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Captiv8



Joined: 25 Aug 2006
Posts: 8501
Location: Third Coast
The New Literature and Book Thread  Reply with quote  

I've posted a few things I've been reading in the old thread, but it's been promoted to the Hall of Fame and nobody seems to check that section out much. You can review that thread here:

http://strangefamousrecords.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=39598

Anyway, what have you fine people been reading of late?

I've been on a terrific Thomas Pynchon kick lately, breezing through Inherent Vice and now nursing the epic Gravity's Rainbow. Inherent Vice was a really nice change of pace for Pynchon. It retained his essential style and prose but is also his most eminently readable text since The Crying of Lot 49. In many ways it's also similar to Vineland. However, it has far greater depth and appeal than either of those books. The plotline is the most lucid of anything Pynchon has ever done, and the voice of the protagonist Doc Sportello is always at the forefront (as opposed to the meandering perspectives of Pychon's other works). It's very noir and counterculturish, and seems to be drawn directly from Pychon's own experiences in southern California. Plus, who doesn't like a good detective novel?

Gravity's Rainbow, on the other hand, requires so much time and attention it's like raising a child. Think Infinite Jest without the footnotes and a slightly diminished obsession with vocabulary and you'll have a pretty good idea of what you're in for. One thing that I've noticed about this seminal book is that it's the most poetic of anything Pynchon has written (though I've still yet to read Mason & Dixon and Against the Day). It's staggering how intelligent, graceful, and seamless each sentence is. To some the vast attention to detail and erudition will be too much to bear, but I think that's the novel's greatest strength. Instead of focusing on the continuity of the plot or even overall accessibility Pynchon really pushed the bounds of what a novel can be. It compares really well with Joyce's Ulysses in that sense, though I think Gravity's Rainbow is more digestible as literature. Either way, it's a highly recommended read.

I also picked up a second edition of Pynchon's short story collection Slow Learner at a used placed in Chicago. It was the only book I was missing. After I'm done with Gravity's Rainbow I'm going to need a break from all the heady stuff in favor of something more straightforward and simple. I'm thinking Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Let's get some book suggestions going.
Post Wed May 23, 2012 10:55 am
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Limbs



Joined: 04 Feb 2011
Posts: 871
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A Universe From Nothing by Lawrence Krauss is snarky funny and really accessible.
Post Wed May 23, 2012 12:26 pm
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mancabbage



Joined: 29 Jun 2005
Posts: 9243
Location: london
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the psychopath test, written by the guy who did the men who stare at goats, interesting and funny
Post Wed May 23, 2012 12:37 pm
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Neuro
A champion of Kurtis SP


Joined: 19 Jul 2002
Posts: 7739
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everything Philip K Dick

about to start this soon

been meaning to read it for awhile now

Post Wed May 23, 2012 12:46 pm
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mzehe916



Joined: 04 Aug 2006
Posts: 4541
Location: Switzerland
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The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart

So far it is entertaining, I picked it up on a whim with no knowledge of the author or the story. I'll offer more when I'm finished.
Post Wed May 23, 2012 2:29 pm
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Sarcastro



Joined: 27 Sep 2002
Posts: 3281
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Hunger Games because I want to have something to talk about to 17 year old girls I meet at the park.

1/3 of the way through, it's pretty good so far
Post Wed May 23, 2012 3:51 pm
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Captiv8



Joined: 25 Aug 2006
Posts: 8501
Location: Third Coast
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The options are more broad (hehe) than that, Sarcastro. I saw an old woman on a plane reading Hunger Games the other day.

I have also heard that Paul Thomas Anderson was trying to adapt Inherent Vice for the screen. That should give some indication of how accessible it is compared to the rest of Pynchon's canon.

For that have read it, what are your thought's on Murakami's Wind-Up Bird Chronicle? I thought it was way too long and ultimately dissatisfying. I wrote a more extended critique in the Hall of Fame thread. I read it on the strength of Kafka on the Shore, which was phenomenal. I also read the short story compilation and liked it, so I don't know why WUBC didn't quite measure up. Norwegian Wood and Hard-Boiled Egg or whatever are also on the shelf.
Post Wed May 23, 2012 6:25 pm
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wesfau



Joined: 22 Mar 2005
Posts: 702
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Pynchon can eat a dick. I understand writing for the sake of the language and showcasing your skills, but he is more unreadable than Milton fucking Faulkner. Pynchon is the Yngwie Malmsteen of literature.
Post Wed May 23, 2012 6:34 pm
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GrantherBirdly
D&D addict


Joined: 05 Jun 2004
Posts: 3144
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wait, why would milton fucking faulkner be an insult, they're two of the best english language writers of all time.
Post Wed May 23, 2012 6:38 pm
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breakreep
homophobic yet curious


Joined: 27 Sep 2004
Posts: 6627
Location: Fifth Jerusalem
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Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is one of my favorite books ever. I have it in Japanese (it comes as three much smaller volumes), but it's a difficult read in that language and, so far, quite a bit above my reading level. I look forward to reading it in its original language, though, considering how well the translation maintained that unique Murakami strangeness.

My wife hates it, though. Too many weird sexual encounters and a dissatisfying ending, she says.
Post Wed May 23, 2012 7:48 pm
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GrantherBirdly
D&D addict


Joined: 05 Jun 2004
Posts: 3144
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Recently finished:



"The Art of Fielding" by Chad Harbach. Engrossing if somewhat mundane novel about baseball, commitment, greatness and Wisconsin. If you like David Foster Wallace, you'll find the themes explored in this novel familiar, if treated somewhat differently. Imagine a novelized version of Wallace's essay "How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart" and you'll have a pretty good idea of what you're dealing with here.



"Leaving the Atocha Station" by Ben Lerner. I'd consider this a must read. It's a short and hilarious tale of one pathologically lying, drug addled student's residency in Madrid on a poetry fellowship. Lerner is a poet by trade (this is his first novel and the book is based on his own trip to Madrid on a poetry fellowship), and so there's not a ton of plot but a bunch of really funny episodes and sharp insights about being young, overeducated, and not knowing who the fuck you are.

Currently reading:



"A Fan's Notes," by Frederick Exley. I'm surprised I'd never heard of this book before my friend recommended it. It's a fictionalized memoir (one gets the sense it's more memoir than fiction) about the "long malaise" that is Frederick Exley's life, and his life-sustaining love for the New York Giants. It's dark dark dark (alcoholism, repeated institutionalization, etc) but luckily Excley is funny as hell, super smart, and a great writer, so you're enthralled even as you're horrified. Highly recommended.
Post Wed May 23, 2012 8:28 pm
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tommi teardrop



Joined: 12 Apr 2007
Posts: 2213
Location: Las Vegas
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I read the first hundred pages of gravitys rainbow and gave up. I have no idea what I read. I guess the sentences were nice. I'll probly try again but lately I don't have the concentration for tough reading.
Post Wed May 23, 2012 9:08 pm
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Jesse Custer



Joined: 01 Dec 2006
Posts: 1257
Location: London
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Y'all need to quit arguing amongst yourselves and give me a concrete recommendation for a Murakami book to read! I've never read one and I'd like to. Heh.


Currently reading the Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi. Picked it up in the book shop whilst I was waiting for someone because it had a recommendation from Salman Rushdie on the cover.

It's good.. funny stuff. A bit of a coming of age story, wrapped up with a lot of the same themes of displacement that Rushdie writes about a lot which is one of the reasons I like his work so much. Also, it's all set in South London so I like that familiarity.

Also reading Generation Kill, since it's been long enough since I saw the show. Excellent book.
Post Thu May 24, 2012 3:05 am
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xGasPricesx



Joined: 23 May 2008
Posts: 1505
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Not a book, but since I just graduated college I decided to revisit DFW's Kenyon commencement speech for the twentieth time, and I'm very glad I did cause I take away something new from it each time. I can't even begin to describe how much I have learned from this speech over the years. This is water. This is water.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122178211966454607.html
Post Thu May 24, 2012 3:31 am
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outpatient



Joined: 07 Jul 2005
Posts: 475
Location: haggis and scotch eggs
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I've been reading lots of short stories lately. I think the medium lends itself to a kind of subdued, unpretentious literariness that novels have difficulty pulling off (that sounded super pretentious)

Sea Oak is a good story by George Saunders, here it is:
http://www.barcelonareview.com/20/e_gs.htm

I hated Chekhov when I was younger but I get it now. a lot of his stories would be dull in another writer's hands, but he has a lot of these great little reflective, refreshing asides. here's two that I think stand out:
Champagne http://www.online-literature.com/donne/1198/
Enemies http://www.online-literature.com/donne/1201/

JD Salinger has a couple gems in his Nine Stories collection. For Esme is one of them:
http://ae-lib.org.ua/salinger/Texts/N6-ForEsme-en.htm
Post Thu May 24, 2012 5:22 am
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