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Thread: books you've had to stop reading

  1. #76
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    ah, Billy Budd! didn't get through that for some reason.

    i've noticed that novellas are hard for me to finish unless i am totally gripped by the story. maybe because i feel i've got no skin in the game with a short book.

  2. #77
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    Saw this book on the NYT's 'Books of the Year' list and thought it might be an interesting read for those who love/loathe 'Moby Dick':

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/North-Water...cm_wl_huc_item

    'The north water is where the whales are, and this novel is about the dying days of Hull’s whaling industry, in the late 1850s. Paraffin and coal oil are replacing whale oil, threatening ruin to shipowners who have invested heavily in their fleets. Only the most agile or ruthless will survive, even though there are still whales to be hunted.

    The story opens violently. Henry Drax, a harpooner, has signed on for a six-month voyage on a Greenland whaler, the Volunteer, which is presently being trimmed and packed in harbour. Drax is a brute, a vacuum into which men and boys are sucked and do not emerge alive. Within the first 12 pages he has killed a Shetlander who has crossed him in a bar. Next he beats unconscious and rapes a young boy whom he suspects of leading him into a trap. Before doing this he says to the child: “I’m the fucker, me, I’m never the one that’s fucked.” Drax joins his ship, and it’s clear that if he has anything to do with it, the Volunteer is already marked for trouble.'

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/20...mcguire-review

  3. #78

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    Ravenscrag by Alain Farah - pretentious self indulgent patrician lit-bro shite that doesn't work

  4. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by Corpsey View Post
    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
    I can't believe I wrote a sentence like this and wasn't struck down by a thunderbolt the very same day.

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  6. #80

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corpsey View Post
    I can't believe I wrote a sentence like this and wasn't struck down by a thunderbolt the very same day.
    I seldom re-read. But the tale of lucky Pip is one I could revisit again and again.

  7. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by you View Post
    Ravenscrag by Alain Farah - pretentious self indulgent patrician lit-bro shite that doesn't work
    I'm never quite sure what 'patrician' means as an adjective. Of course I could look it up on Wiktionary, but what do you mean by it in this sense?
    Doin' the Lambeth Warp New: DISSENSUS - THE NOVEL - PM me your email address and I'll add you

  8. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by you View Post
    I seldom re-read. But the tale of lucky Pip is one I could revisit again and again.
    I've sniffing around the dickens section of waterstones lately. Read 'Treasure Island' on holiday and it gave me a taste for literature that's written in that very vivid, entertaining and (for want of a real word) yarn-y way. Only trouble is all his books are doorstops so I feel I'll never have the time.

  9. #83
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    Careful Corpsey, that post is just BEGGING for a really puerile selective quotation.

    Not that I'd sink to anything as low as that, of course...
    Doin' the Lambeth Warp New: DISSENSUS - THE NOVEL - PM me your email address and I'll add you

  10. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by you View Post
    I seldom re-read. But the tale of lucky Pip is one I could revisit again and again.
    I am an inveterate re-reader and sometimes I wonder if there is any point in reading anything new and just re-reading stuff I know to be good.
    Things like Madame Bovary, The Good Soldier, Gatsby, Sun Also Rises and a few others, I have probably read at least 10 times and not for work purposes. Nabokov said something along the lines of 'there is no reading, only re-reading' in his lectures on the novel.

    I actually wrote something about re-reading Great Expectations but I never got round to posting it on my rather pointless blog. Maybe over the Bank Holiday I'll sort it out.

  11. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by Corpsey View Post
    I've sniffing around the dickens section of waterstones lately. Read 'Treasure Island' on holiday and it gave me a taste for literature that's written in that very vivid, entertaining and (for want of a real word) yarn-y way. Only trouble is all his books are doorstops so I feel I'll never have the time.
    I know they look ridiculously big but they move quickly - Bleak House is utterly gripping.

    Or try his mate Wilkie Collins, he fits your bill of 'yarn-y' and 'vivid' and 'entertaining'

  12. #86

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    Jenks - I forced myself through Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts. I had a phobic response every other page. The casual bourgy privilege, the name checking, the oh-so-light-with-theory-road-to-impress-the-ambiguity-of-the-human-condition references to Deleuze, Winnicott, Butler etc ... Ugh. It was so smugly knowing, each paragraph ending with some quip about females being defined by lack or the crippling inexactitude of language or society's construction of normativity.... It just felt like a product of the literary liberal elite, an earnestly hand-wringing musing born of circle-jerk (yes, I am well aware of the irony of employing that term here for this book). I really didn't like it. But I expect many liberal arts and humanities students would.

    There, I said it.

    Harry's voice was beautifully done though.

  13. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by you View Post
    Jenks - I forced myself through Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts. I had a phobic response every other page... I really didn't like it. But I expect many liberal arts and humanities students would.

    There, I said it.

    Harry's voice was beautifully done though.
    Sorry about that mate - I felt a similar response to the Tao Lin that you recommended to me - you can't like everything!

  14. #88
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    http://www.mobydickbigread.com/

    'Moby-Dick is the great American novel. But it is also the great unread American novel. Sprawling, magnificent, deliriously digressive, it stands over and above all other works of fiction, since it is barely a work of fiction itself. Rather, it is an explosive exposition of one man’s investigation into the world of the whale, and the way humans have related to it. Yet it is so much more than that. It is a representation of evil incarnate in an animal – and the utter perfidy of that notion. Of a nature transgressed and transgressive – and of one man’s demonic pursuit, a metaphorical crusade that even now is a shorthand for overweening ambition and delusion.

    Out of all this, Herman Melville created a work of art as unique as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, as mythic as Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner – it is a true force of nature, set in a century that challenged every tenet of faith that had been held until then. Melville’s book – is it barely a novel – exceeds every expectation of a literary work. It bursts out of its covers with the enormity of its subject – as if the great White Whale itself were contained within.
    Now, in the 21st Century, a century and a half since it was first conceived and launched onto a misbelieving world, Moby-Dick retains its power – precisely because we are still coming to terms with it, and what it said. Incredibly prophetic, it foresaw so many of the aspects of the modern world with which we deal with. The abuse of power and belief; of nature and the environment; of the human spirit. It deals with art and artifice and stark reality – in an almost existential manner. It is truly a book before its time – almost ancient myth, as much as futuristic prophesy.

    In the spring of 2011, artist Angela Cockayne and writer Philip Hoare convened and curated a unique whale symposium and exhibition at Peninsula Arts, the dedicated contemporary art space at Plymouth University, under the title, Dominion. Inspired by their mutual obsession with Moby-Dick and with the overarching subject of the whale, they invited artists, writers, musicians, scientists and academics to respond to the theme. The result was an enthusiastic response which evidently could not be contained within the physical restrictions of a gallery space and a three-day symposium.

    ‘I have written a wicked book’, said Melville when his novel was first published in 1851, ‘and I feel as spotless as the lamb’. Deeply subversive, in almost every way imaginable, Moby-Dick is a virtual, alternative bible – and as such, ripe for reinterpretation in this new world of new media. Out of Dominion was born its bastard child – or perhaps its immaculate conception – the Moby-Dick Big Read: an online version of Melville’s magisterial tome: each of its 135 chapters read out aloud, by a mixture of the celebrated and the unknown, to be broadcast online in a sequence of 135 downloads, publicly and freely accessible.'

  15. #89
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    And on the subject of whaling, this (I think) two-part documentary on iPlayer is good:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b046pbk9

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