The What Are You Reading? Thread, v. 2.0

This is the place where you can vent whatever's on your mind. Feel free to go off on extended rants or brief blurbs about whatever's rocking your world.

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Barabajagal
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Post by Barabajagal » Thu Sep 29, 2005 11:26 am

booker wrote:Started Focault's Pendulum. I think I'll come back to it.
If you only knew how many times my wife and I have uttered that very sentence about that very book!

For me to read fiction anymore, it has to coincide with a certain amount of strong desire on my part to read the book; in other words, I have to approach it already wanting it. Sometimes, even that's not enough. This is more a feature of the hecticness of life. My only free time comes after 9:00 PM. Hard to have energy for fiction, then.

Non-fiction, not so. With non-fiction, the subject always comes first, and if the subject is interesting, that is usually sufficient, and there's never an implied "commitment" to the narrative. Also, with fiction, my switch goes off the minute I feel the writer trying to impress/one-up his Iowa workshop pals. And, man, is postmodernism annoying.

But, I was an anti-poetry ass for a while, too. Now I'm back reading the biggies. If I had to pick three favorites they would be in this order: Emily Dickinson, Dylan Thomas, William Blake (Shakespeare is in his own category). Contemporary poets should ALL have to rhyme and use form before they start cutting their otherwise prosaic sentences into oh-so preciously significant little free verse lines. Poetry should either be able to be sung or at least incanted like a magic spell. God I'm an opinionated bastard.

miss carol
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Post by miss carol » Thu Sep 29, 2005 12:01 pm

Barabajagal wrote:
If you only knew how many times my wife and I have uttered that very sentence about that very book!

For me to read fiction anymore, it has to coincide with a certain amount of strong desire on my part to read the book; in other words, I have to approach it already wanting it. Sometimes, even that's not enough. This is more a feature of the hecticness of life. My only free time comes after 9:00 PM. Hard to have energy for fiction, then.

Non-fiction, not so. With non-fiction, the subject always comes first, and if the subject is interesting, that is usually sufficient, and there's never an implied "commitment" to the narrative. Also, with fiction, my switch goes off the minute I feel the writer trying to impress/one-up his Iowa workshop pals. And, man, is postmodernism annoying.
Funny you should say that. I just finished reading a ms submitted out of a workshop. I recommended that the author turn off the TV and stay out of workshops.
But, I was an anti-poetry ass for a while, too. Now I'm back reading the biggies. If I had to pick three favorites they would be in this order: Emily Dickinson, Dylan Thomas, William Blake (Shakespeare is in his own category). Contemporary poets should ALL have to rhyme and use form before they start cutting their otherwise prosaic sentences into oh-so preciously significant little free verse lines. Poetry should either be able to be sung or at least incanted like a magic spell. God I'm an opinionated bastard.
AGREED! Holy crap so true.

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Post by Lep » Thu Sep 29, 2005 12:44 pm

I'm definitely in the pro-fiction camp. Storytelling is part of what makes us human.

I'm awaiting "The Tetherballs of Bougainville," which the French Amazon is going to send me as soon as they get my Big Star "In Space." I don't think Mark Leyner is for everybody - some might find him pretentious but I find him hilarious.

Tip for actors: He's a great source of unusual one-minute audition pieces.
I asked the waitress about the soup du jour and she said it was primordial soup - which is ammonia and methane mixed with ocean water in the presence of lightning.

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Post by steve-o » Thu Sep 29, 2005 1:30 pm

Barabajagal wrote: But, I was an anti-poetry ass for a while, too. Now I'm back reading the biggies. If I had to pick three favorites they would be in this order: Emily Dickinson, Dylan Thomas, William Blake (Shakespeare is in his own category). Contemporary poets should ALL have to rhyme and use form before they start cutting their otherwise prosaic sentences into oh-so preciously significant little free verse lines. Poetry should either be able to be sung or at least incanted like a magic spell. God I'm an opinionated bastard.
I think it was Robert Frost who said that writing Free verse is like playing tennis without the net. I'm still an anti-poetry ass for that very reason. So yeah, right on.

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Post by infectiousdisease » Thu Sep 29, 2005 7:47 pm

steve-o wrote:
I think it was Robert Frost who said that writing Free verse is like playing tennis without the net. I'm still an anti-poetry ass for that very reason. So yeah, right on.
Aaaah...good metaphor from a great poet. Now, I'm not an anti-poetry ass, but I have to say that I rarely read it. Sitting around with a book of poems makes me feel pretentious, and compared to other forms of literary material, it's pretty low in my rankings.

That being said...I read A LOT. A lot of everything. I read two different newsmagazines more or less weekly, newspapers when I can....and I remember someone saying that people brag about reading 23 books a year....that's about my total for 5-6 months. Plus the internets. :D That's actually why I don't participate in this thread all that often; I don't want to list the sheer mass of stuff I'm currently looking at.

I review books for a pittance, you see...hence the volume.

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Post by Chris G » Sun Oct 02, 2005 3:15 pm

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jaimoe0 wrote:
Chris G wrote::.
:

By and large, I'm pretty strickly a non-fiction guy. If I'm going to spend hours reading a book, I want some educational pay-back out of it, not just mindless escapism.

:.
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Painting in a pretty broad stroke there. The implication is that all fiction is "mindless escapism," which pretty clearly it isn't. Novels, short stories and poetry have been used to promote different philosophies, to examine and contextualize historical events and to comment on that pesky old human condition for as long as there has been literature.
Oh... you mean good fiction. I still stick to my guns that most fiction is trite pathetic pointless garbage... but then, most music is garbage, most books are garbage, and most people use their brain as a garbage can... present company excluded.

But that's not my bone to pick here. Really, I was just stirring it up... trying to bring this thread back to life. It looks like it was a successful strategy.
Barabajagal wrote:
booker wrote:Started Focault's Pendulum. I think I'll come back to it.
If you only knew how many times my wife and I have uttered that very sentence about that very book!
Umberto Eco is a genius. He's a non-fiction writer that, after writing hundreds of non-fiction works, very late in life began writing an occasional fiction novel. If you have not yet, you should first read Name of the Rose, then read Focault's Pendulum. If pressed to say, I'd probably rank it my favorite fiction work of all time.
Barabajagal wrote:But, I was an anti-poetry ass... pick three favorites they would be in this order: Emily Dickinson, Dylan Thomas, William Blake (Shakespeare is in his own category). Contemporary poets should ALL have to rhyme...
Poe?


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Batchy
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Post by Batchy » Tue Oct 04, 2005 11:48 am

Barabajagal wrote: For me to read fiction anymore, it has to coincide with a certain amount of strong desire on my part to read the book; in other words, I have to approach it already wanting it. Sometimes, even that's not enough.
Interesting quote kind of on topic from Dave Berman from an interview with Dusted magazine (online).

After fiction has taught a human how to empathize (only one of its many excellencies and functions) with other members of its species, its benefits become maintenance operations, unwisely carried out when time is so dear and the enemy is so near

and

I hardly read fiction anymore. Likewise, I don't watch movies. I've been less comfortable taking leave of the world.

I suppose a Xanax overdose and the Black Dog of darkest depression can do that to you.

Personally i've just got a copy of Yellow Dog by Martin Amis and read the first few pages this lunchtime.

Full interview can be read at:

http://www.dustedmagazine.com/features/416

Chris G
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Post by Chris G » Mon Sep 18, 2006 3:01 am

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Just finished reading The Long Tail, by Chris Anderson, Editor of WIRED magazine.

Better than Freakonomics. Better than The Tipping Point. If that genre appeals to you, grab this one. I will be recommending it to everyone.



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I've been making a start at three other books-

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Small Is the New Big by Seth Godin. I'd read enough already to want to pick up one of his books. I'd planned to pick up The Big Moo, but I saw this, and it appealed to me, so...

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I'm taking another stab at A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History. I'm still not crazy about Manuel DeLanda's writing style, but I'm trudging my way through it.

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I picked up The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order several years ago. I'd been familiar with the book for some time, but current events brought it into my hands. I knew it was spawned from a 1993 article in Foreign Affairs magazine. I was expecting it to be very academic in its writing style, and I kept putting off reading it, but this one has turned out to be the most captivating of the three. I imagine I'll finish it first.

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creepy
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Post by creepy » Mon Sep 18, 2006 7:47 am

right on lep... glad someone else digs leyner... i can't read him without reading it aloud to whoever happens to be nearby, but i end up laughing too hard at what i'm reading for the readee to get anything out of it...

i'm re-reading tom robbins' "skinny legs and all" right now...

Barabajagal
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Post by Barabajagal » Mon Sep 18, 2006 9:26 am

I'd like to thank this thread for turning me on to David Mitchell (Black Swan Green) and Neil Gaiman.

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