empty mirror

remember the jackalope
Currently reading Master & Margarita by Bulgakov, which is extraordinary, though very oddly translated. surprised his name came up blank on the dissensus search engine.
love that book. surprised i never mentioned it on this forum. you are reading the pevear & volokhonsky translation, i hope. don't know russian but i admire their lack of, say, concision, or even facility, in favor of capturing the author's voice.
 

slim jenkins

El Hombre Invisible
TWMA? I haven't read it! ;) (my mediocrity detector is pretty good and has kept me away from it)

'Three Men In A Boat'...not read that either.
 

crackerjack

Well-known member
I see what you mean about the catholic thing - but isn't it the case that guilt is equally integral to Brighton Rock (and also The End of The Affair)? Comedians is also one of the best though I think.

Yeah, but in HOTM I felt Catholic guilt was not just integral, but the whole story.

In BR there's other stuff, like guns and gangs and stupid birds and thick henchmen and all that good shit. Obviously it would be impossible to like GG as much as I do without having some interest in the Catholic guilt thing.
 

crackerjack

Well-known member
love that book. surprised i never mentioned it on this forum. you are reading the pevear & volokhonsky translation, i hope. don't know russian but i admire their lack of, say, concision, or even facility, in favor of capturing the author's voice.

That's the one, and a pretty apt description. It does feel like you're reading a book translated into English by a Russian who learnt the language by reading Victorian Lords.
 

Sick Boy

All about pride and egos

I'm glad he got a mention. I was virtually an evangelist for him when I was a teenager.

I can't form a Top 10, mostly owing to my disdain for lists. For what it is worth, The Great Gatsby is the best book I have read to date.
 
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IdleRich

IdleRich
"Yeah, but in HOTM I felt Catholic guilt was not just integral, but the whole story.
In BR there's other stuff, like guns and gangs and stupid birds and thick henchmen and all that good shit. Obviously it would be impossible to like GG as much as I do without having some interest in the Catholic guilt thing."
Fair enough - I mean, I think I'm something like you in that I don't think "oh goodie - a book about catholic guilt" but I must have some interest in it because I love Graham Greene and you simply can't get away from him it when reading him.
 

four_five_one

Infinition
I'm glad he got a mention. I was virtually an evangelist for him when I was a teenager.

So was I. Think I read all of them during my teenage years, except the new one... Hard-boiled Wonderland was probably my pick. I'm still a fan, of course, but haven't re-read any of them in the last couple of years. Not sure why, perhaps because everything just gets so disappointing.

Anyway, I couldn't possibly list my current favorites. But I could probably make a definitive 'Books That Were Amazing When I was Sixteen' type list. (Many of them already mentioned here).
 

Sick Boy

All about pride and egos
I think Luka was on to something when he said his favourite books as a teenager are still his favourite books now. Whether people admit it or not, I think it's fair to say that many are still reeling from the blows those books would have delivered. Books rarely for me ever have the same sort of impact they had when the world seemed boundless and blunt, embarrassing self-expression was the noblest pursuit.
 

craner

Beast of Burden
I love a bit of Catholic guilt. The French are best, because they go out of their way to be guilty as hell...
 

Sick Boy

All about pride and egos
In fact, it often occurs to me I had a better idea about things in general when I was 18. Now I know too much.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
I'm glad he got a mention. I was virtually an evangelist for him when I was a teenager.

I can't form a Top 10, mostly owing to my disdain for lists. For what it is worth, The Great Gatsby is the best book I have read to date.

Ha! I've been meaning for ages to start a thread about "Classic/canonical books you think are well over-rated", and TGG would definitely be in that list for me. Ditto On The Road.

Murukami is great though, out of the three I've read I'd be hard-pushed to choose between Kafka On The Shore and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle - maybe the latter by a whisker, it seems more of the magic-realist weirdness has a 'point' to it (albeit a very twisted and indirect point) compared to Kafka.
 

Sick Boy

All about pride and egos
On The Road is overrated as a literary work, but it's mostly made important because of its context within the whole "Beat" thing, isn't it? I like Kerouac but not because I think he is a particularly brilliant mind. I agree with whoever said that "he doesn't write, he types", though I probably don't consider it as much of a bad thing as that person did. He gets away with being a bad writer really well, and I have time for that.

Gatsby is brilliant. It's like the opposite really. It's concise and totally fucking airtight. I think it's masterful.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Yeah, I think On The Road is maybe one of those books that was very important, groundbreaking and so on at the time it was published, but is so of-its-time that it's hard for some people (well me, at any rate) to appreciate it out of its context. Lovecraft is another author who is often described as a "good bad writer", although in exactly the opposite way from Kerouac, I suppose.

My beef with The Great Gatsby is that while it was undoubtedly very stylishly written, I just found it kind of pointless...the story line meandered along, almost as if in a daze...perhaps that is ironically the whole point, since it's a book about stylish, pointless people. I should point out that I read it at school for my English Lit GCSE, which is often not a great way to really get the best out of a book - maybe I'd get more out of it now, I don't know.
 
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Sick Boy

All about pride and egos
since it's a book about stylish, pointless people.

Oh man, if this is all you remember about it I urge you to read it again. It has much greater depth than simply being a send-up of the post-war economy boom. In fact, I think that plays a relatively minor part in the overall story by the end - a backdrop, or a byproduct. The satirical element anyway.

Apparently he was right pissed that it didn't sell like his previous books. Many, including Hemingway, seemed to think that he could've gone on to write even greater books but from what I can tell he was a miserable defeatist. He comes across as a right weird bastard in A Moveable Feast
 

Sick Boy

All about pride and egos
Lovecraft is another author who is often described as a "good bad writer", although in exactly the opposite way from Kerouac, I suppose.

I read Call of the Cthulhu last night and I liked it, but he used the word "Cyclopean" with alarming frequency. "Theosophical" too. I don't like when writers find a long word they like and then use it over and over and over again even when they don't need to.

Will Self is also very guilty of doing this.
 

empty mirror

remember the jackalope
Ha! I've been meaning for ages to start a thread about "Classic/canonical books you think are well over-rated", and TGG would definitely be in that list for me. Ditto On The Road.

Murukami is great though, out of the three I've read I'd be hard-pushed to choose between Kafka On The Shore and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle - maybe the latter by a whisker, it seems more of the magic-realist weirdness has a 'point' to it (albeit a very twisted and indirect point) compared to Kafka.
isn't murakami's favorite book The Great Gatsby? or am i confusing the writer with one of his characters?

i am ambivalent about murakami. for a writer i don't rate, i've read more of his books than is reasonable. his prose is like water, refreshing and palate-cleansing, but without much interest. also, for a writer that leaves so much unreseolved, he over-explains the motivations of his characters.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
his prose is like water, refreshing and palate-cleansing, but without much interest.

Bear in mind that however good the translator, there is bound to be something that is lost (and perhaps other things unintentionally gained) in translation. Especially, I'd have thought, in translation from a language as alien as Japanese*.

Though since I can't speak (let alone read) Japanese, and - on a purely statistical basis - you probably can't either, I guess that's rather academic. Personally I like the way the books are written: there's a calmness to them, a 'quietism' to borrow a word someone used in the 'book club' thread to describe Sebald's Austerlitz - the mind-bending weirdness speaks for itself, and I think a neutral-sounding sort of prose complements that really well. Perhaps "understated" would be better than "neutral".

Sick Boy, I'll have to track down another copy of TGG, though I've got half-a-dozen things on my to-read list as it is. Maybe I just didn't have the maturity to appreciate it as a 14/15-year-old.



*I was going to say "...as alien to English as Japanese", but one of the cool things about Japanese is that, foreign (mainly Chinese) loan-words aside, it's alien to every other language.
 
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