Author Topic: Rate the last book you read.  (Read 123284 times)

philip918

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Re: Rate the last book you read.
« Reply #1790 on: August 26, 2017, 01:34:13 PM »
Went on a camping trip and read three by Cesar Aira



An Episode... is one of my all-time favorite books. Transportive and magical with the wild energy of early Herzog adventures. I dream of him doing the film adaptation.

The Seamstress and the Wind, to keep the film references going, reads like a transcript of a Jodoworsky film. It's a great rollicking adventure through Patagonia. Only downside is the ending intentionally leaves things hanging for eternity.

The Literary Conference is another gem that takes unexpected turns into sci-fi and horror.

Sandy

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Re: Rate the last book you read.
« Reply #1791 on: September 07, 2017, 08:01:53 PM »


How quick the sun can drop away
And now my bitter hands cradle broken glass
Of what was everything
    -- Black

As I'm weeding in the yard this morning, this song comes on and I realize I finally have the words I want to use to begin my review of Persuasion. I finished the book a few weeks ago, but didn't know how to choose from all the exceptional lines inside. How do I sort through the dialogue and inner thoughts to best express what this story is examining?

And here I am, with the sun beating down and the hoe heavy in my hands, listening to a man lament in my earphones; his lyrics penned 200 years later, but still as perfect and immediate to the novel as Austen's own words. She would have approved.

Anne, having the light go out of her life because of obligation and obedience, spends the next eight years sifting through the shards of what had happened and what might have been. To all around her she's no different, except more pale and quiet perhaps, but inside she's grieving all that has been lost. It colors every aspect of her life now, for the man she loved really was everything

And in this space, Austen explores the nature of sorrow and regret, as well as forgiveness of self. As Maya Angelou said, "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." Compassion for our shortcomings and for our youth go a long way in healing those deep wounds.

« Last Edit: September 07, 2017, 08:06:02 PM by Sandy »

DarkeningHumour

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Re: Rate the last book you read.
« Reply #1792 on: September 08, 2017, 07:52:51 AM »
Ah yes, the story of Moodyface and Captain Stiffpants. There's a book I don't want to read.
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Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Rate the last book you read.
« Reply #1793 on: September 08, 2017, 09:57:49 AM »
Every Austen book I read always comes at just the right moment in my life and Persuasion hit at the moment when I perhaps had the most regret in my life over how I had been. And self-forgiveness is the way towards healing.
"It's all research." -roujin

DarkeningHumour

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Re: Rate the last book you read.
« Reply #1794 on: September 08, 2017, 10:27:45 AM »
That or alcohol.
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philip918

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Re: Rate the last book you read.
« Reply #1795 on: September 08, 2017, 11:59:53 AM »
Speaking of reading the right thing at just the right time: from Dinner by Cesar Aira

"The secret of success is intelligent effort, work accompanied by thought, self-criticism, a realistic assessment of the environment, and above all, demand. Not the paltry demand of profit but on the contrary, of youthful dreams that should never be abandoned. You have to know how to see beyond the interests of survival and make the decision to give something to the world, because only those who give, receive. And for that, you need imagination."

pixote

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Re: Rate the last book you read.
« Reply #1796 on: October 21, 2017, 11:00:35 PM »
Touch  (Elmore Leonard, 1987)

The Elmore Leonard-related movies I've seen have never inspired me to check out his novels, but I randomly bought this book at a library book sale years ago and finally got around to reading it (as part of my 'page-turners' kick). Leonard's prose reads almost like a screenplay: quick scenes, terse but evocative descriptions of settings and characters, and most pages driven by dialogue. Paul Schrader probably didn't have too much trouble adapting Touch into a movie in 1997, but I'm not very interested in finding out. It's an odd story about overly nice guy given to bouts of stigmata and all the colorful characters who see him as a means to achieving their selfish goals. It's been a few months since I read it, but I don't remember it having that much to say about religion or faith, even though the potential was there.

Grade: C
   


Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sun Dance  (Leonard Peltier, 1999)

Peltier has been in prison since the mid-70s, when he was convicted of killing two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The details of the case seem sketchy as hell, but it's easy to believe that his imprisonment is another in a long line of injustices against Native Americans by the federal government. But I'm not sure we'll ever know.

Peltier writes fluidly and is especially effective when describing the general Native American experience and the weight of centuries of persecution. He's less effective a writer when it comes himself and the "incident at Oglala" and his fight for freedom in the years since. There's an indignation that permeates these paragraphs and, even though it's an understandable tone, it still makes for disappointing reading, like the diaries of a sullen teenager who's been grounded for no reason.

That big caveat aside, Prison Writings is still a very valuable book, fomenting some very appropriate frustration with those in power and shame at America's history. I grimaced extra hard while watching the baseball playoffs and seeing Chief Wahoo on the uniforms of the Cleveland Indians. It's also, surprisingly, a very inspirational book. Should Peltier, now 73, ever be awarded clemency in his lifetime, I imagine it would be more uplifting than the end of Major League.

Grade: B-
   


The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao  (Junot Díaz, 2007)

After a full decade of eager anticipation, I finally read this Díaz's Pulitzer prize-winning debut novel, and... Perhaps I hyped it up too much in my head. As a pop cultural history lesson of life in the Dominican Republic in the twentieth century, it's pretty great. I was less enamored of the narrative, though. The title is no help in that regard, as I think it sets false expectations. Oscar is just a supporting player in the ensemble of the Domincan American experience, really, and actually one of the less interesting characters, due to how broadly Díaz draws him. Other characters fare better, and I would have preferred to focus more directly on any single one of them rather than jump around in time, scratching surfaces here and there.

Díaz's prose didn't always appeal to me either, especially the tendency to drop the subject from sentences and jump straight to the verb. The geeky sci-fi references tended to be either too obvious (another Lord of the Rings reference? okay, sure) or too obscure. I also chafed at the tendency to essentialize Dominicans.

Grade: B-
   


The Bread Givers  (Anzia Yezierska, 1925)

I was inspired to take this off my shelf (where it sat unread for years and years) after watching A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, another tale of a girl's coming-of-age in poverty in New York in the early 1900s. Yezierska's novel was written 18 years before Betty Smith's and is more concerned with the Jewish immigrant experience; the clash between the values of the old world (Russian Poland) and the values of the new being much more pronounced. The story, written in the first person, follows protagonist Sara Smolinsky through three chapters in her young life, from a ten-year-old on Hester Street to a driven college student to a young woman with a room of her own. A third-person narrator might have been a better choice; at times it just reads like Yezierska (through Sara) is just bragging about how great she did to pull herself up out of poverty. It's a nice read though, old-fashioned in style but impressively modern in worldview, especially related to gender dynamics and organized religion.

Grade: B-
   


Nothing Lasts Forever  (Roderick Thorp, 1979)

It's impossible not to read this novel through the lens of Die Hard. In the first few chapters, Joseph Leland (aka John Mcclane) gets rides from two different black chauffeurs. When neither of them morphs into Argyle, it's downright unsettling, like we're trapped in an alternate universe where nothing is as it should be. But then, a few chapters later, when Anton Gruber (aka Hans Gruber) says, "We have to tell Karl his brother is dead," it's like putting on a warm pair of socks on a cold day.

Thorp doesn't write that well. His action is especially confusing. Without the film as a reference point, I would have needed to spend much more time rereading paragraphs to figure out what was supposed to be happening. The novel is surprisingly misanthropic and joyless, with each death being both animalistic and shameful. The narrator is stuck to Leland on every page, and I really wanted to get away from him. His aging white guy cynicism bored the hell out of me.

Politically, it's interesting how the novel is very much a reaction to the 1970s (Nixon, hippies, terrorism chic), while the film is very much a product of the Reaganistic 1980s, despite many shared, foundational element. The terrorists are really terrorists here, by the way. The film turned them into thieves as a way to "make terrorism fun." A wise choice, I think, especially given the novel's unpleasant grimness. The corporation is painted in the same negative light as the terrorists, which is part of that general misanthropy — all symptomatic of the erosion of humanity and lack of common sense in kids these days.

Grade: C+

pixote
   
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1SO

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Re: Rate the last book you read.
« Reply #1797 on: October 22, 2017, 12:16:18 AM »
That's my memory of Nothing Lasts Forever. It's a sequel to The Detective, and it's amazing that such a generic title as The Detective led into something that sounds like a James Bond film.

smirnoff

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Re: Rate the last book you read.
« Reply #1798 on: October 22, 2017, 02:57:46 AM »
Touch  (Elmore Leonard, 1987)

The Elmore Leonard-related movies I've seen have never inspired me to check out his novels, but I randomly bought this book at a library book sale years ago and finally got around to reading it (as part of my 'page-turners' kick). Leonard's prose reads almost like a screenplay: quick scenes, terse but evocative descriptions of settings and characters, and most pages driven by dialogue. Paul Schrader probably didn't have too much trouble adapting Touch into a movie in 1997, but I'm not very interested in finding out.
Yeah, definitely don't bother. I mean unless your a die-hard Skeet Ulrich fan. [/td][/tr][/table]

Bondo

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Re: Rate the last book you read.
« Reply #1799 on: November 05, 2017, 02:47:06 PM »
American War by Omar El Akkad

Set about 60 years in the future, this imagines an fractured America in which once again the North and South are divided in violence, this time over the issue of climate change. This is plausible. What isn't plausible is that the South is somehow created as having the moral high ground AND is a diverse cause as my impression is Sarat Chestnut, the main character, is Black. Sorry, both of these are bridges too far for me. If there is a second civil war, the "South" side will be a revanchist and racist side, just like they were in the first civil war. Suddenly Bushwick feels sager in handling this scenario.

 

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