what book are you reading?

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Re: what book are you reading?

Post by indiansummer » Mon Aug 10, 2009 08:52

Woodbine wrote:I've just started Don Delillo's White Noise - the first I've read by him, but only thirty to forty pages in, so too early to comment yet.
That was the first i read by him too! It's really good though. I really enjoyed it.

Only read Cosmopolis since, which was also great. I keep meaning to give Underworld a go, but the total of 1000 pages still seems a bit daunting.
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Re: what book are you reading?

Post by Martijn » Mon Aug 10, 2009 23:28

Apart from a history book, I also finished Kazuo Ishiguro's A Pale View of Hills. His first one and the only one I hadn't read and now reprinted in the Faber Firsts series, so well worth spending some birthday money on. It is good, because Ishiguro is a brilliant writer, but nowhere near as good as some of his later books; there is too much left unexplained for that. Still, it is sad to realise I won't be able to read a new Ishiguro book for another 4 or 5 years.

Before that I read Marilynne Robinson's Home, which has been discussed in this thread before and is really great. The back cover quotes a reviewer who called Gilead, her previous book which features the main characters of this one, 'humbling' and I think it applies to this book too. Few authors manage to write so deeply from the heart of the characters they have created. It's almost an insult it won the Orange Prize: as if it wouldn't be able to compete with books written by authors of the other gender.

I also read Arthur Japin's The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi, which is translated from Dutch, but I had been given and thus read the English version. It is the fictionalised story of two African princes, from the point of view of one of them, who were given as a present to the Dutch king in the 1830s. They were treated as princes and, generally, were met with curiosity rather than racism, but the story gives some good insight in life in and world views of the mid-nineteenth century. I think it was more interesting as historical fiction than as a story though; at least I couldn't really connect to the main character.

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Re: what book are you reading?

Post by Carys » Tue Aug 11, 2009 13:24

I'm reading Memoirs of a Gnostic Dwarf by David Madsen, and it's quite wonderful. Part-historical fiction, part-sleazy romp, part-love story, part-comedy, it's pretty difficult to catergorise and leaves you wondering what can possible come next.

I've had it on my shelf for years after having really enjoyed A Box of Dreams, also by Madsen. Lovely stuff.

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Re: what book are you reading?

Post by nanski » Sat Aug 22, 2009 15:20

the omnivore's dilemma. it's a good read, but i think it would not suffer if it were half the length.

edited because I cannot spell.
Last edited by nanski on Mon Sep 07, 2009 11:55, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: what book are you reading?

Post by Martijn » Sun Aug 23, 2009 00:26

crystalball wrote:I'm reading The Complete Prose Tales of Pushkin. When I was little my dad got me a book of his poems for children which I was obsessed with for years. Then I forgot all about him until I saw this book in a bookshop the other week and it all came flooding back. The tales are beautiful - just the subtlest, most heart-warming stories you can ever hope to read - and the translation is fantastic.
Having been enthused by your post -- and, after that, by reading half a story*, when we were visiting you -- I found myself a little book with half a dozen of his stories. I have really fallen in love with them and can easily see myself buying the complete prose. I think heart-warming is a very appropriate description. And I am so jealous of you having read his poems when you were little!

*one that neither me nor Pushkin finished.

I am reading Flaubert's Madame Bovary at the moment. It is good, although I am at a point where I have to force myself to continue reading. What I really like about realist novels like this is that it gives a better picture of what life was like in rural France of the 1850s than ten history books on the subject would be able to do.

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Re: what book are you reading?

Post by crystalball » Sun Aug 23, 2009 22:00

Aw wow, I'm so glad you liked the Pushkin stories, Martijn. The more I think about it the more I realise that about 90 per cent of the books I read as a child were either Russian or Russia-related because my dad used to write maths articles for the Greek version of the Great Soviet Encyclopaedia and brought home a lot of the books that the publishers put out. Commie parents, eh?

Speaking of Russia and you, I'm reading The Master of Petersburg at the moment and it's incredible. It's depressing through and through but the prose is, I dunno, soft and full of insight and sympathy. Thanks for the recommendation.

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Re: what book are you reading?

Post by indiansummer » Mon Aug 24, 2009 09:00

I'm reading Dostoevsky's The Possessed at the minute. I may be some time. I AM enjoying it, sort of, although can foresee that aforementioned "point where I have to force myself to continue reading" cropping up soon.
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Re: what book are you reading?

Post by Martijn » Mon Aug 24, 2009 22:15

crystalball wrote:Aw wow, I'm so glad you liked the Pushkin stories, Martijn. The more I think about it the more I realise that about 90 per cent of the books I read as a child were either Russian or Russia-related because my dad used to write maths articles for the Greek version of the Great Soviet Encyclopaedia and brought home a lot of the books that the publishers put out. Commie parents, eh?
Oh, you've made me even more jealous now! Not so much because of the communism, but traveling to Russia! Bringing home great foreign literature! My dad would go to this annual teachers sports event and bring me a pencil or something.
crystalball wrote:Speaking of Russia and you, I'm reading The Master of Petersburg at the moment and it's incredible. It's depressing through and through but the prose is, I dunno, soft and full of insight and sympathy. Thanks for the recommendation
I'm glad you like it! It's incredible indeed. Not sure if I'd call it depressing, but it's definitely not a very happy story. Quite a daring thing to do as well: intertwine the story of such a great name with your own story. Speaking of daring things: his new novel, out next month, is the third part of his fictionalised autobiography. Except that it's written from the point of view of a young author, who's writing a biography of the late Coetzee.

I've got Dostoyevsky's Notes From the underground on my to-read pile. I hope to like it so much that I won't mind reading through the thousand pages of his more famous books.

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Re: what book are you reading?

Post by indiansummer » Mon Aug 24, 2009 23:23

I liked The Gentle Creature a lot, so moved onto some of the, er, 'bigger' novels. Found The Idiot and Crime & Punishment to be in turns entertaining and massively frustrating, but as yet i've not quite managed to get into The Possessed in quite the same way. Still, i'll soldier on.
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Re: what book are you reading?

Post by crystalball » Tue Aug 25, 2009 15:39

Martijn wrote: Not sure if I'd call it depressing, but it's definitely not a very happy story.
Heh, I think you and Dimitra have a really high depression threshold compared to me. Remember Gilead? I'm very bad at death.
Martijn wrote: Quite a daring thing to do as well: intertwine the story of such a great name with your own story. Speaking of daring things: his new novel, out next month, is the third part of his fictionalised autobiography. Except that it's written from the point of view of a young author, who's writing a biography of the late Coetzee.
That sounds good, eh. He does a lot of things like that, a bit post-modern in conception but quite conventional in execution. Well, I say conventional, Diary of a Bad Year did my head in a bit. I guess the thing about The Master of Petersburg is that you don't really need to know the complex workings of Coetzee's imagination in order to appreciate it cos it's a fantastic story in its own right.
Martijn wrote: I've got Dostoyevsky's Notes From the underground on my to-read pile. I hope to like it so much that I won't mind reading through the thousand pages of his more famous books.
That was the first of his books I read and, bloody hell, it was a hard one to go through. Mind you, I was 17. The Idiot is one my most favourite books ever though. Like Will said, most of them will make you want to pull your hair out but they *are* amazing and worth the hassle of trying to remember who the hell Varvara Ardalyonovna Ivolgin is and how many kopecks there are in a rouble.

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Re: what book are you reading?

Post by indiansummer » Tue Aug 25, 2009 16:00

Jesus, yes. Attempting to remember all the characters is my main source of confusion in The Possessed. There doesn't seem to be one main character as the focus either. I'm almost missing Raskolnikov.
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Re: what book are you reading?

Post by This Is Helena » Sat Sep 05, 2009 22:38

I've recently finished Money by Martin Amis, which I enjoyed a lot more this time around, and now I'm just beginning The Kenneth Williams Diaries. I also read The Lady in the Van by Alan Bennett the other day as well.
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Re: what book are you reading?

Post by humblebee » Mon Sep 07, 2009 15:48

Since we all love Netherland so much, I thought I'd see what Joseph O'Neill's other stuff is like, so I'm just reading his debut, This is the Life. I seem to think someone told me it wasn't much cop but I'm enjoying it. It's not as nuanced and lyrical as Netherland but the plot is smashing.

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Re: what book are you reading?

Post by cuppie » Mon Sep 07, 2009 19:00

I'm reading Suite Francaise, after meaning to read it for years. It's perfect. There's a chapter narrated by a cat, best thing I've ever read.

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Re: what book are you reading?

Post by Martijn » Tue Sep 08, 2009 10:54

humblebee wrote:I seem to think someone told me it wasn't much cop
I think that must have been me, when, at Indietracks, you told me you had bought the book. (Not sure why I felt the need to say that, especially since I haven't read the books myself -- it's just what reviewers said when they praised Netherland.) I'm glad you like the book and I'll keep an eye for it too.

I have finished Amit Chaudhuri's Three Novels, which collects his first three novels (no, really), all of which are nicely short, between 100 and 200 pages. Nothing happens in the books, just people living their lives in Calcutta (or, as a student, in Oxford), but these lives, and the details of it, are so beautifully described in almost poetic language, that it's one of the best books I've read recently. Perhaps plots are only there to disguise mediocre writing?

Now I'm reading bits in Mazower's Dark Continent, about Europe in the 20th century (which is mightily interesting), while waiting for Coetzee's new novel to arrive.

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Re: what book are you reading?

Post by Final Loan » Tue Sep 08, 2009 14:28

Just started reading 'A Confederacy of Dunces' by John Kennedy Toole.

Finished 'Oryx and Crake' by Margaret Atwood, which was awesome. But then I like dystopian sci-fi... (Aren't they all dystopian futures? Even the ones that seem utopian end up proving to be not as good as they appear...)
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Re: what book are you reading?

Post by andyroo » Tue Sep 08, 2009 16:39

humblebee wrote:Since we all love Netherland so much, I thought I'd see what Joseph O'Neill's other stuff is like, so I'm just reading his debut, This is the Life. I seem to think someone told me it wasn't much cop but I'm enjoying it. It's not as nuanced and lyrical as Netherland but the plot is smashing.
That's kind of interesting because the thing with Netherland is that the plot was a bit of a shaggy-dog story, it was the actual writing that I liked. Plus it had cricket in it. I'll forgive a lot for cricket.

I just read this Spanish novel about a spy in the court of the Ottoman emperor in the time of Felipe II. Pretty damn good stuff. Even though there wasn't any cricket in it.

My da has written a sci-fi that was supposed to be not ultimately a dystopia, but I found it a bit creepy. He's a mad Christian, perhaps that's why.
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Re: what book are you reading?

Post by roundbitsofplastic » Tue Sep 08, 2009 16:53

re-reading In search of England by Michael Wood (the title of which has always sound a bit iffy to me, nevertheless is a badass book)

at the same time I strayed across a 49p copy of Treasure Island, which is quite frankly, hella awesomes.
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Re: what book are you reading?

Post by Final Loan » Tue Sep 08, 2009 21:56

andyroo wrote:a mad Christian
Tautology, surely?
I may be ugly and hate-filled but... wait, what was the third thing you said?

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Re: what book are you reading?

Post by nanski » Wed Sep 09, 2009 03:36

humblebee wrote:Since we all love Netherland so much, I thought I'd see what Joseph O'Neill's other stuff is like, so I'm just reading his debut, This is the Life. I seem to think someone told me it wasn't much cop but I'm enjoying it. It's not as nuanced and lyrical as Netherland but the plot is smashing.
am i the only one who couldn't get into Netherland? I even had a feeling something exciting was about to happen but i just couldn't keep reading. evidently Obama loved it. in case you cared.
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