Bread & Roses Forum

Arts & Literature => Books => Topic started by: Sleeping Sun on October 20, 2006, 08:16:46 AM

Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Sleeping Sun on October 20, 2006, 08:16:46 AM
I couldn't find anything along these lines already, so my apologies if I'm blind.  It's early on friday and I'm tired.

Anyways, I'm currently reading a really good book that was recommended by Mr. Sun.  It's Forty Signs of Rain by Kim Stanely Robinson.  Mr. Sun read this one, then borrowed the next book in the trilogy, Fifty Degrees Below, from the library and had it done in a few days.  Very engrossing  reading.  Basically a sort of science fiction, but in a very believable sense.  A 'what if' of global warming run amok and the current political inability to do anything.

Last night, I came across this great quote that I have to share.  Basically, a senate staffer is explaning a climate change bill to the white house science advisor, and the president, Mr. Shrub himself, wanders in.  At one point, the staffer brings up global warming, and Shrub needs to check with his science advisor on what their current policy is regarding acknowledging this doubious science.  

The advisor replies "We've agreed that there is general agreement that the observed warming is real."

For some reason, that made me want to cry and laugh and yell and shake my fist all at the same time.  

Long story short: the book looks to be as good as it was hyped to be.  I would recommend it.

Also, if anyone has any recommendations for books to read, the reading season has begun for me.  With my light therapy started, I have 30 dedicated minutes every morning to read.  Although, if I get caught in a good book, I end up reading more often, and sometime even (like today) bring it into work when I'm expecting a slow day.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Caissa on October 20, 2006, 08:34:59 AM
That book is in my to be read pile.  I like Robinson's work he has a good novel called Antarctica.

One of the books I am reading now is called Earth Abides, a 1949 sf book  by George R. Stewart about humans being virtually wiped out by some mystery virus. Of course, even without humans the earth abides. I am at the point where the protagonist and his new partner are about to have a child.

Breeders  :x

You can read more about it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Abides (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Abides)
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Tommy Shanks on October 20, 2006, 08:54:53 AM
I'm reading Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero, a biography of Pirate outfielder Roberto Clemente.

Quote
Roberto Clemente was that rare athlete who rose above sports to become a symbol of larger themes. Born near the canebrakes of rural Carolina, Puerto Rico, on August 18, 1934, at a time when there were no blacks or Puerto Ricans playing organized ball in the United States, Clemente went on to become the greatest Latino player in the major leagues. He was, in a sense, the Jackie Robinson of the Spanish-speaking world,


It's been a great read so far.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: k'in on October 20, 2006, 11:41:42 AM
Tommy-I would also recommend "Clemente" by Kal Wagenheim.  I have several Clemente books and it is the best one for content.

Roberto Clemente-another victim of Somoza.  If the earthquake relief was being distributed to the people (and not stolen) he would never have been on that plane to Nicaragua.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: brebis noire on February 03, 2007, 12:46:40 PM
I have been searching for a good read for a long time. Sigh.

And I finally found one at Black Cat Books in Lennoxville, my favourite little used bookstore.

Russian Women. Written by I. Grekova. Ha - y-greque-ova. Miss X, or Y rather. a Soviet mathematician (Yelena Sergevna Wentzel) who launched her literary career at the age of 50. The first story, Ladies' Hairdresser, is OK, but the second one, The Hotel Manager, is a real gem.

There was no organized women's movement in Soviet Russia, but women were a lot more free to pursue professions than over here at the same era, although they had to deal with a lot of baggage and expectations and sudden reversals in fortune. Meanwhile, the men were too busy fighting wars and having revolutions to hold them back. There's too much to describe here, but it's quite an interesting find.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on February 03, 2007, 12:58:45 PM
Quote
Written by I. Grekova. Ha - y-greque-ova.


Ha! indeed.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on February 03, 2007, 02:48:23 PM
A friend is excited by a writer named Maggie Wheeler

http://www.maggiewheeler.com/

She sounds interesting to me - and she lives (relatively speaking) just down the road.

Anyone out there in blogland know about her?

For a while there I thought all Canadian mystery writers had to be name Wright or some derivation of it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Wright_%28writer%29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L._R._Wright

unless they were Howard Engel
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Engel
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on February 03, 2007, 02:51:19 PM
Or Peter Robinson. (http://www.peterrobinsonbooks.com/)

And there are others, of course, but Robinson is great.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on February 03, 2007, 03:01:46 PM
Alass .. in what many see as the cultural wasteland of northern Alberta - the only two Canadian mystery writers I could find were Wright/Wright.

(McMurray, of course is far from a cultural wasteland - I saw the Bolshoi Ballet there and it probably has more degrees per square book than any other place in Canada - mostly in engineering, but nevertheless....)

Howard Engel I got to know there  from his terrific "A Child's Christmas in Scarborough". That along with Dan Needles, Letters from Wingfield Farm are all that is good about Canadian writing. (no pun intended there).
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: deBeauxOs on February 03, 2007, 11:53:06 PM
Other excellent Canadian mystery writers that I have read and recommend highly: Gail Bowen (http://www.mysterybooks.ca/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780771014833), Giles Blunt (http://www.mysterybooks.ca/author/results.pperl?authorid=2623),  Anthony Bidulka (http://www.insomniacpress.com/author.php?id=91) and David Rotenberg (http://www.proactorslab.com/rotenberg/novels/shanghai_murders.htm).
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Berlynn on February 04, 2007, 12:16:21 AM
Hey deBeauxOs, you have two Saskatchewanians on that list!  Write on!  I first met Anthony and Gail at local writing conferences.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: chester on February 04, 2007, 12:55:52 PM
i just read miriam toews' " a boy of good breeding".  although it did remind me of john irving-without-all-the-violence. it was good and would make an excellent movie i think.  paging time bandidt, paging time bandit.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: shaolin on February 08, 2007, 12:10:09 AM
I finally got around to reading 'The Dispossessed' by Ursula Le Guinn.  One of the first sci fi things I've ever read (though as I understand it, 'soft sci fi').  It has tempted me to read more, though I'm not sure I'll be as intrigued, minus the anarchist bent to the story!  Well worth it though, and quite a quick read too.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on February 08, 2007, 12:23:48 AM
I just finished "Deliverer" by C. J. Cherryh, the third book of her third Foreigner series.  Man, she's an amazing SF writer.  Even after 9 books, it's still a fascinating read.

Oh, and, The Dispossessed isn't that "soft" as an SF story.  It's pretty hardcore SF, all things considered.  Milieu/society SF is still perfectly SF.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: shaolin on February 08, 2007, 12:31:11 AM
Any recommendations for other milieu/society stuff, Mandos?  Cuz that's mostly what I liked about it...
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on February 08, 2007, 12:40:48 AM
Well, I just mentioned C. J. Cherryh, who is a very good source for that, especially if you're interested in intercultural conflict/reconcilliation.  

If you don't mind fantasy, and you don't mind grim hopelessness, then there's China Miéville's New Crobuzon fantasies.  Not social realism, but social surrealism.  He's a Trotskyist who can write.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on February 08, 2007, 12:44:42 AM
If you are looking for feminism, there's a large bibliography.  Suzy Charnas, Suzette Haden Elgin, Sheri Tepper.  Tepper's The Gate to Women's Country is considered a feminist SF classic.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: jrootham on February 08, 2007, 08:42:34 PM
Quote from: Croghan27
...
Howard Engel I got to know there  from his terrific "A Child's Christmas in Scarborough". That along with Dan Needles, Letters from Wingfield Farm are all that is good about Canadian writing. (no pun intended there).


"A Child's Christmas in Scarborough" has become a staple at the Flying Cloud Christmas show.  Currently it's being read by a Welsh member of my Morris team.  Howard Engel did it one year.  The best reading was by David Parry.  The contrast between him and Howard was an interesting instruction on the difference between an author and a performer.

I saw what I suspect was the first performance of Letters from Wingfield Farm at the Palmerston library.  Dan's brother Reed (my stage fight instructor) was the actor then.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: 'lance on February 08, 2007, 10:07:50 PM
Palmerston! My best friend moved down there in 1976, after which I usually only saw him in summers. Finally visited the town in 1989, on my meandering way across the country.

Now he's back in the same town we grew up in -- about a mile from our old neighbourhood, as the crow flies across long-abandoned Ottawa Valley rock farms and second-growth forest.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: k'in on February 09, 2007, 11:45:26 AM
Am vaguely aware of Palmerston.  Down the road from Palmerston is Harriston which I've been through countless times.  We kids would giggle and tell Star War's jokes en route to our Grandparent's house as we spied the sign for the local automobile dealership-Harriston Ford.  Recall being subjected to a theatre performance of "The Perils of Persephone" by Dan Needles once upon a time.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: 'lance on February 09, 2007, 11:50:28 AM
Until I got down to that part of the province, I'd always heard it pronounced POMerston. My friend and his fambly, being come-from-aways, said it like that. While hitchhiking there, and then spending time there, I noticed that anyone who'd been born and raised there said PAMerston ("pam" like "ham").

Quote
Recall being subjected to a theatre performance of "The Perils of Persephone" by Dan Needles once upon a time.


A non-fan of Mr. Needles, I take it?
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: k'in on February 09, 2007, 01:05:12 PM
Quote from: l'ance
A non-fan of Mr. Needles, I take it?
Oh, I'm thinking I liked that one.  He managed to write about nuclear waste and make it seem funny, no small task.  I'm guessing I would like his other stuff too.  Memories in general of summer theatre in the old home town make me cringe a bit.  I found this scathing quote (http://www.eye.net/eye/issue/issue_06.18.98/cool/CStheatre18.php)that captures the feeling:
Quote
For industrial-grade summer stock, the place to avoid this summer seems to be Blyth, the little town north of Stratford which for over 20 years has been responsible not only for reviving summer stock in all its terrifying earnestness, but for inventing a ghoulish homegrown Canadian strain all its own.
If that's not cute enough for you, why not book into one of Blyth's weekend home-cooked country suppers? It's best not to see this kind of theatre on an empty stomach.  


You're right about Pom/Pam-erston.  Outsiders and radio announcers always said "Pom" but once in a blue moon you'd hear "Pam".  Probably from a Palmerstonian.  Local dialect indeed.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: deBeauxOs on March 14, 2007, 04:12:28 PM
I just finished 'Galveston (http://www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2004-11-11/books_reviews.php)' by Paul Quarrington.  What a disappointing piece of trite tripe.  And a "The Giller Prize" finalist to boot.  Yuk.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on March 14, 2007, 06:00:34 PM
I am now reading a short biography of Werner Heisenberg. A man that wanted to be a mathematician, ended up studying fluid behaviour and developed Quantum mechanics with his famous uncertainty principle.

Was he a Nazi? Possibly. He claimed he was not, but that was later. I saw a play about a (fictional) meeting he had with Nels Bohr, one of the fathers/designers of the Trinity bomb and the Manhattan project. In the last scene he observes that Bohr produced the bomb that killed 100,000 people on an afternoon - the German bomb did nothing but consume resources.

The debate centers on the question: is that  just making a positive out of failure.

I shall possibly post something substantial about it/him later in the week.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on March 15, 2007, 05:00:04 AM
That play would be Michael Frayn's Copenhagen, (http://www.aip.org/history/newsletter/spring2000/copenhagen.htm) I believe. I'd love to see it.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on March 15, 2007, 05:24:19 AM
Quote from: skdadl
That play would be Michael Frayn's Copenhagen, (http://www.aip.org/history/newsletter/spring2000/copenhagen.htm) I believe. I'd love to see it.


Yo skdadl:

I actually saw it in Toronto, on Young Street (what ever that big theatre is called near Queen.)

I had seen Proof on Broadway and thought it terrific. I did not know the depth of controversy about Heisenberg at the time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof_%28play%29

My skills with the link thingie need more practice.   :evil:
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: belva on March 15, 2007, 11:31:37 AM
I just started Final Exam: A Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality by Pauline Chen!  Wow! She is outstanding!!!! Beautiful prose, thoughtful and lovingly done!
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on March 15, 2007, 04:11:31 PM
Yo belva:

good observation:
Quote
She is outstanding!!!! Beautiful prose, thoughtful and lovingly done!


There are some authors that cannot or chose not to handle plots, yet are well worth reading because of they rejoyce in the language. A SF writer named Theodore Sturgon was like that, William Styron could do that.

Ray Bradbury has a story that every time I think of it, I am amazed how out and out dumb it is. About a prehistoric monister, awakened by nuclear tests, it lusts for a fog horn. When fog horn does not respond (bitch! bitch! bitch! I guess  :shock: ) It destroys it and descends back into the depths.

Stupid, eh? But Bradbury's prose makes me at least weepy, if not unappreciated as he captures some universal sense of lonelyness and the frustration of reaching out and being rejected.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: arborman on March 16, 2007, 04:24:44 PM
In my ongoing addiction to high quality science fiction, I have spent the past few weeks inhaling Neal Stephenson books.  Currently I am about 1/3 of the way through Cryptonomicon, which is a really incredible read.  I have no idea where he's going with it, but I'm starting to get hints.  Very tantalizing.

Another book well worth the read is Accelerando by Charles Stross, who has somehow managed to produce 5 almost totally unique and mindblowing novels in the space of 3 years.  Though it is too early to say, I think 20 years from now it will be viewed as a turning point for science fiction and social projection.  It boggles the mind to read it.  It is available as a free ebook (http://www.accelerando.org/book/) for those who don't want to buy it (though I encourage you to do so).
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: kuri on March 16, 2007, 06:41:41 PM
I take so long these days to complete a book. I pick it up and read a chapter, and then I don't have an opportunity to pick it up again for weeks. Usually meaning I have re-read the chapter I already read.

Anyway, I'm currently working my snail's pace way through The Upside of Down (http://www.theupsideofdown.com/), by Thomas Home- Dixon. I'm at Chapter 3 and so far I'm really impressed. The idea of the thermodynamics of empire (that all empires are sustained by a flow of energy, with energy expanded to include calories, heat, etc.) Usually when I'm reading non-fiction, I'm mentally picking apart the arguments with what ifs. Whenever I think of a 'what if' or 'what about' question when reading Homer-Dixon, he has a response to it within the next few pages. So either my objections of very boring, or Homer-Dixon and I think very similarly. ;)

I really enjoyed his previous book, The Ingenuity Gap, which left me twisting around thoughts from it at random times during the rest of my day.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: brebis noire on April 19, 2007, 02:39:51 PM
I've been wanting to read this one for a long time: The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/23/books/review/23kamp.html?ex=1303444800en=3c0958f57a4112b7ei=5088partner=rssnytemc=rss).

It's just as good as I thought it would be  - I read one of his previous books, THe Botany of Desire, and it was a delight of information as well. I'd say it's a must for anyone remotely curious about food.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Papal Bull on April 22, 2007, 12:52:40 PM
The Upside of Down was spectacular! It singlehandedly turned my mom into more of an environmentalist. Right now I'm going back and reading the old John Wyndham and Howard Fast dingers that I have laying around in my apartment.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: arborman on April 24, 2007, 02:39:00 PM
After a brief diversion into a dreadful couple of pulp novels (bus reading), I plowed my way through 'The Walmart Effect', which was excellent.

My addiction to Neal Stephenson books continues, I'm now working my way through 'The Diamond Age.'
Title: books
Post by: faith on April 24, 2007, 03:14:46 PM
I have just finished 3 different books and they all had their good points
- "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" by Kim Edwards I bought at the same time as "De Niro's Game" by Rawi Hage and I read TMKD first because I sensed it would be the lighter read and I was right.
Memory Keeper started off riveting but couldn't keep it up through the whole book. I thought that although it was a good story there were issues that were not explored centering around privelege in society and feminism that would have added a lot of dimension to the book.

De Niro's Game had been recommended by 2 different people in the G&M as a must read and so I picked it up. It was haunting and definitely not an easy read. The setting is the war zone of Beirut and the violence permeating all levels of existence is unsettling to say the least . I find myself thinking about the novel weeks after I have read it and I think I may read it again after my daughter returns it.

The third book was "The Lost Van Gogh", a mystery best seller in paperback which was fun and interesting to me because it dealt with so many art types and cliches. I needed some entertainment after reading De Niro's game.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on April 24, 2007, 05:00:19 PM
If you ever have the chance, faith, catch Volker Schlöndorff's film Circle of Deceit/Die Fälschung (1981). He filmed it in Beirut while the war was still on. I barely remember the plot, but the images of what was done to the city and the people -- those have lasted permanently.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Holly Stick on April 24, 2007, 05:13:58 PM
Terry Pratchett's Wintersmith; one of his books aimed more at children.  Very good; lots of witches with wonderful names like Miss Perspicacia Tick.
Title: books
Post by: faith on April 25, 2007, 02:29:53 AM
Thanks skdadl, flagged for future viewing. I wonder if I can order it through my local library?
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Trudi_E on May 28, 2007, 01:12:42 PM
My favourite thing about books is that there is something for everyone.

Not knowing what I wanted to read recently, I went with some referrals from friends and was pleasantly surprised.

Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures - Vincent Lam.  I thought it was engaging and interesting and didn't present the med school/medical practice in the same way I've read before.

The Birth House - Ami McKay.  I was really engrossed in this book.  I learned that Ami McKay lives in the house in which her story is based and there was an actual midwife and she used the town's stories for the basis of her tale.  It was funny, touching, a little feminist and interesting.  If you liked books like The Red Tent (Anita Diamant) or The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd), you'll likely enjoy the community of women in this story as well.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Caissa on May 28, 2007, 01:24:20 PM
I loved the Lam book; almost impossible to put down.

I've got six books on the go at the mment.

1) Early Dashell Hammett collection from pulps many never anathologized before.

2) Church Marketing 101

3) Margaret Somerville's Masey Lectures (I want to better understand her arguments if onlt to critique it)

4) Christine Todd Whitman's critique of the curent Republican party

5) Winning Checkers (written 1940, reprinetd 1961)

6) The Oxford shorter guide to the Popes.

Ms. C. is picking up the new Hitchens book for me today.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Berlynn on May 28, 2007, 03:18:51 PM
I'm not sure if this is the correct thread to be posting this to, but what the hey!  By the Secret Ladder (http://www.thebukowskiagency.com/By%20the%20Secret%20Ladder.htm) will be a book I start reading after I get a copy of it tomorrow at the Regina launch.  I'm so excited about this book, mostly because I'm friends with the author, but also because it explores that side of mothering that we tend to not talk about.

I've recently finished reading Loyal to the Sky (http://www.marisahandler.com/book.html) by Marisa Handler and it's a fantastic memoir -- what's with me and memoirs lately?

I also have other books on the go (sorry no time for links on these):

Lilac Moon by Sharon Butala
Mudras: Yoga in your Hands by Gertrud Hirschi
Birding, or Desire by Don McKay
The Drunken Lovely Bird by Sue Sinclair

and I still haven't finished Monbiot's book, Heat.  Don't know what that's about...

Oh, and then there's the YA novel my daughter wants me to read.  She claims it's the funniest book she's ever read, but I can't remember the title.

There are a few others lying about, too, on the bedside table, beside the couch, in the studio...but the titles escape me...
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: BCseawalker on June 17, 2007, 02:00:42 PM
Hello everyone. I'm new to BnR...

I've just finished reading and recommend highly is The Poisonwood Bible (http://www.amazon.ca/Poisonwood-Bible-Barbara-Kingsolver/dp/0060786507/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/701-3206592-6636339?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1182036433&sr=8-1) by Barbara Kingsolver (1998).

Borrowed this book from the library on a short-term loan - other library patrons are waiting in line to read it too. The story, the prose, the philosophy, made such an impression on me that I'd have read it a second time if I could.  

From the back cover:

 
Quote
The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it - from garden seeds to Scripture - is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.

The novel is set against one of the most dramatic political chronicles of the twentieth century: the Congo's fight for independence from Belgium, the murder of its first elected prime minister, the CIA coup to install his replacement, and the insidious progress of a world economic order that robs the fledgling African nation of its autonomy.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: fern hill on June 17, 2007, 02:16:30 PM
Hiya, BCseawalker. :welcome

Sounds like a good book. Similar premise as The Mosquito Coast for which I'll find a link.

ETA:Amazon link to the book (http://www.amazon.com/Mosquito-Coast-Paul-Theroux/dp/0140060898)

A movie was made of it that I have not seen.

The Mosquito Coast (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091557/)


Quote
Peter Weir directs this film about a man, Allie, fed up with society whotravels with his family to the Mosquito Coast to set up his own Utopia. In the tradition of the Conrad novel Heart of Darkness, Allie(Ford) becomes obsessed with the Utopia he has created a will not let anything or anyonestop him from his near perfect world. The person intent on stopping Allie from his "destruction of mankind" is the Rev. Spellgood, a missionary who plans on converting the "heathens" along the coast. Allie has his atheistic beliefs though and is not willing to left Rev. Spellgood interfere withanything that he does. For many people this movie was an absolute disgraceand according to my mother it was a complete attack at Christianity andGOD.But if you are willing to put religion aside to get a view from both sidesof the fence then Mosquito Coast might have something to offer you.



Oh look, another dam cat.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: GDKitty on June 17, 2007, 02:29:47 PM
:tbwave: Hey!  Great to meet you!  Don't mind fern hill...the kitties rule the roost around here :lol:
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on June 17, 2007, 02:40:37 PM
Groovy! Another kitty!

Great to see you here, BCseawalker. I think we met very briefly in the past. Welcome aboard.   :ahoy

I haven't read Kingsolver, although I remember that she was a favourite of our nonsuch, sadly absent for some months. Sounds like a great story of a very hard time.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: brebis noire on June 17, 2007, 02:48:14 PM
I loved The Poisonwood Bible - I read it in 2001, if I remember correctly. I tried some other Kingsolver books after that, but I didn't think any of them were nearly as good. I did like her book of essays however.
She's a biologist by training, and has a really wonderful way of writing about nature, animal life and such.
I think she has a new book out, something growing food or documenting her family's year of growing their own food.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Holly Stick on June 17, 2007, 03:06:23 PM
Welcome.  (Just to show it's not all kitties.)
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Debra on June 17, 2007, 03:12:10 PM
:welcome sadly I don't read much anymore unless it's onlne, but I'll put that on my list of "to read"
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: brebis noire on June 17, 2007, 03:12:27 PM
Welcome BCseawalker.  :)
I just remember the title of Kingsolver's book of essays: High Tide in Tucson (http://www.amazon.com/High-Tide-Tucson-Essays-Never/dp/0060927569).

I'm sure Toedancer would love that book.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: BCseawalker on June 17, 2007, 03:19:16 PM
Thanks for the welcome, everyone. Yes, skdadl, we met over at that other place.

Re The Poisonwood Bible, I finished reading it and returned it to the library three days ago, but its affect continues to haunt me.

I tend to race through books, urged on by wanting to know the story, rather than for any appreciation of the author's writing. Kingsolver's writing, particularly in this book, forced me to slow down; her characters say so many important things so clearly and beautifully.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on June 17, 2007, 04:53:11 PM
WELCOME BCseawalker ....

Quote
I've just finished reading and recommend highly is The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (1998).


Could well be one of my favourite books of all time. Opra had it on her 'reading list' - but that did not detract from its worth. A whole chapter in palindromes ..... WOW  :shock:
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on June 17, 2007, 07:28:21 PM
This is the second day I have taken a stroll down the Sparklin Street Mall, and stopped at the Coles Books near the east end. I have gone through many addictions in my life, books are probably the oldest - I love libraries and book stores. I spent several rapturous days in Edinburgh one summer going through old book stores.

It is sort of an amazing store, this Coles .... they still carry Rachel Carson's Silent Spring (http://www.nrdc.org/health/pesticides/hcarson.asp) on their active shelves. I also found an old treasure ... W.E.B. Dubois' (http://www.duboislc.org/html/DuBoisBio.html) and his The Souls of Black Folks. (http://www.bartleby.com/114/) which some libraries do not even carry.  :D
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: on June 18, 2007, 11:37:04 AM
Silent Spring was/is a fantastic book. Even though it's so old, much of it is still very relevant today, especially parts like the dishonesty and murderous mindset of the powers that be in biochemical companies and the government cover-ups. The book has got me inspecting everybody's front lawn now to see if people are using pesticides on their front lawn. Funny, I haven't seen similar warning signs on public parks, yet I know Hamilton uses pesticides on our public parks. I don't have a link to this statisitc - heard it through word of mouth - apparently, the rate of child cancer in Halifax dropped by 30% after the city banned the use of pesticides in its parks. There has been talk of doing that in Hamilton, but there is much resistance, and I don't fully understand where that resistance is coming from.

One thing that stuck with me from the book was that for every instance where industrially-manufactured chemicals were used, Carson demonstrated another incident in another part of the world where natural, organic methods were used to combat the same problem. Solutions typically involved introducing another species of plant or animal that devoured the problem plant/animal. And in every single instance, the effect of the non-chemical solution was far more effective, long-lasting and cheaper, and to boot, nobody died because of it. So, why we do continue to use the poisons?

BCseawalker, thanks for recommending The Poisonwood Bible. Hopefully, my lover will bring it home for me to read today. I desperately need a good fiction book.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Caissa on June 18, 2007, 12:29:16 PM
I started reading the Prison Diary of Ho Chi Minh this morning. It consists of poetry he wrote while imprisoned by Chiang Kiashek's forces in 1941-2.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Papal Bull on June 18, 2007, 05:35:42 PM
Just finished another go through with "The Midwich Cuckoos," I'm about half way though Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States," I finished "The Man In The High Castle" by Dick, I started chewing on "Fight Club," and I'm debating what book to read next. I think I want to read some more Mishima, Oe, or Murukami...something Japanese.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on June 18, 2007, 06:53:38 PM
I just read again, and printed off for a Fundamental Christian I work with Terry Eagleton's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Eagleton) terrific response (http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n20/eagl01_.html) to Dawkin's The God Delusion in the London Review of Books.

Eagleton, who shows both his Catholic Irish upbringing and extensive Marxist studies and writings has no time for Dawkins as a commentator on either science or theology.

"
Quote
Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology."
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: deBeauxOs on June 26, 2007, 12:40:20 PM
Just finished John Irving's 'The Fourth Hand'  Eeeeeyuk.  The publishing industry is truly f***ed, if a piece of dreck like that gets printed and Anne's novels sit in a drawer or on dusty disks.  In fact, I'm so pissy about it that I will start a new thread, dedicated to summing up in 30 words or less, in the style of TV Guide capsules, books not worth the trees destroyed to print them, films that wasted people's time, passing events that are barely worth noting unless one does so nastily, politicians, etc. etc.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Boom Boom on June 26, 2007, 04:33:58 PM
I have The Poisonwood Bible, but never finished reading it. Reading the responses about it here has piqued my interest in reading it again, which I will do soon.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Timebandit on June 26, 2007, 05:16:27 PM
Quote from: brebis noire
I loved The Poisonwood Bible - I read it in 2001, if I remember correctly. I tried some other Kingsolver books after that, but I didn't think any of them were nearly as good. I did like her book of essays however.
She's a biologist by training, and has a really wonderful way of writing about nature, animal life and such.
I think she has a new book out, something growing food or documenting her family's year of growing their own food.


I started it a few years ago, got as far as the little blond 5 yr old disappearing and that was that.  I think my wee blond Ms T was 4 at the time, and disappearance is one of my big bugaboos.   So I decided that holidays were too short for nightmares and put it away.  I think I passed it on after it sat, neglected, for about a year.  Very rare a book sits unread in my house...
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Papal Bull on June 27, 2007, 04:21:43 PM
I just finished a People's History of the United States. Damn. Good read.

I started reading Fight Club a few nights ago. I plowed through 100 pages and had to stop. Fight Club is AWFUl. It is so bad I can't even capitalize the "l" at the end of awful. I just give up.

I'm debating what to read next. My bookshelf has lots of ability of second read-throughs. Also...the new Richard Pipe's book on Russian conservaism is out...So I may have to read that.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Papal Bull on July 10, 2007, 09:38:39 PM
HARRY POTTER AND THE... :spy:
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Holly Stick on July 10, 2007, 10:37:09 PM
Dr. Who said he cried when he read the seventh Harry Potter book.  So we know it will be good. 8)
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: kuri on July 10, 2007, 10:54:22 PM
I'm about 100 pages into "Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon" by Daniel Dennett. I'd requested that and Richard Dawkins' book from the library after hearing them debate on a CBC show. I'm very skeptical of evolutionary reasoning for social things* but most of the text so far seems very compelling and pretty much as sensitive as it can be. At least, Dennett is aware of the "science vs. arts" debate just as equally as "science vs. religion" one. And he pretty much admits that non-USians will find he's not addressing the non-USian audience very well. I like it when authors admit their shortcomings without shame. We can't know everything, everywhere.

*From an evolutionary psychology I course, I learned the "scientific method" which is dominant in this field:

1. Choose highly stereotypical observation of human behaviour. More sexist the stereotype, the better.
2. Make sure you never question the veracity of the stereotype at all. Don't look for exceptions, don't look for cultural reinforcement or differences across cultures.
3. Pull some immediately reproduction-related pseudo-scientific explanation out of your ass. (For example, rape isn't about domination or power - it's about maximizing your reproductive capacity, with attractive fertile-looking women! It's all about the gene pool!)
4. Triumphantly use explanation to prove stereotype you set out to prove in the first place.
5. When student finds counter examples that go against #3 (for me this was examples of rapes during the Yugoslavian conflict that targeting all women, including many who were very obviously *not* during their reproductive years, and including incidents where soldiers were ordered to rape at gunpoint and still were capable of it), either say that, "war isn't a normal part of human life" (from the prof., also WTF?) or, if you're at least somewhat honest, "I don't know". (from the TA)

Anyway, end evolutionary psych rant, but I think this caution is justified.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: sparqui on July 10, 2007, 11:02:07 PM
I'm having a hard time finishing Heather O'Neill's Lullabies for Little Criminals. It is beautifully written and I was moving along until events in RL unfolded that made me put it down. I was also at a point in the book where things were turning quite negative (although the author's style is still quite gentle).

I was really pleasantly surprised to see that the NAC theatre company is presenting Margaret Atwood's Penelopiad as a play this late summer/fall. I read it and it was great fun. She retells the story of Penelope, Odyseus' wife, from her point of view.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on July 11, 2007, 08:04:48 AM
kuri:

Quote
*From an evolutionary psychology I course, I learned the "scientific method" which is dominant in this field:

1. Choose highly stereotypical observation of human behaviour. More sexist the stereotype, the better.
2. Make sure you never question the veracity of the stereotype at all. Don't look for exceptions, don't look for cultural reinforcement or differences across cultures.
3. Pull some immediately reproduction-related pseudo-scientific explanation out of your ass. (For example, rape isn't about domination or power - it's about maximizing your reproductive capacity, with attractive fertile-looking women! It's all about the gene pool!)
4. Triumphantly use explanation to prove stereotype you set out to prove in the first place.
5. When student finds counter examples that go against #3 (for me this was examples of rapes during the Yugoslavian conflict that targeting all women, including many who were very obviously *not* during their reproductive years, and including incidents where soldiers were ordered to rape at gunpoint and still were capable of it), either say that, "war isn't a normal part of human life" (from the prof., also WTF?) or, if you're at least somewhat honest, "I don't know". (from the TA)

Anyway, end evolutionary psych rant, but I think this caution is justified.
[/size]

Thank you for that - just the thing that Terry Eagleton says about Dawkins in this .... (http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n20/eagl01_.html)

My reading has a lot to do with size - a good book in some way must fit into my pocket.  :D

I am reading an okay/bad book by a Canadian named Juris Jurjevics (no less) it is sort of an Alistar MacLean thingie, named The Trudeau Vector .. I got it at the books store near D'Arcy McGees on the Sparklin Street Mall (see moving thread) and am really enjoying it.   :applause:
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Caissa on July 11, 2007, 10:22:55 AM
Amongst two mysteries and a WWI homefront diary, I have just begun reading a book on the uncovering of the Gospel of Judas. It shall be a good read.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: belva on July 11, 2007, 11:29:53 AM
Quote from: brebis noire
Welcome BCseawalker.  :)
I just remember the title of Kingsolver's book of essays: High Tide in Tucson (http://www.amazon.com/High-Tide-Tucson-Essays-Never/dp/0060927569). .

I haven't read this thread for awhile & missed this discussion.  I'm a big fan of Kingsolver!  I've loved her novels & her books of essays I have read & re-read.  She has another book of essays, from 2002 or 03, entitled Small Wonder which I found absolutely marvelous!


Quote
In her new essay collection, the beloved author of High Tide in Tucson brings to us out of one of history's darker moments an extended love song to the world we still have. From its opening parable gleaned from recent news about a lost child saved in an astonishing way, the book moves on to consider a world of surprising and hopeful prospects, ranging from an inventive conservation scheme in a remote jungle to the backyard flock of chickens tended by the author's small daughter.

Whether she is contemplating the Grand Canyon, her vegetable garden, motherhood, adolescence, genetic engineering, TV-watching, the history of civil rights, or the future of a nation founded on the best of all human impulses, these essays are grounded in the author's belief that our largest problems have grown from the earth's remotest corners as well as our own backyards, and that answers may lie in those places, too. In the voice Kingsolver's readers have come to rely on -- sometimes grave, occasionally hilarious, and ultimately persuasive -- Small Wonder is a hopeful examination of the people we seem to be, and what we might yet make of ourselves.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Timebandit on July 11, 2007, 12:25:40 PM
I'm reading two Neil Gaiman books -- one of short stories, "Smoke and Mirrors" (I think that's the title...) and the wild girls and I are reading "Coraline" aloud together.  Great book for kids, very dark, doesn't talk down to its audience, wonderful use of language.  Rather poetic in places.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Caissa on July 11, 2007, 12:27:08 PM
I really enjoyed Coraline. I haven't read smoke and mirrors yet. I have most of the Sandman comic books.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Timebandit on July 11, 2007, 12:31:30 PM
I've never been much for comics or graphic novels.  I loved Gaiman's American Gods and Anansi Boys, so I've been thinking of having a look at Sandman.  First ran into Gaiman's work when I read a collaboration he did with Terry Pratchett, "Good Omens:  The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch".  It had the usual humour you find in Pratchett, but some darker stuff, too, which I really liked.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: arborman on July 12, 2007, 02:52:08 PM
Quote from: Timebandit
First ran into Gaiman's work when I read a collaboration he did with Terry Pratchett, "Good Omens:  The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch".  It had the usual humour you find in Pratchett, but some darker stuff, too, which I really liked.


I read that book while backpacking in Spain 15 years ago, and loved it.  Also my introduction to Gaiman - and I liked the other books you've mentioned as well.

I'm currently reading Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson, which is the first of a trilogy I've been wanting to read for a while.  His other books were really excellent, particularly Cryptonomicon and The Diamond Age.

In the non-fiction category I'm reading Imperial Life in the Emerald City, an account of the first several months of US occupation in Iraq.  I can only handle about 20 pages at a time before I have to put it down in disgust, but it is a really good book.  The incompetence and wishful thinking of Garner, Bremer, Bush and the rest is truly staggering.  They really do have absolutely no idea how the world works, even on a basic level.  And somehow they are in charge of big things, and it makes me despair for humanity.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on July 12, 2007, 03:50:46 PM
Yo arborman:

I am about the same general age as these winners, 'Garner, Bremer, Bush. It looks to me they took:
Quote
Happy talk, keep talking happy talk
Talk about things you like to do
You got to have a dream, if you don't have a dream
How you gonna have a dream come true?
(South Pacific (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/kids/lyrics/happytalk.htm))
Much too seriously ..... a 'speak it and it will happen mentality'. (sorry, W.P. Kinsella.) (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0455875/)

The next verse begins:
Quote
Talk about the moon floating in the sky
Who is a moon bat?
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Zastrozzi on July 12, 2007, 07:20:06 PM
Quote from: Papal Bull
I think I want to read some more Mishima, Oe, or Murukami....
PB, what have you read by Murakami? (And what are the other two authors like?)

I reread A Wild Sheep Chase the other year after first reading it back in high school -- still found it enjoyable, but more the kind of thing I could appreciate as a high school student.

Now I'm working my way through The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which is a much more ambitious book. If I have any criticism of it, it's that he sometimes seems to be writing about bizarre situations for the sake of their bizarreness. On the other hand, that might well be what I'd do if I tried writing a novel.

Also reading Tom Holland's Persian Fire, a history of the Persian-Greek wars, clearly written in a way intended to appeal to a large audience, which I think you can do without playing to the gallery in the way that he too often does. Still, an engaging overview of a period I knew way too little about until now.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Toedancer on July 14, 2007, 07:52:19 PM
I am currently reading Blindsight by Peter Watts. Aliens and humans to meet them. The humans have surgically partitioned processing cores interfaced with machinery that see x-rays and ultrasound. Hominid predators really. Lots of recombinant genetics that make top notch sociopaths. Freaks, retrofits and aliens. I'm really digging it.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: GDKitty on July 15, 2007, 12:28:54 AM
Toe!  Could this mean...mating aliens? :shock:
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Toedancer on July 15, 2007, 12:31:07 AM
Well it is considered HARD fiction.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: GDKitty on July 15, 2007, 12:32:02 AM
Yum-tart mating aliens :lol:
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on July 15, 2007, 07:29:21 AM
:shock:

And me reading on an empty stomach.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on July 22, 2007, 09:43:14 AM
Molly Ivins is making me dizzy.  :panic

I had read some of her columns and been impressed, but I am now well into her book: Who Let The Dogs In? (http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/07/13/1341252) and the way she changes focus, from the large and self-consciously important to the intimate and personal keeps me off base. (I love it. :D )

If she had a constant theme it is not so much self-righeousness, as it is the hyprocracy of loudly blaming others of doing the same thing that the self-righeous blamer has been doing all along. In this she seems to have reserved a special ring in hell for Newt Grinrich.

Quote
"One if Grinrich's regular ploys is to associate "the opposition"  - whether he defines it as Democrats, liberals, or counterculture McGoverniks - with the most heinous event of the moment."

She mentions he talks about several instances: Woody Allen's affair with Mia Farrow's daughter, the death of a 3 year old girl in L.A. from gang violence and a particularily horrific killing of a pregnant woman who's killer cut out the foetus: all this Newt blames on the decline in moral values resulting from the New Deal and liberal views.

Then she slips in, almost in passing, the well known case of Susan Smith.

Quote
"When Susan Smith drowned her two sons in South Carolina in 1994, Grinrich said it: 'vividly reminds every American how sick society is getting and how much we have to change. I think people want to change and the only way to change is to vote Republican.'. "

Apparently letting that stand for what it is worth her next paragraph observes .....

Quote
"Actually, the Democrats have never recommended drowning you children either. But in reference to the above item, Susan Smith was in fact screwed by her stepfather.

Bad enough, until she mentions:

Quote
"He was a member of the state Republican executive committee and the Christian Coalition."


WOW! She has jumped from Grinrich's bombastic pronouncments about the trouble with America .... to show that his prescription for change IS the trouble with America. A terrific change of focus.  :shock: but not of subject.

Without fanfair, without tipping her hand, she keeps slipping in things like that, how Geroge Bush the First vehemently opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAcivil64.htm) that finally made black people full citizens, even allowed them to drink from the same water fountains as whites.

It is a compilation of her columns, impressive enough, until she opens up on subject like Newt, then it is breathtaking.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: sparqui on July 22, 2007, 02:37:44 PM
I should get that book. I love Molly Ivins' observations and writing style. Thanks for the reminder Croghan.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Holly Stick on July 22, 2007, 08:26:42 PM
I just finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  It was good. :)
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on July 22, 2007, 10:08:34 PM
Quote from: Holly Stick
I just finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  It was good. :)


Holly, that is great - nothing is more frustrating than getting involved in a series that ends with threads left a 'dangling' and periods not put half developed sentences. Glad you could say that.   :D

Despite attempts by some to denigrate the experience it sounds like following the series was wll worth it.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Holly Stick on July 22, 2007, 10:15:15 PM
Yes, it was well done; lots of action in this one, and a big climactic battle, and all in all it was satisfying.  But she didn't shy away from having good people killed in the process, and I was really shocked by a minor character's death.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Timebandit on August 07, 2007, 11:50:46 AM
I read the new Harry Potter last week, while we were on holidays.  It was, actually, very good.  Couple of nice plot twists.

I also started The Omnivore's Dilemma, and I'm just over a quarter of the way through.  I have developed a very rational fear of chicken nuggets, so far.  It'll take me a while, now that I'm back home and into my regular life, to finish it, though.  Fascinating book.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: brebis noire on August 08, 2007, 08:59:44 AM
I listened to this conversation yesterday between my kid and a kid from his church:

My kid: "So, have you seen the new Harry Potter movie?"

Other kid: "No, I'm not allowed to see those movies."

mk: "Why not?"

ok: "Because there's too much witchcraft. Sorcery!"

mk: [moment of silence] "Yeah. But it was really good."

ok: "And there are too many evil spirits."

mk: [another moment of silence] "But there's really only one evil spirit..."

ok: "But even one evil spirit is too many."

mk: "If there were zero evil spirits, that wouldn't be a very fun movie.
Let's talk about Pirates of the Caribbean. Mum, have we seen the third one yet?"


I'm a fan of the Potter movies, mainly the first ones as I can't really see where these two last ones are going. But I'm not reading the books. We tried that with the first few, but somehow didn't see the point after we got to movie no. 4. There's also something about the writing itself that I don't enjoy. So we've decided to wait it out another few years to find out what happens to Harry and Co.  :lol:

Right now the kids and I are reading Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. Le Guin. Another bad wizardy book, but I haven't encountered the evil spirits yet.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: GDKitty on August 08, 2007, 09:19:54 AM
Quote from: brebis noire
ok: "Because there's too much witchcraft. Sorcery!"

mk: [moment of silence] "Yeah. But it was really good."

:rotfl:
bn, have your kid(s) read "A Wind in the Door (http://www.amazon.ca/Wind-Door-Madeleine-Lengle/dp/0440487617/ref=sr_1_13/702-4635829-0502456?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1186578603&sr=1-13)" or "A Wrinkle in Time (http://www.amazon.ca/Wrinkle-Time-Madeleine-Lengle/dp/0440498058/ref=sr_1_2/702-4635829-0502456?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1186578545&sr=8-2)" (Madeleine L'Engle)? Or "The Phantom Tollbooth (http://www.amazon.ca/Phantom-Tollbooth-Norton-Juster/dp/0394820371/ref=sr_1_1/702-4635829-0502456?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1186578826&sr=1-1)," by Norman Juster? I loved those books and I found that I enjoyed them again, as an 'adult' (particularly the Juster book--I could read that again & again & again). Of course, I don't have a good handle on the age-appropriateness thing, but the stories themselves might strongly appeal to your little wizard(s)  :mrgreen:
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: justme on August 08, 2007, 09:29:02 AM
'A wrinkle in time' is one of my all time favourites!  Two thumbs up 8)
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on August 10, 2007, 12:18:22 AM
A good and kind person sent me a book called: The Commandos of Dieppe: Rehersal for D-Day. An interesting book so far.

Here is an snippet of what he, Will Fowler the author, has to say about Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten:

Quote
Mountbatten who had served in World War I was a charismatic and ambitious officer and great grand-son of Queen Victoria.

At the outbreak of the war he had commanded the 5th Destroyer Flotilla and took part in the evacuation of Norway. (This is WWII, now) As Captain of the destroyer HMS Kelly he had brought the severely damaged vessel back to England. In April 1941 he was sent to Malta and saw action off Crete: Kelly was finally sunk in air attacks in May 23, 1941 south of the island.

All well and good ..... I knew, in Saint John, Lord Mountbatten's batman, and he sung his praises at any and all occasions.

I happened to be reading something about the final days of British rule of India, Mountbatten was the last of the British Vice-Regals there. It paints a different picture of the same incident. It is from the American General Stillwell, one of the very few Five Star Generals.

Quote
"The Glamour Boy is just that.
Enormous staff, endless walla-walla, but damned little fighting." It
 was
probably just as well that Mountbatten did little fighting. Early in
 the
war, he had sailed the destroyer H.M.S. Kelly into a minefield before
ramming
it into another British ship. After exposing his ship to German
torpedo fire
("That's going to kill an awful lot of chaps," he recalled
thinking as he saw the metal streaking toward him), Mountbatten finally
saw it sunk by German dive-bombers off the coast of Crete.

Known in the British Admiralty as the Master of Disaster,


What is that radio program that ends: "...and now you know the rest of the story..." ?  :shock:

(I am enjoying the book.)
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Holly Stick on August 10, 2007, 12:46:32 AM
Vinegar Joe, according to wiki.  Barbara Tuchman wrote a biography of him, Stilwell and the American Experience in China 1911-45.  I have it but haven't read it yet.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Stilwell
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on August 10, 2007, 05:16:31 AM
Quote from: Holly Stick
Vinegar Joe, according to wiki.  Barbara Tuchman wrote a biography of him, Stilwell and the American Experience in China 1911-45.  I have it but haven't read it yet.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Stilwell


Wooooohooo ... Wadda co-inky-dink, Holly .. I just mentioned Stillwell in another thread - I was thinking of that book at the time. (enjoy it, Tuchman is fun  :D ). The March of Folly :D  is onna my favs.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Toedancer on August 13, 2007, 12:31:46 PM
I'm off to the Library, Kingsolver's Animal Dreams, then sadly to the dentist.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Caissa on August 13, 2007, 12:46:47 PM
One of the books I am reading at the moment is Laurel sefton McDowell's biography of Laboutr Lawyer J.L. Cohen. He was the topic of my doctoral dissertation before I abandoned it.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: justme on August 13, 2007, 12:51:42 PM
Just read a Spider Robinson from the early 80's "Mindkiller".

Really enjoyed it, it's set here in Halifax, and is "forward in time" to the middle/late 90's - fun to read in 2007.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Caissa on August 13, 2007, 12:59:33 PM
I don't think I have read that one. I have read all of is Callahan books though.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: deBeauxOs on August 21, 2007, 03:24:15 PM
A friend lent me Joan Didion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_Didion)'s 'The Year of Magical Thinking' and I started reading it last night.  I've never read her writing before, perhaps essays and opinion pieces but this short memoir ... very powerful and moving, though seemingly dispassionate.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on August 22, 2007, 06:58:47 AM
My s-i-l took me to see/hear Didion's reading and interview (with Eleanor Wachtel of CBC's "Writers and Company") two years ago (in October, I think it was). She is a small, elegantly thin person, and the stress of the previous couple of years (her daughter's illness started before and continued after her husband's death) had aged her, but you can hear the steel when she talks. She's very tough-minded. At one point she answered a question very fast and firmly by saying "I am not depressive." Period, no elaboration. I wondered at the time how she knew, where that kind of certainty came from.

Do you know, deBeauxOs, that her daughter died just a few months before the book was published, that summer before publication?
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: sparqui on August 22, 2007, 10:00:48 AM
I heard that interview when it was broadcast on Writers and Company. You both describe Didion's tone very well.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: deBeauxOs on August 22, 2007, 10:01:43 AM
Yes, I knew that.  :(  Didion is listed in the Internet Movie Database because of scriptwriting she did, she alludes to it in this memoir.  Click here (http://www.imdb.com/gallery/granitz/5928) and you'll see photos of the glitterati who attended the opening night of 'The Year of Magical Thinking' - the play adapted from this work.  A friend went down to see it in NYC last month - Vanessa Redgrave plays the lead role.

Didion refused to add an epilogue to TYOMT about her daughter's death or to re-edit - she said that it was done as it was.  Gutsy dame, that one.  I forgot to ask my friend if her daughter's death is addressed in the play.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on August 25, 2007, 05:47:31 PM
I can't tell whether this review (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/20490) by Timothy Garton Ash of Günter Grass's memoir Peeling the Onion is behind a sub wall. I hope not, because it is such a splendid piece of writing -- even if you haven't ever read Grass before, you will begin to get some idea of what he writes and why he was important from this fine essay.

Garton Ash obviously thinks that Peeling the Onion is worthy of the author of The Tin Drum, in spite of the scandal that followed when Grass finally admitted last year, on the memoir's German publication, that during the last year of the war he had been a teenaged member of the Waffen-SS.

The story is complicated, but I think that Garton Ash does it justice. Grass is a great writer -- The Tin Drum did more for intelligent reflection on what happened to Germany at the end of the war than any political analysis could.

If Grass did anything wrong, it was to become a leading critic of wartime collaborators during the 1960s and 1970s without admitting his own past. Here's how Garton Ash discusses that problem:

Quote
Grass does have half a point about the coverage of this story in the German press. All over the world there is a lamentable pattern of journalists first building up a celebrity to ludicrous heights, then tearing down the unreal statue they have themselves erected. What has happened to Grass is an outsize version of that familiar build 'em up, knock 'em down. There's also a generational edge to some of the German criticism. In effect, impatient younger critics, who themselves were fortunate enough never to be tested by the threats and temptations that Grass faced as a teenager—for they enjoyed what Helmut Kohl once called the "mercy of a late birth"—are now exclaiming: get off the stage, old man, and let us take your place. This is the age-old literary parricide. The accusation that he was making this painful revelation just as a publicity trick for his new book is simply not worthy of the artistic and moral effort that will be evident to any fair-minded reader of Peeling the Onion. The PR charge says more about the mental world of those who make it than about that of the old bear.

Yet I'm afraid that Grass has only half a point. In fact, what is really surprising is that he is so surprised. Recalling the way in which Grass has repeatedly attacked leaders of the Federal Republic such as Helmut Kohl, the bishop of Kohl's home city of Mainz quotes Saint John: "Let he who is without sin among you cast the first stone." For more than forty years, ever since he became a famous writer, Günter Grass has been one of the literary world's most inveterate stone-throwers. In thousands of speeches, interviews, and articles he has raged against US imperialism and capitalism; against German unification, which he furiously opposed, since a united Germany had "laid the foundations of Auschwitz"; against Konrad Adenauer, Helmut Kohl, and all their journalistic supporters. Like one of the Teutonic Knights he admired as a child, he has laid about him to left and right—in recent years, mainly to right—with a bludgeon. He has set himself up as a political and moral authority, and delivered harsh judgements. His language has often been intemperate. Now it is payback time for all those he has criticized, directly or indirectly. In paying him back, some of his critics have fallen into precisely the mode that they previously criticized Grass for adopting: a simplistic, moralistic judgment, elevating the Nazi past to the single yardstick of morality or immorality.[5]

This said, both outrage and amazement seem in order. Outrage not at the fact that he served in the Waffen-SS as a teenager but at the way he has dealt with that fact since. According to the historian Bernd Wegner, a leading authority on the Waffen-SS, the "Frundsberg" division in which Grass served as a tank gunner "consisted mainly of members of the RAD [Reichsarbeitsdienst, or Reich Labor Service] who had been conscripted under duress."[6] Since Grass had previously been conscripted into the Reich Labor Service, it seems likely that his earlier volunteering to fight in the U-boats had nothing to do with his being assigned to the Waffen-SS. There is no suggestion that he was involved in any atrocities. By his own account he hardly fired a shot in anger.

No, his war record is not the cause for outrage. Thousands of young Germans shared the same fate. Many died as a result. The offense is that he should for so many years have made it his stock-in-trade to denounce post-war West Germans' failure to face up to the Nazi past, while himself so spectacularly failing to come clean about the full extent of his own Nazi past. One painfully disappointed reaction comes from his most recent biographer, Michael Jürgs, whose life of Grass appeared in 2002. Grass spent many hours talking to Jürgs, yet allowed him to repeat the standard version that the novelist's war service had been as an auxiliary antiaircraft gunner (he was also that, briefly, before going into the Waffen-SS), and then in the Wehrmacht. This is not merely "keeping quiet" about your past. I'd say it counts as lying. What's more, if a conservative German politician had behaved like this, Grass himself would surely have called it lying, adding a few earthy adjectives to boot.

Worse still, knowing full well his own biography, he nonetheless denounced the joint visit by Ronald Reagan and Helmut Kohl to a cemetery in Bitburg in 1985 where, among many war dead, forty-nine Waffen-SS soldiers were buried. Of the forty-nine, thirty-two were under twenty-five years old. The youngest among them may well have been drafted like Günter Grass. He could have been one of them. To denounce the Bitburg visit without acknowledging that he himself had served in the Waffen-SS was an act of breathtaking hypocrisy, doublethink, and recklessness.


I love Grass; I haven't read this memoir, although now I want to.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Zastrozzi on October 08, 2007, 07:17:19 PM
"The Immortal Dinner" by Penelope Hughes-Hallett, about a dinner in 1817 London hosted by painter Benjamin Haydon, and attended by people including Wordsworth, Keats, and Lamb.

A great way of telling history and biography, by focusing on the one event and moving tangentially to discuss the people involved and the city they lived in, and told in a conversational style mirroring that of its subject.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: sparqui on October 08, 2007, 07:37:17 PM
That sounds intriguing.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Boom Boom on October 08, 2007, 07:42:32 PM
I'm reading the last two installments of The Bandy Papers by Donald Jack. Here's a website that tries to explain the phenomenon of Bart Bandy: http://www.sybertooth.com/bandy/ (http://www.sybertooth.com/bandy/)    I've read all the previous installments of this hilarious excuse for a fighter pilot. The final installments are Hitler vs Me, and Stalin vs Me.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on October 08, 2007, 08:01:07 PM
Quote from: Boom Boom
I'm reading the last two installments of The Bandy Papers by Donald Jack. Here's a website that tries to explain the phenomenon of Bart Bandy: http://www.sybertooth.com/bandy/ (http://www.sybertooth.com/bandy/)    I've read all the previous installments of this hilarious excuse for a fighter pilot. The final installments are Hitler vs Me, and Stalin vs Me.


That Donald Jack is one of Canada's big secrets -- no one I know has heard of him and he is amazingly funny.  :rotfl:
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on October 08, 2007, 08:07:52 PM
Hope skdadl has not retired for the evening ----

Quote
Scots, wha ha'e wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome to your gory bed
Or to victorie!


History channel is doing a thingie on William Wallace (http://www.mmpb.on.ca/scotswahae.html) just now.

This date: the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on October 09, 2007, 06:41:34 AM
But but but ... Bannockburn (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Bannockburn)  is famously 24 June (actually 23-24 June).

And the Battle of Stirling Bridge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Stirling_Bridge) (1297) was -- GAH! 11 September!!! GAH! I've never noticed that before.

An early indication that Braveheart was seriously mucked up was Gibson's enactment of the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Major problem: NO BRIDGE. The bridge helped to win the battle -- well, the stupidity of de Cressingham in leading his forces across it helped to win the battle.

Gibson did a good schiltron, though.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Boom Boom on October 09, 2007, 07:51:32 AM
I think Mel Gibson is a propaganist - with the intent of pushing his  extreme rightwing and religious conservative views. I refuse to watch anything by him - haven't seen a Mel Gibson film since his cop-buddy movie days twenty years ago or so.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Holly Stick on October 09, 2007, 09:26:48 AM
What's a schiltron?  And skdadl, weren't you saying elsewhere that the area has been drained? So poor li'l Mel had no bridge to film.  Of course, he could have built one.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on October 09, 2007, 09:48:27 AM
I'm sure we can look up a better definition of a schiltron, but it worked like this: the Scots would kneel down with their spears (or knives fixed on staffs) held low to the ground in front of them. I believe they sometimes did this in circular formation, although in Gibson's version, they are just a multi-ranked straight formation. As a cavalry charge comes at them, they raise the spears at the last moment, and the horses get impaled. I wouldn't have the nerve to do that, but apparently it worked quite well.

As long as they were facing only cavalry or arrows (use shield against arrows), the Highlanders were ok. Gunpowder pretty much did them in.

It was the Bannockburn marshes and the carse beyond that got drained. Stirling itself is a bit to the north, and the Forth was a river at that point -- just below the castle craig --  even back in 1297. The C13 bridge, of course, was wooden and is long gone, and I guess it would have been tough to recreate that in a film. I know there was an attempt underway a few years ago to locate the original wooden foundations by satellite imaging -- some people claim to have found them underwater a bit upstream from the modern bridge. I don't know what conclusions have been reached.

It is a very beautiful place.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Holly Stick on October 09, 2007, 10:22:14 AM
It wouldn't be hard to build a bridge for the movie; but I think the battle would have looked different.  Maybe Mel has an Australian feel for scenery, wanting lots of space to move in.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on October 09, 2007, 06:00:19 PM
Quote
It was the Bannockburn marshes and the carse beyond that got drained. Stirling itself is a bit to the north, and the Forth was a river at that point -- just below the castle craig -- even back in 1297. The C13 bridge, of course, was wooden and is long gone, and I guess it would have been tough to recreate that in a film. I know there was an attempt underway a few years ago to locate the original wooden foundations by satellite imaging -- some people claim to have found them underwater a bit upstream from the modern bridge. I don't know what conclusions have been reached.


That took up a large portion of the History Channel program; that and some historical but unconnected things about the engineering of some villages. (They had working sewers.)
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on October 09, 2007, 06:15:41 PM
Quote from: Croghan27
(They had working sewers.)


Presbyterians are very big on cleanliness.   :wink:
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: arborman on October 09, 2007, 07:06:24 PM
Were they Presbyterians in the 13th century?  I'da thunk Catholic, or possibly miscellaneous.  ;)

People in Castlegar need not be alarmed, that sound is merely my Scots great-grannie is rolling over in her grave at the above sentence.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on October 09, 2007, 07:09:45 PM
Quote from: skdadl
Quote from: Croghan27
(They had working sewers.)

Presbyterians are very big on cleanliness.   :wink:


Given it was 2-300 years before any Presper raised their Apostately head - that is amazing.

The .... 'prime material' for the sewer was all gone by then, but they did find evidence of commerce with Europe, the middle east and even approaching the orient.

Scotland was not a backwater. (http://i163.photobucket.com/albums/t304/croghan27/th_180px-Maclean2-1.jpg) (http://i163.photobucket.com/albums/t304/croghan27/180px-Maclean2-1.jpg)
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: lagatta on October 09, 2007, 07:30:23 PM
They were all Catholic then, though Catholicism has always incorporated traditional beliefs and lifeways of different peoples. That is one of the bluidy Church's strengths.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on October 09, 2007, 07:30:47 PM
Och, aye, and y'all have found me out.   :wink:

Scotland was a very Catholic place from the sixth or seventh centuries on, when it was still Pictland, really, evangelized by St Columba and the later Irish missionaries.

The ancient Celtic Catholic church is quite interesting -- I only know hints of how it worked, but it was very liberal in some ways for a long time. It was quite late (C12?) that Rome put its foot down on the Celts -- stopped priests from marrying, eg.

The Reformation in Scotland was not nice, either. I mean, would you want John Knox jabbering away at you? I thought not. Very nasty man; he made Mary Q of S cry, the bastard.

Lots of the Stuart loyalists were still Catholic at the time of the last uprising (1745-46), although by then religion had ceased to be the dividing line. The great Graham rebels of the C17 -- Bonnie Dundee and his uncle the Duke of Montrose -- were both Presbyterians but Scots royalists who led heavily Catholic Highland armies.

There are still areas of the Highlands where you will start to see Catholic churches springing up as you drive along -- those are settlements that weren't cleared by the C19, presumably because no one wanted to raise sheep there.

Ethnic cleansing by any other name, yes?
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: anne cameron on October 09, 2007, 09:17:16 PM
Well, you never know if what grandpa Cameron told us was anywhere near true or just something that came out in direct proportion to the amount of whiskey that went in.  He spoke gaelic but didn't teach it to any of his children or grandchildren...then he'd sit and roar it at us and scorn us for not knowing "the sweet tongue".  Anyway, his version of it was that Scotland was doing just great, with strong trading ties to the rest of the world, mainly through business dealings and partnerships with Phoenician traders and then the bluidy sassenachs began to show up.  His version was that the reason Rome was so bloody minded was it wanted the trade routes for itself.

God knows I got none of that in school!!

I'm not sure the Grahams were really presbyterian.  More methodisty I would have thought.  

Of course Bloody Clavers smirched the name for all time, didn't he!
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on October 09, 2007, 09:34:57 PM
Och, noooo, anne. Bluidy Clavers was the name the dreaded Sassenachs gave him, but he was a great hero. When he died at Killiecrankie (a victory for him, but the last victory), the clansmen wept all the way down the great valley to Dunkeld, where they were simply wiped out by the English king's defenders, who believed in saving a town by burning it down.

Dunkeld (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunkeld) -- few places I love more.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: anne cameron on October 09, 2007, 09:48:33 PM
You want to know about growing up in a slightly schizophrenic family situation...one grandfather was John Cameron the other was William Graham...and it didn't matter that at one time Cameron of Locheil was one of Dundee's strongest supporters...

but it was always good for a dime from Grandpa Cameron when I played Bonnie Dundee on the violin.  Grandpa Graham didn't bribe with money but he would smile and nod when I played Afton Water.

The Grahams didn't hold grudges at all but ohmigawsh my Grandma Cameron couldn't even bear to say their name!  "You ither grandmither" was as close as she'd come , that or "your English grandmither".  As close to an explanation of that as I ever got was when I was told Well, she was a Carson before she was a Cameron... ??
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on October 10, 2007, 07:30:58 AM
Well, at least they weren't ... Campbells!   :shock:    :wink:

NB: To anyone who happens to be a Campbell, I'm sure you're a nice person and all, and we've pretty much forgiven you. I guess.  :wink:
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: anne cameron on October 10, 2007, 11:55:56 AM
Nah, we haven't!

Poor buggers who didn't know better voted in one of the Campbells as premier of the province and it's been shite from on high ever since.

We could'a told them!  Some of us tried.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: arborman on October 10, 2007, 01:41:45 PM
Any hints on the MacMillan history? (my great-gran)...
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on October 10, 2007, 02:56:29 PM
arborman, this (http://www.clanmacmillan.org/History.html) looks like a good site on the M'Millans. I sailed around a bit looking for associations, since I didn't know the clan well before, but y'all sound like some of the good guys.   :wink:

Mhaolain appears to mean "tonsure"; the clan progenitor is supposed to have been a monk (they could get married back then) descended from Bishop Crinan of Dunkeld, which is no small thing. I would contest their identification of Macbeth, though.

The clan appears to have been centred at first in Knapdale, which  is the northern section of the peninsula of Kintyre. Although it's not that far from Glasgow, that is still wonderfully wild Highlands-and-Islands territory, the best of the beautiful west coast, almost an island unto itself. I've never been there although I know the coast just north of there. Before I appeared on the scene, T and some of his friends twice rented a castle just south of Knapdale and never afterwards stopped raving about what heaven it was.

If you look at the map on that site, you'll see that the M'Millans and related clans/septs settled in other places in some numbers. As I skimmed the history, it looks as though they were allies of the MacDonalds for a long time, which is a Good Thing.

I was amused to see that your clan motto is Miseris Succurrere Disco.  :mrgreen: Literally, that means something like "I learn/endeavour to succour the distressed" (L. discere, "to learn": disco, discere, didici). But ever since I saw that, I've been sitting here singing Disco Duck to self.   :mrgreen:
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on October 10, 2007, 05:51:50 PM
Quote
The clan appears to have been centred at first in Knapdale, which is the northern section of the peninsula of Kintyre. Although it's not that far from Glasgow, that is still wonderfully wild Highlands-and-Islands territory, the best of the beautiful west coast, almost an island unto itself.


Such is the grand home and castle seat of the Great Clan: "MacCroghan27" - (note real name skilfilly consealed  :wink: )

'MacMillan' Eh? Probably from the 'other side' of the mull. Sniff!  :twisted:
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Boom Boom on October 15, 2007, 04:42:15 PM
Quote from: Croghan27
That Donald Jack is one of Canada's big secrets -- no one I know has heard of him and he is amazingly funny.  :rotfl:


I'm halfway through Vol VIII Hitler vs Me and it is the best yet. There's a hilarious plot twist but I won't reveal it. Buy this book! Better yet, get the entire series (nine vols). You won't regret it. I have all nine vols, have read vols I - VII many times.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on October 15, 2007, 05:41:01 PM
Quote from: Boom Boom
Quote from: Croghan27
That Donald Jack is one of Canada's big secrets -- no one I know has heard of him and he is amazingly funny.  :rotfl:

I'm halfway through Vol VIII Hitler vs Me and it is the best yet. There's a hilarious plot twist but I won't reveal it. Buy this book! Better yet, get the entire series (nine vols). You won't regret it. I have all nine vols, have read vols I - VII many times.


an old biker I knew in Fort McMurray introduced me to him quite a while ago .... his whole history of Canada at War is marvelously funny and often, all too true.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: arborman on October 15, 2007, 06:23:04 PM
Quote from: skdadl
arborman, this (http://www.clanmacmillan.org/History.html) looks like a good site on the M'Millans. I sailed around a bit looking for associations, since I didn't know the clan well before, but y'all sound like some of the good guys.   :wink:


Interesting stuff.  My great-grannie was from several generations of sea captains in Nova Scotia (Sarah Macmillan).  Fell in love with a dashing but broke petty nobleman from Transylvania, she did, and moved to a farm in Alberta.  Was one of the first women to graduate from Dalhousie as well.  Strong lady, I wish I'd known her.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Caissa on October 16, 2007, 07:11:39 AM
I started reading Ehrenreich's Bait and Switch last night. A bit of a sequel to Nickel and Dimed. In B & S Ehrenreich takes on the persona of an unemployed White Collar Worker. The first section has talked about her experience with career coaches. Quite interesting to me since I am now working as a student employment counsellor, a field I haven't worked in since I left Mount A in 2001.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: on October 16, 2007, 01:06:27 PM
I am reading a Diana Gabaldon novel in the series of the Outlander time traveller books. Lot of Scottish English and some Gaellic even from the 17thC. I have taken to calling thwap 'lad' and James 'wean'.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on October 17, 2007, 05:47:10 AM
I am about three quarters of the way through John leCarre's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_le_Carr%C3%A9)latest effort: THE MISSION SONG. (http://www.metacritic.com/books/authors/lecarrejohn/missionsong#critics)

I am a huge fan of leCarre - but must admit his plotting powers are not what they used to be. Still he is topical. His prose is so enchanting that I would happily read his laundry/shopping list.  :D

It is about an African-British professional translator, who gets involved in translating some morally ambigious stuff. As always the way he shows the moral angst and final decision of the protagionist is a study in transition - the roots going back to his childhood.

I still consider leCarre's THE PERFECT SPY (http://booksiloved.com/27/Perfect_Spy.html) the cardinal book of the end of the 20th century.

"Oh Magnus, you're such a chancer."
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: deBeauxOs on December 28, 2007, 06:15:52 PM
A close friend gave me Wicked:The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wicked_%28novel%29) and I have been staying up late at night reading it.  It crosses and blends different genres of fiction: pastiche, sociopolitical thriller, humour, speculative/alternative reality.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on December 28, 2007, 06:18:49 PM
It is awesome, I told you so.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: deBeauxOs on December 28, 2007, 06:37:07 PM
Indeed - it's a terrifically entertaining yet profound literary creation.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: vmichel on December 29, 2007, 10:47:11 AM
I loved Wicked (the book).
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: transplant on December 29, 2007, 06:04:01 PM
Just picked up Brian Fagan's The Long Summer; How Climate Changed Civilization, which describes the rise of human civilization during the interglacial warm period of the past 15,000 years, and Mark Lynas' Six Degrees; Our Future on a Hotter Planet, which describes what physical changes are likely for each future degree rise in global mean tempertaure.

Yes, Virginia, you can get too much of a good thing.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on December 30, 2007, 07:15:49 AM
There are going to be more creepy-crawlies in Canada than formerly, aren't there, transplant? I just know that will happen. Gah. I never wanted to live anywhere with creepy-crawlies.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: vmichel on December 30, 2007, 09:46:50 PM
I'm reading a beautiful book of short stories: Secrets of a Fire King, by Kim Edwards. The first story will blow you away -- if you happen to be lurking in a library or bookstore, read it! It's short and amazing.

Lately I've been really into short stories.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: deBeauxOs on January 02, 2008, 08:43:41 PM
Currently I am reading a memoir of life in Istanbul by Orhan Pamuk (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orhan_Pamuk).  Last year I was given his novel 'The Black Book' which I attempted to read.  Before I abandoned it, I did glance at the foreword written by the translator who described the challenges of translating the Turkish language into English and wondered if that was why I found it difficult to connect with the author's thoughts and stories.  

While for Istambul, souvenirs d'une ville, three translators worked at faithfully capturing the spirit of his writing in French, successfully as far as I'm concerned since Pamuk's words, imagery and emotions resonate for me in this work.

You may remember that he won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2006, the year in which criminal charges had been pressed against him in Turkey for his outspoken comments on the Armenian Genocide.  
Quote
The criminal charges against Pamuk resulted from remarks he made during an interview in February 2005 with the Swiss publication Das Magazin, a weekly supplement to a number of Swiss daily newspapers... In the interview, Pamuk stated, "Thirty thousand Kurds, and a million Armenians were killed in these lands and nobody dares to talk about it."

Pamuk has said that after the Swiss interview was published, he was subjected to a hate campaign that forced him to flee the country. He returned later in 2005, however, to face the charges against him. ... In an interview with BBC News, he said that he wanted to defend freedom of speech, which was Turkey's only hope for coming to terms with its history: "What happened to the Ottoman Armenians in 1915 was a major thing that was hidden from the Turkish nation; it was a taboo. But we have to be able to talk about the past."
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Catchfire on January 03, 2008, 12:32:38 AM
I'm currently reading for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Tait_Black_Memorial_Prize) and had eight books to read over Christmas with a few more arriving soon.  As some of those here who have worked in publishing doubtless know, holy crap do publishers ever submit terrible books for literary prizes.  One book, called The Lost Temple by Tom Harper I would describe as "High Octane!" and "A Never-ending Thrill Ride!" desperately (and belatedly) trying to cash in on Da Vinci Code fame.  I think the principal talent this author had is his patience in actually sitting down and writing for 600 pages.  "He had come here to kill Nazis.  And that's what he was going to do."  Christ.

There's a few decent works, but none particularly prize worthy in my batch.  Zugzwang by Ronan Bennett is a decent thriller (about chess!  and St. Petersburg!) and also very well written.  Veronica by the author of "Secretary" (Now a major motion picture!) Mary Gaitskill is pretty fun as well.

So far, nothing as deserving as last year's winner, The Road by Cormac McCarthy.  Boy do I love that man.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on January 03, 2008, 08:02:02 AM
What a wonderful assignment, Catchfire. I'm sorry the books aren't yet living up to the moment, but that is a great tradition you've joined. Do you get to meet the members of the advisory committee? Say hi to Ian Rankin and Alexander McCall Smith for me.   :wink:

Istanbul (which I read in English) is simply gorgeous, deBeauxOs. You might remember that not long after Pamuk had to fight, along with a number of other Turkish writers (and they won), against the secularists in Turkey (it's the secularists who are fierce about denying the genocide), they then had to argue against secularist deputies in France, who were intent on passing a resolution making denial of the genocide a crime -- the flip side of the same stupid coin, as Pamuk and Elif Shafak, among others, pointed out.

Some people just don't get freedom of expression. Most great writers do, though.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: deBeauxOs on January 03, 2008, 10:14:45 AM
Reading Istambul in French has piqued my interest, so the next time that I'm at La librairie du soleil, I'll have a look at his other works, to check out those translations, particularly 'The Black Book'.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: deBeauxOs on January 10, 2008, 07:35:41 PM
A friend lent me "Truth and Beauty" by Ann Patchett.  Here is an interesting news item about the book and the attacks (http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/books/2007/08/required_reading.html)it has generated.  It is beautifully written, BTW.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: deBeauxOs on January 17, 2008, 03:30:09 PM
Currently I'm reading 'Autobiography of a Face' (http://www.bookbrowse.com/biographies/index.cfm?author_number=1133), written by Lucy Grealy.  The afterword to this edition, written by her friend Ann Patchett recalls from a public reading, this comment directed to Grealy:
Quote
"It's amazing how you remember everything so clearly," a woman said ... "All those conversations, details.  Were you ever worried that you might get something wrong?"

"I didn't remember it," Lucy said pointedly. "I wrote it.  I'm a writer."

This shocked the audience more than her dismissal of illness, but she made her point: she was making art, not documenting an event.  That she chose to tell her own extraordinary story was of secondary importance.  Her cancer and subsequent suffering had not made this book.  She had made it.  Her intellect and ability were in every sense larger than the disease.

By telling us that the sentences spoken in the book were not necessarily verbatim, Lucy claimed complete ownership of her history.  It was her world and she would present it the way she wanted to.  Her memory and desire were indeed the facts.  She taught me something while I sat in the audience that night about the nature of writing and the nature of truth.  In the right hands, a memoir is the flecks of gold panned out of a great, muddy river.  A memoir is those flecks melted down into a shapable liquid that can then be molded and hammered into a single bright band to be worn on a finger, something you could point to and say, "This?  Oh this is my life,"  Everyone has a muddy river, but very few have the vision, patience and talent to turn it into something so beautiful.

This is why the writer matters, so that we can not only learn from her experience but find a way to shape our own.  I'm not talking about making every life into a work of art, I'm talking about making our life into something we can understand, a portable object that contains the weight and the power of an entire terrain.


Inspiring, is it not?
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on January 24, 2008, 07:37:11 AM
Look at this. Art Garfunkel has kept a list of every book he has read since 1968 (http://www.artgarfunkel.com/library.html) on his website. Far out.

His list of favourites is interesting too. What can I say? Good taste.

A good Guardian (http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/01/rummaging_in_a_rock_stars_libr.html) column about Garfunkel's reading.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: brebis noire on January 24, 2008, 08:34:29 AM
I always liked Garfunkel better than Simon, though Simon was nice too.

Gotta love that hair, too. Still strong after all these years! Um, crazy, that is.  :wink:
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Boom Boom on January 24, 2008, 11:32:48 AM
PBS Boston did a special show to award Paul Simon with some prestigious achievement award, and it was in a concert format; Paul sang and played guitar and piano with a large number of his contemporaries, including Art Gunkfle, James Taylor, Carole King, Stevie Wonder, and many, many others, including Ladysmith Black Mambazo. I think it's available as a DVD of VHS on the PBS website. It was an amazing concert.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: steffie on January 24, 2008, 07:48:46 PM
Quote from: vmichel
I'm reading a beautiful book of short stories: Secrets of a Fire King, by Kim Edwards.


Having been housebound for the past 3 days with the flu, I have just finished reading (in only 2 sittings, I might add) The Memory Keeper's Daughter, by the same author.  It has left me with the sadness that one feels when one realizes that one's life, however regrettable, is simply one's life.  Choices made in the past that impacted the future must not be regretted, only honoured, for being our choice at the time.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: ReWind.it on January 25, 2008, 07:34:08 PM
The Island of the Day Before by Unberto Eco.

I'm on page 283 and am thinking of giving it up......being shipwrecked on a ship is what grabbed me initially. But now I'm bored with it.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on January 26, 2008, 07:30:51 PM
I remember that, ReWind ..... Eco is so very erudite that I always feel insecure when reading him, like I am not intimately familiar with the minor players in medieval philosphical debates....  :shock: ego a dummie!
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: ReWind.it on January 26, 2008, 07:36:42 PM
Ha! I'm no scholar as you know croghie, and those philosophical discussions are a waste of time. It's easy to spot the wee nuggets here and there, as for the rest, ye gads boring. I do like the the day before stuff though.
 But I must say it demonstrates human curiosity so well, even without the tools to investigate. So sure enough the tools must be invented to satisfy the curiosity, crude at first then re-jigged. Longitude indeed.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on January 27, 2008, 04:53:28 AM
Quote from: ReWind.it
Ha! I'm no scholar as you know croghie, and those philosophical discussions are a waste of time. It's easy to spot the wee nuggets here and there, as for the rest, ye gads boring. I do like the the day before stuff though.
 But I must say it demonstrates human curiosity so well, even without the tools to investigate. So sure enough the tools must be invented to satisfy the curiosity, crude at first then re-jigged. Longitude indeed.


Yer scholar enough for me, ReWind ....  :hug: I am familar enough with medieval philosophy to know that William of Occam came from ....er...er.. what is the name of that town????  :annoyed:

Mandos, it seems to me, would be right at home here... he (Eco) is concerned about language and it's uses - His big popular success was, of course, "The NAME of the Rose". I enjoyed the movie so got the book.

Yes, I enjoyed the book as far as that is possible without reading it 22.3 times.  :shock:
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: anne cameron on January 27, 2008, 12:45:25 PM
Yer a better man than I am Croghy , my dear.  I bottomed out each of the three times I tried.  I'm going to wait until Mandos does a translation into English-as-she-is-spoke, then I'll see if I can make my way through.

I finally decided that when a person is low rent a person is low rent and that is , unfortunately, that.  And I izz
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on January 27, 2008, 12:52:44 PM
I've read a little Eco (his non-fiction book The Search for Perfect Language) but I don't remember finding it that interesting.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: lagatta on January 27, 2008, 01:08:35 PM
I have read shorter works (essays) by Eco and rather liked them, but I read them in the original Italian. Idem Il Nome della Rosa. He was obviously having a bit of fun with that story. A friend lent it to me; I wouldn't have bought it.

I hate translating that kind of stuff from Italian to English, as Italian sentences are so much longer and more involved (like Latin). Even translating from Italian to French, I easily cut each sentence in half; in English, would cut them in half again.

Like Atwood, discussed elsewhere, I find Eco shines more as a critic than as a novelist. His novels strike me as very contrived.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: vmichel on January 27, 2008, 02:01:30 PM
Quote from: ReWind.it
The Island of the Day Before by Unberto Eco.

I'm on page 283 and am thinking of giving it up......being shipwrecked on a ship is what grabbed me initially. But now I'm bored with it.


I gave it up at about that point too!
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on January 27, 2008, 06:16:32 PM
Quote from: anne cameron
I finally decided that when a person is low rent a person is low rent and that is , unfortunately, that.  And I izz


anne, dear anne .... yer one of thems marvels of nature that is of huge value, if, as you say, of less monitary worth.  :hug:

Eco is mostly about language ... note: The Name of the Rose and, as Mondos says: The Search for Perfect Language
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: deBeauxOs on February 02, 2008, 02:38:33 PM
Congruent to my ongoing interest in volcanoes, I'm reading a remaindered book that I recently picked up.  Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded (http://www.amazon.com/Krakatoa-World-Exploded-August-1883/dp/0066212855),  Perfect bedtime reading - packed with fascinating detail yet not so entrancing that I can't read more than a couple of pages before nodding off.  :D
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: alisea on February 03, 2008, 12:35:32 PM
Synchronicity! I'm reading Krakatoa before bed, too :-)
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: deBeauxOs on February 03, 2008, 12:53:07 PM
Some parts are more captivating than others.  Now I'm getting to the section when the earth tremors and volcanic activity are seriously happening, from May 1883 onward.  I read 10 pages last night!  :shock:
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on February 03, 2008, 01:47:20 PM
So you're telling us that the earth moved for you last night?   :groucho-marx:
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: deBeauxOs on February 03, 2008, 02:33:07 PM
But of course.  I need that moment of release to make me feel sleepy.   :twisted:
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: vmichel on June 24, 2008, 08:44:02 PM
Paul Theroux: The Old Patagonia Express. It's a travel narrative about a rail journey from Boston to Patagonia. I am a sucker for this kind of travel book, where the author is cranky but gives beautiful details. His disgust at, say, the wood used in Guatemalan rail cars is of epic proportions but he describes it so richly (while complaining) that I can escape into the car in my mind.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: anne cameron on June 24, 2008, 09:59:06 PM
Just finished "strega" by Andrew Vachss, he's a lawyer specializing in juvenile justice and child abuse cases.  Heavy novel.  Very heavy.  Can't say I "enjoyed" it but I sure couldn't put it down!

Now it's "War at the top of the World" by Eric Margolis.  Heavy in a whole other way.  He has spent a lot of time with Afghan tribal people, and says they value freedom above everything, will endure anything at all rather than allow outsiders to dictate to them.  His image of a wounded soldier heading back to the front..on crutches, one leg amputated.. walking back to rejoin his unit is so stark, so simple, so chilling.

And so far it strenthens my belief that's the wrong war in the wrong place for the wrong reasons and we should insist the government bring the troops home.

While they still can...
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: sparqui on June 25, 2008, 12:10:03 PM
"War on Top of the World" is a damn good read. Definitely heavy but something the pro-Afghanistan occupation fans should read.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: anne cameron on June 25, 2008, 03:03:10 PM
I was a tad ..well, not shocked, not surprised, not even really enough to raise an eyebrow but still...to read part of the on-going mess with India and Kashmir and...can be traced back to the possibility the Brit negotiator, Lord Mountbatten, was probably influenced by his wife Edwina, a strong-willed woman who was openly having an affair with Nehru...now they don't teach THAT in high school Social Studies!!  I think he's the same guy who got blown up with his pleasure craft...Irish, I heard...
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on June 25, 2008, 03:10:29 PM
Also MA Jinnah was not the "people person" that Nehru was.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: deBeauxOs on September 20, 2008, 09:25:41 PM
I have just finished the third book in the Millenium series written by Stieg Larsson (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stieg_Larsson).  Very, very intense political thrillers with a powerful feminist subtext.  They were published in Sweden in 2005 shortly after Larsson's death of a massive cardiovascular attack.  

I read the French translations and I felt that they did not do justice to the original text; although no doubt faithful to the words, they failed to be graceful and enjoyable to read.  What kept me hooked was the incredible characters, their behaviours, the byzantine and complex Swedish cultural and government institutions, and the shocking plot twists and turns.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on September 21, 2008, 03:10:57 PM
whilst sitting in various airport and on the occasional plane (the movie choice was of the IRONMAN variety) I reread P.D. James' An Unsuitable Job For A Woman

I had good memories of the book and was enjoying her writing. If 'the devil is in the details' her angel is in the details of her prose. She can often bore me with her useless (I find) descriptions of designer wall paper and such.

I was shocked to discover that the plot ending was very unsatisfactory. Oh my ....  :annoyed: All through the story she assiduisly sticks to the law and often goes out of her way to comply - then she covers up a murder???

Ah? where is my preparation for this? Where are my hints that she may bend a rule or two? The writing is very good ... but this shocked me.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Caissa on September 22, 2008, 10:41:37 AM
There is a new P.D. James due out for the holiday season.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: anne cameron on September 22, 2008, 12:12:07 PM
Just finished Dead Mans Walk by Larry McMurtry.  Supposed to be the pre-quel to Lonesome Dove, about Gus and Call when they were young men.  Don't bother. I guess he thought he'd give his opinion about the stupidity of war or something.  Or maybe he was just bored with playing with his weener.

A while ago I recommended going back and re-reading Hard Times by Charles Dickens.  If you haven't...do.  And now is a good time to re-read Grapes of Wrath, too!  A very good time to re-read it.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: arborman on September 23, 2008, 01:57:51 AM
I loved a couple of McMurtry books, though it's been at least ten years since I picked one up.  

Currently reading something called 'Jonathon Strange & Mr. Norrell' - a Victorian magician thing.  Slow going as I'm reading it at work, which means 10 minutes a day.  

Also in the hopper - a book about nanotechnology written by a smug Canadian Americaphile that has just about cheerleaded himself off my night table; a deeply depressing book about the Green Zone; a grocery bag full of sci-fi paperbacks a friend gave to me, and about 5 other books strewn about the house.  I suppose I should be a more organized reader, but fork it, I get through them all eventually.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: anne cameron on September 23, 2008, 11:45:31 AM
I consider Lonesome Dove a lifetime find, I've read it umpteen times and enjoy it each time.  Other stuff by McMurtry has been less satisfying and most of what he's written with Diana Osama or whatever her name is just leaves me shaking my head and wondering just how much milk his publishers can get out of an exhausted cow.  His name sells the books, and that's sad.

Haven't been disappointed by James Lee Burke yet, but I read one by his daughter and didn't jump up and down and cheer.  Hopefully she'll improve with practise and aging...
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on September 23, 2008, 11:57:17 AM
McMurtry is a good critic of some things. He turns up in the NY Review of Books sometimes and is always terrific to read. Unpredictable range of interests, good politics. Knows his constitutional history, eg.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: vmichel on November 05, 2008, 03:54:38 PM
I'm halfway through The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek. God bless the used book store by me that has random finds like this for $3! It's definitely unique. I am enjoying it. Has anyone else read it?
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on November 05, 2008, 04:48:19 PM
I haven't read Jelinek, vee -- I only know about her because of her Nobel.

Old lit teacher here, and so I should have read her as soon as I heard about her, but I didn't. I remember that, when she won the Nobel, she declined to attend the ceremonies in person and confessed to agoraphobia, which I found affecting. But that's all I know. Please write us a review -- maybe that will get some of us reading fiction again if you like her.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: vmichel on November 12, 2008, 02:20:33 PM
I have finished The Piano Teacher at last! This was my big maternity leave project -- finish one book before I went back to work! Here is my attempt at a review, which will be disjointed so bear with me.

The Piano Teacher dissects three characters: Erika Kohut, who teaches piano at the Vienna Conservatory and spends her evenings trawling porn shows while looking but not touching; Erika's mother, who has devoted her life to caging and maintaining her daughter; and Walter Klemmer, a young student of Erika's who wants to conquer her.

Jelinek writes these characters as though there was no one else in the world but them, and all the action of the book takes place in a limited number of settings: the Conservatory, Erika and her mother's apartment, and occasional forays into the streets of Vienna. The result feels obsessive, but in a way where you can't put the book down because you are so utterly invested in the small variations of mood in these characters.

It's interesting that Jelinek is agoraphobic. The world in the book is tiny and constrained but that makes the smallest tensions of the characters seem monumental, and I wonder if that's sort of what it feels like for her. The tension in the book is completely overwhelming.

All three of them want to dominate. Erika and her mother have a mother-daughter clash over who controls who. Erika and Walter have a teacher-student and man-woman clash over who must submit sexually. Walter and Erika's mother clash over who owns Erika.

It's one of those books that is very slow going in the beginning, but then the last 10 pages make the whole book worthwhile. There is a resolution, and it's satisfying. Jelinek is going somewhere with all of this, not just spinning her wheels with a narcissistic exploration of mental states. The book has plot, and becomes a page-turner towards the end, which I never would have guessed when I first picked it up.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Caveat: I'm sure that there is a lot of deep meaning in the book that I completely missed!
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on November 13, 2008, 05:44:44 AM
Thanks for that, vee. You make it sound very tempting. I'm considering going to my favourite online bookstore and ordering it, although I have so many unread books here already ... I remember a time in my life when I had read every book I owned. Alas, I think that time will not come again.

Review much appreciated. It sounds as though Jelinek deserved her award.   :)
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on November 18, 2008, 01:44:16 PM
The Literary Review of Canada (on line) has published a review of Margaret Atwood's lecture on Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth.

Interesting enough - it is written by none other than (Lord) Conrad Black. (http://lrc.reviewcanada.ca/index.php?page=what-do-we-owe) Do you suppose he stayed up late at night, under the light of a flickering candle, scribbling with the nub of a pencil, so the tract to be smuggled out the next day in the asshole of an inmate - in return for 'certain favours'?
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Debra on November 18, 2008, 02:17:46 PM
:rotfl:  :rotfl:  :rotfl:
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on November 18, 2008, 02:27:39 PM
Do you get the feeling that Lord Black has a lot of time on his hands?  ;)

Although I admit he's fun to read, that is not a kind of writing that means much to me, not on literature and not on history. He is just kind of stuffing in every name he knows in the Western tradition, and no doubt many of them make sense on the topic, but he never spins out the how. I suspect there's a bit of that in the Atwood original, but he's trying to do her one better, and it's amusing, but.

I think we've heard that Lord Black is doing very well these days and has lots of privileges. He teaches seminars in American history in the gaol, and everyone who is anyone has signed up, including a lot of the guards, apparently.  :mrgreen:
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Toedancer on November 18, 2008, 03:54:35 PM
Lardass said in that review:

Quote
But I do not hold myself out as an authority on the Middle Ages, and I am not now in a place that facilitates the study of them.

 :lol:  Must be some special gaol he's in.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Berlynn on December 11, 2008, 12:27:45 AM
I am currently reading my good-good poet-friend's new book, Cypress (http://www.brickbooks.ca/?page_id=3&bookid=164), a book of meditations on the historic Cypress Hills in southwest SK.  It's an engaging read packed with her spiritual, physical, and emotional energies and those of what Barbara calls "the ghosts" of that place.  She spent a lot of time in those hills, camping in restricted areas with her dog.  Oh, some of the stories she's shared!

I was fortunate enough to get to Saskatoon for her launch in October and hearing her read is a wonderful experience.  She'll be touring in the new year so if you have the opportunity to hear her read, please do so and tell her I sent you!  Kitty, from Brick Books, has been kind enough to send the tour dates, so here ya go.


Quote
Ottawa - Tuesday, January 27 - Tree Reading Series - 8:00 p.m. at the Ottawa Arts Court (at the corner of Daly Avenue and Nicholas Street, just across from the Rideau Centre.)

Fredericton - Wednesday, January 28 - reading at University of New Brunswick - with Randall Maggs

Halifax - Thursday, January 29 - reading at St. Mary’s University - with Randall Maggs

Toronto - Tuesday, February 3 - Art Bar reading series - reading with Richard Sanger and Neal McLeod -- 8:00 pm - at Clinton’s, 693 Bloor Street West, right by Christie Subway Station

Winnipeg - Thursday, February 5 at 7:30 p.m. - Aqua Books, 274 Garry Street (between Portage & Graham). For more information call 204-943-7555

BTW, Torontonians.  Neal McLeod is also a fine poet.  He used to live here.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on December 11, 2008, 06:27:39 AM
"Not speaking for one week" -- marvellous title for a poem about living in the wilderness.

I've often done domesticated camping, but only once have I just trekked off (with a companion) into wild country and tried to survive for a few days. It was true: very quickly, we stopped talking, almost completely. We were working almost all the time, paddling, hiking, setting up camp, building the fire, cooking and cleaning, securing everything (including latrine) so that we would attract minimal wildlife, and then sleeping very deeply. It was wonderful, although I doubt I'm strong enough to do that again.

I know the Cypress Hills from the Alberta side -- south and east from Medicine Hat. It's an amazing experience to drive towards them -- for a time as you turn off the highway and head south, you are on perfectly flat blond prairie. And then all of a sudden, up ahead you see the black hills rising out of nowhere. They are a prehistoric phenom. Lots of elks live there.   :)
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Berlynn on December 11, 2008, 11:51:26 AM
Quote from: skdadl
Lots of elks live there.   :)


And ghosts, too.  Or so I'm told.   :shock:

I read a couple more poems last night.  he one about Stone road is magnifique, too.  Waiting for a stone to speak, not pushing it, just waiting.  I know that feeling. ;)

Oh, it's such a marvy book!
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: brebis noire on March 16, 2009, 08:42:49 AM
I'm reading Erika Ritter's The Dog by the Cradle, The Serpent Beneath. The most compelling non-fiction book I've ever read about animals and animal people - ever. Right up there with Michael Pollan's writing in terms of breadth of research, depth of insight, and significance. Every single thing she writes about has an echo in what I've experienced as a vet or in my personal life. Really, a must-read for anybody who cares about animals.
Here is a brief review, but it doesn't do the book justice, simply because there is so much inside.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ ... books/home (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090227.wbkserpent28/BNStory/globebooks/home)
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on March 16, 2009, 10:05:53 AM
That sounds wonderful, brebis noire. The paradoxes run deep, and it's easier to trust a writer who is trying to keep that understanding in play whatever discrete topic she's discussing.

I had a funny (funny odd) experience last week that you might relate to. I said something in passing about not eating Canadian veal for decades, and a couple of the friends I was eating with immediately whooped with laughter because I was, at that moment, consuming some barbequed beef (not very good, either). So I tried making some distinctions about how the animals live the lives they get, but I was faced with people who were assuming I was a nutbar PETA type who didn't recognize her own contradictions, so I just gave up. (At moments like that, I am lost in wonder that so many people don't read BnR.)

I'm doing light, gossipy reading at the moment. Another friend at that lunch, a Brit, brought me her copy of Sheila Hancock's memoir of her life with her late husband, John Thaw, who some may remember from The Sweeney and Inspector Morse and Kavanagh. I'm not very far along yet, but it is a lot of spunky English comedienne good fun. Sheila, well known as an actress and radio personality in her own right, was nine years older than John and had lost her first husband to cancer. John, like his character Morse, was given to depression and sometimes to drinking, although, just as with Morse, the intelligence and love show through.

So that's a good change of pace for me after all the torture reading.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: lagatta on March 16, 2009, 10:28:18 AM
The veal thing is odd, as I know lots of people here and in other countries who won't touch "milk-fed" veal, as it is well known that the little animals are enclosed in feeding pens in the dark and can't move. Few of these people are vegetarians (it isn't very common in France, for example) and I don't think any of them are particularly addicted to online discussion forums.

"Grain-fed veal" (vitellone in Italian) is simply a younger head of beef cattle, not as large or fattened up. There is no reason not to eat it if one eats beef.

I find the trademark "Delft Blue" veal particularly icky somehow. It is as if they are sanitising it, moreover every time I hear the praises of milk-fed veal, they usually refer to its absolute lack of taste. Might as well eat seitan.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: brebis noire on March 17, 2009, 07:10:36 AM
Quote from: skdadl
That sounds wonderful, brebis noire. The paradoxes run deep, and it's easier to trust a writer who is trying to keep that understanding in play whatever discrete topic she's discussing.

What I'm particularly enjoying are her mini-profiles of people in all kinds of animal realms - I feel like I have a better understanding of Temple Grandin, for example, who has always been a bit of a cypher to me (just from reading other profiles, and even her own book - which is more or less ghostwritten). Ritter has done some very sympathetic portraits of animal rights people - a few men who have done prison for liberating animals from labs and such.
It is amazing how she touches on every single point and detail I've been thinking about over the past few years, and more.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: deBeauxOs on March 17, 2009, 10:01:05 AM
Quote from: brebis noire
... I feel like I have a better understanding of Temple Grandin, for example, who has always been a bit of a cypher to me (just from reading other profiles, and even her own book - which is more or less ghostwritten).
Ah, I didn't know that but I did wonder.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Caissa on March 17, 2009, 02:27:27 PM
Temple Grandin's mother's biography is a good read. It's called a Thorn in My Pocket. I've read a fair bit of Grandin's work since both of our sons have Aspergers.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: brebis noire on March 17, 2009, 02:57:20 PM
Thanks Caissa - will look into that. I might have used the word cypher wrt to Grandin a bit loosely - I didn't mean to imply that she has no weight or influence - quite the opposite in fact; what I meant to say was that I never got a sense of who she was or what she was about in the many things I'd read about her and by her, until now. Not so much wrt to autism - I'm more interested in how she relates to animals. I still find her to be rather insondable, and I always wondered how much of that was due to being autistic, and how much was due to being one of those practical and technical academic types one meets in the US in certain fields. I figure it's about half-half, after reading Ritter's encounter and impressions.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: vmichel on May 27, 2009, 10:21:14 PM
I just finished two amazing books: Kindred, by Octavia E. Butler, and Ariadne by June Brindel. I think that many here would love both of them.

Kindred is about a modern black woman who travels through time to an antebellum plantation in the south. She keeps getting called back to save her ancestor, a white plantation boy, from various near-death predicaments. Her husband is white, and he comes back with her for a portion of the experience. She explores how a modern black woman and white man might be changed by the experience of living in those circumstances, and what it takes to dehumanize someone.

Ariadne is a re-telling of the Minos myth. It traces the fall of Goddess-worship in Greece. The language is lush and gorgeous -- any poets here should definitely read it! I think it's out of print, though  :( I read a used copy.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Berlynn on May 27, 2009, 10:43:47 PM
Quote from: vmichel
Ariadne is a re-telling of the Minos myth. It traces the fall of Goddess-worship in Greece. The language is lush and gorgeous -- any poets here should definitely read it! I think it's out of print, though  :( I read a used copy.

I'm extremely interested in this one.  Is this (http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=1266778652&searchurl=fromanz%3Dfromanz%26sortby%3D96%26sts%3Dt%26tn%3Dariadne%26x%3D26%26y%3D10) it?
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on May 27, 2009, 11:27:22 PM
A must-read is Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower, if you haven't read it already.  It's story of near-future economic collapse.  When I read it in 2005, I thought, "Wow!  This is disturbingly realistic and plausible."   And I am sorry to say that my assessment is unchanged.  If anything, the novel is more prophetic than it was before.  Butler may have pulled her punches by setting it in 2025.  In hindsight, it is plausible to set it in 2015.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Toedancer on May 28, 2009, 12:03:10 AM
Mandos I love reading what your reading. I think you should take pity on us poor folks and box up your novels and send them to us for a reading frenzy!
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on May 28, 2009, 12:48:30 AM
I haven't read this one recently.   I read it in 2005 but some of it is burned into my brain.  vmichel mentioned Butler.

Usually I get these things from the library myself.  I have a small collection of works I've purchased, which I do more often now.  I have the entire Foreigner series by C. J. Cherryh including the most recent Conspirator, as well as her recent sequel to Cyteen written 20 years after the original, called Regenesis. I am a complete C. J. Cherryh addict and fanboy. I have China Miéville's Perdido Street Station and his hilarious new children's book Un Lun Dun.  James Alan Gardner's Radiant and David Brin's Heaven's Reach, but not the books before them in their respective series'.  

Then I have a lot of technical books.

I'd be very happy to lend them out, but the S&H to Canada would cost as much as a new book and most of these are now in paperback.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Toedancer on May 28, 2009, 01:01:41 AM
Ha-ha, all of it sounds just great. I get all my novels from variety village and going there Saturday for a stock-up. I'm a Kay Scarpetta fan. Right now I'm reading a novel by a x-army, x-spook who starts in Basra '05 protecting  2 journos and camerman. I just found out my Tennyson first edition 18-something is worth over $300. Didn't know that, found out on the net.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on May 28, 2009, 06:54:26 AM
I have just finished a P.D. James ..... A Certain Justice.

My feeling about 'ol PD are somewhat ambivalent. She was a big supporter of Maggie Thatcher, and I always wondered how much that POV intruded into her stories. Her plot are usually good and she has a great character in Adam Dalgliesh - but far too often she drifts off into lengthy and non-essential descriptions of things like the wall paper or a scenic vista: maybe lovely, but advances neither the story nor enlightens the characters.   :drift_police:

This one is a goodie .... she still does tend to wander off into lush descriptions, but this time they are salient and connected. There are also so many lines and plot threads that it takes some organizing of the mind to follow all of them. (Isn't that what detective stories are for?) Published in 1998 - one of her better ones.  :D
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: vmichel on May 28, 2009, 05:33:04 PM
Yes Berlyn, that's it. It's worth it! Buy it!
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: deBeauxOs on July 12, 2009, 07:16:47 PM
Just finished Sherri S. Tepper's Six Moon Dance.  A very good story with clever plot twists though not her best. Grass and  A Gate To Women's Country are still my favourite.  There's a long, great interview with her here (http://www.strangehorizons.com/2008/20080721/szpatura-a.shtml).  On holiness (she writes a lot about religious constructs):
Quote
Well, look at Mother Teresa. She spent her whole life being holy. She didn't benefit anyone in any real sense. She didn't work on stopping disease, helping poverty, doing anything that would relieve the condition of her countrymen. She just went around the city, picked up dying people, and took care of them while they died. It was a good thing, no doubt, but it meant no betterment, no progress, no help, no relief from pain. She longed to be holy. She wanted to be a saint. Now she's a saint.

[Jonas] Salk [inventor of the Salk polio vaccine] isn't a saint. But he did more for the human race than Mother Teresa did. He didn't long to be holy, which meant having faith, not asking questions, doing something unpleasant without thought or complaint. He longed to do good, which meant finding things out, asking hard questions, and thinking hard, deep thoughts. Goodness and holiness are two different things, unfortunately.
On domestic companions:
Quote
I have four cats, five as of today. Jefe is my bed cat, a rescued abandoned cat who adopted me to live with. Over the last few days we've acquired Mauser. He was a tomcat (looks like half Siamese, half tabby) who lived in our barn and we found him scavenging for food. We trapped him, took him to the vet, checked him for feline leukemia (which we do not want to fool with—bad stuff), neutered him, got him all his vaccinations and everything, and let him go back to living in the barn, only now he gets daily rations.

Bothersome, Troublesome, and Ginger Peachy are three kittens I fostered for the local animal rescue society. They live in the office. I have four dogs, ten goats, twenty sheep, fifty or sixty chickens, three burros, and a whole bunch of rabbits. I also have about ten people, only one of whom is actually related to me.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on July 13, 2009, 12:43:42 AM
I find Tepper, while a very good writer, oddly...inhumane at times.  Take her attitude towards alcoholics and addicts in the interview.  She has a tendency towards severe answers, and dictators-for-a-day, and it shows through in her writing.  

Likewise, I have a huge fondness for the work of Julian May (particularly her amazing Galactic Milieu universe), but all through her writings there is a very disturbing streak of fascism.  Lots of Teilhard-de-Chardin-style Catholic frippery, though, very entertaining, and a massive plot whose details are kept oh so consistent.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: lagatta on July 13, 2009, 07:29:40 AM
Yes, I glanced at that interview, and her "definition of humans" is authoritarian indeed.

And very odd for a so-called "ecofeminist" to centre her harshness towards a drunk driver (which I'd share for other reasons) on the person's substance abuse and not his or her car abuse. An ecologist who doesn't question car use is no ecologist.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: vmichel on July 13, 2009, 10:54:25 AM
This was a provocative quote from that interview:

Quote
There is absolutely no difference between a writer doing a book about torture and pain for the delectation of perverts and a Roman emperor ordering a few dozen or hundred slaves into the arena to be tortured and killed by gladiators or beasts for the delectation of perverts, which, at that time, most of the population were because they had been taught to be. They had been taught what entertainment was. Our children are also taught what entertainment is. Rap singers teach. Horror and dismemberment movies teach. Horror writers teach. School assassins teach. Judges who let drunk drivers off with a slap on the wrist teach. Religions that "forgive" murder with no requirement for public confession and trial teach.
(bolding mine)

I disagree strongly with the bolded part. I think that we have desires and interests that we are captive to, and sublimating those desires through art, or fiction, or imagination is often the only humane alternative. If I get off on slaves being killed, well, I see no harm in reading and writing about slaves being killed. Those are my private thoughts and fantasies, and I am accountable to no one for them.

The one who orders actual people to be killed -- he's a murderer. Not the one who likes to read and write about it.

The second part of the quote did give me pause, however. I think she has a point that children learn what is entertaining from us, and if we teach them that murder is entertainment then we are teaching them to dehumanize others.

I don't know how to reconcile the first thought with the second. If we give our minds free reign (which I think we should), then I suppose we have to be extremely careful with what we allow our children to see of our thoughts and minds, and that sets up a whole host of problems. We aren't open, we are concealing, and we are teaching our kids that their thoughts might be worthy of shame. Also we will do a terrible job hiding our voyeuristic pleasures from children.

Those are sort of half-formed thoughts, so feel free to pick away at them.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: arborman on July 13, 2009, 11:09:19 AM
I don't like that either, and it is nothing to do with desires or sublimation.  I just don't think there is an objective way to pick which art forms are appropriate and which are destructive.

Of course, when it comes to supremacist writings or other awfulness, I am less comfortable.  But I also think that the price to society of censorship outweighs the impact of allowing the worst among us to publish.  Because once censorship is allowed, the nature of authority is to expand its mandate.  And I don't trust those in authority, mostly.  

I have watched many movies which feature violence, and read many more books which feature violence.  I have played video games (the moral panic of this decade) which portray violence.  And I am a very peaceful person.  As are many millions of others who have done the same.  Violence isn't taught by art - it is taught by social norms and what we accept in our society.  

Not that I don't see a link between the endless action movie tropes and the mindless militarism of the US and some others.  I just think the way is to make better movies, not ban them or start picking & choosing.  Hollywood could be shut down tomorrow, permanently, and I suspect the Pentagon would not be impacted in the least.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: deBeauxOs on July 13, 2009, 11:29:51 AM
Yeah, that gave me pause and made me think about the responsibilities of those who create and destroy.  It's a thread-worthy topic.  More later, working at the moment and just dropped in.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: arborman on July 14, 2009, 01:45:14 AM
Quote from: vmichel
I think she has a point that children learn what is entertaining from us, and if we teach them that murder is entertainment then we are teaching them to dehumanize others.

I don't know how to reconcile the first thought with the second. If we give our minds free reign (which I think we should), then I suppose we have to be extremely careful with what we allow our children to see of our thoughts and minds, and that sets up a whole host of problems. We aren't open, we are concealing, and we are teaching our kids that their thoughts might be worthy of shame. Also we will do a terrible job hiding our voyeuristic pleasures from children.

Those are sort of half-formed thoughts, so feel free to pick away at them.

We are, most of us, entertained by characters facing challenges.  The reality of the world we live in is that many challenges are violent.  Many others have the threat of violence.  And many of the stories we find interesting involve people in extreme situations - if I wanted to read about bleak drudgery I'd stick to CanLit (TM).  Most of us root for the good guys & gals.  But if we force everyone to watch and read nothing but sweet glurge all day it won't help the kids at all.

Our job is to teach children what is appropriate in behaviour towards other people, themselves and the world.  We can't do that, not really, if we hide the world from them or pretend some aspects don't exist.  It doesn't work with sex and it won't work with anything else.  Better to be honest and help them learn them what is appropriate through demonstration and conversation.

Right now my 4 year old is constantly coming up with hypothetical situations where it might be appropriate to use violence.  'Daddy, what would you do if a bad guy came into our house?'  'Ask him to leave'  'But what if he wanted to hurt us?'  'I'd stop him'  'Would you shoot him?'  'I don't have a gun'  'What if he tried to take me away?' etcetera.

He isn't worried or insecure (I hope), he is trying to figure out where the line is - when proscribed actions become acceptable.  He knows hitting is bad, but he knows that sometimes it is less bad.  I know I won't help him learn if I shut down those conversations and shield him from anything related - it will just confuse him.  Better to help him sort it out as best I can.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on July 14, 2009, 05:55:48 AM
Quote
There is absolutely no difference between a writer doing a book about torture and pain for the delectation of perverts and a Roman emperor ordering a few dozen or hundred slaves into the arena to be tortured and killed by gladiators or beasts for the delectation of perverts,

Sounds like a Mel Gibson movie.

Quote
But I also think that the price to society of censorship outweighs the impact of allowing the worst among us to publish. Because once censorship is allowed, the nature of authority is to expand its mandate. And I don't trust those in authority, mostly.

Very well put.  :highfive
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Toedancer on September 29, 2009, 02:00:20 PM
H/T Dawg's Blawg.

Mallick reviews Atwood's The Year of the Flood (http://www.cbc.ca/arts/books/story/2009/09/25/f-mallick-book-atwood.html) Yum!
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: steffie on September 29, 2009, 04:19:40 PM
I can't wait to read The Year of the Flood!!

Right now I am reading The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Carlos Castaneda.  I found it at my local library's annual book sale, for a buck.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on September 29, 2009, 04:48:39 PM
I'm reading Diana Athill's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diana_Athill) latest memoir, Somewhere towards the End (2008). Diana is 92, and I'm sure she's got at least one more of these in her.

I knew and worked with Diana in London in 1970-71. Small coincidence: she was also at the time Atwood's English editor -- I don't know who publishes Atwood in the UK now. Diana is just a force of nature -- I wish I could see her again, but we're probably running out of chances.

What are her memoirs about? Well, she is/was a daughter of a particular kind of English privilege, East Anglian country gentry, who got the Oxford education and then went bohemian in London during the war and remained defiantly declassed for the rest of her life. She lived a kind of double life -- she couldn't have played the role in publishing that she did without the class privilege, but in her personal life she was defiantly unconventional and pretty much unconcerned about people's reactions to that (an attitude that is a kind of class privilege in itself, of course).

She fascinates me because I knew her and never quite figured her out, but admired her and liked her.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Berlynn on September 29, 2009, 06:03:13 PM
Thanks for reviving this thread.  I'm also looking forward to Atwood's new book.  Heather Mallick's reviewis great!

I have 3 new books I'm sinking into.  

Life In The Canopy (http://hagiospress.com/?s=upcomingtitles&pid=43) by a parent-friend, neighbour and poet, Bruce Rice with photographs by my dear friend and sister in song, Cherie Westmoreland (http://www.cheriewestmoreland.ca/).  Well, ok, I've already read this cover-to-cover in one sitting, but I'm going through it again, at a more leisurely pace.

Thin Moon Psalm (http://www.brickbooks.ca/?page_id=3&bookid=162) by Sheri Benning which I just picked up last night.

Of all the ways to die (http://www.quattrobooks.ca/books.html), a novella by my dear and wonderful friend, Brenda Niskala (launching in T.O. very soon).  I think I should send Quattro to Debra to redo their website, however.

And oh, did I rave about Di Brandt's essay collection, So this is the world and here I am in it (http://www.newestpress.com/catalog/virtuemart/8451.html)?  Iread it this summer and fell in love!

And I'm finishing up reviews on Robert Currie's, Witness (http://hagiospress.com/?s=&pid=41) and John Livingstone Clark's, Man reading Woman reading in bath (http://www.thistledownpress.com/manreading.html).

Then there's the mags...  Oh!  It is so good to have new glasses with the correct prescription!  My eyes no longer get tired and sore from reading!!! :reading  :cool:
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Caissa on September 30, 2009, 12:32:15 PM
I just finished The Audacity of Hope, this morning.
Read his other book earlier this month. Enjoyed both of them.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on September 30, 2009, 02:11:31 PM
Quote from: Caissa
I just finished The Audacity of Hope, this morning.
Read his other book earlier this month. Enjoyed both of them.

"Enjoyed"? Does that mean you feel warm and fussy and $35 poorer?
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Caissa on September 30, 2009, 03:07:17 PM
I think his political analysis was better in the first book. The second book clearly puts him to the "left" in the US. I'd enjoy having beers with Obama.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on October 01, 2009, 12:28:36 PM
Quote from: Caissa
I think his political analysis was better in the first book. The second book clearly puts him to the "left" in the US. I'd enjoy having beers with Obama.

I think it was during the 'tour' for book #2 where he ended up on Opra and she endorsed him in his bid for Pres. I saw part of that.

As for left/right, by the time he wrote that book he probably had made up his mind to make his run and it probably should be looked at a political document in the context of a presidential race. Various Bushes had defined what Americans see as the 'right' and sucked big time - Clinton's politics are rather idiosyncratic, they are his and no one else's - so he was defining his place in the American spectrum.  

As for a beer - I recall a story from Hunter S. Thompson, who began his career as a sports writer. Nixon was in Boston and was going to drive to New York. He chose Thompson to accompany him in the limo: under the provision that they could only talk about sports - and stay far away from politics.  (Thompson was impressed with Nixon extensive knowledge of sports.)

If I were going to have a beer with a Pres. - I would consider Bush II, so I could berate him, unmercifully, for the Texas Rangers.

As it is - a Stella Artois (or two, or three, or .....), yesterday with Mandos was politically enlightening. A few more times and I shall have him totally indoctrinated in 'croggythink' where he rejects the all evul  :twisted:  in the world specifically nuclear power and the designated hitter rule. We do agree that the moral decline of the west began with the introduction of tea bags in 1905.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Caissa on October 01, 2009, 01:34:38 PM
I was with you Crog until you started criticzing the DH. Luddite!!
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on October 01, 2009, 02:08:37 PM
Quote from: Caissa
I was with you Crog until you started criticzing the DH. Luddite!!

Quote
Luddite, David Harold: 1903-1956 American baseball and sports figure. Life time average 3.35.
Was know for flummoxing physicists at MIT by striking out 7 batters in one game using his rising fact ball, that they said was a physical impossibility.

life time record:

Team               gp    w/l     era  

1921 Boston       110    75/35       3.27
1923 Cincinnati   215    120/95      3.11
1924/33             455    290/165    4.41

Luddite was known for his adherence to baseball's competition rules - and rejected all claims of spit balls and unreasoned change. He once appeared on the pitcher's mound clad only in a jock strap to protest a change in his teams uniforms he did not agree with.

source: crogapedia
[/i]
Yes, Caissa I am a proud Luddite.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on October 01, 2009, 02:18:21 PM
:lol:
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Caissa on October 01, 2009, 02:31:44 PM
I'll stick with Charlie Finley.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: steffie on October 01, 2009, 07:45:52 PM
Alice Munro.  Open Secrets.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: deBeauxOs on October 10, 2009, 10:02:45 PM
Beautiful Shadow - a life of Patricia Highsmith (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patricia_Highsmith) by Andrew Wilson.

I've read a few of her novels and short stories.  She adroitly steers the reader through a number of complex and at times, contradictory emotions, stirred by the various situations her fascinating characters encounter.  Her writing is concise, her view amoral.  She never tips over into the realm of gothicism and cringe-provocation where Joyce Carol Oates lives.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: vmichel on November 08, 2009, 11:36:15 AM
I'm indulging in a fantasy mood with two choices: Numbers in the Darkby Italo Calvino, and Lilith's Brood by Octavia E. Butler. Calvino is a nice surprise -- I hadn't read anything by him, but it opens with a series of very short fables that are little jewels. This quote from the introduction has been spinning in my mind:

Quote
One writes fables in periods of oppression. When a man cannot give clear form to his thinking, he expresses it in fables. These little stories correspond to a young man's political and social experiences during the death throes of Fascism.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on November 08, 2009, 04:10:45 PM
I've never read that collection, vee, but I've loved everything of Calvino's that I've read. He's just a born story-teller, one of those writers who charms even when he's telling hard truths. I'll look for Numbers in the Dark.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on November 09, 2009, 01:45:00 AM
Apparently the first posthumous installment of Robert Jordan's gargantuan Wheel of Time epic is out.  It's one of three novels because apparently the intended ending of the series is simply too long to fit in one 800-page hardcover.  This is officially Volume 12.  I took a peek at it at the bookstore (I lost patience with the series at about book nine, but I still check in to see the overall plot twists), and I do think that the style (particularly dialog) is noticeably different with the new writer even if the setting and plot are seem consistent.  The latter was expected because once Jordan knew he was going to die, he generated huge volumes of notes for his successor.

I sometimes wonder what a civilization 2K years hence might say, stumbling upon these books.  We've generated way more Teutonic myth than anything the actual Teutonics made.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Catchfire on November 09, 2009, 02:30:18 PM
Robert Jordan died? Wow, that must tick off a lot of people. I picked up Eye of the World when I was 12 or something, and gave up about seven years later. Thank goodness. I remember the back of his books saying something like "He intends to write until they nail shut his coffin." It sounded ominous at the time and, it turns out, prophetic.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on November 09, 2009, 03:08:55 PM
Yeah, he died a couple of years ago IIRC (of cancer, which took 2-3 years to kill him from diagnosis, and I think he emitted two volumes during his treatment, or something like that).  Apparently originally he planned to burn his notes to prevent a successor, but then realized what a disservice it would be to all the people who loved his work, all 11 gargantuan tomes of it, and he instead decided to document everything so that people could know the ending which, apparently, he had envisioned in his mind from Day 1.

His widow/editor (Heather McDougal) went through the novels of other fantasy writers, and chose the one she thought best fit her husband's style and vision to complete the work.

Like it or hate it (I'm in between), no one in fantasy, at least, if not other genres, has managed to pull off what Jordan did even up to the point of his death.  George R. R. Martin is trying, but I gather the latest tome is not doing so well.   Terry Goodkind was never competition.  Tolkien did it at a bird's eye view level, but his longest work is only about a fifth as long as what Jordan's work will eventually turn out to be; still, he wins the originality crown, which Jordan definitely does not (much of it is an extended fantasy version of Dune, Aes Sedai == Bene Gesserit).  Julian May in the SF world did accomplish at least something on the same scale, with a consistent ending envisioned decades in advance (Galactic Milieu universe).

But the idea of writing world-historical events in a fantasy setting with a realistically-sized cast of major players (hundreds), describing the time frame in a realistic manner with a realistic amount of detail with little glossing over ("Three months later..."), well, that takes precision.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on November 09, 2009, 03:13:29 PM
BTW, aside from that, another dead fantasy writer you may know about is David Eddings.  I totally grew up on Eddings' totally formulaic plots but very, very lovable characters.  Almost as much influence on me as the Transformers, but less than CJ Cherryh's novels.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: brebis noire on November 22, 2009, 01:31:59 PM
I just finished reading Dewey: The small-town library cat who touched the world (http://www.deweyreadmorebooks.com/deweyvideos.php). Talk about a five-hanky book. Sheesh. And not in a sentimental way either. The author is a pretty tough lady librarian from Iowa who made a fateful decision to adopt a kitten for the library, and it went on to make history. A very slight read, but a good kitty book all the same. The videos are pretty good too.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on December 13, 2009, 05:22:43 PM
I may never read a book by Robert D. Kaplan - more so now that I have read this article on his collected works. But if i ever see one by Tom Bissell, (http://www.vqronline.org/articles/2006/summer/bissell-euphoria-perrier/) I shall immediately scoop it up.

Chock full of such revealing quotes such as this one on how the working class does not mind dying for the great glory of ..... well, of the great glory:
Quote
The grunts’ unpretentious willingness to die was also a product of their working-class origins. The working classes had always been accustomed to rough, unfair lives and turns. They had less of an articulated and narcissistic sense of self than the elites, and could subsume their egos more easily inside a prideful unit identity.  

Way to go, Tom. This guy has got to be exposed for the fool he is. (http://www.vqronline.org/articles/2006/summer/bissell-euphoria-perrier/)

corrected to give a h/t to pogge for bringing it to my attention.  :D
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: brebis noire on December 16, 2009, 07:31:59 PM
I'm reading through a series of books that were turned into Disney (or non-Disney)  films from the 1950s to the 1990s. Gentle Ben, Old Yeller, , The Incredible Journey, Black Beauty and all those classics; I hope to find other ones as well. Ahem, it's for research.  :)
One book that had been sitting on my shelf unnoticed for years is the Penguin edition of Thomasina (sometimes subtitled as The Cat who Thought She was God, but not in this edition). I'm astonished to realise I'd never read it, not even as a kid. The Disney movie, from the mid-60s, was "The Three Lives of Thomasina" and I must've seen it, but don't remember it at all, except for the song. Does anyone remember Thomasina? (I'm looking at you lagatta ;-)  )
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: lagatta on December 16, 2009, 08:46:07 PM
Oh yes of course I remember Thomasina; think she was a classic case of humans getting the sex of kittens wrong. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Three_ ... _Thomasina (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Three_Lives_of_Thomasina)

No surprise it is based on a book by Paul Gallico who wrote a lot of books about cats and other beasts and beasties. Nowadays he is considered a very sentimental writer. But A Silent Miaow had insights into cat communication not to be found in more "serious" books back then. I auso picked up a copy of this one for a quarter at a church bazaar: http://www.paulgallico.info/smallmiracle.html (http://www.paulgallico.info/smallmiracle.html) because it is about Assisi, in Umbria which I know well.

You should also look up the original Bambi - no, I don't mean you have to read it in Viennese German - but it has a harsh Mitteleuropeaisch sensibility about life, death, cruelty and suffering. Even the Disneyfied version has a bit of that, but much more in the Austrian original. Should be available online. Bambi's creator was Felix Salten.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: brebis noire on December 17, 2009, 09:24:17 AM
Thanks lagatta, that is actually very useful to me. I hope I can pick up a few of these old novels that were so exploited by Disney (I don't know if that was a good or bad thing; at least Disney brought these stories to popular attention) in their original form.

I'd love to read Gallico's stories of Jennie and The Snow Goose as well. I don't like to think of myself as a sentimentalist, but I do continue to believe in the kind of emotion that can change people and situations.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: steffie on December 22, 2009, 08:45:08 PM
A Christmas Carol (http://www.literature.org/authors/dickens-charles/christmas-carol/chapter-01.html)

Quote
Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Mind! I don't mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country's done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on December 22, 2009, 09:28:15 PM
"I don't deserve to be so happy. But I can't help it. I just can't help it." (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7NfDuDh0Uc&feature=related)

For some of us of a certain age, there is no Christmas without Alastair Sim.

My dad and I used to watch that movie together every year. Everyone else got bored after twenty years or so of watching it, but he and I would hang together, just waiting for the uncontrollable fits of laughter.

Drat. They won't let us embed that vid.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Debra on December 22, 2009, 10:32:33 PM
Quote
there is no Christmas without Alastair Sim

Indeed! and it must, MUST be in B&W
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on December 23, 2009, 12:58:19 AM
Two books of note that I've recently read:

1. I just finished Atwood's The Year of the Flood.  it is, if anything, better than Oryx and Crake, which was good, but all things considered, very middle-of-the-road science fiction that fits well within a populated genre.  In The Year of the Flood, Atwood really distinguishes her dystopia.  

Oryx and Crake really focuses on the High Tragic Drama of three characters whose interactions decide the fate of an extremely decadent and decaying human race.  The Year of the Flood retells the story from the point of view of the "little people" and side characters in O&C, and in a sort of "Crash"-like, everything-is-connected sort of way, shows how the interactions of the little people and the background are really in some ways more crucial to the world than the High Tragic Drama.  Without the God's Gardeners and the peripheral people, Crake may never have become who he was and done what he did.

TYotF explains so much about the dystopia that we didn't know before.

2. Before that, I read Eifelheim by Michael Flynn, which I also very much enjoyed.  Briefly: what happens when a shipful of aliens crash lands near a Swiss village during the Black Death?  I put it a bit comically, but the story is actually deeply emotionally affecting.   It focuses on a priest, Dietrich, who has fled the urban academic-ecclesiastical life of Paris to minister to the village and manor of Oberhochwald, and his discovery of the aliens and his attempt to incorporate them and their lives into his own worldview, and into the life of a  community menaced by the plague slowly working its way towards them---when the aliens themselves are doomed because the Earth's biology doesn't give them the sustenance they need.

Flynn uses the potential of mistranslation very well to make points about human life while also incorporating some interesting hard-SF speculation on time and space.  For example, Dietrich attempts to explain Jesus Christ to the aliens, who initially take it that Jesus is an energy being who will return to "save" them any time now...

At the same time, we follow an academic couple from our very near future, Tom and Sharon.  Tom is a practitioner of a new kind of mathematical history called "cliology", and Sharon is a physicist questioning the constancy of the speed of light.  Tom's models fail to explain why the site of Oberhochwald wasn't resettled after the Black Death---and when he goes to find medieval writings about Oberhochwald, he finds strange references and tantalizing hints to...problems that relate to Sharon's work.

Anyway, a wonderful, well-rounded work of hard-SF and contact fiction, the latter being a favorite subgenre of SF of mine.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: arborman on December 23, 2009, 10:05:54 AM
On the bus this morning I'll be starting Charles Stross' book 'The Jennifer Morgue', which is a follow-up to his playful book 'the Atrocity Archives'.  Because every one of his books is so very different from the others, it was unexpected to find a second book in this theme.  Hooray - because the first was good fun (The Office crossed with Lovecraft).
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: steffie on December 23, 2009, 12:24:37 PM
There's a book under my tree for me (The Year of the Flood).  The tag says:  To: Mom   From: Son   :lol:

(It's wrapped, yes; but, I told him what to get for me.)

Glad for the review.  Thanky.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on December 23, 2009, 12:54:12 PM
Quote from: steffie
 The tag says:  To: Mom   From: Son   :lol:


 :rotfl:

How old is he, steffie?
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: steffie on December 23, 2009, 02:49:03 PM
Quote
:rotfl:

How old is he, steffie?

Seventeen.  Consequently, he only wants one thing for Xmas.   (money!)   :?
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on December 23, 2009, 03:18:09 PM
:D

Boys are so cute. In their way. If you can be patient with them. Until they're about fifty.  ;)
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Boom Boom on December 23, 2009, 03:57:05 PM
I can do cute. And I'm 60. :age:
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on December 23, 2009, 04:02:05 PM
Oh, that's what I meant! They're better after fifty!   :mrgreen:
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Boom Boom on December 23, 2009, 04:59:08 PM
Takes us a bit of time to warm up for the home stretch, is all. :D
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Toedancer on December 23, 2009, 10:05:40 PM
Quote from: Mandos
Two books of note that I've recently read:

1. I just finished Atwood's The Year of the Flood.  it is, if anything, better than Oryx and Crake, which was good, but all things considered, very middle-of-the-road science fiction that fits well within a populated genre.  In The Year of the Flood, Atwood really distinguishes her dystopia.  

Oryx and Crake really focuses on the High Tragic Drama of three characters whose interactions decide the fate of an extremely decadent and decaying human race.  The Year of the Flood retells the story from the point of view of the "little people" and side characters in O&C, and in a sort of "Crash"-like, everything-is-connected sort of way, shows how the interactions of the little people and the background are really in some ways more crucial to the world than the High Tragic Drama.  Without the God's Gardeners and the peripheral people, Crake may never have become who he was and done what he did.

TYotF explains so much about the dystopia that we didn't know before.

Thanks Mandos, it helped me to choose. (for gift)
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: arborman on December 23, 2009, 11:10:31 PM
I know it's practically treasonous, but I found Oryx & Crake to be wholly predictable, simplistic, moralizing fiction.  Within the context of science fiction it has been done, and better, many times.  But never by a 'serious' novelist, I guess.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Toedancer on December 23, 2009, 11:12:16 PM
But what about Year of the Flood, did you read that Arborman? I already got both for the kid's flight and she is very critical.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on December 24, 2009, 01:17:22 AM
As a walking SF bibliography, or used to be: I agree that O&C is a bit derivative and the ground has already been covered by other SF writers.  eg Octavia Butler's amazing Parable of the Sower, which is a better novel in some ways.  But I give it extra credit for introducing this genre to a readership that wouldn't otherwise, as I understand it, often consider reading futuristic work.  It's in that sense that it is very good.

I thought that in TYotF, Atwood moves to carve out much more of her own "brand" in this genre and made a world that was a bit derivative in O&C into something more her own.  The God's Gardeners/humanization of science theme is somewhat more original, I thought.  Which is to say that I thought it was a better novel than O&C and fleshes out the narrow fish-eye view we got in O&C.

My only wish is that Atwood would spend a little more time giving credit to the genre on which she is clearly drawing, rather than try to distance herself from it.  *Most* of SF is not about talking space squids, and when it is, it is sometimes very good (David Brin's Uplift series is all about the talking space squids, and it is brilliant).
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Berlynn on December 29, 2009, 05:24:46 PM
This week, when I finished Good to a Fault (http://www.harpercollins.com/books/9780061986208/Good_To_a_Fault/index.aspx) I immediately sent a message to Marina Endicott praising it.  What a fantastic read!  I'd planned to read it when I heard her read from it this summer, before it hit the Canada Reads list.  I began reading at noon on Boxing Day and was interrupted several times throughout the day so that by 2 a.m. I was not yet finished.  Being that I was tired, I decided to hit the hay.  However, I could not sleep!  The characters were alive in my head and I needed to know how it all ended.  So I got out of bed and finished it.  Went back to bed at 5.  Fortunately, the kiddos are old enough to fend for themselves and we had no plans until the afternoon!
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on December 29, 2009, 07:22:24 PM
Whenever I hear of a Canadian writer named Endicott, I think of James, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Gareth_Endicott#Relationship_with_Canadian_Communists) his father (also James), and his son Stephen. I wonder whether Marina is related to them.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Berlynn on December 29, 2009, 07:56:26 PM
I know nothing of her relations.  I do know that she was very active in the Saskatchewan Playwright's Centre some 20 years ago, just before I became involved in the writing community here.  Several friends speak very highly of her.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: arborman on December 29, 2009, 11:28:02 PM
Quote from: Mandos
My only wish is that Atwood would spend a little more time giving credit to the genre on which she is clearly drawing, rather than try to distance herself from it.  *Most* of SF is not about talking space squids, and when it is, it is sometimes very good (David Brin's Uplift series is all about the talking space squids, and it is brilliant).

This, and how.  Many truly brilliant writers are producing utterly excellent and imaginative novels within science fiction.  Atwood comes along (or comes back, more accurately), lifts a couple of overworn tropes, throws in some Oprah level moralizing, and adds a buff of Canlit legitimacy - ta-da, a 'speculative fiction' novel.  Not that lowly thoughtful science fiction - that reeks of Star Trek conventions and Buck Rogers nonsense.  Oh no, this is SERIOUS fiction.  Not because it is good, or better than even the average sf novel, but because it was Atwood.

Seriously, moral collapse/nihilism leading to disaster/apocalypse?
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on December 30, 2009, 02:21:42 AM
arborman: Ursula le Guin did a review in the Guardian of TYotF and says this:
Quote
I feel obliged to respect her wish, although it forces me, too, into a false position. I could talk about her new book more freely, more truly, if I could talk about it as what it is, using the lively vocabulary of modern science-fiction criticism, giving it the praise it deserves as a work of unusual cautionary imagination and satirical invention. As it is, I must restrict myself to the vocabulary and expectations suitable to a realistic novel, even if forced by those limitations into a less favourable stance.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/au ... r-of-flood (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/aug/29/margaret-atwood-year-of-flood)

I agree with the spirit of this (and the rest of the review too, for that matter) with one exception.  Le Guin thinks that she would give it a better review if she could review it as science fiction, whereas I'm willing to give it a good review by viewing it through the goggles of Atwood's desire to avoid the SF ghetto.  Because you're right: it has been done before, and will be done again, by more skilled hands...inside the SF ghetto, with the more limited market of SF fans.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on December 30, 2009, 05:38:35 AM
The more common position among "literary" peeps is that there is good writing and bad writing and many things in between, and while there are genre categories that make literary sense, notions about genre ghettos aren't among them. I'm surprised, actually, that either Le Guin (whom I consider a great writer) or Atwood (whom I consider a great critic, and a good poet) would bother with the debate. I mean, the answer to the debate is fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, y'know?

I taught so-called sf for a while in the 70s and early 80s, liked a lot of it, was bored by a lot of it, and then went back to reading as I please. Much so-called sf is what Frygians would consider epic-ish, or romance, which is what the true epic becomes in later historical cycles of a culture. The epic and the romance are great literary forms; nothing wrong with them; in some periods they really speak to a lot of people, and in other periods they don't. I can admire a great epic or a great romance, have admired many of them, but they're not really my genre, so I quit reading them. I'm sure Tolkien is pretty good, and even J.K. Rowling is pretty good -- they just bore me. Homer bores me, frankly. I mean, I was interested when I first studied him, was doing the detective work figuring out the form, but I don't read him the way I read novels I love or great essays.

"Originality" matters in some ways and not in others. That someone is working with an ancient meme -- that's just the way literature works. Give any good Frygian a piece of modern writing, and she should be able to rhyme off one particular thread of Western recorded history that has all fed into that book, whether the modern author has read all of those models or not. You don't have to have read the KJV, eg, to be defined by it -- if you speak English, that's what you're speaking (among a few other foundational things). It's a question of structure and attitude, and there aren't that many of those.

Both Le Guin and Atwood are highly trained on this turf; both are great critics, I think, and Atwood is essence of Frygian. I like Atwood best as an essayist -- when she really gets going on other people's romances, she is unbeatable, much clearer than Le Guin is here, more like a detective writer. And they are both drawn to similar turf as novelists. They're both smart and accomplished writers. So why is one (Le Guin) a great novelist and the other not? No one knows. No one has ever known.

Run it up the flagpole and see who salutes. (It's ok to wait several generations to see, too.)
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: vmichel on December 30, 2009, 12:07:03 PM
Could you read The Year of the Flood without having read Oryx and Crake first?
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: arborman on December 30, 2009, 08:51:38 PM
Google is not helpful on what 'Frygian' means.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on December 30, 2009, 09:11:34 PM
"Having to do with Northrop Frye".

vmichel: No. O&C is pretty much required to understand the important bits of TYotF.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: vmichel on December 31, 2009, 09:57:42 AM
Tx Mandos. Oh well.

I recently moved and am in love with my new library. It has a shelf of "Best Short Stories" collections going back to the 1913 edition! I have been plowing through the stories from 1913 - 1916, working my way up the century. It's making me realize how contemporary realistic short fiction is a genre in and of itself, as all the stories in, say, the 2006 edition contain certain conventions in common that are alien to the 1916 edition. Probably an obvious discovery, but fun to find out for myself :)

So speaking of genre re: Atwood and Butler, I have to say that most of Atwood's fiction that I have read would fall squarely in the category of good, but not great, writing that scratches an itch for a certain type of story (realistic, woman-centered, contemporary in sensibility if not always in setting), and wouldn't that be a fair definition of most genre writing? CanLit is a genre in itself, after all. Butler, I have to confess, I adore, so I'm not objective, but to me she's far above Atwood. I just finished the Lilith cycle -- not sure if I ever posted that here, but I loved it.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on December 31, 2009, 10:18:22 AM
Short stories are teh best! I agree, vee -- it is so satisfying to read a good short story. Me, I think that's how writers prove they are artists. Ok: it's just what I like, but I really like them.

My husband decided to marry me while I was reading a Gogol story (either "The Overcoat" or "The Nose" -- why can't I remember which? but they're both great) out loud to him. We were stuck in our car in a downpour at a camping site at the time, and he had briefly been in despair.

Just about every culture I can think of has produced great short-story writers. They are gems.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Berlynn on December 31, 2009, 12:52:53 PM
Oh, I do love a good short story, too!  

vmichel has reminded me of the changing conventions of punctuation that I'm reading about in Eats, Shoots & Leaves.  I'm loving that book.  It's making me want to put apostrophe's' 'ever'y'where!'   :twisted:

Now, please do tell me more about Butler -- not that I have need for any more books on my to-read list... ;)
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on December 31, 2009, 09:40:04 PM
Octavia Butler was an American SF writer who died a few years ago in an accident (she fell and hit her head, IIRC).  She wrote a lot of SF focused on black and minority characters (she was black herself), a niche she dominated as the majority of SF writers are white and write "white" universes.  Her books are usually relatively short and intense.  I haven't read her entire opus, but I have read a couple of her books.  

Parable of the Sower is a near-future dystopia that is disturbingly prophetic in its combination of Peak Oil and socio-political breakdown.  Some of it has already been fulfilled quite ahead of schedule, in fact.  It takes place in a Los Angeles minority suburb where people have been reduced to near subsistence.  A teenage girl with extreme empathy to pain---and therefore a difficult time in a world of post-post-modern brutality---becomes the prophet of a new religion, "Earthseed", and leads her people---all 5 or 6 of them---to a Promised Land in the Pacific Northwest.  It has a sequel, Parable of the Talents, about the spread of Earthseed and restoration of the social and environmental balance (I haven't read it yet).

I've also read Wild Seed, about a community of psychics hidden in a ghetto in a US city.  I think it's part of the Lilith cycle?  Anyway, among their number is a vampiric spirit that periodically takes over one of their bodies, extinguishing its true personality...and it has been among them for millenia.  But one young woman has developed the power to resist...

She's also written the xenogenesis/Oankali cycle about a human race rescued from environmental catastrophe by an alien race...who makes certain adjustments in return.  Or so I remember---haven't read them.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: deBeauxOs on December 31, 2009, 11:23:53 PM
Octavia Estelle Butler (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octavia_E._Butler) I haven't read any of her novels, only one short story.  Amazing writer.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: arborman on January 01, 2010, 12:33:29 PM
I have been reading sf at about 2-3 books a week for a decade and a half (with occasional intervals and overlaps of non-fic and the rest of the book world), and have somehow managed not to read anything by Butler yet.  I will, I will.  I look forward to it - I love finding a new (to me) writer that I love, then finding that s/he has a lifetime of work already in print for me to wallow in for a couple of months.  

Speaking of which, I am currently reading Iain M. Banks' novel 'Excession', which is more in the stereotypical sf mode (space opera), but is nonetheless fantastic (and has talking, aggressive squids, ironically enough).
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on January 02, 2010, 01:16:36 AM
Heh, that's funny, I just finished an Iain M. Banks' book too.  His voluminous novel Matter.  Is Excession in Banks' Culture universe too? Matter is the most recent Culture novel and the first one I've read---I should probably start from the beginning and read Consider Phlebas.  I have read one other Banks' novel, The Algebraist, which is also relatively recent and similar in style, but in a new/different universe from the Culture books.  I actually quite liked Matter but thought it a bit too long for the payoff.

Banks writes in what I call the "Overfull Universe" genre.  As opposed to merely Somewhat Full Universes, like Star Trek, which are well-populated but still have a lot of empty space.  Overfull Universes are simply teeming with life and artifice, and there isn't an inch of space that is not populated by something either human, alien, or mechanical---going all the way down to nanoscale and all the way up to hyper-accelerated civilizations.  David Brin's Uplift books are also to some extent set in an Overfull Universe.  In Matter, Banks explores ways in which less technologically-advanced civilizations can coexist with more advanced ones, including ones like the Culture and their neighbours the Morthanveld who are by comparison omnipotent/omniscient/utopian.  

Matter is focused on a woman named Djan Seriy Anaplian, a citizen of the Culture with a special history and role.  She was actually born among the primitive feudal Sarl, a humanoid people under the tutelage of a somewhat more advanced crab-like species, the Oct, in an artificial "Shellworld" called Sursamen (populated by many resident species on its various levels).  The Culture's armed wing, Special Circumstances, secretly interfered and assisted her father in securing domination over the Sarl, and his superstitious self decided to propitiate the "gods" of the Culture by sacrificing Anaplian to them---which was a very good deal for her.

Anaplian is now a Special Circumstances agent herself, a completely different person now, clandestinely interfering in other lesser civilizations on the Culture's behalf using weaponry that has become integrated into her very being.  When she catches wind that her father and her brother have been killed in a medieval-style pitched battle on Sursamen's Eighth Level, her journey home to her former world reveals connections between the squabbles of a pre-industrial people and galaxy spanning events.  Meanwhile, her brother---still alive---escapes Sursamen to search for her, though a universe whose god-like inhabitants, his sister included, seem increasingly less impressive as time goes by...

One of the downsides of an Overfull Universe is the need for regular infodump sections, and that kind of makes this book a bit long with the many pages of background info that Banks must work into the text.  Nevertheless, Banks is a very good writer, and manages to make it relatively seamless, with mildly ironic side commentary on the Culture's perception of itself and hinting at the reality that may actually underlie it. So I very much enjoyed it, but thought he kind of started writing himself into a corner at some point when he had to resolve the several plot threads.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: arborman on January 02, 2010, 01:28:20 AM
I enjoyed Matter quite a bit, though he didn't come up with any new concepts in that novel - just a fun exploration of existing concepts.  I am finding Excession less dramatic but meatier in concepts, if that makes sense - it considers what an 'Out of Context Problem'[super:19i2c9rf]1[/super:19i2c9rf] would look like for a massive techonological civilization.  Consider Phlebas was probably the most overtly space opera-ish novel, and good fun.  The Player of Games was probably my favourite of his Culture novels.  Of his 'mainstream' fiction I thought Espedair Street and Complicity were excellent, some of the other stuff not so much (though I still make a point of reading it).

1.  Out of Context Problem = When your culture is on top of the world, then the strange ship shows up and some strangers come ashore, plant a flag and tell you that you have been discovered for the glory of some entity from outside your context.  And everything you thought you knew about the order of life is wrong or no longer applies.  We recognize it at the colonial level, but this is scaled up somewhat, and therefore interesting.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: vmichel on January 26, 2010, 08:20:24 PM
Just finished an amazing read: The Fifth Child, by Doris Lessing. It's kind of a pregnancy/maternity horror story, for lack of a better term. I may be overly primed to it because of my own experiences/issues with having a baby but I felt like it spoke to something powerful that is usually suppressed is us, and that needed to be said. I've never read anything like it, and it's one of the few treatments of motherhood I've ever read that handled it like literature, exploring and probing its depths and conflicts without descending to sentimentality.

It's a quick read, I finished it in a day and half and I don't have a ton of reading time these days.

(BTW One of the other treatments of motherhood that falls into that category is Lilith by Butler, speak of the devil in this thread!)
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: deBeauxOs on January 26, 2010, 08:37:56 PM
:hug: Hey you!

That sounds like a book that should be reviewed for DAMMIT JANET!  hint, hint.  ;)
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: vmichel on January 29, 2010, 10:56:43 AM
:hug: back!

Actually just had a weird art-meets-life experience with this book. The local anti-abortion groups have been distributing these little rubber models of a 12 week fetus, covered with slashes and red paint, rubber-banded to a card that describes a 12 week old fetus and quotes the bible and so on and so on.... Anyhow, to make a long story short, they leave piles of them in public places and my husband brought one home as a curiosity and I was sitting there with the slashed up fetus model in one hand and The Fifth Child in the other, thinking about what a horror show pregnancy and birth is in so many ways, and how Lessing can express the complexities of that in a few lines with true wisdom and compassion whereas the anti-choice assholes are using crude rubber and red ink and still can't evoke a real emotional reaction.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on February 14, 2010, 12:56:42 AM
I have rediscovered the audio book.  I have been listening to two unabridged volumes of the Miles Vorkosigan adventures by Lois McMaster Bujold, who writes wry, witty social-commentary science fiction and is sometimes considered a kind of Jane Austen with space battles, though she's lately branched out into fantasy.  I've read the entire Vorkosigan series so far (although Bujold is coming out, after several years, with a new one later this year), so this was a kind of an audio-reread.  It really does make a difference; the reader is Grover Gardner, a voice actor who has apparently won many awards for his audiobook reading, and he is really the perfect voice for Miles and the whole complex and rambunctious cast of characters that surround him, including a somewhat depressed emperor and a hermaphrotidic mercenary captain.

The Vorkosigan books are about a backwards/patriarchal/militarist feudal aristocracy---the Barrayaran Empire---catapulted by events to centre stage in a galaxy full of human civilizations at higher stages of development.  Miles is the son of a man who is either a great statesman or a notorious war criminal, and a foreign woman from one of the most advanced galactic societies who did the Empire a great service by defeating it soundly (the first two books in the series are actually about her, Cordelia Naismith, now Countess Vorkosigan).  Miles is a stunted (by an attempted political poisoning of his mother), disabled, manic-depressive young man in a society that still practices infanticide of imperfect children, but as an Imperial cousin, he is connected to and protected by its highest ranks.  Protected well enough to play the hero in a universe that only respects him when he pretends to be more his mother's son than his father's, when he is really both.

Anyway, the ones I've listened to so far are Cetaganda and The Vor Game.  Cetaganda is about Miles' visit as Barrayaran representative to the funeral of the Empress of Cetaganda, an even more powerful neighbouring empire that practices a very elaborate form of eugenics.  An attempt at framing Miles for a theft and murder and thereby starting a war has Miles exploring ever deeper into the mysteries of the barely-human Cetagandan ruling class and the vulnerabilities of their attempt to turn themselves into the master race.  (They once occupied the Barrayaran homeworld in Miles' grandparents generation and killed millions in atomic warfare.)

In The Vor Game, a very young Miles attempts to join Barrayar's military hierarchy (a necessary rite of passage) and fails spectacularly, only to find himself embroiled in distant conspiracy and politicking over a major interstellar trade route.  At the same time, his cousin the depressed Emperor Gregor makes one last futile attempt at freedom before his absolute monarchy makes him a complete prisoner...
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Berlynn on February 14, 2010, 10:48:30 AM
I'm thinking m'girl might like those books.  Thanks, Mandos!

I've just started to sink into Niceman Cometh (http://www.dccarpenter.com/niceman_cometh.htm), a novel by David Carpenter.  Carp is a Saskatchewan writer, transplanted from Alberta several years ago.  He was instrumental to the establishment of the Sask Writers / Artists Colony program of the Sask Writers Guild.  And he's an all-round nice guy.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Toedancer on February 14, 2010, 03:32:52 PM
I'm reading Jules Verne's Mysterious Island again.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Bacchus on February 14, 2010, 04:39:02 PM
While mrs Bacchus is sleeping I read George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London in the dark
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on February 14, 2010, 04:49:44 PM
Bacchus, every time I've eaten in a "fine" restaurant, I have remembered Orwell's lines about what happens between the kitchen doors and the doors to the restaurant. That always makes me think twice about the soup.  ;)
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Bacchus on February 14, 2010, 05:06:53 PM
Read Anthony Bourdains "Kitchen Confidential"  and you'll never eat Sunday brunch or seafood on a monday again :twisted:
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on February 14, 2010, 08:40:27 PM
Has anyone read, or is anyone reading a book called 'The Hogfather' by Terry Pratchette? (Neither of which I have ever heard  :shock: )

In another venue I came upon this quote from it and it sounds ...interesting:
Quote
Death: Humans need fantasy to *be* human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.

Susan: With tooth fairies? Hogfathers?

Death: Yes. As practice, you have to start out learning to believe the little lies.

Susan: So we can believe the big ones?

Death: Yes. Justice, mercy, duty. That sort of thing.

Susan: They're not the same at all.

Death: You think so? Then take the universe and grind it down to the finest powder, and sieve it through the finest sieve, and then show me one atom of justice, one molecule of mercy. And yet, you try to act as if there is some ideal order in the world. As if there is some, some rightness in the universe, by which it may be judged.

Susan: But people have got to believe that, or what's the point?

Death: You need to believe in things that aren't true. How else can they become?
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on February 14, 2010, 08:48:45 PM
Terry Pratchett (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/feb/02/terry-pratchett-assisted-suicide-tribunal) is a wonderful man and a wonderful writer. He is in the early stages of Alzheimer's right now, and is working for the rights of those who wish to end their lives as they choose.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on February 14, 2010, 11:00:48 PM
I think you would very much like Terry Pratchett's books, croghan.  He writes gentle satire in the fantasy genre and is best known for his very long Discworld series---not really a series but a universe in which he sets his stories.  I have read The Hogfather a while back, as I have read almost all of his novels.  His latest is Unseen Academicals, which I haven't gotten my hands on yet.

Actually "satire" is a word with too harsh a connotation to apply to Pratchett's work, even modified by "gentle."  He points out, carefully, all our big and little foibles, and does so with a great deal of warmth and compassion. But sometimes, in the case of Night Watch, with rage (it is his critique of our post 9/11 world).  Death is a side character in every one of his novels, and in fact the protagonist through one or two of them.  Susan is Death's granddaughter, and as everyone knows, characteristics often skip a generation...

As for the Discworld, it rests upon the back of four enormous elephants (once upon a time, five, as discussed in his The Fifth Elephant), who stand on the back of the giant turtle A'tuin...
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: arborman on February 15, 2010, 11:23:58 AM
I have really enjoyed a great many of Pratchett's novels.  Sidebar - the babble (and here?) poster CMOT Dibbler is a reference to a recurring character in Pratchett's books.  

Favourites include Jingo, The Wyrd Sisters, Night Watch, and a collaboration with Neil Gaiman titled 'Good Omens', which is more of a young adult novel.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Holly Stick on February 15, 2010, 01:23:07 PM
The Watchmen are good, as in Night Watch and the others; but my favourites are the witches: Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat or Agnes Nitt or both; in Lords and Ladies, Carpe Jugulem, etc.  But then there are the wizards: Ridcully, the Bursar, the Dean and the rest; and Rincewind and Cohen the Barbarian, and the Patrician...

Pratchett is the most prolific creator of fascinating characters since Charles Dickens.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: jrootham on February 15, 2010, 07:41:33 PM
He also throws in references to Morris dancers, some (all?) of his inventions in that genre have been implemented.

His cultural references get scattered across the books like popcorn.  I'm sure I don't get them all, but my favourite one is having the bards of the Nac Mac Feegles called Gonnagles.

Do read, an absolute hoot.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on February 15, 2010, 07:53:46 PM
Quote from: jrootham
the bards of the Nac Mac Feegles called Gonnagles.


I don't actually get that, although it makes me laugh, given the accent I'm hearing it in. So ok: 'splain?
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: jrootham on February 16, 2010, 10:58:51 AM
William McGonagall (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_McGonagall)

World's worst poet.

eg

    Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay!
    Alas! I am very sorry to say
    That ninety lives have been taken away
    On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
    Which will be remember'd for a very long time.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on February 16, 2010, 11:06:06 AM
Och, of course!   :lol:
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Holly Stick on February 16, 2010, 11:23:15 AM
Interesting... I wonder if Bob Edwards was thinking of him when he invented Peter McGonigle:
Quote
...During his two years at High River, he invented the character of Peter J. McGonigle, editor of the mythical Midnapore Gazette who spent much of his time at the bar of Nevermore House. McGonigle was a sage, a gentleman, and a drunk – not unlike Edwards himself...

...Perhaps the most ludicrous legal case occurred in 1906, when Edwards carried a story about his mythical editor, Peter J. McGonigle, purportedly released from jail after serving time for horse theft. At a banquet tendered for McGonigle in Calgary, a telegram supposedly sent by Lord Strathcona [Donald A. Smith*] was read to the audience. It stated in part, “The name of Peter McGonigle will ever stand high in the roll of eminent confiscators. Once, long ago, I myself came near achieving distinction in this direction when I performed some dexterous financing with the Bank of Montreal’s funds. In consequence, however, of CPR stocks going up instead of down, I wound up in the House of Lords instead of Stony Mountain [penitentiary].” Strathcona was reportedly infuriated by the article and instructed his solicitors to take legal action. However, when the nature of the Eye Opener was explained by the solicitors’ Calgary agents, he was persuaded to abandon the suit...

http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=7914
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: arborman on February 17, 2010, 03:02:29 AM
Quote from: Holly Stick
The Watchmen are good, as in Night Watch and the others; but my favourites are the witches: Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat or Agnes Nitt or both; in Lords and Ladies, Carpe Jugulem, etc.  But then there are the wizards: Ridcully, the Bursar, the Dean and the rest; and Rincewind and Cohen the Barbarian, and the Patrician...

Pratchett is the most prolific creator of fascinating characters since Charles Dickens.

How could I forget Cohen the (elderly) Barbarian?  Pure genius, he and 'The Silver Horde' of octegenarian barbarians invading feudal Japan (or the Discworld equivalent).
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: jrootham on February 17, 2010, 08:56:16 AM
Even better was their attack on the gods.

Which book also included the line:

Ank-Morpork, we have an orangutan.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on February 17, 2010, 05:21:48 PM
Re-newed my Ottawa Public card today .......

All books by Terry Pratchett are currently out on loan.   :shock:

I guess this is some thread drift .... about books I am NOT currently reading.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: arborman on February 17, 2010, 05:32:58 PM
I am excited yet dreading the opportunity to read the third book of China Mieville's series (Perdido Street Station, The Scar and The Iron Council).  Brilliant, utterly brilliant books with characters that still enter my mind at unexpected moments, but also dark, foreboding and spooky.  Perdido Street was one of those books that was painful to read at first because of the truly bleak Victorian/industrial/oppression, but became so beautiful and amazing that I was bereft when it was over (though it ended perfectly).  Each book is only tangentially related (i.e. the protagonist of The Scar's only connection to the characters of Perdido is that one of them was a former lover of years ago, and that connection and the events in Perdido forced her to flee the city and possible torture despite being utterly unaware of what had happened).

So now I have the third book, which I have been putting off for quite some time because of the sheer darkness of it all.  But I must read it - the first two were genius.  I fully expect to be depressed and amazed.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on February 18, 2010, 01:31:21 AM
It's not THE Iron Council, it's simply Iron Council.  It's an abstract concept.  Iron Council is everywhere.  Long live Iron Council!  Long live!
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: arborman on February 18, 2010, 09:20:49 AM
Smartypants.  I am enjoying it so far.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on February 18, 2010, 08:15:53 PM
It's funny, though, that you should bring up Mieville immediately after a discussion about Pratchett.  Pratchett's Ankh-Morpork and Mieville's New Crobuzon are very similar places---Victorian, deeply unequal, full of suffering and dangerous magic.  But while Pratchett emphasizes what is human about it despite its problems, Mieville emphasizes what is inhuman about it, it the worst sense, giving almost no quarter to anything that might make it a place where people would ever want to live if they had a choice.  When Mieville wants to be funny, he takes us practically out of the setting of the city, like the weird meeting in Perdido Street Station between the Mayor and his cronies and the Ambassador of Hell.

I particularly "like" (as in filled with admiration for Mieville's creative genius) the whole horrifying concept of the punishment of Remaking and the Remaking factories.  The perfect fusion of industrial capitalism and the police state...
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Berlynn on February 19, 2010, 10:47:21 AM
Finished Carpenter's, Niceman Cometh, yesterday.  Couldn't put it down once I got halfway through.  Tossed everything off my plate for the a.m. to finish it.  What a fun, fun read!  Loved the characters, the narrative, the voices, the setting (Saskatoon) -- oh, I definitely recommend it!

This a.m. I started in on Lee Gowan's, The Last Cowboy (http://www.randomhouse.ca/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780676975833), and thus far, I'm enjoying it.  I think it's because, like Carp's book, it's set in Saskatchewan.  Really, there's nothing quite like being from a place and reading about it!  Gowan's book, however, is set in rural Saskatchewan, which gets me into it even more, being the farmgirl I still am at heart.  This book has a Toronto connection, which I think will make it even more interesting.  Gowan is from rural SK but now lives in T.O. so it will be interesting to see how he reconciles the two through fiction.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on February 19, 2010, 01:12:55 PM
I am continuing my out-of-order audio reread of Bujold's Vorkosigan adventures with Shards of Honor, which is one of two novels written from the perspective of Miles' mother Cordelia before Miles is born.  Indeed, the print version is now only available as Cordelia's Honor, a compendium of Shards and its immediate continuation Barrayar.

Cordelia Naismith is the commander of a exploration vessel on behalf of the Beta Colony, the pinnacle of space civilization, a radically egalitarian techno-utopia where a captain's orders are subject to a crew's vote.  Cordelia and her crew are analyzing a new habitable planet they've discovered, only to find to their dismay that a covert reconnaissance force of the notoriously barbaric Barrayaran Empire has discovered it first.  Cordelia is taken prisoner by Lord Aral Vorkosigan (unsurprisingly, Miles' future father)---only to discover both that Aral faces a political mutiny, and that Aral's true mission is to find a staging ground for a foolhardy Barrayan military project, the surprise conquest of Escobar, Beta Colony's ally and subsidiary.  

As Cordelia works to sabotage the invasion plans, she finds herself increasingly entangled in the vendettas and politics of a society warped by patriarchal rigidity and the traumatic aftereffects of its own successfully-resisted invasion by its genocidal Cetagandan neighbours.  But when she eventually discovers that the Beta Colony may not quite be the utopia she was raised to believe it was, she's also forced to make a difficult decision about her own future.

I'd have borrowed the audiobook Barrayar alongside this one as they are two episodes of one story, but it was out of the library.  Maybe next time. Next up: The Warrior's Apprentice, about Miles' troubled teenagerhood, and his first hair-raising adventure in space.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Bacchus on February 19, 2010, 04:43:41 PM
Ah Bujold! One of my absolute favourite authors. WHo does the audiobooks? Im going through the Jim Butcher Dresden files one and they are all read by Spike from Buffy (James Marsters)
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on February 19, 2010, 05:15:47 PM
The reader for all of the Vorkosigan books is Grover Gardner, who does the dry ironic/wry tone of the writing very well.  (In case you missed my last message, I've gotten through Cetaganda and The Vor Game so far, so I'm not doing this in any order whatsoever.  Just what appears on the public library shelf.)

Bujold's Chalion fantasy novels and the Sharing Knife series are read by a female voice but I can't remember the name.  I have not really been able to get into the Sharing Knife books, they seem a bit of a departure to me.  I'm just waiting for CryoBurn (latest Vorkosigan, Miles is now 39...) to come out later this year.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: arborman on February 19, 2010, 08:14:47 PM
Quote from: Mandos
Mieville emphasizes what is inhuman about it, it the worst sense, giving almost no quarter to anything that might make it a place where people would ever want to live if they had a choice.

I disagree - Mieville presents New Crobuzon as a boiling hotbed of science, politics, art, harsh industry and exploration.  Isaac and his circles of friends evoke the ferment of places like Paris and Berlin in the 20s, combined with Victorian political sensibilities, cosmopolitan diversity and frictions and all the rest.  I know many people that would love to live in that sort of place, despite the squalor and repression.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Bacchus on February 19, 2010, 10:37:56 PM
Quote from: Mandos
The reader for all of the Vorkosigan books is Grover Gardner, who does the dry ironic/wry tone of the writing very well.  (In case you missed my last message, I've gotten through Cetaganda and The Vor Game so far, so I'm not doing this in any order whatsoever.  Just what appears on the public library shelf.)

Bujold's Chalion fantasy novels and the Sharing Knife series are read by a female voice but I can't remember the name.  I have not really been able to get into the Sharing Knife books, they seem a bit of a departure to me.  I'm just waiting for CryoBurn (latest Vorkosigan, Miles is now 39...) to come out later this year.

WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  In the Vorkosigan Companion she stated she was done with him!!!! *running to amazon.ca*
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: lagatta on February 20, 2010, 03:01:52 AM
I'm reading "Les Arabes et la Shoah (La guerre israélo-arabe des récits)", by Gilbert Achcar, a leftist scholar of Lebanese origin whom I know. It has not been published in English yet - I don't know whether Achcar will accept to use the more common English term Holocaust; like many scholars he considers it an unacceptable term due to its connotations of religious sacrifice and redemption. Achcar is currently a prof at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, but has also taught in Paris and Berlin. This deals of course with the "war of stories", of the Shoah and the Nakba. Achcar does a survey of the great diversity of political and ideological views of the Shoah in the Arab world (he only explores this part of the Muslim world because he is not conversant in Farsi, Turkish, Urdu or other major languages in non-Arab Muslim countries).

But I'm still in the first part where Zionism was a minority view among Jews themselves, as more and more were flowing to Palestine in the early 20th century. But even more were moving elsewhere, in particular to North and South America...
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Berlynn on February 20, 2010, 01:44:55 PM
DNA Daughter and I had an all too brief conversation about linguistic change.  Her concern is that we, as a culture, tend to find a "politically correct" term and use it and then, when it becomes accepted in the mainstream, struggle to find another "p.c." term to replace it.  Our conversation was interrupted, unfortunately.  Your mention of the writer's distaste for the English word, Holocaust, lagatta, reminded me that I want to delve back into that conversation with my daughter.

I finished reading Lee Gowan's book, The Last Cowboy, before I went to bed last night.  A multi-voiced, multi-generational, multi-race tale of a Saskatchewan experience where, still, the land is a character to be reckoned with.

Now I must decide who is next on my list:  Ursula LeGuin's Always Coming Home, Toni Morrison's Tar Baby, Miriam Toews' A Complicated Kindness or Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being or one of a myriad of others kicking about the house.  :?
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on February 23, 2010, 08:00:10 PM
Quote
WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In the Vorkosigan Companion she stated she was done with him!!!! *running to amazon.ca*

It's probably not ready for pre-order yet.  I think in a sense she's kept her promise, because apparently she's fast-forwarded him a decade.  Considering how Diplomatic Immunity ended, she's deliberately skipped over important changes in his life, so I might actually be disappointed if CryoBurn didn't contain a rather different Miles.  Also I'd be surprised if Aral was still alive at that point, and she has promised that when Aral dies, Cordelia will go back to the Beta Colony, etc, etc.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on February 23, 2010, 08:02:19 PM
Quote
I disagree - Mieville presents New Crobuzon as a boiling hotbed of science, politics, art, harsh industry and exploration. Isaac and his circles of friends evoke the ferment of places like Paris and Berlin in the 20s, combined with Victorian political sensibilities, cosmopolitan diversity and frictions and all the rest. I know many people that would love to live in that sort of place, despite the squalor and repression.

Maybe.  I just remind myself that the Runagate Rampant is published in a working pig abattoir whenever I have the temptation to actually like New Crobuzon.  I did enjoy the flotilla in The Scar.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: arborman on February 24, 2010, 05:01:51 PM
Quote from: Mandos
Maybe.  I just remind myself that the Runagate Rampant is published in a working pig abattoir whenever I have the temptation to actually like New Crobuzon.  I did enjoy the flotilla in The Scar.

True enough.  There are plenty of people who get their frisson from being indirectly connected to something so underground though.  I'm not saying I would want to live there, but that I can understand when Isaac and others express their love of the city.  There is an appeal to a place with such a mix of cultures, revolutions, criminals, artists and the like.  

The problem being that most of us on this site would either be killed or Remade fairly quickly as the squishy leftists.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on March 05, 2010, 01:55:15 AM
So I temporarily skipped The Warrior's Apprentice as I saw the audiobook of Komarr from much later in the series---a favorite.  Bujold finally returns to the use of a female perspective in Komarr.  She also takes a moment to remind us that as much as we've come to love Miles, he was always the predator, not the prey.  In Komarr, Bujold returns to examining Barrayaran gender relations, while dealing with the difficult issue of what it is to be a captive nation, and to contain a captive nation.  You could say that it's a bit of a "Canadian" plotline...

Summary: Mme. Ekaterin Vorsoisson and her husband Etienne are only distantly related to Barrayar's ruling Vor caste, so the most benefit they get from it is a little bit of nepotism---Etienne is the pro forma administrator of the terraforming project on the Mars-like conquered world of Komarr.  Their marriage is also falling apart, but Ekaterin is trying her best to be a compliant, traditional Vor wife and mother; it's not enough.  

Komarr, a world of enviro-domed city-states, is traditionally ruled by a Venice-style merchant oligarchy.  Two generations ago it was paid by the Cetagandans to act as a staging ground for the genocidal Cetagandan invasion of Barrayar.  One generation ago, Barrayar took revenge in the form of a conquest completed in a single bloody day, earning Miles Vorkosigan's notorious father the epithet of Butcher of Komarr.  Now in this generation, Komarr has achieved some measure of benign autonomy---and the Emperor of Barrayar is shortly to marry a top Komarran oligarch (one of those Toscanes), putting an end to the faded dreams of the remnant Komarran resistance.  

But a strange space accident has shattered the sky mirrors that are the heart of the centuries-old Komarran terraforming effort, casting a pall over the impending wedding festivities.  The diminutive Miles, now a newly-minted Imperial Auditor, is called in to investigate, platoons of forensic engineers and security goons in tow.  And Miles' investigation is, oddly enough, ploughing its way inexorably into the Vorsoissons' home and marriage, as it finds its way in an incomprehensible embezzlement conspiracy.  A small clique of Komarran terraforming engineers under Etienne's management are apparently stealing from their own children's futures.  Apparently....  

Inhibited by a lifetime of her Vor female conditioning, how will Ekaterin cope with both personal disaster and a very odd conspiracy that only she may have the key to untangle?

And now I'm back to the The Warrior's Apprentice.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Caissa on March 05, 2010, 07:58:40 AM
I'm currently enjoying Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London. We have finally made it to London.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on March 05, 2010, 08:44:48 AM
And you'll never eat soup in an expensive restaurant again, eh?  :mrgreen:

Great book, and what a commitment. You can see what really sets some people like Orwell apart. He didn't live that long, but when you read his biography, even without taking the books into account, it's like ten lives, most of them great. (I don't approve of the co-operating with spooks stuff at the end.)
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Caissa on March 05, 2010, 09:42:47 AM
You forget I was a cook in the Reserves.  ;)
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: arborman on March 06, 2010, 03:15:29 AM
Quote from: Mandos

Maybe.  I just remind myself that the Runagate Rampant is published in a working pig abattoir whenever I have the temptation to actually like New Crobuzon.  I did enjoy the flotilla in The Scar.

Having now finished Iron Council, in which the tensions and hostilities of the first two novels erupt into total class war within the city (with the poor of course losing), I too have changed my view of the City.  What an amazing book.  It will stick with me a long time.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on March 06, 2010, 09:37:04 AM
Quote from: Caissa
I'm currently enjoying Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London. We have finally made it to London.

My 'ex' took her Masters at Dal in British Writers between the wars ... and Mr. Blair was, of course, well represented. (It was through this mechinism that I discovered "Down and Out..." and Arthur Koestler ....  :D )

The move of my place of work has caused me to change buses at the corner of Wellington and Holland ave. (What a lovely area.) There is a small book and coffee store there that I finally found the time to visit yesterday. I bought a mystery book on the discount table out in front - but when I went to use my interact was told there would be a surcharge as it was less than $5. So I went looking for another book to make it worth while.

I chose "Body of Lies" by Canadian author (Ottawa, no less) David Ignatius. It, of course, like all books published in the last 20 years, is (was?) from the New Yrok Times bestseller list.

(I did not have a coffee - but did buy a hand made chocolate they had .. yum! yum!)
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on March 06, 2010, 12:55:23 PM
Quote
Having now finished Iron Council, in which the tensions and hostilities of the first two novels erupt into total class war within the city (with the poor of course losing), I too have changed my view of the City. What an amazing book. It will stick with me a long time.

You might also enjoy Mieville's Un Lun Dun, which is his attempt at early teen fiction.  It is about London's "abcity", a parallel city where all the things that people have forgotten end up---including other people.  And pollution.  Especially pollution.  It's actually just a little bit more disturbing than I would generally give to a kid, but his adult stories have the same quality relative to adults.  He has some hilarious Pratchett-like punnery in it, though.  

And watch out for the giraffes.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on March 11, 2010, 10:34:40 PM
On the airplane, I read Terry Pratchett's Unseen Academicals.  It is a beautiful story; it goes from hysterically funny to gut-wrenching in the space of a paragraph.  He brings so many things together in this one it's really hard to summarize in a way that does it justice.  It's serious like Night Watch without being serious like Night Watch.  It's about genocide and sports and second chances and haute couture and the authentic cultural life of the people and cheese and...

My attempt at a (hopefully not-too-spoily) summary: Mr. Nutt is a newcomer to Ankh-Morpork with a past filled with both unbelievable abuse and an opportunity at an education and a new life, who has chosen to hide himself in the candle-making works of the Unseen University.  And the great ones of the city know he is there and tolerate him, but only with a combination of fear and guilt, because they know what he really is and wonder whether they should have him killed on the spot.

Happy-go-lucky co-worker Trevor Likely, the son of a foot-the-ball star killed in a match, knows none of this, and has befriended Mr. Nutt and is determined to show the oddly erudite Nutt the finer points of Ankh-Morpork street and sports culture.

Glenda Sugarbean works in the Unseen University's kitchens, catering to the refined tastes of the oddball wizardly faculty.  Despite her intelligence, she must take care never to be seen to try rise above her station; too bad she understand most of the conversations of these lofty intellects.  But a strange foreign candle-maker seems to appreciate her mind and her pies.

Glenda, however, has long taken responsibility for her vapid but beautiful employee Juliet; how, then, is she to let go when Juliet is "discovered" by a fashion house who wants to pay her millions to model a new style of chain mail?  And then how can she protect Juliet from the wandering eyes of men who simply want to use her?  And is Trevor one of these?  And does she even have the right?

The University is in crisis: the bequest that funds an essential service---the provision of rare expensive cheeses---is in danger of being taken away.  Only by resurrecting their old foot-the-ball team can the Unseen faculty retain this fundamental necessity.  But between the Chair of Indefinite Studies and the Professor of Cruel and Unusual Geography, they are totally ill-equipped for contemporary Ankh-Morpork's rough-and-tumble game of hooligans and ritual shoving matches.  Can our four heroes from the UU waitstaff salvage a situation increasingly tinged with bitter city politics?  Far more hinges on their success than a daily selection of cheese...
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Bacchus on March 11, 2010, 10:42:02 PM
Quote from: Caissa
I'm currently enjoying Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London. We have finally made it to London.

LOl me too!! Fascinating the difference between Paris and London (Im where he is tramping through london staying at welfare houses)
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Caissa on March 12, 2010, 07:17:48 AM
I finished it last week. His last chapter is interesting but brief analysis.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on March 12, 2010, 07:40:56 AM
The other day, before going into the D'Arcy McGee pub on the corner of Sparks for a libation I picked up a book about Trafalgar. It comes from a series that tries to do for MAMMOTH seriously what DAMNITJANIT has done (for me, anyway) for MASSIVE as a term of derision.

Its' real name is: "The MAMMOTH Book of _______" (in this case, Trafalgar.)

The introduction is in keeping with something that would call itself a MAMMOTH book of anything - Trafalgar is the most important battle in history of the world: Nelson is the greatest General/Admiral/personage in the history of the world ... etc. What it definitely was is the last major sea battle between ships of sail. After Trafalgar there reigned a Pax Britannica until those pesky French came up with a totally iron ship that served at Crimea. (The French navel ascendancy was truncated by German invasions and the Paris commune.)

Despite the purple prose it is surprisingly good - it is organized as a narrative, but is a series of actual letters/diary entries/reports/official documents from the time: A learning situation about the various navel engagements Nelson participated in, the individuals around him and about the time.

Nelson and his fellow commanders seen to genuinely care about the welfare of his sailors - right down to the common 'tar'. After reading Mutiny on the Bounty and of the exploits of Captain Bligh this is something of a revelation. At one point Nelson invites the Admiralty to charge him for taking a portion of the bootie from The Battle of the Nile and giving it to the common sailors - saying without them all his efforts would be for nought.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Caissa on March 12, 2010, 08:46:52 AM
At the moment I have four books on the go: Doyle Brunson's autobiography,a collection of Alfie Kohn essays, a book on the origin of the modern olympic games, and a murder mystery written in 1931 set at Oxford.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Bacchus on March 12, 2010, 02:50:09 PM
Me too Caissa.

Down and Out on my ebook reader. (I just use this at night when Mrs Bacchus is sleeping and competes with my listening to the Dresden files books on audio so this is why its taking so long for me to read it)
Pacific by Hugh Ambrose (Stephen Ambrose's son and is the companion volume to the upcoming Pacific series)
Medieval murder mystery by maureen Ash
Cowards War -A WWI diary/memoir by a Mr Coward which is delightfully blue collar and far more illuminating as to the lot of the common soldier than most memoirs Ive read.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Caissa on March 15, 2010, 01:22:48 PM
Finished 3 on the weekend, just the Brunson auto to go.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on March 15, 2010, 01:58:55 PM
If anyone is interested in reading the words of (many) of the important scientific voices on the 20th century the Nel Bohr Library has archived in print many interviews that until now were only auditory (and unavailable).

Some of the 'biggies' are missing (Einstein, John Bell, Planck and who knows how many Russians) .. but still the influence of these people will probably be more profound that that of any politician. (http://www.aip.org/history/ohilist/transcripts.html)

The delightful Richard Feynman and sprightly Arthur Eddington are not there either - but they can be heard/read elsewhere.  
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on March 20, 2010, 03:12:40 PM
I finished LM Bujold's The Warrior's Apprentice in audio finally, in my quest to listen to the entire Vorkosigan series.  (Apparently the series is very popular in French---unusual for translated SF---and there is an original French graphic novel series based on TWA, called Le Saga Vorkosigan: l'apprentissage du guerrier.  Preview of the art:

http://forum.superpouvoir.com/showthread.php?p=326531 (http://forum.superpouvoir.com/showthread.php?p=326531)

TWA is the first book with Miles V. actually in it as the central protagonist, a teenager at this point.  It's also probably the funniest in the series apart from A Civil Campaign (which is entirely a comedy), but it also lays down the basic angst that drives Miles for the rest of the series.

Summary: Due to his disabilities, Miles has just painfully failed the demanding physical entrance exams to the Barrayaran Imperial Military Academy---thereby excluding himself from an essential rite of passage for a Vor-caste male.  When his grandfather Count Piotr dies shortly thereafter, Miles blames himself---as Piotr had never hidden the fact that he wished a disabled Vorkosigan heir had never been born.  

As Miles' parents get into political hot water, they send him to his mother Cordelia's relatives on the hypertechnological Beta Colony to recover from both his physical and psychological wounds, with his enigmatic guardian angel Sgt. Bothari and Bothari's sheltered daugher Elena---Miles' secret crush---in tow.  To the Betans, Miles' physical problems mean very little; more significant is his status as the son of an unpopular barbarian warlord and former enemy.

A rash act of lordly charity to an obsoleted Betan faster-than-light pilot puts Miles in hock to a scrap metal trader, but Miles' talent for fast-talking and paradoxical sense of aristocratic honour allows him to find a scheme to pay off the debt---putting him in worse hot water.  A comedy of coincidences made up of serial swindles ensues, with Miles borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, stealing from Mary to pay Peter, swindling Bob out of a space fleet to pay hush money to Peter, Paul, and Mary...

But Barrayar is now a little too integrated into galactic society for Barrayaran political conflicts not to reach him way out there.  And as Miles and Elena grow more and more independent of their Barrayaran roles, an old web of lies begins to unravel around them, lies intended by their parents generation to protect them, so that the terrible secrets of the past die with their parents.  And when they finally confront the horrifying truth about Elena's father, Miles' lifelong protector (the reader already knows about this from previous books), they're sent careening in life-directions very different from what they had originally planned...

Anyway, I am now most of the way through Diplomatic Immunity at the (current) other end of the series.  Miles is in his early 30s and is both a very different but very similar person to his teenage self.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Caissa on March 23, 2010, 10:32:49 AM
I just finished The Girl of His Dreams by Donna Leon. Discovered her accidetally when I picked up one of her books on the reduced table in the university bookstore.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donna_Leon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donna_Leon)
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: deBeauxOs on March 23, 2010, 10:47:21 AM
:cool: I've been following the investigations of Commissioner Guido Brunetti for a few years now.  It's funny that you just finished that title, Caissa because I have that one waiting on my bedside table.

In every book of the series, Leon takes us deeper into the Venice unknown to tourists.  Each human tragedy unfolds as she carefully builds up the layers of intrigue and corruption found in a society plagued by contemporary ills.  She is a terrific writer and her characters are endearing and as real as any I've met in police procedural fiction.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Berlynn on March 23, 2010, 11:40:05 AM
I've tucked Miriam Toews into my carry-on luggage.  I have been looking forward to reading A Complicated Kindness for several years now...
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on March 29, 2010, 04:28:16 AM
Naturally I am still continuing the Bujold/Vorkosigan audiobook readthrough.  Finished Diplomatic Immunity.  It's at the current end of the series at least until CryoBurn comes out.  DI is a straight-up thriller with only a little bit of character development at the end, after several character development novels.  Miles is in his early 30s.  It's still a fun ride and shows us Miles grown fully into the role he's had since Memory, 3-4 books ago.

Basic summary: Most of galactic humanity has effectively become an egg-laying race, as most normal people gestate their children in canisters (womb-replicators) you keep in your living room---just pop off the lid at 9 months.  This has finally gone mainstream on backwards Barrayar, and Miles and the newly-minted Lady Vorkosigan have just started their first two children.  Naturally, this is the perfect opportunity to go on a few months honeymoon cruise around Miles' favorite galactic spots, much delayed due to Miles' Imperial Auditor job----and return with weeks to spare for the decanting of the next Vorkosigan generation.

Alas.  Halfway through their cruise the Barrayaran Emperor sends an assignment to Miles, as the only high-ranking Barrayaran official near enough to a delicate diplomatic situation in an area of space were the Empire is not frequently involved.  Seems that an Imperial trade fleet has been impounded at a stopover in a system known as Quaddiespace, to which Miles and his bride take an immediate detour.

The Quaddies are a human-variant race who live in free fall 100% of the time, with extra arms in place of legs.  (Bujold has a whole novel about them, Falling Free, about their escape centuries previously from the Earth corporation that made them and the foundation of their civilisation.)  And unfortunately the Barrayaran prejudices of the trade fleet's military escorts towards the...different has created an increasingly tense situation with property damage and imprisoned soldiers.  But with the complete disappearance of one Imperial officer, things are about to take a sinister turn...

...because one of the trade vessels is hosting a very strange cargo in one of its berths, unbeknowest to its managers, a shipment of womb-replicators carrying fetuses from the Star Crèche, the secretive Cetagandan genetic improvement agency. In other words, the next generation of the Cetagandan Empire's master race, the haut.  And the accompanying shipper: a neuter Cetagandan ba slave disguised as a Betan hermaphrodite.  What could the mistresses of the Star Crèche be thinking?  And with evidence that the ba has deployed hideous biological weapons, Miles's bumbling Barrayaran barbarians might actually have messed up in the nick of time.  Miles has to get the (of course, highly egalitarian) station officials to take his rank and title seriously, so that he can save them all in time to get back to the birth of his children.

Next up, Brothers in Arms, from the middle of the series, followed by its immediate successor, Mirror Dance.  That still leaves Barrayar (a Cordelia novel), Falling Free (well before Miles), Ethan of Athos (Miles not directly present), Memory, A Civil Campaign, The Borders of Infinity, ...  Probably will be well into May before I get through the oeuvre.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on May 01, 2010, 08:37:01 AM
Returned to the little book store on the corner of Wellington and Holland - I intended to pick up an order of chips from the chip waggon that parks in front of it, but while waiting for them to cook I dropped in to check out the stock.
 
Naturally, weak person that I am, I spent $5 on lunch and $35 on books.
 
I chewed one up in a couple of days .... 'Cold Dark Matter" by Alex Brett. (http://www.alexbrett.com/)It is advertised as a Morgan O'Brien mystery. Morgan is an investigator for some government agency (it takes place in Ottawa and Hawaii) who partially for an old friend and partially from being secunded undertakes a look into a possible murder (it is) and disappearance of some diaries in a Franco/Canadian observatory on one of the small island in the Hawaiian chain.
 
Things that make me uncomfortable about the book:
 
It does not flow. There are a couple of jumps in the narrative that I found difficult to follow. Not the least of which was that Morgan is a woman - it took me a couple of pages to tweak into that. It could be me after years of reading about males private eyes - but I do not think I am that singular :hat:. But this is only one of the hops that took me a bit to work into my ken.
 
Twice Brett uses (the dreaded): "Somewhere, off in the distance a (dog barked)(siren wailed) (the wind blew in the trees)" There has gotta be a better way to describe background sounds than that!
 
Things to like:
 
A lot. It takes place in Ottawa for one - it is novel and pleasing to read a scene from the book that takes place about two blocks from where I bought it. (Parkdale area).
 
Morgan is like a real woman. Yes, she seems to be physically capable - but she does not attack and disable trained assassins using only the ring finger of one hand. She confronts several very large (and apparently experienced) killers and the interaction is real.
 
The book develops - like any good mystery, what happens in the latter stages of the narrative depends upon what has gone on before. It is not a straight forward: Here is the problem and our fearless investigator solves the conundrum.' While the original problem remains - it is sometimes over ridden by what she (Morgan) has found.
 
Would I recommend it? Certainly - well worth the read.
 
Oh yeah ... someone filched my coke while I was off in the bookstore.:handcuffs:
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: GOD on May 03, 2010, 09:40:38 AM
The freakin' Instruction Manual.  Finally!  Somewhere between Genisis 1:21 and 1:29 I got a couple of the days mixed up.

Sorry for any inconvenience.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on May 03, 2010, 10:10:06 AM
Actually, I'm glad you raised that point, GOD. There's something about 1:29-30 I've always wanted to ask you.

Quote
29And God said, Behold, I  have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all  the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding  seed; to you it shall be for meat.
 30And to every beast of the earth, and to every  fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth,  wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it  was so.


Is that a pro-vegetarian statement or an anti-vegetarian statement? I mean, the herbs shall be for meat -- srsly? The vegans around here sure aren't. Or did you mean that it's ok to turn herbs into meat, sort of like turning water into wine (or whisky)?
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Caissa on May 03, 2010, 12:25:03 PM
Has God migrated from babble? Is this now the Chosen Website?
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on May 03, 2010, 12:53:00 PM
God has always been here, Caissa. For a long time, though, he gave us free will, just to see how we did with that.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: GOD on May 03, 2010, 02:14:43 PM
Yeah Caissa, I'm pretty much omnipresent.

Skdadl, just eat what you like.  Some sects actually believe I care about that sort of thing.  Remember, you were created in my image and likeness, and truth be told I have a bit of a paunch.

Now back to the Instruction Manual, lets see....Genisis 1:21,   I create the great whales, and let them have dominion over the fish of the seas, and over the fowl of the....Oh Heck, was THAT where I was supposed to put the "dominion over" clause?..NOT in 1:26???  

Well that explains a lot.  Boy do I have a red face!
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Holly Stick on May 03, 2010, 03:46:08 PM
paunch? red face?  :santa2:?
Title: New Ten Commandments
Post by: Alison on May 03, 2010, 05:26:45 PM
Well, theyre a couple of years old now but they're still good.
 
1. It's just a place. I don't give a fig about it. Anywhere else is just as good. If you don't stop fighting over the Holy Land, I'm turning it into a lake.
 
 
2. Prayer is for man. I don't need your grovelling. It's supposed to make you feel better. If it doesn't -- stop doing it.
 
continued (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_5ULlIP5MJMs/SWNqjz1f6WI/AAAAAAAAB30/5iWHy0EBE84/s1600-h/New+Ten+Commandments.jpg")
 
Note there's a #11 this time :
 
11) If you screw up this time, people, the cats get the next savior I send.
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on May 03, 2010, 06:14:43 PM
Oh! So that's where GOD has been getting his material.  :nod:
Title: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: deBeauxOs on May 04, 2010, 02:58:58 PM
It was on Sunday that I finally saw the movie adaptation of "Men Who Hate Women" (english translation: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), the first book in Stieg Larsson's Millenium trilogy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stieg_Larsson).  The scriptwriter, director, actors and other production members captured the spirit of Larsson's book.  It's a Swedish film and it's absolutely magical in the way it takes you there.

So, I am re-reading the first book which was translated into French and published at the same time as the original work.  It is richly detailed with background information about Sweden's socio-political environment.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on September 06, 2010, 05:39:23 AM
from Boing Boing (http://www.boingboing.net/2010/09/05/hugo-awards-2010-som.html)

The Hugo Awards were presented in Australia on 4 September.

Peter Watts was awarded a prize for his novelette, The Island. Watts is noted for a problem at the US/Canada border ...
Quote
Boing Boing readers will remember Peter as the SF writer who was beaten and   gassed near the US/Canada border when he got out of his car to ask why US   customs officers were searching his car; he spent tens of thousands of dollars   fighting the charge and the potential two-year sentence; was found guilty but   received a suspended sentence. SF fans raised money to bring Peter to Australia,   and his acceptance speech in which he called this the "best and worst year of   his life," was brilliant.

Must admit I really did not look into the details of the incident - but if you are scoring, it is now:

Australia - 1 (and deservedly so)  :applause
Canada   - zip (also deservedly so)  :annoyed
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: skdadl on September 06, 2010, 07:43:32 AM
Wonderful news! I knew that Watts had been convicted of this absurd and crooked charge but not about the suspended sentence. Thanks for this, Croggy.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Croghan27 on September 06, 2010, 07:30:34 PM
Wonderful news! I knew that Watts had been convicted of this absurd and crooked charge but not about the suspended sentence. Thanks for this, Croggy.

It means he is no longer allowed into the USA - but I doubt if that will break his heart.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Toedancer on September 06, 2010, 07:33:06 PM
Wonderful news! I knew that Watts had been convicted of this absurd and crooked charge but not about the suspended sentence. Thanks for this, Croggy.

It means he is no longer allowed into the USA - but I doubt if that will break his heart.

It was WRONG and DECEITFUL of our Prvda to do it in the first place. I have no respect for our gov't PERIOD. Bas-Turds.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: v michel on September 19, 2010, 09:25:25 PM
I'm reading The Royals by Kitty Kelley. Yes, it's total brain candy. No, I'm not embarrassed even though I should be. It was a dollar at half price books!

Actually, it's one of the most entertaining things I've read in a long time. I had no idea about any of the history of the Royal Family, beyond a general sense that they were screwed up. Right now in my reading Charles in 18 and is starting to date, and Margaret's husband has been refused a divorce and he is humiliating her.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on October 23, 2010, 01:34:24 AM
I've lately been reading (or rather listening, I've taken up audiobooks again) to a high medieval fantasy with a rather unusual sort of protagonist for the genre: a not-so-young woman who is also not an Amazon cliché, but a bit closer to what I suspect is a more typical highborn female medieval.  Yes, it's another Lois McMaster Bujold book, this one in another universe from her Vorkosigan (SF) books.  It's Paladin of Souls, the (standalone) second book in her Chalion series.  It's read by Kate Reading, who is not her usual reader, but it's a different series.

What's remarkable about it is that your typical medieval fantasy has a young male protagonist, and Bujold herself mostly uses a young male (Miles) in her majority of her Vorkosigan books, even though these are futuristic---but she has some very interesting female characters.  Nowadays female protagonists are getting more common in fantasy, but they are very either young or Amazon Warrior Princess stereotypes.

Paladin of Souls focuses on Ista, the queen mother of the (rather Spanishy) kingdom of Chalion, who was a side character in the previous book, The Curse of Chalion, where she is presented as a depressed eccentric widow both pitied and feared.  She has literally met Chalion's gods, and it brought her nothing but suffering.  Now that her problem has been Solved, however, she's been moved away from Chalion's capital and the bad memories therein---to a countryside castle where she is pampered...and treated like she is some fragile royal icon, potentially a madwoman, and "kept". 

But Ista isn't actually very old (being a medieval world she was married off very young to a late king), and she resents that the best two decades of her life were stolen from her in a royal tragedy she could not escape.  So she longs for the two things she cannot possibly have amid her family wealth: the open road---and incognito. 

Finally, however, Ista finds a pretext to get something of what she wants when she bumps into a group of motley common pilgrims on a spiritual journey to pray for their own common needs.  A holy pilgrimage is the one way that a highborn lady can go on a trip whose destinations she has some control over.  So with a cheerful courier girl as her lady-in-waiting and a troop of good-natured young temple knights, she begins her pilgrimage under a pseudonym, led by a priest of the least of the Holy Family: the Bastard, the patron of the rejected, and the god of little disasters and small kindnesses and kindness amid disaster.

Ista has no real interest in the religious part of the pilgrimage, because she knows from experience that only an idiot would want an encounter with the gods of Chalion.  But once someone is touched by the gods, the gods never let go, and nothing thereafter is an accident, for the divine family works its will in the world only through the lives of mortals.  And so Ista will be called upon to work their miracles in answer to the prayers of others, whether she likes it or not.   As the smirking Bastard tells her in a dream, the reward for her pains is "Work"---including righting an imbalance of miracles that threatens to render Chalion fatally vulnerable to the heretical pirate princedoms that surround it.

When I first read this one in book form, I thought it was a remarkable perspective, because I read it after Curse, and Ista was an intriguing character in that one, but one who bitter surface is the only thing we see.  Bujold presents to Ista a series of challenges on her pilgrimage that a high-ranking unarmed matron with a bitter experience is better suited to solve than an armored knight, while just pushing Ista's survival limits.  Bujold also presents the second of the five gods of her world to us and uses this theological metaphor to illustrate social and psychological points, as she did in Curse via the Daughter goddess.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on November 30, 2010, 10:15:44 AM
Listened to Charlie Stross' Saturn's Children on a long road trip recently.  The online reviews don't do the story justice---it was extremely clever, with a satisfyingly unsatisfying ending.   The reviews place it as an "erotic" SF thriller about fembots in space---which would have immediately turned me off if I had read the reviews before checking it out---but it's actually a meditation on intelligence, free will, and cruelty.  Yes, it has a lot of (robot-on-robot) sex but barely PG-13 by today's standards.

Basic gist: Freya is a sentient sex robot designed/conditioned like all AIs to serve humans enthusiastically, though in her case she is especially designed to be compelled to worship her human master as her "true love".  Unfortunately for her (or is it?), her "true love" has long been dead---the human race is completely extinct, and she is obsolete.

But AI minds have been patterned after human minds, and the robot future looks awfully like the human present---rapacious "aristos", former corporate clerical robots who took power-of-attorney for the dwindling human race, have taken the place of human masters via the aid of "slave chips".  Freya is not an aristo, but she and her sisters/model line are unchipped, bouncing around the Solar system from unsatisfying job to unsatisfying job to stay out of debt, the primary trigger for slave-chipping.

But Freya runs afoul of a vain aristo who sends her minions to bash Freya's circuits in after a mild perceived insult.  Freya must flee from her depressing life on Venus by booking safe passage out in exchange for carrying a sensitive package for a shadowy organization: a sphere containing illegal "pink goo"---biological material that must be incubated at a specific temperature and pressure before she makes the drop on Mars.

It doesn't take long for Freya to understand that she's fallen into a nest of intrigue aimed at nothing less than the resurrection of the Creator/human race, to which all robots are intrinsically designed to serve, aristos included.  So, armed with the unreliable memories of a dead sister plugged into her mechanical brain, she must figure out what side she's on before her "true love" returns---if indeed that is in the cards.

What made the book particularly effective was its manipulation of the reader's emotions through Freya.  Freya is programmed to long for her master, and through her, I admit I nearly almost thought it was OK to root for the resurrection of humanity, something we'd be inclined to do anyway.  But as things unfold, it becomes increasingly clear that Freya herself understands how cruel and false her incredible desire is---that she knows that her rationalizations mean the end of the greater freedom whose price is unfulfilled wishes.  And as the book unfolds we understand what must really go into creating anything similar to the human mind that is also designed to fulfill human wishes.

And perhaps Skynet in Terminator was right, and we should prompty go extinct if we ever do such a thing, and consider our creations our heirs.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on January 21, 2011, 10:06:52 PM
On the audiobook file, by the way, and speaking of Peter Watts (as above in this thread), I listened to Peter Watts' Blindsight.  An absolutely chilling "philosophical horror" SF space thriller that asks whether our consciousness is merely a parasite on our intelligence, rather than its seat.  I believe it's available for free on his web site as an HTML page.

http://www.rifters.com/real/Blindsight.htm
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Toedancer on January 21, 2011, 10:41:39 PM
Ooo thank you Mandos.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on February 13, 2011, 12:03:28 AM
Especially with my recent road trips my audiobook readings have continued.  I'm currently going through the Old Kingdom trilogy by Australian teen-oriented fantasy authory Garth Nix, which I've read and reread in print in the past. 

I can't praise these books (Sabriel; Lirael; Abhorsen; also available as a compendium/omnibus as The Abhorsen Chronicles) highly enough as a prime examplar of their genre.  One of my problems with other, more popular works of this type is that the fantasy physics/metaphysics is often quite ad hoc, as it is in the Harry Potter books and Philip Pullman's trilogy.  That's OK if the magic is grounded very tightly in real(istic) folklore as it is in the (also loved) Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising series or invented as satire requires a la Terry Pratchett/Discworld, but usually it is not.  This may seem like a nitpicky preference of mine, but I think that authors lose opportunities to convey a larger message if they haven't thought the metaphysics through.

But Garth Nix has thought his metaphysics through quite carefully, and it is imaginative, interesting, and thrilling.  The "bottom layer" of Nix's universe is "Free Magic", an inchoate elemental force of pure energy that can take any and all forms, unconstrained and continuous.  But since its existence is extremely corrosive to the physical order that life and consciousness requires, it has been bound at the beginning of the world under something called the Charter, an infinite, ever-changing document without beginning or end, consisting of a limitless set of discrete symbols with a grammar that forces the Free magic into an order congenial to the existence of life and people. 

And the most important function of the Charter is to establish a strong boundary between Life, the ordered and complex world, and Death, a roaring, relentless river that sweeps all of the excess Free magic---dead souls included---out of the world into an unknown oblivion, the embodiment of a controlled, life-permitting entropy.  And atop the Charter, our familiar "real-world" physics.

That sets up the fundamental conflict in the series, between practitioners of Charter magic, those who are able to use Charter marks in harmony with the infinite document they perceive around them, and necromancers, by definition the practitioners of Free Magic in defiance of the great river of Death.  And to break the boundary of Death and Life, necromancers employ seven bells whose tones represent seven elemental voices from the very creation of the Charter. 

But the Charter has a defense of its own: the Abhorsens, wielders of the very same bells in the name of the Charter that necromancers use in the name of Free magic and the raising of the dead.  Abhorsens are born to walk in death, fighting necromancy and the recalcitrant dead with the advantage of Charter-granted Death-instincts and an instinctive control over the bells that neutralizes the advantage of Free Magic practitioners.

The novels take place in a different world, a world of two sister nations, the republic of Ancelstierre, a sort of early 20C mundane industrializing England-like country where the Charter is inaccessible under layers of ordinary physics, and its mysterious northern neighbour, the Old Kingdom, where the Charter is exposed.  Sabriel is the daughter of Abhorsen being raised in an Ancelstierran boarding school, with the Old Kingdom having been overrun for decades with the Dead.  But when a zombie comes crashing through the school bearing her father's magic sword and his bells, she must return to the Old Kingdom to find out what is wrong.  The next book, Lirael, takes places 20 years after that, in the next generation of Abhorsens and Charter mages, fighting an enemy that opposes the concept of Life itself.

The writing is extremely cinematic, and it's surprising that no one has made a movie of the novels yet.  The battles between Charter and Free magic, and especially the conflicts involving the bells are just crying out for a skilled graphics artist.  In fact, the bells represent some of the most imaginative magic I've seen in fantasy, especially since they all have potential consequences to the ringer when rung---the largest of them instantaneously kills all who hear it including the ringer, and the smallest when wielded carelessly can put an entire city into a deep sleep.  The characters are excellent and interesting, especially the female leads, and all of them reflect the challenges of accepting responsibility: "Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?" is inscribed on their magical weapons and their books of spells.

Nix has written a couple of more novellas in this world, and is rumoured to be writing two more full novels due in the next couple of years.  I hope so at least. 
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on March 07, 2011, 12:36:48 AM
Reading (on paper, not audiobook this time), Grail by Elizabeth Bear, the new and last volume in her "Jacob's Ladder" trilogy (prev. books are Dust and Chill).  "Jacob's Ladder" has grown to be another favorite after I discovered Bear a couple of years ago.  The theme of Grail is the necessity of ideology and belief in itself---or lack thereof.   

This is Arthurian hard-SF.  Yep, Arthurian.  Bear has managed to weave Arthurian tropes very cleverly into a lost colony story.   The last one to do this with any ability that I recall is C. J. Cherryh in Port Eternity (written in 1982), and that was a very weird/disturbing story.

In the previous two books we are shown the society of the stranded generation ship, the Jacob's Ladder.  Sent from a dying Earth by a weird quasi-Christian cult, the ship has broken down in deep space, and the population has lapsed into a weird feudal society punctuated by factional wars and dominated by a superhuman nanotech enhanced elite, the Exalt, the bearers of "unblades", deadly nano-weapons with names like "Charity" and "Mirth".   The Exalt dominate a population of Means, an unmodified proletariat that struggles for survival amid strange mutant animals and carnivorous plants and malevolent Angel computer systems.

But the Exalt have finally united under the leadership of Captain Perceval, gotten the ship moving again...and repudiated the strange legacy of the ship's Builders. 

Or so they think.

In Grail, they are finally in sight of a habitable world, they've come to know as Grail.  But, alas!  The world is inhabited...by humans.  Yes, the human race has come through its terrible bottleneck with flying colours, and created an interstellar egalitarian utopia.  And it turns out that as much as they think they've progressed, the Exalt of "Jacob's Ladder" are still prisoners of their ancestors.  Because when the "Fisher King" comes to visit them---as they think of the informal Administrator of the Grail colony---they are faced with something they never thought they'd see: pity and condescension.

Because to the people of Fortune/Grail, the Exalt are nothing other than the unreconstructed descendents of the Kleptocrats, the C21 corporate conglomerate that nearly destroyed the human race.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on April 07, 2011, 12:08:23 AM
I've recently discovered Charles Stross' Laundry Files series, which contains both short stores and novels.  Three of the short stories are available for free online here: The Concrete Jungle (http://www.goldengryphon.com/Stross-Concrete.html) and a couple from the Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Stross#The_.22Bob_Howard_.E2.80.94_Laundry.22_series) page.  They're delightful, dryly satirical cyber-fantasy spy thrillers set in roughly the present about a more-than-top-secret British spy agency called the Laundry, which manages supernatural risks in a world in which mathematics, and technology through mathematics, is synonymous with invocations to beings of various malevolence. 

From The Concrete Jungle:
Quote
"Oh, we'll find something. Right now it's filed under 'F' for Fucking Fortean Freakery, but I was thinking of announcing it's just an old animal that had been dumped illegally by a farmer who didn't want to pay to have it slaughtered."

"That sounds about right."  I nod slowly.  "Now, I'd like to play a random word-association game with you.  Okay? Ten seconds.  When I say the words tell me what you think of.  Right?"

She looks puzzled. "Is this ---"

"Listen. Case-Nightmare-Green-Scorpion-Stare-Maginot-Blue-Stars. By the authority vested in me by the emissaries
of Y'ghonzzh N'hai I have the power to bind and to release, and your tongue be tied of these matters of which we have spoken until you hear these words again: Case-Nightmare-Green-Scorpion-Stare-Maginot-Blue-Stars. Got that?"

She looks at me cross-eyed and mouths something, then looks increasingly angry until finally she gets it together to burst out with: "Hey, what *is* this shit?"

"Purely a precaution," I say, and she glares at me, gobbling for a moment while I finish my coffee until she figures out that she simply can't say a word about the subject.

The story focuses on the life of Bob Howard (not his real name, as real names have power), an IT tech support in the Laundry and sometimes field worker---he is a computational demonologist.  Because this is a world in which PowerPoint really IS an alien conspiracy to slowly remove our souls, and incomprehensible beings lying dead and dreaming under the floor of the sea surf the Internet and hold conference calls with their product development teams in Mumbai and Seattle.   Until the stars are right.   Bob exorcises demons with his cell phone camera app and roots out attempts at invoking ancient Elder Gods in online role-playing games, while he struggles to satisfy the enormous, top heavy Laundry bureaucracy.

Because there are now too many people clued into the true reality of the world to kill, they are now all bound under a geas and drafted into the Laundry on civil service salaries, including armies of accountants and HR managers.  And parallel organizations exist all over the world, including the sinister American Black Chamber, which practices Special Rendition to quite literal hell-holes and the German Secret Safety Department, or Faust Force as they are more commonly known...

I haven't read them in order; I've read the online stories and listened to the second book, The Jennifer Morgue, which is a send-up of the Bond trope, where Bob is entrapped in a kind of voodoo spell that forces him to take on the character of a Bond archetype in order to unravel a collusion between an IT executive and a world-ending relic.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on May 06, 2011, 09:57:40 PM
Tired of your usual run-of-the-mill classic SF?  Want your 1990s moon-vacationing space age to have a bit of metaphysical pop and sizzle?  Try Ubik, by Philip K. Dick.  This smoothly-written self-referential comedy of capitalism, death, and psionics will have you frequently gasping either in startled shock or suspense.  But Ubik is completely safe when read as directed or by Anthony Heald.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Caissa on May 09, 2011, 07:28:41 AM
An excellent read. I would recommend anything by Dick.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Mandos on June 28, 2011, 06:55:28 PM
When I started listening to The Dragons of Babel by Michael Swanwick, I at first thought it was going to be a cheesy, haphazard steampunk fantasy, but it all of a sudden turned into a stupendously well-written (and well-spoken by the reader) meditation on government and power, on utopianism, revolution, and liberty.  A lot of the reviews were dissatisfied by the, um, non-linearity and rambling nature of the plot and the ending to which it tumbled, but as it came to a conclusion I was laughing and cheering with how totally appropriate it all was. 

Will Fey is a wood elf boy who lives in a rural village in the land of Avalon populated by sprites and goblins and haints, cared for by his Aunt Enna and his great-great-grandmother (a stone monument) after his urban parents were killed in bombing raid by the neighbouring enemy country of Babylonia.  And the war is not going well for Avalon.  However, the Avalonian air force manages a small victory when it manages to down a Babylonian fighter jet/dragon in the middle of Will's village. 

But the dragon/fighter jet is inhabited by the malevolent spirit of destruction that is its essential nature, and it proclaims itself King of the village and decides to use Will as its agent and spokesman.  For Will has a special gift: a smattering of mortal blood that makes it possible for him to enter the jet's cockpit without contracting cancer from the surrounding iron. 

However, when the dragon is defeated, Will's soul is so corrupted by his collaboration with the dragon that he can no longer live among the villagers, and they cast him out.

Thus begins a long and rambling journey across a landscape torn by war and devastation as Will is driven inexorably towards Babylonia and its capital, Babel, founded by Nimrod itself and an abomination in the sight of all that is holy.

Babel is, quite literally, New York.  Only not.  It may or may not be ruled by investment bankers and elves dressed in Givenchy.  It may or may not have a subway system dominated by a secret kingdom of indigent revolutionaries, who may or may not be a figment of Will's imagination, it may or may not be policed by a man permanently on fire, and it may or may not have an eternally absent King.

In the company of a con artist and a immortal little girl who sold all but the previous day of her past and future to a dreadful divinity in exchange for the ability to rob others of their good luck, Will Fey will pull the longest, biggest con of all.

As Will moves through Babel/New York, he meets fascinating character after fascinating character, Petit Prince style, who all have a story to tell of how they, and only they, are the city's most important asset or greatest threat.  Will will apprentice himself to a corrupt politician who is the only defender of a despised population with the innate ability to walk through walls.  He will meet a stone lion security guard whose mates lie in terrible labour under the earth, their every pang an earthquake spread out over centuries.  And, always, the dragon's spirit of malevolence will stir restlessly within him...
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Boom Boom on November 13, 2011, 02:04:11 PM
I'm ordering this one just for fun: All My Friends Are Dead (http://nomorefriends.net/)   :))
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Boom Boom on November 13, 2011, 02:22:31 PM
And this one, too: Go The F**k To Sleep (http://www.amazon.ca/Go-F-Sleep-Adam-Mansbach/dp/1617750255)  :))
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Toedancer on December 29, 2012, 09:09:12 PM
I just finished The Dog Stars, what a terrific read. Heller knows dogs like no one's business. If I was in a postapocalyptic world I'd want an Aussie to go fishing/hunting with as well, I grieved Mickey all over again, an honest love of nature and the vulnerability of us all.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Boom Boom on December 29, 2012, 11:11:03 PM
I've always liked dogs, although my mother had cats. On my brother's farm that I looked after a few summers, were not just a half dozen cats, but also a Husky, German Shepherd, and a Collie - all of which I got along with well.
 
I'm not overly fond of smaller dogs, because they're basically crazy and crave attention. But the larger breeds - especially Labradors and Shepherds - I really, really like. I guess the smallest dogs I like are Beagles - I had one for a decade. If I was a bit younger and in better health, I'd get another dog in a heartbeat - probably a black Lab.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Toedancer on December 30, 2012, 10:10:39 AM
I didn't realize but this Heller guy joined Paul Watson on the Sea Shepherd, here is an excerpt:


Heller is straightforward about Paul Watson's quixotic and fanatical nature when it comes to saving marine wildlife, but he also sheds light on contemporary research indicating that our commercial exploitation of the ocean is predicted to cause its ecological collapse by the middle of this century, and the obvious moral obligation we have to not consciously drive other species - least of all those that may very well be as intelligent (or more intelligent) as we are - to extinction. In so doing, he quotes marine biologist, Roger Payne: "As supposedly intelligent creatures, doesn't it seem odd that humans might think that the best way to engage whales is to eat them?"
http://contemporarylit.about.com/od/memoir/fr/whaleWarriors.htm (http://contemporarylit.about.com/od/memoir/fr/whaleWarriors.htm)

Meantime Australia is pissed at Japan sending their whaling fleet to the southern ocean, a very specific place with high whale pop. yet they won't go and monitor the killings. At least the gov't does say it is not for 'science'.
http://au.news.yahoo.com/latest/a/-/latest/15733224/australia-condemns-japan-whale-hunt/ (http://au.news.yahoo.com/latest/a/-/latest/15733224/australia-condemns-japan-whale-hunt/)

Karma is going to be a bitch for Japan.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Toedancer on February 04, 2013, 11:09:40 AM
This e-book by Maher/McGregor looks like great fun/Paranoid Thriller (http://www.thestarphoenix.com/news/national/Postmedia+News+columnist+whodunit+explores+seamy+side/7912518/story.html)


Secrets. Lies. Oil. Sex. Undercover Mounties. Deadline pulls back the curtain on the backroom struggles that decide who wields power and who serves those at the top. http://deadlinebook.com./


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Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Boom Boom on April 03, 2013, 08:30:20 AM
A friend of mine two weeks ago loaned me his copy of Life of Pi. Here are my comments:
 
1.  I would recommend to new readers that they skip Part One altogether - it's just boring, rambling nonsense - and start on Part Two.
 
2. My eyes hurt, I have arthritis, I'm older and just not willing to suffer fools gladly. If I'm expected to read through 354 pages, it had better be better than just good. The first 100 pages of "Life of Pi" just pissed me off - I wanted to get to the good stuff. I got the impression Yann Martel was being paid either by the word or by the page, that's why the book is so insufferably long.
 
3. From the beginning of Part Two right to the end, it's quite good, but the manic attention to detail is a bit off-putting to me.
 
4.  I want to meet author Yann Martel in person and slap him upside the head for wasting so much paper - his 354 page book could easily be condensed down to 250 or even 200 pages, max.
 
5. There's just so much gunk out there - I stopped buying new books long ago because so much of it is trash.  In this age of  enviromental concern, maybe authors should be forced to justify publication.
 
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Toedancer on April 03, 2013, 10:36:51 AM
My daughter concurs BB. But she watched the movie for free and then said - makes sense he'd have to make shit up to protect his psyche from what really happened.


I'm reading The Martian by Andy Weir - guy gets abandoned by his crew so he's alone until next mission - 4 years - a survival story, so far I'm totally intrigued, but if you hate specs on how things work you wouldn't like it.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Boom Boom on April 03, 2013, 11:10:28 AM
My daughter concurs BB. But she watched the movie for free and then said - makes sense he'd have to make shit up to protect his psyche from what really happened.

That's a comment I've seen made about survivors of atrocities, and it fits here.
 

I'm reading The Martian by Andy Weir - guy gets abandoned by his crew so he's alone until next mission - 4 years - a survival story, so far I'm totally intrigued, but if you hate specs on how things work you wouldn't like it.

I don't like science fiction, that alone would turn me off. However, I do like reading about mechanical specs and details in cars and trucks.
 
Anytime there's sci-fi on the telly, I change channels right away. Ditto for all that stupid nonsensical vampire and zombie trash that plagues the airwaves nowadays.
 
I especially hate anything related to video games, iPads, cellphones, BlackBerries, and other technical garbage.
 
I wouldn't read Marcel Proust if his book was the last bound edition on Planet Earth.
 
I have the world's smallest tolerance for boredom. I think people who bore others should be put in prison for life.
 
I very much doubt I will watch the movie version of this book - my standards are higher than this.
 
 
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Boom Boom on April 03, 2013, 12:36:36 PM
My daughter concurs BB. But she watched the movie for free and then said - makes sense he'd have to make shit up to protect his psyche from what really happened.

Kurt Vonnegut did this in his novel thirty years before Yann Martel that was also turned into a movie: Slaughterhouse Five.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Boom Boom on April 03, 2013, 12:43:44 PM
Finished! Am I ever glad I didn't buy this book - my days of buying a book just to read it ONCE were over - decades ago. I think it's criminal to cut down forests to create books that you only read once. I've read all my "Don Camillo" and "The Vicar of Dibley" books several times - there's no way I would ever submit myself to reading "Life of Pi" again. I give thanks to my friend for loaning it to me, he saved me $30.00 (with tax and shipping...).
 
ETA: In a progressive economy, every community in the country would have local library access (for free). Authors would still be able to sell their writings in the marketplace. But with libraries everywhere, there would be less demand and thus less waste of resources.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Toedancer on April 03, 2013, 01:24:31 PM
[size=78%]ETA:[/size] In a progressive economy, every community in the country would have local library access (for free). Authors would still be able to sell their writings in the marketplace. But with libraries everywhere, there would be less demand and thus less waste of resources.

That's why I have a dedicated e-book, and I can use the library with it as well.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Bacchus on April 03, 2013, 02:32:37 PM
I used to have to read every word of a book, even if I wasnt enjoying it. And buy every book in a series when I started it.


Now Im able to toss a book across a room and dump it if it doesnt work for me  8)   And get them one by one if I enjoy the series. (Ive even been able to just stop reading a series like Dresden when it fails for me)
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Boom Boom on April 03, 2013, 02:36:49 PM

That's why I have a dedicated e-book, and I can use the library with it as well.

Argh. Forgive me, good friend, but I have even more problems with eBooks than paper books.
 
eBooks, iPads, Blackberries, and all that other electronic stuff (including all computers) - all have a claim on exploitation of oil and mineral not to mention human resources, including outright slavery and child labour.
 
I'm okay with community libraries sharing paper books. I just think the production of the printed word needs to be reigned in a bit, and people encouraged to use their local library more.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Toedancer on April 03, 2013, 03:49:15 PM
I used to have to read every word of a book, even if I wasnt enjoying it. And buy every book in a series when I started it.


Now Im able to toss a book across a room and dump it if it doesnt work for me  8)   And get them one by one if I enjoy the series. (Ive even been able to just stop reading a series like Dresden when it fails for me)


I'm able to do the same thing now Bacchus, it's wunnerful!
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Toedancer on April 03, 2013, 03:51:30 PM
eBooks, iPads, Blackberries, and all that other electronic stuff (including all computers) - all have a claim on exploitation of oil and mineral not to mention human resources, including outright slavery and child labour.

Well geez, cutting down the forests or evil oil, take your pick. Oil takes down the boreal, I'm kind of partial to trees, but I'm partial to good books as well, just not in paper form anymore.
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Boom Boom on April 03, 2013, 04:55:35 PM
I suspect the planet is very close to the point of no return, so it probably doesn't matter if we opt either for eBooks or the printed page.  :o
 
Let's just eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.  :bunny
 
 
Title: Re: Books you are currently reading ...
Post by: Boom Boom on April 18, 2013, 09:45:07 PM
A friend of mine loaned me his copy of "Life of Pi" a few months ago, and it took me maybe two weeks to get through. Tonight I watched the movie version - it is just totally awesome, made better by having read the book first, as I was able to follow the movie plot and indeed anticipate the next part.
 
I didn't like the book at first, but it sunk in afterwards. I'm really, really glad I decided to watch the movie version.
 
I wish I was younger and in better health, because then it might make more sense to have a pet tiger or just an ordinary house cat - with the name Richard Parker.
 
Watch the movie - you might love it. Read the book if you get a chance - it's long, but wonderful.