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Thread: books you've had to stop reading

  1. #31
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    One thing I will concede is that the encyclopedic detail of whaling practice is excessive and probably goes furthest to dating it - that said, Melville could write corporate brochures and Id read them for his prose alone.

  2. #32
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  3. #33
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    Catch 22. Uylsses. Various Dickens. Gravitys Rainbow.

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by luka View Post
    Catch 22. Uylsses. Various Dickens. Gravitys Rainbow.
    GR is a slog in parts, granted, but I was glad I finished it. I found C22 quite easy to read as long as I didn't try to keep up with all the hundreds of minor characters. Got a copy of U, not attempted it or any Joyce yet. Never read a word of Dickens but Mickey's Christmas Carol from Disney is an undeniable triumph.
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  5. #35
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    BTW, are we distinguishing 'had to stop reading' from 'basically couldn't be arsed with reading'?
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  6. #36
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    Infinite jest was a slog. Dickens is generally dull but readable.

  7. #37
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    I've read 'Great Expectations'. It was worth it for the many long stretches of imaginative brilliance. Of course, Dickens is often sentimental/maudlin and the plot creaks under a surfeit of contrivances, but then he wasn't a 'realist' author, he is telling a fairy story of sorts. It's also another one of those 'baggy monsters', presumably because in Dickens's day, those novels were serialised, not intended to be read in one go.

    Many, if not ALL, of the greatest books I've read have been boring or stupid in places, but masterpieces nonetheless. The novel as a form allows for this variation in quality. Whereas if a short story contains three or four pages of rubbish it can be more or less sunk.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by droid View Post
    Infinite jest was a slog.
    I'm loving IJ, chipping away at it in what seem like infinitesimal (no pun intended) chunks - OK, slivers - of a few pages at a time every few days. It's by no means a page-turner but I don't find it a huge effort to read, either. I don't think it's anything like as textually dense as it could be, put it that way, given the level of technical, psychological, political (etc....) detail DFW goes into. He's even got me to care about the tennis stuff.

    Corpsey: speaking of Dickens, does it seem silly or camp or whatever to the modern reader that he has all these characters called Mr Nastybastard and Mrs Drinksalot and that? I remember J K Rowling being particularly prone to this too.
    Last edited by Mr. Tea; 09-06-2016 at 02:26 PM.
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  9. #39
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    It would be silly, were he a realistic author, which I suppose he is often seen as being, given his concern with the social issues of his day, but 'Great Expectations', at least, seems - as I said - to be a fairy story. I haven't read other Dickens novels, but I wonder if the reason this heightened reality works so well in 'GE' is that it opens with the viewpoint of a child.

    I give Pirrip as my father's family name, on the authority of his tombstone and my sister,—Mrs. Joe Gargery, who married the blacksmith. As I never saw my father or my mother, and never saw any likeness of either of them (for their days were long before the days of photographs), my first fancies regarding what they were like were unreasonably derived from their tombstones. The shape of the letters on my father's, gave me an odd idea that he was a square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair. From the character and turn of the inscription, "Also Georgiana Wife of the Above," I drew a childish conclusion that my mother was freckled and sickly. To five little stone lozenges, each about a foot and a half long, which were arranged in a neat row beside their grave, and were sacred to the memory of five little brothers of mine,—who gave up trying to get a living, exceedingly early in that universal struggle,—I am indebted for a belief I religiously entertained that they had all been born on their backs with their hands in their trousers-pockets, and had never taken them out in this state of existence.
    Just grabbed this example from page one of 'GE', the wonderful illogic of a child's mind. In fact, the whole book is in some respects rather childish, and Dicken's characters on-the-nose names fit into that. It reminds me of Roald Dahl's stories: Mr and Mrs Twit, e.g. And yes, Rowling, who is obviously very influenced by Dickens). The characters in G.E. aren't credible as human beings; they're as shallow, and as vivid, as cartoon characters.

    Actually reading G.E. was a revelation in that I always thought of Dickens as a very dry, forbidding sort of author who wrote these 600 page doorstops about the workhouses. (Saying this, I've not read any Dickens since!)

  10. #40
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    I've been posting a few Orwell essays on here lately, and his essay on Dickens is a humdinger:

    http://orwell.ru/library/reviews/dickens/english/e_chd

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Tea View Post
    I'm loving IJ, chipping away at it in what seem like infinitesimal (no pun intended) chunks of a few pages at a time every few days. It's by no means a page-turner but I don't find it a huge effort to read, either. I don't think it's anything like as textually dense as it could be, put it that way, given the level of technical, psychological, political (etc....) detail DFW goes into. He's even got me to care about the tennis stuff.
    I found it got pretty page-turny about half way through, when the plot actually got going...

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slothrop View Post
    I found it got pretty page-turny about half way through, when the plot actually got going...
    Actually yeah, that's fair - I'm at about that point now. I'd class it along with Moby Dick as a 'believe the hype' book.
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  13. #43
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    I really like DFWs criticism/journalism but not read any of his fiction yet. Got that short story collection of his ('brief interviews with hideous men's?), unread as yet.

  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Tea View Post
    BTW, are we distinguishing 'had to stop reading' from 'basically couldn't be arsed with reading'?
    Books you have a moral/physical/psychic objection to I assume.

    I had to stop reading both Ligotti's 'Conspiracy...' and Reynolds 'Retromania' as they were both so depressing. Picked them both up again though, have read the former thrice now.

    Reading Tim Cahill's book about John Wayne Gacy atm, which is brilliantly written and relentlessly disturbing - not in a gory way, but in how he takes interviews with Gacy and fashions them into a narrative, only occasionally allowing the pure horror to rise to the surface. Reminds me a bit of the final part of 2666 with its catalogue of corpses and dread implications. Tough going.

  15. #45
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    Ulysses reputation has ruined it for readers I think. the idea that its some great work to be examined critically... let it wash over you, skip sentences, paragraphs, even chapters if you wish. Its supposed to be the opposite of a grindstone.

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