Poll

Please vote for ALL books you are interested in reading.

INVISIBLE MAN by Ralph Ellison - (pub. 1952; 581 pgs; literary fiction)
5 (20%)
FUN HOME: A FAMILY TRAGICOMIC by Alison Bechdel - (pub. 2006; 234 pgs; non-fiction - autobiography)
2 (8%)
THE MINOTAUR TAKES A CIGARETTE BREAK by Steven Sherrill - (pub. 2000; 313 pgs; fantasy)
2 (8%)
UNBROKEN: A WORLD WAR II STORY OF SURVIVAL, RESILIENCE, AND REDEMPTION by Laura Hillenbrand - (pub. 2010; 473 pgs; non-fiction - biography)
4 (16%)
THE PEARL by John Steinbeck - (pub. 1945; 87 pgs; literary fiction)
1 (4%)
IN THE DUST OF THIS PLANET by Eugene Thacker - (pub. 2011; 170 pgs; non-fiction - philosophy)
1 (4%)
CONSUMED by David Cronenberg - (pub. 2009; 304 pgs; fiction)
2 (8%)
NAKED LUNCH by William S. Burroughs - (pub. 1959; 289 pgs; literary fiction)
2 (8%)
BOSSYPANTS by Tina Fey - (pub. 2011; 275  pgs; non-fiction - autobiography)
2 (8%)
THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY: MURDER, MAGIC, AND MADNESS AT THE FAIR THAT CHANGED AMERICA by Erik Larson - (pub. 2002; 447 pgs; non-fiction - crime)
4 (16%)

Total Members Voted: 9

Voting closed: November 07, 2014, 04:11:08 AM

Author Topic: FS Book Discussion #3 - Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison  (Read 3471 times)

Sandy

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Re: FS Book Discussion #3 - Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
« Reply #20 on: November 29, 2014, 06:45:21 PM »
I'm just about an hour in!
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Bondo

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Re: FS Book Discussion #3 - Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
« Reply #21 on: November 29, 2014, 10:50:03 PM »
I successfully finished the introduction. And by finished I mean got halfway in and decided to skip the rest. This was my pick but I've not been committing to it yet. Starting to feel like it might overwhelm me.

And my library's web stuff is broken so I can't check when my copy is due/try to renew it presently.

oldkid

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Re: FS Book Discussion #3 - Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
« Reply #22 on: November 29, 2014, 10:52:37 PM »
I've finished the first fifty pages.  Amazing writing and really engaging.  I'm going to like this one.
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smirnoff

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Re: FS Book Discussion #3 - Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
« Reply #23 on: December 02, 2014, 05:53:16 PM »
I'm about 8 hours in to the audiobook now and still feel like I'm waiting for the story proper to get going...

It reads like a guy reading his memoir, but where is it going? The descriptive writing is really "wow", but I'm not enjoying the book. I mean I'm already on this protagonists side, and completely sympathetic to his situation... but none of what he encounters is a surprise to me. He has to walk on eggshells all the time, people are jerks, there are intimate nuanced takes commonplace racism and how it makes him feel, and how it plays out in conversations between and amongst the different races... he captures it all brilliantly, I can picture the scenes perfectly, but none of it has been revelatory. When I looked up when the book was written it didn't surprise me. It feels as old as it is. Some of it still resonates today, but not enough to even begin to throw around the word timeless. Not as a whole.

I find the protagonist's naivete is getting a really tiresome at this point in the book. How many times can he be surprised by the same basic thing? At what point does he finally become the cynical man promised in the introduction and stop getting dicked around by everybody? I'm bored of his encounters which always end with him taking it on the chin. Time to start hitting back for god sakes. Please!

I'd be nowhere near as far as I am in this book if I was actually reading it and not listening to it. I can relate to what you said about skipping half the intro Bondo. I was pretty quickly asking myself what the hell was this about and was it going anywhere. Now and again, between events, the book spirals into a neverending kind of poetry. Verse after verse. Again, beautiful language, but at some point it just seems to become a state of delirium.

The saving grace for me is the audiobook. I don't have the one I linked but found another version read by Joe Morton (Miles Dyson, Terminator 2). It's one of the best readings of a book I've ever heard. I can say pretty confidently that more than half of was is keeping me engaged is Morton's performance.

I don't know if I'll carry on reading at this point. Even if the book finally gets around to giving the character more of a backbone there's still the problem of not finding the book surprising or revelatory. It's truthful, it's candid, it's honest, but I feel like I've read it.

Anyone having a similar or dissimilar experience?
« Last Edit: December 02, 2014, 05:55:22 PM by smirnoff »

Bondo

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Re: FS Book Discussion #3 - Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
« Reply #24 on: December 02, 2014, 06:27:33 PM »
That's a problem I have with "literary" works. I'm thinking Midnight's Children first and foremost. You look at it and go, "wow, great poetic writing, I can't stand to read this." At some point I need some momentum. I haven't given this a proper start to know if it'll hamper me. I may turn to an audiobook if I don't gain traction reading it. I did just turn in my hard-cover (it was due) and got an e-book version from the library in its place.

Sandy

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Re: FS Book Discussion #3 - Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
« Reply #25 on: December 02, 2014, 06:44:19 PM »
 :(

I've got six more hours to get to where you are smirnoff. That's a lot of carpooling and cleaning, but it is beautiful writing though. Let me know if something happens!
"Inside you there's a strength that lies."

smirnoff

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Re: FS Book Discussion #3 - Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
« Reply #26 on: December 02, 2014, 07:20:40 PM »
That's a problem I have with "literary" works. I'm thinking Midnight's Children first and foremost. You look at it and go, "wow, great poetic writing, I can't stand to read this." At some point I need some momentum.

*nodding in understanding*

Any counter-examples come to mind? Literary books that wowed you with the writing and were a page-turner to read?

smirnoff

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Re: FS Book Discussion #3 - Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
« Reply #27 on: December 02, 2014, 07:25:59 PM »
I've got six more hours to get to where you are smirnoff. That's a lot of carpooling and cleaning, but it is beautiful writing though. Let me know if something happens!

I will (if I continue). :)

Hopefully I haven't prematurely discouraged anyone. I can be picky.

Bondo

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Re: FS Book Discussion #3 - Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
« Reply #28 on: December 02, 2014, 09:30:20 PM »
Any counter-examples come to mind? Literary books that wowed you with the writing and were a page-turner to read?

I mean, I like a fair amount of Ian McEwan and he's considered a literary writer I think. The problem is I don't know that I'd name a readable thick description writer because if they are readable, I won't notice the thick description quite so much.

verbALs

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Re: FS Book Discussion #3 - Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
« Reply #29 on: December 02, 2014, 11:52:08 PM »
I'm about 8 hours in to the audiobook now and still feel like I'm waiting for the story proper to get going...

It reads like a guy reading his memoir, but where is it going? The descriptive writing is really "wow", but I'm not enjoying the book. I mean I'm already on this protagonists side, and completely sympathetic to his situation... but none of what he encounters is a surprise to me. He has to walk on eggshells all the time, people are jerks, there are intimate nuanced takes commonplace racism and how it makes him feel, and how it plays out in conversations between and amongst the different races... he captures it all brilliantly, I can picture the scenes perfectly, but none of it has been revelatory. When I looked up when the book was written it didn't surprise me. It feels as old as it is. Some of it still resonates today, but not enough to even begin to throw around the word timeless. Not as a whole.

I find the protagonist's naivete is getting a really tiresome at this point in the book. How many times can he be surprised by the same basic thing? At what point does he finally become the cynical man promised in the introduction and stop getting dicked around by everybody? I'm bored of his encounters which always end with him taking it on the chin. Time to start hitting back for god sakes. Please!

I'd be nowhere near as far as I am in this book if I was actually reading it and not listening to it. I can relate to what you said about skipping half the intro Bondo. I was pretty quickly asking myself what the hell was this about and was it going anywhere. Now and again, between events, the book spirals into a neverending kind of poetry. Verse after verse. Again, beautiful language, but at some point it just seems to become a state of delirium.

The saving grace for me is the audiobook. I don't have the one I linked but found another version read by Joe Morton (Miles Dyson, Terminator 2). It's one of the best readings of a book I've ever heard. I can say pretty confidently that more than half of was is keeping me engaged is Morton's performance.

I don't know if I'll carry on reading at this point. Even if the book finally gets around to giving the character more of a backbone there's still the problem of not finding the book surprising or revelatory. It's truthful, it's candid, it's honest, but I feel like I've read it.

Anyone having a similar or dissimilar experience?

Your reaction is interesting but I'm finding that modern writing, particularly in the areas of genre I love the most are increasingly bland, poorly plotted and generally operate on a surface level. So when you say that you "feel like I've read it" of the sort of candour, truth and honesty (if you don't treat those three imposters the same), then I'd like to know which modern stories you are getting those from.

I find I'm having to go further back, say, in crime writing to find that honesty, and it takes the reemergence of a master like Ellroy with "Perfidia" for that truth to be apparent. On the other hand, a modern "classic" like "Gone Girl" fell apart in the first chapter.

In other words, you have made me more interested in reading this precisely for the reasons it puts you off.
I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art; I don't do that so much anymore. - Banksy