It's September. What are you reading?

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j d worthington

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Finished The Cords of Vanity last night... this one was rather odd in that, though quite liking it as a whole, toward the end I began to feel that it was going to be something of a disappointment at that point... and then the final ten pages or so, very quietly and understatedly, hit like a punch from nowhere. No, not a disappointment at all. With each book, I become increasingly impressed with the craft and skill in what he has done in this massive undertaking.

And I have now moved on to volume thirteen of the "Biography"... a rather odd one containing both a book of verse (purportedly written or translated by the protagonist of the novel mentioned above), From the Hidden Way (so far, often quite good and, again, quietly powerful) and Cabell's only essay into playwriting, The Jewel Merchants....
 

Teresa Edgerton

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Dark Entries, a collection of short fiction by Robert Aickman. I'm about halfway through, and finding the stories more disquieting than frightening.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Dark Entries, a collection of short fiction by Robert Aickman. I'm about halfway through, and finding the stories more disquieting than frightening.
That is an excellent description of Aickman's strange stories.

I have started The Unknown Orwell (1972) by Peter Stansky and Williams Abrahams, all about the early life of the famous author. It is followed by the sequel, Orwell: The Transformation , which will discuss his life up to the Spanish Civil War. So far it seems very detailed and very well documented.

Between chapters, for lighter reading, I am working my way through Our Dumb Century (1999) by the folks at the mock newspaper The Onion. This consists of one fake front page for each year from 1900 to 2000. I'm up to 1906. Typical phony headlines for this year: "Kansas Defeats Indiana in Ploughing Contest" and "Six-Minute Moving Picture Photo-Play Agonizingly Long, Say Critics."
 

The Judge

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I'm struggling with a couple of hang-overs from August, Drood by Dan Simmons and Pieces of Light by Adam Thorpe.
The struggle with both is over, though for different reasons.

I managed to get through Drood, though it was tough going -- 800 pages of the last few years of the life of Charles Dickens as narrated by his opium/laudanum-addicted real-life friend and novelised envious worst enemy Wilkie Collins, being a cross between an excessively detailed biography of both of them, a Salieri-Mozart struggle between talent and genius, and a horror novel, with scenes and characters lifted from their respective works and nightmare visions of an Eygptian cult and its underworld city beneath London. At half the length it would have been a clever and interesting book.

I didn't manage to finish Pieces of Light. The first section, written from the perspective of a white boy living in colonial East Africa between the wars, was interesting and incredibly well written; the second section where he is sent to live with his mother's brother in England was equally well-drawn and intriguing with its hints about the disappearance of his mother; the third section -- a series of diary entries written by the main character, now in his 70s, on his return to his uncle's house which has stood empty for years -- was less beguiling, being full of odd people doing odd things, with some quesiton mark hanging over the character's sanity; the fourth section was some time later, presumably after the character has undergone a breakdown or worse, and he is writing letters to his long-dead mother by way of therapy, detailing his life between 10 and 70. At which point I gave up.
 

j d worthington

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Dark Entries, a collection of short fiction by Robert Aickman. I'm about halfway through, and finding the stories more disquieting than frightening.
I'd agree with Victoria on this one; though I think I would add that, at least with some of his tales, that feeling of disquiet reaches almost a level of ontological disturbance which can be very powerful.

Finished Cabell's From the Hidden Way (verse)/The Jewel Merchants (play); at some point I suppose I'll have to try to summarize my views of all this, but at the moment I'm still putting together the pieces. Suffice to say that I can see more and more why Cabell himself felt that the entire "Biography" was one single, multi-volume book, and also why it simply doesn't appeal to so many... though for myself, I am coming close to being in awe of the man.

Have now moved on to the next volume, The Rivet in Grandfather's Neck, a novel....
 

Grimward

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Still on Melanie Rawn's Ruins of Ambrai. Could take the whole month, but I'm enjoying it; what's not to like? :D
 

ratsy

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I have set aside The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks to read Goblin Moon by our very own Teresa Edgerton. I started yesterday and read 125 pages already! I am very impressed so far. I like the setting, and the flowing descriptive style a lot. It really puts you in the book. I am starting a course tonight (online modules for a 3 year program for work) so I think my free time is about to get a little more slim but I hope to be able to sneak time to read this up this week still.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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I hope you continue to enjoy it!
____

I finished the Aickman collection, which maybe a collection of his lesser work, because I wasn't especially impressed. I did like "The View," which was beautiful and mysterious and evocative, and I thought was a very well-constructed story, but the rest seemed to be diluted by a somewhat rambling style. I note that the introduction mentioned several stories that sounded intriguing, but which did not, as a matter of fact, appear in this collection. A pity I didn't take a look at the table of contents when reading the sample.

So now (speaking of mysterious), I am reading Academic Exercises, by the elusive K. J. Parker. Loved the first story "A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong," a deceptively simple tale that poses some interesting questions about art, morality, and personal integrity, and just starting the second.
 

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Whilst flying to and from New York and whilst in the hotel there I have had a fair bit of time for reading and managed three books including a Weber doorstop:

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham - A re-read and just brilliant. More thoughts here on the end of the existing thread.
Midst Toil and Trouble by David Weber - I don't think I've ever read a book more in need of either self-discipline or a strong editor. Though the story is still very good its telling is appalling. That story will keep me reading this series but only just. More here.
Hornblower and the Hotspur by C S Forester - I am so enjoying reading these books :). More here.

Now reading The Crow Road by Iain Banks. So far this is a surprisingly light read; not much of Banks' usual (non SF) darkness but you've got to love a story that begins with the sentence: "It was the day my grandmother exploded."
 

Fried Egg

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I finished the Aickman collection, which maybe a collection of his lesser work, because I wasn't especially impressed. I did like "The View," which was beautiful and mysterious and evocative, and I thought was a very well-constructed story, but the rest seemed to be diluted by a somewhat rambling style. I note that the introduction mentioned several stories that sounded intriguing, but which did not, as a matter of fact, appear in this collection. A pity I didn't take a look at the table of contents when reading the sample.
I would say it rather typical of his best work. It features "Ringing the Changes" that is one of his more overtly horrific tales and cited by many fans as their favourite. Personally I think they are all up there with his best work with the exception of, perhaps, "The Waiting Room".

My favourite collection is "Cold Hand in Mine" but if you found his style generally diluted and rambling you will probably feel that way about much of his work. I think those seemingly throwaway lines are often clues to an underlying meaning beneath the surface. He was a very controlled writer paying particular attention to its poetic effect and I think there is very little excess verbiage in his stories although I can see how it might seem that way.
 
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Vertigo

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@Vince W Once I finish these, and as I'm enjoying them so much, I might try Patrick O'Brian; similar but different. I find it interesting that I'm enjoying them so much as they are not my usual fare. But then they are not really so very different to military space opera; just different tech! ;)
 

Bugg

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I'm working my way through Patrick O'Brian's 'Aubrey/Maturin' series myself and think it's marvellous :)

I'm currently reading The Myriad by R M Meluch. Kind of a mix of Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica. It's not exactly great literature but bloody hell I'm really enjoying it.
 

Vince W

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I've read Patrick O'Brian and you should definitely check him out Vertigo. Well worth your time.
 

The Judge

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I'm working my way through Patrick O'Brian's 'Aubrey/Maturin' series myself and think it's marvellous :)
Definitely, though I found my interest waning towards the end, and I didn't enjoy the last couple as much as the others. Still an incredible series, though.

I've read Patrick O'Brian and you should definitely check him out Vertigo. Well worth your time.
Seconded!
 

Toby Frost

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I've paused A Turn of Light, because much as I wanted to like it, virtually nothing was happening. Instead I read A Most Wanted Man by John le Carre. It's good, although I suspect that le Carre is starting to make the same points over and over again: individuals are helpless against the state, terrorism is very complex, Americans are stupid bullies, etc... That said - and I hate to say it - the plotting, writing and general quality were way above anything that I'd read in fantasy for quite a while.
 

Vertigo

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Well, I guess that's me told :D but they'll be waiting until I've finished Hornblower first and I'm only reading those in between other stuff. Though I did start the next one on the flight home as I was too tired for anything heavy.
 

Bick

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Regarding O'Brian - thirded! I've only read the first three or four but they are terrific. I'm sure I'll read more in time.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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I would say it rather typical of his best work. It features "Ringing the Changes" that is one of his more overtly horrific tales and cited by many fans as their favourite. Personally I think they are all up there with his best work with the exception of, perhaps, "The Waiting Room".
"Ringing the Changes" was my second-favorite in that collection. But if the collection as a whole is typical of his best work, then it looks like I won't be buying any more of his work. I suspect I may have come across some of his stories in anthologies, and since the name seemed familiar I may even have liked them.
 
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