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 Post subject: Re: Books You're Reading/Books You've Read (review/rate it)
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 9:20 pm 
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Today I began reading Finnegans Wake.


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 Post subject: Re: Books You're Reading/Books You've Read (review/rate it)
PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 1:05 pm 
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How goes the trip so far, pnoom? I'm not sure I'll ever read Finnegan's Wake - it simply seems like too much effort.

Anyway, I recently finished:

Carpenter's Gothic by William Gaddis

This is one of Gaddis's shorter novels, but it is definitely not one of his more accessible ones. I don't think any of his novels are accessible, but this one is particularly difficult. He strips down the themes and styles of his first two novels, both mammoths upwards of 700 pages, into a slender 260 page spine. It's mostly dialogue, and there are only about four main characters. And they rant for pages at a time. And they repeat themselves over and over. And when things actually do happen in the novel, the action is presented in such ambiguous ways. Which is all par for the course for Gaddis, but without longer passages of flowery prose or more time to get to know the characters, the novel can feel a bit like being lost at sea without a lifesaver. That said, it's also really, really good. It's difficult, but if you put in the effort, it has its rewards. Gaddis writes wonderful prose and great dialogue. He knows exactly what he's set out to do and does it perfectly. He is not a lazy writer, and while that may mean a bit more difficult reading, it also means a very gratifying finish. In fact, above the novel's stylistics, I think the most off-putting part about the whole thing is its unrelenting negativity and cynicism. No one in this book is sympathetic, and Gaddis pulls no punches against what he feels are all the things wrong with the modern world.

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

The first time I read this was several years ago, sandwiched between The Sound and the Fury and Absalom, Absalom!. Next to those two giants, it really seemed like minor Faulkner in comparison, but oh how wrong I was. It is, in fact, a wonderful, wonderful novel. I think I'll re-read all of Faulkner's major works (and then some) over the summer because I seemed to have forgotten the magic of his writing. I really don't know if there's ever been a more talented American novelist. I'm not even sure what to say about As I Lay Dying. Everything about it is great. Faulkner switches beautifully from one narrator to the next. He embeds the profound in the banal (and breaks down the barriers therebetween). And the chapter narrated by Addie is simply one of the best pieces of writing I've ever encountered. Faulkner is a magnificent story-teller with a magnificent mind. He does what every writer wishes to do - he captures amazingly what it's like to be human.


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 Post subject: Re: Books You're Reading/Books You've Read (review/rate it)
PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 1:19 pm 
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Tudwell wrote:
How goes the trip so far, pnoom? I'm not sure I'll ever read Finnegan's Wake - it simply seems like too much effort.

To quote a certain song: "lots of fun at Finnegans Wake!"

It's took me about a day to read the first two chapters (as in, it took over 24 hours of time with the book), but it has been worth it, because deciphering it is just finding pun after pun. Then, once you've got it deciphered, going through and reading it in a way that gives you a sense for the flow (especially if you read it aloud), you find that the language is actually extraordinarily beautiful. The cleverness somewhat disguises the beauty of the language. Also, it's hilarious.


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 Post subject: Re: Books You're Reading/Books You've Read (review/rate it)
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 9:11 am 
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Location: Paris
Good luck on Finnegans Wake! Do you read it with help?

The Crying of Lot 49, by Thomas Pynchon.

Shorter than V., it is also quite different in the way it questions itself. V.'s quest for "V", whose essence and point we never really discover, so I often found it quite confusing. Here, Oedipa is more aware of what she is doing, thinking, seeing or imagining than Stencil Jr., and so, although strange occurences do happen, I felt less lost, because the sense of truth was itself being questioned by the characters, but then I also had less of a sense of being somewhere completely different.
What I like about Pynchon's style are the oddball characters that seem to come out of nowhere, and the way he can suddenly go from wacky humour to a more heart-felt tone. The reflections of Mucho Maas on old cars is beautiful and ridiculous at the same time: "and when the cars were swept out you had to look at the actual residue of these lives, and there was no way of telling what things had been truly refused (when so little he supposed came by that out of fear most of it had to be taken and kept) and what had simply (perhaps tragically) been lost: clipped coupons promising savings of 5 or 10c, trading stamps, pink flyers advertising specials at the markets, butts, tooth-shy combs, help-wanted ads, Yellow Pages torn from the phone book, rags of old underwear or dresses that already were period costumes, for wiping your own breath off the inside of a windshield with so you could see whatever it was, a movie, a woman or car you coveted, a cop who might pull you over just for drill, all the bits and pieces coated uniformally, like a salad of despair, in a grey dressing of ash, condensed exhaust, dust, body, wastes - it made him sick to look, but he had to look." Says a lot about our knack for looking for signs of life in inanimate things, signs of something bigger (a truth? a conspiracy?) in words and symbols, and that there's something addictive about it.
The whole Courier's Tragedy summary is extraordinarily funny and imaginative ("They also cut off [the cardinal's] big toe, and he is made to hold it up like a Host and say "This is my body," the keen-witted Angelo observing that it's the first time he's told anything like the truth in fifty years of systematc lying.")

Another one: "They are stripping away from me, she said subvocally - feeling like a fluttering curtain in a very high window, moving up to then out of the abyss - they are stripping away, one by one, my men. My shrink, pursued by Israelis, has gone mad; my husband, on LSD, gropes like a child further and further into the rooms and endless rooms of the elaborate candy house of himself".


Have now started Moby Dick, 2 pages in and... WOW. I haven't read many English classics so I have to say I've never come across something quite as "poetic" (for want of a better word) as this. "Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul." And all these alliterations and wonderful images seem to come out of his pen really naturally, incredible. "Deep into distant woodlands winds a mazy way". He even iambic hexametered my ass with "and up from yonder cottage goes a sleepy smoke". And like I said, it doesn't feel artificial at all. And Ishmael seems a intruguing person indeed, more than just the character-narrator people seem to call him. I hope I'll have the courage to go through all 500 pages.


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 Post subject: Re: Books You're Reading/Books You've Read (review/rate it)
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 9:46 am 
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I'm using McHugh's Annotations and Epstein's Guide.


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 Post subject: Re: Books You're Reading/Books You've Read (review/rate it)
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 2:11 pm 
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A Storm of Swords.

Just read tis series if you haven't. The storytelling is incredible.


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 Post subject: Re: Books You're Reading/Books You've Read (review/rate it)
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 8:27 am 
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James Joyce - Finnegans Wake

Progress has stalled, as I had to return the guides I was using to my school's library and the copies I bought for myself haven't arrived yet (they should later today or tomorrow). I can't wait to get back into it—I should actually probably use the "downtime" to read bits of it that I've already read aloud and slowly, and see how my comprehension is without a guide. But I likely won't because I'm also reading:


Roger Penrose - The Road to Reality

This was a present from the philosophy faculty at my school (I did my thesis in philosophy of physics). I started reading it after I got it, but after I got a few chapters in the semester got way too busy and I had to put it aside. I'm restarting from chapter two (chapter one was horrible, terrible, no good, awful, very bad philosophy of mathematics).


Robert D. Richardson, Jr. - Emerson: The Mind on Fire

Bought this biography of Emerson a while back. Finally reading it now that I've finished Ellmann's Joyce biography.


John McDowell - Mind and World

I've read this book twice, but I'm going to be reading it a third time. A friend and I have plans to try to schematize the entire argument structure of the book. Should be a fun and incredibly useful challenge.


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 Post subject: Re: Books You're Reading/Books You've Read (review/rate it)
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 12:20 pm 
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damn i can't get into books lately. ugh. hopefully with less school this summer i'll be less stressed and can get drawn into something good. my attention span has just been zip except for classes. i really want to read moby dick or war and peace, but i don't know now. i hate feeling incapable of reading. :(


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 Post subject: Re: Books You're Reading/Books You've Read (review/rate it)
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 10:11 am 
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Reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Exactly what I need for a satisfying read right after graduation from college: accessible style, substantial themes. Also love that it's based around Nietzsche's idea of eternal return, which has been haunting me for the past three months.


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 Post subject: Re: Books You're Reading/Books You've Read (review/rate it)
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 11:14 am 
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Goddamnit Dreww delete that post right now I don't have money for new books.


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 Post subject: Re: Books You're Reading/Books You've Read (review/rate it)
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 12:12 pm 
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i keep giving up on books. now i'm rereading catch 22. i like it a lot more this time, than i did in high school.


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 Post subject: Re: Books You're Reading/Books You've Read (review/rate it)
PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2012 6:20 pm 
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I think I was supposed to know more about Czech politics than I do to fully appreciate The Unbearable Lightness of Being. It was fairly enjoyable. Some day I may reread it with Wikipedia at my side.

But so DeLillo's Mao II has by far the best opening section of any contemporary American fiction I have ever read. A mass Moonie wedding in Yankee Stadium, the consciousness of the credulous daughter in the ceremony vs. the consciousness of her incredulous father looking at her through binoculars with the other confused parents in the stands. Unbelievable.


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 Post subject: Re: Books You're Reading/Books You've Read (review/rate it)
PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2012 7:15 pm 
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does anyone have a goodreads account?

i just made one and it's cool. i could elaborate, but i really just wanted to say that everyone here who reads a lot should make one and rate all the books they've read and what not, like rateyourmusic basically. the numbers don't really matter. all the numbers mean to me is: 1 star: hated; 5 star: loved it, amazing; 2-4 star: everything in between loved and hated. then we could all see what books we all like and dislike and are reading, and get ideas for what else to read.


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 Post subject: Re: Books You're Reading/Books You've Read (review/rate it)
PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2012 4:27 pm 
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I've started one. The idea of rating all the books I've read, or even just my favorites, makes me want to kill myself with a gun. But I'd be happy to rate books as I read them.

http://www.goodreads.com/drewdevine89


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 Post subject: Re: Books You're Reading/Books You've Read (review/rate it)
PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2012 5:01 pm 
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Same as Dreww, basically. I've had mine for a while but never really used it.

http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/2454821-ipof


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