerology. The Middle-East as egregore. I think Borges was right to write reviews of fictional books instead of writing the books themselves; some ideas are neat but don't need to be fully realised like this. Postmodernism a shit.
|>>|| No. 6599
This was really quite nightmarish in a way that the bland characters just seemed to accept. The setting and technology is fairly campy in that way Dick usually approaches future settings, but then the central conceit starts to kick in about half way through and that all goes out the window. I'm left reeling a little, trying not to think too hard about what was actually supposed to be happening because it'll just descend into schizoid branching loops. Good book, totally mental.
|>>|| No. 6600
An overlooked gem of a book. The weakest stories in here are horror, because horror isn't scary, but the weird things and particularly the characters are brilliant; humanly portrayed and touching descriptions. Apparently the author's best known for writing for Doctor Who and frankly that's a shame because he's clearly so much better than that. Highly recommended.
|>>|| No. 6601
A man with three testicles inherits a castle which is then subsequently invaded by a parade of fucking strange people with a variety of perversions. This doesn't seem to have any real plot to speak of but the prose is interesting if confusing at times. Gormenghast-lite with a cast of lewd Monty Python-esque characters.
|>>|| No. 6602
Another of Shearman's short story collections. Really excellent writing, not the 'horror' genre-fiction it's touted as. These cover images are really inappropriate for the content, frankly.
For whatever reason, most of the stories in this collection are car crash, divorce/adultery and/or Christmas themed. Some really quite sinister stuff, even to read in this heat.
|>>|| No. 6603
Sounds interesting. If not horror, how would you describe the stories? Eerie or tense?
|>>|| No. 6609
Themes of drowning and eventual rebirth ... great characterisation especially when it comes to Dr. Tamkin, I suspect we've all met one or two people who behave very much like that.
I had a look briefly at some SparkNotes or whatever essays else Google served up on the book and found it curious that a lot of them make a thing about the references made in this book, both ones made explicitly (the writers Tamkin talks about and the listed contents of his bookshelf) and implicitly (connections made to most of the character's names). It's not that they talk about them which is strange, it's that all of them are mentioned only once in the narrative. Except Korzybski, who's referred to by name then later by reference to his book Science and Sanity. You'd think there might be something noteworthy in the man who wrote a book on non-Aristotelian logic being mentioned in passing conjunction with Aristotle himself, but no. The only Google result for 'Korzybski seize the day' simply notes that he's referenced in the book.
I know Korzybski and his Institute of General Semantics aren't terribly popular but I suspect there's more going on in this context at least.
|>>|| No. 6611
I kind of enjoyed it but I did find it pretty depressing, not sure why, like a lot of Self's work to be honest. Thought Umbrella was really good.
|>>|| No. 6612
Absurd title aside, this memoir strikes me as an English, heterosexual equivalent to the Wojnarowicz and Rechy books earlier in the thread. While AIDS did for all three of them in the end, her more matter-of-fact, uncluttered obvious enjoyment of sex and lack of guilt regarding it in a post-war, pre-free-love way is quite admirable.
Her attitude, coming from an obviously very privileged upper class English late colonial background yet still being entirely unconcerned with it also reminds me of Amanda Feilding, although just ... less mental.
|>>|| No. 6704
I haven't read any fewer books since the last post, but this is the only one I've felt worth recommending to others.
|>>|| No. 6706
I tried reading some stuff outside of my usual interests.
This was pretty funny, some silly gaffes about technology and phones especially in the first half.
The narrator eventually conceded that he doesn't understand technology and stuck to (describing) his guns. And the New York underground system. There are maybe three pages dedicated to trivia on the construction and use of one particular make of carriage.
Massive overuse of Chekhov's gun. It takes some thinking to get that to work fluidly but it happened so much it read like he was doing it by rote almost, nothing innovative about it.
Solid writing for a thriller although there was one plot point that tantalisingly never got tied up.
Strong but not outstanding use of description, elements of Gary Stu, good pacing, weak characterisation, strong underlying themes of misogyny.
|>>|| No. 6707
This is an almost identical book to the Lee Child one except the self-righteous and grumpy middle aged American man vibes are turned up so high you can smell him. Not to imply the other one is a good book but this one is worse in every conceivable way. Except he doesn't make a tit of himself talking about computers or phones, mainly because it was written seven years earlier in 2002 and they weren't really relevant.
There's definitely a simple formula to these books.
|>>|| No. 6708
I quite liked this, although it goes on for 800+ pages then you find out it's just the first in a trilogy which is a bit mental. That said, Cronin's research, empathic characterisation and ability to combine different styles makes it not a regrettable read. If someone told me it was originally I Am Legend fanfiction I'd believe it. The only real problem I found was that the sheer number of characters got a bit confusing sometimes, particularly about 2/3 of the way through.
An ambitious work, just a couple of decades too late to make an impact.
|>>|| No. 6709
This was brilliant compared to the other two. It's not exactly The Name of the Rose but nor is it trying to be. I thought detective fiction was traditionally an American speciality, trust a Scotsman to utterly outclass them at their own game.
All the same themes, minus the constant descriptions of the the minutae of guns, but in a far less smug and obnoxious manner. I'm tempted to read some more of his stuff at some point.
|>>|| No. 6710
This was interesting to read; the first of the "Inspector Rebus" novels. It doesn't really compare to the previous one which is what's so interesting about it, you can really see Rankin's progression from one to the other, all the elements of the other books are in there but not played quite as slickly.
|>>|| No. 6726
Scrittore americano, Joe McGinniss, spends the season with Castel di Sangro Calcio after they won promotion to Serie B in 1996, the second tier in Italian football despite hailing from an impoverished town in the middle of nowhere with a population of c. 5,000 at a time when the Italian league was the best in the world.
It's got pretty much what you'd expect from Italian football at the time, numerous scandals, right down to having a cigar chomping owner with connections to the criminal underworld. It's an entertaining read, even if you don't like football, as McGinniss' enthusiasm is infectious.
|>>|| No. 6727
Hide and Seek (1991)
Strip Jack (1992)
The Black Book (1993)
Mortal Causes (1994)
Let It Bleed (1996)
Black and Blue (1997)
The Hanging Garden (1998)
Dead Souls (1999)
Set in Darkness (2000)
The Falls (2001)
Resurrection Men (2002)
A Question of Blood (2003)
There's a definite progression in his ability as a writer throughout these. It's not until about book 3 that he starts to really get the hang of the detective novel format. Around 5 or 6 he realises that most of the characters he began with (except Rebus) are pretty thin so he starts to kill them off, send them away or promote them to places where they can start to change at a distance, replacing them with others. I think it's book 5 where he gets an actual detective helping him with the details of how the police force works, which makes a lot of difference too, even if he does overdo it with the acronyms for a while. That's sort of played as a joke though, I think he might have been teasing the detective for dumping them all on him.
Around book 10 the characters start to really feel like real people. They get dimensions. He tried to do fancy things with flashbacks in book 1 but didn't do it great, started again in book 13 but it still just got on my nerves instead of seeming clever. Also in book 13 he's clearly recently picked up a textbook on body language/psychology for the first time; the text starts mentioning the way people move a lot then three quarters of the way through the characters explicitly mention having read books of that sort.
Have to say I'm getting a bit sick of the repeated themes of Edinburgh mythology; things like The Resurrection Men, John Knox, Sawney Bean and other snippets keep getting brought up in different contexts from one book to the next and while it's not done like he's trying to impress you with his breadth of knowledge of the stuff it does feel like the city's whole imaginative worlds revolve around them, surely other things happen in Scotland that are worthy of mentioning? You don't have to mention one of each of them every three books.
I liked how the nerdy characters and subjects were treated in book 12 even if I had a minor niggle with their technical knowledge it's not something totally unrealistic for them to not know in 2001.
The whole "connecting everything to a song by a band Rebus likes" was annoying and I'm glad he seems to be doing it less by book 14.
Most of the time the suspense over whodunnit or if the characters will survive is pretty decent; that sort of tedious feeling where you know who did it or who's going to survive whatever situation and are just waiting for the characters to figure it out and it to be over so the plot gets a move on is minimal.
I'm going to keep going but my interest is flagging.
|>>|| No. 6729
Your ability to read entire collected works is impressive, as usual. I don't know how you manage to remain so objective in your review of them after more than a handful, though; for instance, I know if I watch a few series of a TV show my capacity for objective review goes out the window, and I'm sure the same is true for books as I get used to the author and settle into their style. I inevitably get softer on my critique and more forgiving of sins that I'd find unforgivable if I was reading a new author/watching a new show/whatever the equivalent is for other forms of media.
|>>|| No. 6730
I'm not sure I can make any claim to objectivity, binge reading these things is just something to do those nights when my brain refuses to shut down but is useless for anything more taxing. I don't enjoy TV as much in that state. Thank you though.
|>>|| No. 6734
That's only the opposite of a cunt-off if you're a lesbian, I guess.
|>>|| No. 6737
I've been thinking about it some more, and it may actually be a new disguised form of cunt-off:
*That's a very interesting post*
> You're a cunt.
> You too.
|>>|| No. 6740
Fleshmarket Close 2004)
The Naming of the Dead (2006)
Exit Music (2007)
Standing in Another Man's Grave (2012)
Saints of the Shadow Bible (2013)
The Complaints (2009) - Malcolm Fox
The Impossible Dead (2011) - Malcolm Fox
Even Dogs in the Wild (2015)
Rather Be the Devil (2016)
I finished the remaining Rebus novels, as well as the two Fox ones which took place in the chronicity. Malcolm Fox seems like a pointless character, Siobhan is more interesting but rarely develops in any particular fashion. Fox is particularly annoying as he supposedly sticks to the rules and does things by the book as all the other characters are keen to remind him in conversation except he really doesn't, every now and then he'll go against his orders in the most pointless way and achieve nothing at all by it.
The Naming of the Dead stuck out in particular as of all the books it had the most life to it, Rankin seemed energised by the G8 protests and how much he hates Bono. Exit Music and Even Dogs in the Wild had some particularly melancholy moments which I enjoyed.
As the stories progress into the later books (16+) it seems like someone was teaching Rankin about actual organised crime, so they begin to be a bit convoluted in a dull way all to do with buying property and banking investments. Once or twice this is done well but the rest of the time I wasn't terribly impressed. One case in particular was a retrospective thing about how all the gangsters invested in the land around the Scottish Parliament in the pre-2000 referendum and the fallout from that, then later there's a book where they're investing again in the land for the more recent referendum, but when that fails the next book ignores it.
Some odd things in the chronology; Rebus seems to forget his father was dead in one book, and the biography of Big Ger written at the end of one book has been totally forgotten by everyone involved a few books later when someone else proposes writing one.
I'm amused that the early cases sometimes take weeks and months with years in between, then the more recent ones all seem to happen in a matter of days, something that Rankin started doing presumably when he realised Rebus was about to reach the age of retirement and is now getting very old, but wanting to keep writing more books.
The annoying music reference gimmick have almost entirely stopped, and Rebus in his old age seems to listen almost exclusively to the Solid Air album by John Martyn. Not a bad album at all.
I skipped The Beat Goes On: The Complete Short Stories because I'm sick of it. This is enough Rebus to last a lifetime.
I wonder if Rankin is aware of how often he writes that a character's "mouth twitched" as a reaction to almost anything.
|>>|| No. 6774
While I am usually a fan of the memoirs and autobiographies of the users, the junkies, the alcoholics, life's general riff-raff that end up laid up at the lower stratas of society, this one left me not just unfulfilled but also fairly sad that I'd bothered to read it all.
If we can all agree that there is no point in reading (or writing, for that matter) something that you, or at least someone else, can’t learn anything from then we have no choice but to conclude that this is a useless book written by a useless person.
For there is nothing to learn here at all. No musings on the causes, mechanisms, whys, or wherefores of addiction or the visceral drive towards self destruction; about the deepest this book gets (and I paraphrase) is "and then I spent a few years letting gross men I didn't know bundle me into nightclub toilets and give me cocaine before later pulling me onto their laps in taxis while unzipping their fly, but you know how it is, right girls?!?!?".
Even Sarah Hepola's snooze-fest Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget or Burroughs Junior's ungainly, lurching memoir Speed have a comparative ocean of insight and a lot less "My dad was distant and my mother hated me and Kurt Cobain died, and here's a vague description of how I did a lot of dumb shit despite being born with a silver spoon in my mouth without even an attempt at self-contemplation about why I might have done so" when compared to this.
tl;dr - A pointless book by a pointless person, even her beauty columns had more to say about life than this and I'm a heterosexual male whose idea of looking after myself is trying to remember to get my hair cut more than once a year.
|>>|| No. 6795
I've just killed an hour reading a short story from Frederick Forsyth about some poor sod who got blackmailed by a prozzie. Money with Menaces it's called, I think.
I smelt something was up when the protagonist of the story talked back to his blackmailers, even more so when he mounted a shopping run for some components too ordinary to be left without attention.
The moment with the photo he'd removed from his flat before he got visited by a copper is still kind of brilliant.
|>>|| No. 6861
I'd forgotten how much I enjoy the works of Sir Terry. You can tell that Pratchett and Gaiman were challenging themselves to make the other laugh when they were writing it; it's the most fun I've had reading a book in quite some time.
|>>|| No. 6981
Bar the typical American fashion self-help giddy bollocks it's been an interesting story so far (I'm 6-7 chapters in).
There about half a chapter where he muses about the reasons he'd got into this shit (namely BUD/S training). I still have a hard time fully grasping all the self-imposed suffering. Not that I don't understand it; three Hell Weeks and the rest of that spec ops training plus the 100 mile marathon in 24 hours without any bloody preparation - it's just so much for one human being that I cannot fully comprehend it as a grand scheme.
Stone tough and fucking mad.
|>>|| No. 6983
It's annoying that it's not going to be on the BBC for another six or seven months.
|>>|| No. 6984
Yeah I liked his interview on Impact theory. As far as yanks go, he's a pretty interesting one.
|>>|| No. 6987
I haven't had any time to continue reading it properly besides advancing just one or two chapters further. There's another titbit in there that recites something similar I've read from some SAS veteran. A reporter once asked the said vet how he'd managed to make it through the gruelling training. He replied that on many days he'd thought about quitting, he would say to himself that he'd try and toil just until 'lunch' and then quit. Each time he did, he'd postpone the decision to quit.
Goggins mentions the same strategy he'd used during that fucking Oahu ultramarathon.
|>>|| No. 7028
I expected this to be yet another variant of How to Kiss Arse and Perform Backstabs. It wasn't, instead focussing more on 'pay attention to what's going on around you', 'take care of yourself', a few bits about corporations being corporations. Nothing particularly groundbreaking of any sorts. Not too bad, just moderately generic.
|>>|| No. 7033
When I read things like this I constantly worry that I'm not knowledgeable enough to identify most of the references being made and that points will go over my head because I'm not clever enough to pick up subtlety.
Anyway, I liked it.
|>>|| No. 7036
Does it really matter though? The only way you really get better at these things is reading them, missing the references then learning where they were missed out later.
It's just like watching a film, watch it, then after you've had a think about it (if it's that kind of film), have a google and see what others have said and see where you missed it out.
|>>|| No. 7037
I might be taking a dim view on this because I've recently re-read Bad Science and this has suffered in comparison, but I found it rather poorly written and not very engaging.
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