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Thread: what are you reading now?

  1. #2596
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    Quote Originally Posted by luka View Post
    Quintessential Tea criticism. Also highly wrong.
    I'm unarguably right about the stage direction, though.
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  2. #2597
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    Joyce famously thought Ibsen was a superior dramatist to Shakespeare. I think there is a line of criticism which sees Shakespeare's achievement as being the poetry, not the plays (if you can separate the two things, I'm sure some would say that's impossible). And then there's Harold Bloom, at the extreme other end, who thinks Shakespeare 'invented the human'.

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  4. #2599
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    There was a good, if extremely thespy, film version of Coriolanus a few years back, which I liked. Anyone else see it?
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    I've seen many decent versions of Shakespeare in recent times and think that the general quality of the RSC productions over the last ten years has been very high. It really is about the stage and not just the page.

    I am very firmly on the pro - Winter's Tale club - there are great bits in there about friendship as well as jealousy, young and old love and the quality of mysticism of the coup de theatre of the final scenes is (when performed well) very moving.

  6. #2601
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    Finally got my hands on Joanna Demers' 'Drone and the apocalypse'. Some really nice writing, bit heavy on the philosophy. Worth a read.

    http://www.zero-books.net/books/drone-apocalypse

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  9. #2603
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    The 7th function of language by Laurent Binet. Would once have been a Dissensus book of the week.

  10. #2604
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    Quote Originally Posted by droid View Post
    The 7th function of language by Laurent Binet. Would once have been a Dissensus book of the week.
    Is it any good? I liked the last one with all the Hs - about the Heydrich assassination in Prague.

    Currently reading The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich - I read Second Hand Time earlier in the year and this is equally as grim but equally compulsive reading.

    Also got the new FSF biography and another László Krasznahorkai on the go which makes most Brit-Lit look pallid in comparision.

  11. #2605
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    Yeah, its quite entertaining, laugh out loud at times, also learned a bit about Barthes, language and semiology.

  12. #2606
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    I've watched loads of Game of Thrones on the telly, casually at first and then I got more and more into it. I never intended to read the books, I knew it was an all or nothing thing and they are fucking massive. But I was staying at my friend's house for a few days and I spied the first book on the shelf, I figured it couldn't hurt so I cracked it open and started reading through it the first time I had a few spare seconds. Next time I was in London I borrowed the next one, the next one I couldn't wait to see Petteri again, I had to go and buy it. On Thursday evening I was flying to Finland and I picked up A Feast For Crows in the airport - I was at Flow Festival all day Friday, Sat and Sun but even so the book was finished by Saturday evening. I find these books dangerously addictive, they are massive but so easy to read. So I got A Dance With Dragons on the way back, yesterday I was down to about four hundred pages left and then I realised that that was the last one he's managed to complete. OK, there is the tv show which has, they say, overtaken and passed the story line in the books... but the stories have diverged so far in some ways that the tv can't satisfactorily give answers to the questions I have, in fact half the story lines I find the most interesting have no parallel on the television show. Basically, when I finish the remaining four hundred pages (which at recent rate is an evening of solid reading) I'm done, there is no more Song of Ice and Fire to read. I'll be bereft and saddened and there will be a hundred stories I need to know the ends of but the ends aren't out there anywhere. Cos, I should say, I LOVE these books, I feel a bit embarrassed to be so caught up in something like this but the sad truth is, I am. I dunno what it is that has bewitched me so much, I think it's the variety of viewpoints and the ambiguities with good people doing bad things and bad people redeeming themselves and so on. I find genuine emotion in the book cos I find the characters real - and of course it's all in the service of a cracking good story. I understand when people say that at times he loses track of the narrative (in this last book the stuff about Daenerys has been poor I'll admit it - nothing really happened in her sections) but most of the time there is a huge overall story which stretches out into the future to (I hope) an ending and which goes the other way giving you more and more glimpses of the past in such a way as to make the history of this non-existent world seem powerfully real - and yes it also has a myriad of stories that slide off to either side and which I guess might frustrate the casual reader, but seeing as I'm racing through the book reading about a hundred pages an hour, I find they just enhance the richness.
    Anyway, the point is, I'm about to finish all this and I don't want to so....

  13. #2607
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    ... I reluctantly cast the book aside and picked up something else to read. I'll make A Dance With Dragons last a bit longer (possibly until the next one comes out) by reading my birthday present instead. Perdido Street Station by China Mieville - an author I first heard mentioned on Dissensus. That's why it seemed appropriate to post something on Dissesnsus for the first time in ages in fact. So far it's kinda similar to Gormenghast I reckon, I've read a couple of his other works and found them clever rather than good... or maybe that's a little too harsh. The books were based around good ideas, ideas so complex that they didn't really lend themselves to a story in the obvious and classical sense, and yet he tried to make an actual book around them even though that was very difficult to do properly - and if the finished product wasn't quite there it was impressively close. This book isn't like that, it's not hamstrung by some overarching thought-experiment that makes it in actuality a philosophy essay presented as a novel. Only thing is, I'm not sure I'm enjoying it that much, you'd think after the mental gymnastics he's performed to fit philosophy into a story in the past that just writing an actual story should be relatively easy. Unless you were a cynic who thought that he might have deliberately made things hard for himself to disguise the fact that in terms of just actual writing (the easiest but hardest bit) he's not quite as good as he could be. But I'm judging too early, I've only read 150 pages or so, let's see where it goes from here.
    You lot have all read it right? What's good about it?
    Last edited by IdleRich; Yesterday at 06:47 AM.

  14. #2608
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    Oh and I'm also reading Absolute Beginners. There's a film of course with the song and cameo by Bowie. A strange film that starts quite well and then, well then it feels as though the filmmakers got bored with it, the second half is completely lacklustre, not even lacklustre, it really does feel as though they just ran out of ideas and didn't care so just had a big riot that lasts for about forty-five minutes and then the film finishes. I've often read critics say of some film or other that it ran out of steam in the second half but I've never experienced it so strongly as I did with Absolute Beginners. I found it a truly strange experience to see a film that at one point had characters and conversations and stuff being just abandoned so utterly like that. I was genuinely bemused. Just sitting there thinking what the hell is going on and why? And then concluding that there was absolutely no reason. It really seemed that they reached a point and stopped, they just couldn't be bothered to make any effort with the story after that point. It's only the story, the actors are all running around doing stuff but for no reason. The difference between the first half and the second is like.... imagine a football match in which the first half was normal, a red team is playing a blue one, you can follow it, it makes sense. In the second half, there are still the same people there and the ball but imagine that instead of football they are just doing what they want, walking and running randomly. Kicking the ball or not, picking it up or whatever - at a casual glance it still looks like a football match but when you look properly it is totally different, there is no sense to get hold of, it's just a mess. That's what I thought of the film of Absolute Beginners. In the second half it's not really a film although if just glanced casually it would look a bit like one.
    Anyway, let's hope the book is better, every single thing I've heard or read about it suggests that it will be. If you don't know, it's a book about a kid living in 50s London, meeting junkies in Soho cafes and taking photos of pretty young people to sell to perverts. I've often heard it said that the concept of the teenager was invented last century sometime around the 50s, that before "the teenager" came into being you were either a child who went to school and did kid type things or you were an adult who had a job and did adult type things. But then rock n roll came along and it changed and they invented this in-between stage which gave everyone a few years of grace in which one was no longer a kid yet didn't have to start work - one could be interested in clothes and music and probably drugs and sex - and, it wasn't just that one could do it but the rest of the world started noticing these people and selling them things. And the last bit is the most important. Teenagers existed AND they had a little spending money - whether from indulgent parents or a paper round - and they spent it on records and clothes. And so youth culture was born. Now I'm sure that that is a massive oversimplification, I'm sure youth cultures existed before that, I'm sure teenagers did too, I don't know if I'm correct in linking this to rock n roll... the point is I've read something about this some time....
    ... and that's quite handy cos, massive oversimplification or not, it seems to be the main theme of the book. The narrator is a young guy but he's got some money (from the photos he sells) and he's the first generation where that has happened and it pisses people off. I mean this is explicitly what they talk about, he goes in a pub and someone will say that it's not right for someone of his age to be able to afford to buy things and he'll tell them it happened as a direct result of policies the party they voted for brought in.
    I'm not surprised he pisses people off to be honest, he pisses me off too, his descriptions of people and places are annoying, his philosophies are annoying and his vernacular is annoying and it all seems kinda dated and tame*. I mean it is dated, lots of things are dated because it's hard to future-proof what you write, so saying it feels dated isn't a huge criticism, it just means the author hasn't managed to do something which is really difficult. But I'm glad that I started writing this down cos I hadn't realised how much I was hating the book until I did. I've been trying to like it and grabbing the odd bit and saying to myself "That was almost clever" because I've heard it's good and the film looked as though it was a bad rendition of something much better but... the fucking book is so annoying. No wonder it takes me a day to read a few pages in total contrast to Game of Thrones.

    *For example there is a bit where someone from abroad asks for his opinion on the queen. I sighed. 'No, please, not that one' I said to him politely but very firmly, 'Really, that's a subject that we're very very tired of. One which I just can't work up the interest to have any ideas about at all.' - which is a perfectly normal, reasonable way to feel of course but here it kinda feels as though it's being presented as something interesting, or new, maybe even radical. The book is presented a very old idea as a new one - that is literally what dated means isn't it?
    Last edited by IdleRich; Yesterday at 07:45 AM.

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  16. #2609
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    I really loved reading the Game of Thrones books, although I only got up to the second book of part 3 (you know, the two part/one book thing). Stylistically pretty bad at times (my go-to reference for this is John Snow's erection being described as being 'as hard as the rocks surrounding them', or something like that), but so gripping and such an amazingly rich world. A bit like Harry Potter, actually, which contains sentences like '"Some hope", Ron added succinctly."

    I've just read 'A High Wind in Jamaica', which was excellent, and I've just started 'Master and Commander', which has been excellent.

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    To digress a little, what are these things that started appearing a year or two back wherein it says "The following user says thank you to X for this useful post"?
    Are they sarcasm or not? Why did they suddenly come out of nowhere and start taking over like the white walkers?

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