Books: Last Book You Read and Rate It

Discussion in 'Entertainment' started by Ceremony, Mar 12, 2017.

  1. Ceremony

    Ceremony ______________

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  2. Ceremony

    Ceremony ______________

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    In a previous life I read Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie. As far as I'm aware it's the first and only magical realist thing I've ever read and I've not really read anything else like it. As it traces its way through all of Indian history the scale of the fantasy Rushdie is able to employ is befitting a country as large and diverse as India, and it's a testament to his ability as a writer that it's never overwhelming or boring. You want to read it, you enjoy reading it, everything that happens enriches you somehow, or so you feel.

    At the weekend I read Kim by Rudyard Kipling. Imagine everything I just said about Midnight's Children, set it about fifty years earlier, make it vaguely more racist (then moreso since it's Kipling we're talking here), make it infinitely duller and harder to follow and here you have Kim, the story of an illegitimate Irish urchin boy in India who has a magic destiny of some sort, or so his dad told him before the opium killed him. What follows is 300 pages of unintelligible dreck as he leads an old Tibetan man through the country looking for a river.

    At least, he says this is what happens. The settings change around so much and so frequently that there's no real placing of where any of the characters are supposed to be, or when. As a result there's no sympathy for them when anything happens, no sense of any progression (despite the fact Kim goes to school, apparently to become a spy) or development and in fact let's go back to that parenthesis. A spy. A ****ing spy. He's interacting with his Afghan and his Russian equivalents, apparently, I don't know, they've all got ****ing codenames and they only appear for half a page with no introduction or justification. Is there supposed to be a point to any of what's going on? India itself doesn't feature prominently in the story, the interactions between natives/the British isn't explored in any great detail aside from the customary racism and the odd times when Kim is in school, aside from that it's just madness. Madness which isn't even compensated for in the richness of description of anything, because it feels as if each sentence is about somewhere or someone else, unconnected to whatever you were reading about previously. And when this happens in a book you resent it more and more as it goes on. Hence the words you're reading now.

    There's an Orwell essay on Kipling I meant to read again and will later, but I'm sure he describes him as being "the best bad writer," or words to that effect. I'd hate to see the other sorts of works being written by bad writers of the time.
     
  3. Ceremony

    Ceremony ______________

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    In a previous life I've had great discussions with Oscar and kihei and others in these threads about short stories. While looking up those old thread links I remembered old conversations, and of course cringed at every post I've ever made before this year. I assume this never leaves you, or you just reach an age where you're too old to care.

    What I don't believe I've ever done is read a collection of short stories by someone I've never read before, in any form. Here we have Wilderness Tips by Margaret Atwood, an assortment of stories compiling all my favourite themes of the genre: domestic banality, the irrepressible creep of time, mortality, the insignificance of an individual's existence. All there. All neatly embodying that sense of reaching a point in your life when whatever feelings you once had have left you and you can't handle it anymore. Delicious.

    The stories are all what the lazy would describe as snapshots of life, Anglo-Canadian life, from about the 60s to the 90s. Each story does what I want a short story to do. They contain enough detail to set a scene, to put you in the mind of the characters regardless of their age or the amount of time it takes the story to unfold. And that's it, really. You get a whole life of some people through an impossibly short window and it opens your mind to interpretations, guesses, suggestions over how they spent the decades in between what happened. Being able to chart the small details over the development of the characters' surroundings is an added bonus, whether it's the editor of a fashion magazine noting trends or a woman growing up and into fame and living differently from her mother.

    If you were to read the collection from a feminist angle you'd probably manage it. There are several stories variously sympathetic to gender-related social issues over the time period and most of them are the sort of thing you read in 2017 bemused that social attitudes could have been so short-sighted. What makes the inclusion of these themes so effective isn't that they're bluntly stated as a point in themselves, but that they are always countered by the vulnerabilities and insecurities of the people experiencing them. I think the best way of narrating a short story is to either have someone in third person who knows everything and relates it with a smug air of complacency because they know everything or have it in first person with someone who believes they are like this but aren't. Present a fully-formed and confident person, but leave a crack. Something to work at. Something to explore.

    As for criticisms, I would say the smugness is overdone at times. A knowingness, an over-reliance on the past tense and speaking too definitively as a result, it can be a bit trying. The apparent lack of structure to many of the stories doesn't help either. I'm not expecting chapters but the paragraphs/line breaks don't really help. They just make all the story blend into one, all the characters and times and locations merge and there's a subtlety lacking as a result. That isn't to say the collection is bad, all the good things about it far outweigh the problems. It evokes in you the sort of quiet contemplation you should have after reading ~10 stories of failing lives in an afternoon, and I suppose that's all I really wanted.
     
  4. Oscar Acosta

    Oscar Acosta Registered User

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    Ha, no doubt - many of my previous comments about lit over the years were filled with a smug I know it all attitude that makes me cringe now. But I guess that's the point of us continually reading to expand our minds and appreciation of what we are reading.

    Our complete inverse of ranking of Cormac McCarthy books was a bit of an eye-opener, I just assumed everyone took them in the same way I did. Anyway... back to the topic:

    I've read a bit of Atwood, and maybe need to go back to earlier writing - but she was never an author I cared for too much. Honestly always thought of her as a semi-famous writer because she's one of the few Canadian authors in a spotlight, let alone female.

    I mean her acclaimed "Oryx and Crake" trilogy is kind of generic video game writing. Take Fallout 4 and the Walking Dead plot, combine in a blender and then try to stretch it out over 3 novels.... yikes. I can only compare the downfall in novels to something like Slap Shot movies - the first was really good, the second was horrible, and the third made you embarrassed you even cared to watch/read them in the first place.
     
  5. Oscar Acosta

    Oscar Acosta Registered User

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    How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie (1936)

    [​IMG]

    Was walking through Chapters, and saw this in the bargain area - I had heard about it a lot over the course of my life, so figured, why not?

    It could also be titled How to Win Friends by Being a Doormat

    I can see how a lot of the tips of the book are applicable to people and society in 1936. Like those Time Magazine articles about how to be a woman on a date and make men like you.

    [​IMG]

    To basically sum up entire book, here's how to make people like you!

    1. Never argue even if they are wrong
    2. Smile!
    3. Try to figure out what the other party wants, and then work from that!
    4. If all else fails - give in, people will like you if you give in to everything they want.

    I honestly can't even see that working in the day of bored housewives and quotes from the Rockefellers, Lincolns and Roosevelts. Maybe in some circumstances but not as a life rule. And we now live in a 2017 society where commonality isn't something you should expect. People aren't polite in general and won't care if you are. We live in a world where a brash ***** grabbing dirtbag can be President of the United States - not Teddy Roosevelt.

    Just for kicks, tonight I was out having beers by myself and decided, **** it, I'll just be the 1936 Dale Carnegie. Ask people about their lives, shake their hands, remember their names.

    And of course people liked me. Common sense right? But in a Shaymalan twist, it worked out not just ok but great. People introduced me to their friends, "this is my new friend"..., I shook hands, heartedly like they were the most important person on earth as the book suggested - and everyone loved me.

    I think there is great value to the book, but not in it's society of 1938 ways.
    I'm interested to try it out again.

    4/10

    For now.
     
  6. ngc_5128

    ngc_5128 Registered User

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    Not sure if you have read them, but The Blind Assassin was on Time's "Best 100 Novels" list and The Handmaid's Tale was (IMO) good enough to be on there as well. It's been about 20 years, but I remember enjoying Surfacing and The Edible Woman as well.
     
  7. Amerika

    Amerika Lil Ainjil

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    Whatever (1994) by Michel Houllebecq - Houllebecq's first novel and recounting the depressive days on an unnamed tech worker, this short novel mostly deals with themes of depression, sex and communication between human beings. While the first 50 pages are kind of a bore - there's not much of a story at first, just the musings of the main character about his job and advancement in technology and what it means, bla bla bla - the book really takes off around page 50 when the narrator is to be sent to a remote town to give seminar on a new computer program and goes along with Tisserand, an unattractive 28 year-old virgin who's desperate for a **** and never gives up trying but slowly and surely becomes more and more hopeless about his situation. Like a lot of french writers, Houllebecq has a tendency to use technical/seldom used words for no absolute reasons - besides, making you go ''why? '' - and the book often interrupts the flow of the story so Houllebecq can go on an analysis on sex in the marketplace, capitalism, the information age, depression, etc. (which to be fair, are often interesting, but the interruption of the story can be quite annoying as it hurts the pacing (especially since the book is so short) but the prose is detached (traumatic events in his past of in the present are written with indifference, which works well with the atmosphere and themes of the book) and Houllebecq also has a certain poetic quality to his writing that I enjoyed (there's no overkill). It's still hard to have any sympathy for the characters though - including Tisserand - considering their words and actions but I think this is the way Houllebecq wanted it and it certainly does work within the context of the book as you kind of continue reading with a perverse sense of disdain for the two main characters. All in all, a solid read.
     
  8. Ceremony

    Ceremony ______________

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    There's an essay Fitzgerald wrote called 'The Crack-Up' which is something of a self-reflective judgement of his career and the circumstances surrounding what was effectively the end of it - published in 1936 after his last novel and short story collection. I've no doubt there's wisdom in it I've long since forgotten and could come upon anew were I to read it again but there's one line which stuck with me. In discussing the twenties and everything that came with them he says he can't judge the time too harshly as it "bore him up, flattered him and gave him more money than he had dreamed of, simply for telling people he felt as they did." I almost managed to quote that perfectly first time, I wasn't sure about the bit about money.

    In a time when I could have felt a more personal connection Fitzgerald's stories borne mostly out of my having read all of them the week before and being able to recall named and details from each of them I could have embarrassed myself by writing about them at length and why I understood this assertion of his career so perfectly. While there is a lot of Fitzgerald's life in his work, explicitly and otherwise, there's a level of detachment. I think by now you know I'm going to wave away any shortcomings with a stubborn reverence. Oh, he meant to do that. Oh, it's good that there, there's just enough sense of human frailty amongst the perfect prose to make it seem more human. Oh, if he's simultaneously celebrating and criticising a lifestyle which mirrored his own he's doing it knowingly. He has to be. Maybe that's on me more than anything else. The assumption that a writer knows everything. That they know they know everything.

    Anyway, as a prolific short story writer there's lots which are about him and lots which aren't. Lots which strike a balance between the two. When aspects of his life act as inspiration there's enough separation between fact and fiction. On rare occasions like Babylon Revisited you can see the majesty of the balance between him and his peers. Of what, of who, he's writing about. I don't ever really get the sense that the stories are about him, or that he intends them to be. They don't have to be.

    With all of this in mind, to read a book which is a collection of stories but which is a single story in itself is something of a departure from my undernourished experience of the format. So to read The View From Castle Rock by Alice Munro, well, what can you say here? In two halves Munro presents a partly fictionalised account of her earliest family moving from Scotland to America, which was really Canada. Of their time living there, of what she knows, what she grew up learning and what she's been able to find out since taking an interest in it. The result is something which presents a curious balance between personal and strictly orderly, as if recounting a history which she has a great interest in but no personal investment. Which I suppose is mirrored in the lives of the women she writes of, although you can see the attitudes to family, religion, social orders and the like changing as five generations progress.

    Part of the sense of detachment I can read in her, even the sections and the stories about her, is borne of, well, her. Her, me, I, she. My sister Sheila. The sense of writing of itself being a somewhat wilfully pointless exercise, not achieving anything practical or worthwhile. Munro writes about herself as someone else and the result is what I've championed so much in Fitzgerald. Someone who has a wealth of experience, lived and researched, to draw on and use when writing simply about what she knows and producing something captivating as a result. There is always that uncertainty over who is who and what is happening and yet there never is.

    I think this is grounded in the evocative sense of certainty over the family identity which develops in the first half. The description of the family getting on a boat and leaving Scotland forever seems unfathomable to me now. Not where they're moving to or from, just the sense of abandoning everything you have to go to somewhere which is a complete unknown, with a healthy level of contempt for everything and everyone in the process. Yet it's this which has been the foundation for everything else which follows. It's always there in what's being described and there's always a good balance. I think the format of the book helps here. Although it's technically ten or however many stories the fact that it's one ongoing thread with distinct parts and sections to focus on helps stop it from being too bogged down in details.

    I'm told that Munro is good at writing short stories - certainly the testimonies splashed over this edition tell me quite resolutely this is the case - and I've seen nothing here to suggest otherwise. The comprehensive rundown of an individual and her familial history isn't something I'd expect in such a collection, but it works.
     
  9. stingo

    stingo Registered User

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    [​IMG]

    Do not say we have nothing spans generations , starting in the 1950s and ends in the present day.

    The main events in the book are Maos cultural revolution & the survivors who became the protesters a generation later in the Tiananmen Square protests.

    Loses points because it was hard to keep track of all the characters, and it can jump around from place to place. For a book so non linear I wished it came with a family tree or a character list. Small gripes though. Overall the book is a worthy read.

    7.4/10
     
  10. Ceremony

    Ceremony ______________

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    Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser is the first in what appears to be a large amount of stories about Harry Flashman, public school expellee who joins the army and embarks on a life of cowardice, stuffy English quips and ****ing women. In this tale he goes to India and Afghanistan where he looks down on the natives as harshly as his superiors and survives an assortment of dangers through varying degrees of luck attributed mainly to what he always reminds us of as his cowardice, his sense of self-preservation keeping him out of real peril.

    There's not much else to say about the plot, at least not in the face of the character himself. Absurd. Like no-one else I've ever read. He gets expelled from school for drunkenness, comes home to find his dad equally pished and tells him to give him some money to join the army. While at home he has sex with his dad's mistress. The regiment he ends up in goes to Scotland on a security detail of some sort, where he gets tricked into marrying the daughter of a humble factory worker. Well I say tricked, he has sex with her and because of how stupid she is she necessitates their marriage. Along the way he ****s one of his squadmates' regular prostitutes, he does this with another dancing girl in Afghanistan who later tries to chop it off. Actually he tells us with what appears to be some degree of decency, that it's the only time he's ever raped a woman. He likes them willing.

    So, if you get past the racist and sexist existence of the titular hero, is he even remotely sympathetic? Engaging? Yes, I suppose he is. I find it sort of weird to think he's effectively still a teenager as this story's being told. With that in mind he's just too accomplished a soldier and too accomplished a lover. But then you become desensitised to this so quickly it's irrelevant, really. His time in India and Afghanistan has some relevant historical background to it too which offers some balance of realism every now and then which helps offset the absurdity. Then again, after his valiant defence of the flag against a horde of onrushing Afghans he's taken to meet the Queen - quite pretty below the neck - so it's not always an antidote to the lunacy.

    Despite the sexism and the racism and the improbabilities I enjoyed reading this in the way I'd enjoy watching a Steven Seagal film. Mindless entertainment that makes your eyes glaze over. They actually did, several times during passages. Fortunately there's just enough social commentary interspersed to make you feel like the story isn't a complete waste of time. But really, the sense of hilarity I get from Flashman (even the name, Flashman ffs) is all I'll take from it rather than his eagerness to speak the native languages or to recognise incompetence in British governance and military command in its prospective Empire. Mental. And I'm sure the ~dozen sequels are equally so.
     
  11. Ceremony

    Ceremony ______________

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    An amount of time ago I read and posted about a book called On the Face of the Waters by Flora Annie Steel, from 18... something or other. Chiefly concerning the Indian rebellion of 1857, I noted with some sadness the fact that a book centred around such a turbulent, interesting time of history (which was entirely new to me at the time) was let down by its scale and the sprawling nature of its characters, its narrative and its approach to time in terms of how the events are described in relation to each other. I finished by preaching caution when reading a book which doesn't have a Wikipedia page, especially if it's as long as that one was.

    This weekend the 526 page long Philip Hensher novel The Mulberry Empire spent its time pummelling my brain and, well, what do we have? We have a large, partly fictionalised account of the first Anglo-Afghan war of the 1830s. Unlike Flashman it deals fairly equally with both sides. Certainly the lack of Flashman's comic elements helps make both sides appear more sympathetic. The actual domestic politics of the time are presented in a relatively interesting manner which helps at least make the book seem... fairer. Showing the folly of the two competing powers, Britain and Russia, is more effective when you get the views of every side and a better understanding of what they're doing and why they're doing it. Crucially, the Afghans see no difference between the English and the Russians, which is fitting since near enough every imperialist power in a place like this throughout history has shown the necessary regard for native social structures. Certainly the English desire to install a puppet king who will do what they tell them is indicative of this, and the fact that this book was published in 2002 probably added a sense of prescience at the time given what was happening then in the region, 160 years later.

    Since I finished this I've been looking at reviews of it. All from broadsheet newspapers, several speak in glowing terms of the literary pastiche Hensher uses, parodying genres, writers, everything. Here's the thing. It's pish. This does not read like the book of a smart, well-read man combining over a century of literature into one in a way which is self-reflective and intelligent. This reads like the work of a man with an over-inflated sense of his own profundity. Most telling in this regard are the last few pages in which a sentence running "and here the story ends" (or similar) recurs three or four times. There's a section where one man who's left his sweetheart in England to go back to the east writes a ~10 page letter to her from the boat about... everything. He then finishes it by saying 'oh no, I can't send you this, I'm going to throw it into the furnace, please write me Bella.' That really boiled my ****. Naw, I'm not having this. Of course, one of those reviews says it's evoking Conrad. Leaving my own opinions of him aside, no it isn't. It just isn't. The worst case of this sort of pretentiousness is the Anthropological Interlude which, yes, is written in that font, of someone else in the same place years later, looking at things. Included for no reason I can see besides showing off how much Hensher knows about this time period, it just typifies how badly he's trying to show off how much he knows. And how badly he's trying to do it.

    The other problem which comes from a book which is written by someone who isn't as good at writing as he thinks he is, aside from the descriptions, and the commas, of which there are many in many sentences, for each part of a person or a thing which is being, as they say, described, is, again, the scale. It's big. And there's a lot of people in it. Who do a lot of things. I realise I'm bad at reading, I don't have a memory. Yet if I had managed to read this in one go (which would have left me less coherent than I am now, just let that sink in) I still wouldn't have a clue what was going on. People do things, then the book moves to new people in a new place and goes back hundreds of pages later, by the time they've changed and by the time which has passed (which is never detailed) you've no idea who they are. And, more importantly, you have very little reason to care.

    I think the most telling thing about the characters in this book is that the most interesting one is a Russian who appears about 2/3 of the way through, is there for 50 pages and disappears in disgrace, never to be seen again. If he was going for historical accuracy in this case (why this case was so important I don't know, since he admits in his acknowledgements at the end that one real character's described homosexual relationship with a boy was complete fantasy) it just typifies how the book is the work of someone who cared very passionately and was very interested in the subject but had no idea how to write an engaging novel about it.

    Nothing I can say here other than criticising the scale and the characterisation will do this book justice. I think the subject matter is let down by the style and ability of the man writing about it.
     
  12. Ceremony

    Ceremony ______________

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    In a previous life I was on the dole. In attempt to prove to the dole office at the time that I should continue to be paid to not have a job I lent some time to a local... well, media group is what I think you'd call them. They did various stuff, and one of the projects I worked on involved researching people from the local area who were involved in World War I for the centenary... er, celebrations, which were going on at the time. I had something of a knack for it I suppose, being able to look at rolls of old newsprint on microfilm and write up bits about various young men who died. Not having the largest amount of resources available to me - although I remember some extremely old books and ledgers in the library - I wasn't exactly producing in-depth stuff here, but there were names, pictures and local paper reports. And Commonwealth War Grave Commission links.

    As was the case with so many small communities like my own at the time (not so small given the prevalence of shipbuilding at the time would have seen a population at least three times larger than it is now), there was something unique to the area about the men and the stories I seemed to uncover. Few perhaps are as unique or as tragic as that of the men of Newfoundland, the history of which is charted by Michael Winter in Into the Blizzard: Walking the Fields of the Newfoundland Dead. In it he describes the formation of a designation of men, sent to help what was then a fledgling war effort, their experience in training, their experience of war, and the multi-linked stories of descendency which follow as he travels through Europe on the same routes they did.

    When I posted about Sunshine Sketches by Stephen Leacock a few weeks ago I remarked that it was about something which was distinctly and unmistakably Canadian but which, at the same time, was something I couldn't properly appreciate because of my own ignorance of the entire culture which was distilled into one town with a few hundred residents. Much of the same persists here. A lot of background is given into all of the places described/visited and the people in them, but the style of the book muddles this slightly. Winter recalls the experiences of the men at the same time as he is in the same places - the same paths, fields, trenches. While the purpose of this is understandable and effective to a degree as he does it to show how such a seemingly in vain war effort is remembered and persists a century later, how the reminders and the world it took place in are all still there, this blending of the two times isn't always as profound as it sounds. It's also slightly bizarre when he gets drunk at the memorial where most of the men were killed. Moments like this which should offer simple introspection give way to the personality and input of the writer too prominently.

    I like the style, aside from that. I liked Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer when I posted about it last year for the same reason, a writer with a knack for the things he is describing writing about an already interesting story while injecting his own emotions, memories, observations. It works. It works especially in the world outside of war for the same reasons I described in my beginning to this post, as the locations and legacies of the people he's researched and is writing about can be seen around you today and this makes the appalling subject matter of trench warfare seem all the more surreal. We've all read descriptions of war, of the sorts of people involved in these kinds of wars and the effects it had on the shaping of the civilisation we live in but when there are things to tangibly connect your own life with the lives of people years ago who went through this, it's sobering. This is captured well throughout. There's no denying that. But there are times when it's just not done subtly enough, when there's too much of the mind of the man relaying them.

    This isn't to say the style is off-putting or overshadows the things the book is about. It can't. Maybe it stands out more to me because I'm reading about this stuff for the first time, learning what is assumed and noted to be common knowledge to the writer, someone from Newfoundland who notes the place's 'Ode' with the weary recollections of a child who repeated something at school every day for years for reasons they were never able to really understand. So, if you know some background, you'll probably be able to slip into these descriptions more easily. For me, as an outsider, it seems almost impolite to be reading something so personal, so detailed, so acutely depicting what was effectively a mass grief of a country.

    I think with reading things about war and the armed forces in 2017 - fictional or otherwise - is that there's no way I'll ever come from a social background which can allow me to properly appreciate the mindsets of the people who fought in the World Wars or the people who were left behind and bereaved. Winter notes this in one passage in the second part of the book, saying that wars are no longer remembered in reverence for the people lost or their bravery in fighting, but should be remembered because they didn't have the opportunity for anything else. They couldn't say no. They didn't have the choice or the chance to live their life on their own terms - something else he notes when he's writing of people being shot for desertion. He even mentions this military reverence in relation to sports as well, something I can at least appreciate because I follow North American sports and know what he's referring to. I still remember this year's Military Appreciation Night for the Avalanche, where 100 year old pilots from WW2 are being wheeled out (literally) and cheered. 70 years after the war ended. Is this what the people who went off to fight dreamt of when they left? That years after their war ended, if they survived or not, that they'd be used for displays of public one-upmanship, showing you CARE more than other people?

    I'll say one thing, for whatever criticisms I have of Winter the 'character' in this book, celebration of what happened isn't something he does at all. Nor should he. And despite all its faults, this interesting and personal book is all the better for it.
     
  13. Amerika

    Amerika Lil Ainjil

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    Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac (1958) - The third novel I've read from Kerouac and I'd rank it in between On The Road and Big Sur. Again intensely autobiographical, the book recounts Kerouac's love for his friend Japhy, an adventurous and poetic mountaineer who initiates Kerouac to hiking as they bond over their shared interest of Buddhism. Large segments of the novel deal with Kerouac's attempt to find meaning in life through Buddhism and nature while contrasting with his life in the city - which he grows to despise more and more despite knowing he'll never be able to escape it fully - and the story is largely plotless, as most of Kerouac's work is. While the prose is very poetic and flows seamlessly in nice streams, I wasn't able to be enthralled by the book mostly because it's themes don't resonate with me at all (hiking and Buddhism) and the book essentially only deals with these two themes so at a certain point, I just kept reading because I enjoyed Kerouac's poetic and detailed description of the landscape and his friends but it's not something I'll revisit.
     
  14. stingo

    stingo Registered User

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    [​IMG]

    Adventurers , researchers , writers & filmmakers, along with ex military set off to discover the Lost City of the monkey god deep in the Honduran jungle .

    If adventure and history are your thing, you'll like this. Lots of crazy jungle experiences from venomous snakes, to jaguars and chiggers . Ends on a harrowing note about climate change & disease .

    I recommend.

    7.2/10
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2017
  15. stingo

    stingo Registered User

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    Ferguson gives the reader an idea of what's going on from the ground of Somalia, to the history of the country and how it's turned into a failed state & one of the most dangerous countries on the planet. Deals a lot with how the Somalis aren't immigrating well to the US or the UK, remaining in trouble with the law & attracted to gang culture.

    How does the world deal with Somalia? After finishing the book it seems rather hopeless.

    7.8/10
     
  16. stingo

    stingo Registered User

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    Look hard enough and you should find this book for free if you have an e-reader. It's only 80 pages, will take an hour of your time, but it's worth it.

    How and why you should remain vigilant against tyranny. It's all around us.

    9.5/10
     
  17. stingo

    stingo Registered User

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  18. Amerika

    Amerika Lil Ainjil

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    Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami (1979)- God I love these little aimless, plotless little novels that just carry through little episodes/vignettes of a person's life. That's essentially what this book is and I don't understand why he didn't want them published outside of Japan for so long. It was good. The whole story is essentially a 21 year old student who spends his days drinking beer and reminiscing but it's littered with all these sweet little whimsical lines that makes it such a kick to read. Yeah, the characters aren't super-developed but I almost felt like it added a nice touch to the story, added to it's atmosphere - no one's really there besides the memories - and the writing isn't flashy. It serves the story instead of drawing attention to it's writer which is how a good story should be written.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2017
  19. Oscar Acosta

    Oscar Acosta Registered User

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    Nothing worse than hitting a wall on books.

    Been trying to read Leaving Berlin by some guy - that's how interested I am in it. Joseph Kanon I think the name. Premise is good, book itself boring so I never find myself too interested in picking it up even if just to get to my next one.
     
  20. Amerika

    Amerika Lil Ainjil

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    Flipper 1973 by Haruki Murakami (1980) - My review for Hear the Wind Sing can be used for this one as well, although Flipper is a bit more surrealist and bizarre than HTWS. There's even less of a plot. There's a discussion between the narrator and a pinball machine towards the end that's absolutely cute, though. Very well-written.
     
  21. stingo

    stingo Registered User

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    Byline says it all : Americas path to permanent war. From Vietnam to Iraq.

    What I found most interesting was the governments effort in making war a non thought to most citizens.

    Interesting , but bland at times.

    6.1/10
     
  22. GB

    GB Registered User

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    I've hit a couple of these so far this year. Sapiens in particular took me about a month to get through.
     
  23. Troy McClure

    Troy McClure BPA is a lie

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    Life is too short to read boring books. Toss it aside and try another.
     
  24. Amerika

    Amerika Lil Ainjil

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    I tend to really, really hate doing that but there's only 2 (so far) in my life that I wasn't able to pull through: Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs (and I loved Junky, which he hated) and Tropic of Capricorn by Henry Miller (and I loved Tropic of Cancer but he went way too hard with the obscure and bizarre imagery and not enough actual stories, which is what he was phenomenal at, although Tropic of Capricorn still has excellent passages, particularly one where he talks about eating stolen slices of bread with his friend and how good they tasted because they were stolen).
     
  25. stingo

    stingo Registered User

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    An eye opening look at how black people are simply a colony within a nation. Unlike most books that deal with this subject (the new Jim Crow comes to mind) this one also gives the reader the look from the cops point of view.

    Recommended.

    8.8/10
     

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