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Thread: what are you reading now?

  1. #3481
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    Satanic verses is OK IIRC. I think midnight's children was actually more offensive.

  2. #3482
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    That's the badger. Yeah did you read his other one, 'the book of chocolate saints'. It was pretty long and sprawling, contained some good bits but ultimately can't remember a great deal. This one is more in the vein of 'narcopolis', but even tighter and more straightforward. All about going on a bender to deal with the grief of his wife's death. He's very reminiscent of bolano for me, and I like his writing style, he's got that same thing of spending years as a poet, so the lines are nice to read. I knew he was a musician, but the music I tracked down sounded really schmaltzy coffee table jazzy, will check out this band.
    Yeah Narcopolis, it was really tight to start with but it did kinda meander at the end a bit, there was that guy who was a murderer or something and it digressed to being in his head for a while and it seemed to lose a bit of focus. Never really thought to compare him to Bolano, why do you say that?
    He was in that band at some point, they did that album that goes for for $1500 or whatever and is really kinda heavy fuzz, but I've read that he was not in the band at the point that they made that. Not totally sure.

  3. #3483
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    i liked the chinese digression at the beginning but yeah towards the end there was too much happening. low is a lot more focussed.

    he's like bolano for me cos he throws in a lot of literature references and a few of the characters are artists/poets/writers. also it's a similar thing to me of them both writing outside the mainstream of UK/USA, as in the settings of India, Latin America.

    Also there's a similar vibe in that they both (appear) to have 'lived' and then written it up, rather than going on a creative writing course or whatever. so the occasional schmaltz you get with both of them also becomes a bit more forgivable. like this last one, 'low', it's quite corny and sentimental in places, you almost can't believe how cliched some of the stuff is, but he gets away with it somehow, cos it's very real. or because you know about his actual life story. like in some of the smaller bolano books, when he's writing out these dialogues between people and they start to get very turgid and meta, but you go with it because of the style. i guess the poetry training of the two of them as well, how they both did poetry for years and years but never really made it in that field, became recognised as novelists.

    dunno really.

    thayil has mentioned bolano quite a lot, he's written an article about him for the TLS, i think he's using the same strategy, of publicising a liver condition and the fact that times running out for him, it's like a marketing plan if you were cynical about it, but i feel like they would both be up front about that. I remember reading somewhere that bolano always wanted to be pictured with sunglasses cos he thought it made him look better. I suppose that thing is present with the two of them: the feeling that they are cranking a lot of stuff out cos they are close to death. they both write about death a huge amount.

    and yeah, to go with the point tea made re satanic verses, i can't get along with a lot of Indian/S.American literature, cos of the magical realism, doesn't work for me, but these two have that side in them, but keep it in check.

  4. #3484
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    Quote Originally Posted by droid View Post
    Satanic verses is OK IIRC. I think midnight's children was actually more offensive.
    Offensive to whom, and how?

    (By 'fuss' I meant critical acclaim and awards, btw - I'm not all that interested in why it upset some reactionary fundamentalists who hadn't even read it.)
    Quote Originally Posted by woops
    i hate sigs

  5. #3485
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    I just wrote a big reply to that, where did it go? Oh well, will try again...

    In short - good points re Bolano (who I know little about to be honest) and Thayll. What you're saying also reminds me of a book called The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao which (despite the title which is basically one hundred percent magic realist cliche) has only elements which don't take over.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Br...e_of_Oscar_Wao

    I think that MR need not be twee, it's just that it often occurs in books that would be twee anyway and so that link has been made. That's why Julian Barnes' piss take is accurate as far as it goes but isn't the whole story

    "Ah, the fredonna tree whose roots grow at the tip of its branches, and whose fibers assist the hunchback to impregnate by telepathy the haughty wife of the hacienda owner ..."
    For example, The Obscene Bird of Night by Donoso is far from twee and is good as far as I remember.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Obscene_Bird_of_Night

  6. #3486
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    i've not tried a lot of magical realism tbh, but i did have a go with 'midnight's children' and put it down after a few pages. i should maybe give it another go.
    bolano is highly recommended from me - the little ones like '3rd reich' and 'last evenings on earth' (short story collections) are good to get a taste, cos the two biggies are, well, quite big.
    there's one bolano short story i really love, about him going out into the hills to find a young peasant boy, who recites incredible poems, but i can't find it anymore.
    i think thayil's 'life of chocolate saints' is his effort at a big one, sort of his version of 'savage detectives' but it's not as good as that.

  7. #3487
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    Bolano I've read (checking names on wikipedia); Savage Detectives, Distant Star, By Night in Chile.

    Midnight's Children I thought was great at first but it really went on a bit and I think it did go downhill. Also, I reckon I wouldn't enjoy it so much now, when I first read it I was young and I didn't know anything about it, was surprised by the setting and the magic and so on, it was all new and unexpected. There is a film that was on telly a year or so back but I don't think it really captured the book that was in my mind.

    When I finish Recognitions I'm gonna read Lanark, I believe that also has magic realist elements to it, something you don't necessarily associate with Scotland.

  8. #3488
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    I've only read 2666, which is pretty heavy going (about 1/5 of the - very large - book is basically a series of crime reports on women who've been raped and murdered) but worthwhile.
    Quote Originally Posted by woops
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  9. #3489
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    I read The Savage Detectives and didn't think much of it. The final 'poem' is cool, but I can barely remember the rest and just sort of read it then forgot about it.

  10. #3490
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    I've read both 2666 and savage detectives, loved them both at the time, but it's a while ago now and I've not re-read either of them.

  11. #3491
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    This Keenan book is a bit bolanoey. All these books these days, aggressive male characters, with the odd bit of poetic finesse, and whether it hits you or not is all down to details

  12. #3492
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    I can't say I enjoyed the Savage Detectives that much. The beginning with the made up poetry movement was fun but then when it went into that bit of hundreds of little accounts in fragments it lost it. I like the idea of having weird sections and stuff in a novel but that didn't really pay off for me. The other two I read were shorter and more focused, and, for me, they were much darker and more effective. Something about them both was really creepy. I think it was the way that unimaginable horrors were implied more and more strongly all the way through. Apparently the murderous regime pilot who wrote poems in the air with the trails from his plane was actually based on a real character who did that.

  13. #3493
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    Quote Originally Posted by droid View Post
    Satanic verses is OK IIRC. I think midnight's children was actually more offensive.
    Offensively unreadable. One of the worst of all books.

    Distant Star was partly monstrously dull, with a few bits that were absolutely brilliant. That was more than enough tbh, but don't fancy a longer book by him.
    Last edited by baboon2004; 14-02-2020 at 06:10 PM.

  14. #3494
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    The Booker of Bookers? Surely not!

  15. #3495
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    A Booker win is usually a very succinct 'shit sandwich' review of a book.

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