April 2022 Reading Thread

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Dave Vicks

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Currently Nancy Kress' TOMORROW'S KIN, and Gore Vidal's INVENTING A NATION.

Poetry by Emily Dickinson.
Music by Husker Du and Smashing Pumpkins.
 

Randy M.

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I'm currently reading To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I've never read it before. It's good so far, and I'm surprised by how amusing it is. I was expecting quite a heavy novel.
It's a really good novel throughout, and if you've never seen the movie, it's excellent; one of the most faithful (pretty much in content, as I recall, but mainly in spirit) adaptations to film of a good book I've seen.

Finishing up my reread of The Underground Man by Ross Macdonald, and it's as good as I remembered it.
 

The Big Peat

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I'm finding it a bit American teenage-y in style, language and romance and I can't sympathise/empathise with and/or care about any of the characters. And as very often happens when I'm not fully committed to a story, I started jumping ahead, reading odd bits of chapters further on, and so far there's been nothing that's caught my eye and attention making me think I really need to know what's happened in between.

I had a feeling you might say that, which is why I was very curious when you picked it up.

Personally I found it a pleasant romp - the American teenage-y ness is common to a lot of books I read growing up - but nothing more. People tell me it really takes off in the rest of the series but I don't care enough about the characters to go find out.
 

The Judge

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The City Of Brass is a new one on me, but At The Mountains Of Madness, IMO, is Lovercraft's magnum opus. The writing is very florid (I would've thought you would enjoy his style, M'Lady) and almost over-rich, but it's the story where many of his themes come together. It's worth persevering with, IMO.

I wrote up some thoughts on ATMOM on my blog, if you're interested. @Phyrebrat and I would like to have the novella featured on Chronscast at some point also, as there's quite a lot to it (plus Lovecraft is a fascinating creature more generally).
Nope, I'm an Austenite, so I give marks for an elegant, pellucid style, and florid and ornately purple style completely put me off. I did finish it, but I spent the entire time wishing the bloody narrator would just cut to the chase and tell us what happened in as few words as possible.

I had a feeling you might say that, which is why I was very curious when you picked it up.

Personally I found it a pleasant romp - the American teenage-y ness is common to a lot of books I read growing up - but nothing more. People tell me it really takes off in the rest of the series but I don't care enough about the characters to go find out.
I was writing a djinn story last year, and I'd heard that it got rave reviews, so I was interested in seeing what it was like and how mine stood up against it. (I wouldn't read it last year in case it affected my story, though.) I rarely read reviews before buying, so I missed any hint that it read like YA. That'll learn me.
 

Dan Jones

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wishing the bloody narrator would just cut to the chase and tell us what happened in as few words as possible.

Yeah, Lovecraft's narrators don't do that!

I'm currently reading The Taliban Cricket Club by Timeri N Mirari, a book that combines my two favourite things: cricket and, er, um... ok, make that my one favourite thing.
 

Vertigo

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Nope, I'm an Austenite, so I give marks for an elegant, pellucid style, and florid and ornately purple style completely put me off. I did finish it, but I spent the entire time wishing the bloody narrator would just cut to the chase and tell us what happened in as few words as possible.
I guess this is one we agree on then. My thoughts on At the Mountains of Madness were summed up as:
I think the problem was that the writing style attempted to be two different things. On the one hand it was presented as a semi-formal expedition report; no dialogue etc. just reporting the facts. On the other hand it was filled with a great deal of purple prose filled with extensive - excessive even - use of extreme adjectives. I found the two just didn't go together. My other problem was exactly that excessive use of adjectives along with excessive repetition. By the end I felt one more "abominably," "monstrously," "Archaean," "degenerate," etc. and I would scream.
I guess his style just didn't work for me!
 

Randy M.

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I've been reading Lovecraft off and on since the 1970s. "At the Mountains of Madness" is his prose at its most pared and direct.

[A pause to let that sink in. :LOL: ]

If this story doesn't work for you, you could try the (rather shorter) "The Colour Out of Space" but I doubt much else of his writing would appeal to you.
 

worldofmutes

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I picked up The Nirvana Blues by John Nichols. It’s like Kerouac, but longer. Basically it just has more detail, a whole lotta pulp that makes a writer almost “snotty”, but I really love a lot of detail when I’m reading. With Kerouac, a nice short book that is the precursor to a long and beautiful beatnik classic… it’s hard to keep me interested because it’s not an ABSOLUTE epic, such as Malazan, or the Wheel of Time.

Meanwhile, The Nirvana Blues keeps my attention with it’s avid attention to detail that keeps me on the edge of my seat trying to figure out what it’s about. Actually, it’s kind of a reverse Ulysses- a man (a beatnik rambling across America, and cheating on his wife, basically.) it’s actually the sequel to The Milagro Beanfield War, but I’ll make peace with reading the sequel first, like I did with Lodestar.
 

BAYLOR

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Im more than halfway fthough The Hollow Hills by Mary Stewart. which is book 2 of the Merlin Trilogy. :cool:
 

BAYLOR

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I picked up The Nirvana Blues by John Nichols. It’s like Kerouac, but longer. Basically it just has more detail, a whole lotta pulp that makes a writer almost “snotty”, but I really love a lot of detail when I’m reading. With Kerouac, a nice short book that is the precursor to a long and beautiful beatnik classic… it’s hard to keep me interested because it’s not an ABSOLUTE epic, such as Malazan, or the Wheel of Time.

Meanwhile, The Nirvana Blues keeps my attention with it’s avid attention to detail that keeps me on the edge of my seat trying to figure out what it’s about. Actually, it’s kind of a reverse Ulysses- a man (a beatnik rambling across America, and cheating on his wife, basically.) it’s actually the sequel to The Milagro Beanfield War, but I’ll make peace with reading the sequel first, like I did with Lodestar.

You might to check out the the novel Move Underground by Nick Mamatas it takes Jack Kerouac's The Road , and give it a Loavcratain spin.:)
 

Zach777

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Finished Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson.

I'm starting to get low on fantasy and sci-fi books to read next. Any reccomendations?
 

Randy M.

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Just starting Skin Folk by Nalo Hopkinson, a story collection.

I was looking for a change of pace from the mystery/crime fiction I've been reading and remembered I this and that I've meant to read it for years.
 

Le Panda du Mal

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I guess this is one we agree on then. My thoughts on At the Mountains of Madness were summed up as:

I guess his style just didn't work for me!

I tend to love florid prose (Clark Ashton Smith, Jack Vance, Angela Carter, for instance) and there are passages of Lovecraft that I think are great, but I would agree he is very uneven and there are parts where the purple prose is really a cover for ineloquence. Some of Chinua Achebe's remarks about Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness are very applicable to Lovecraft as well:

The eagle-eyed English critic F. R. Leavis drew attention long ago to Conrad's "adjectival insistence upon inexpressible and incomprehensible mystery." That insistence must not be dismissed lightly, as many Conrad critics have tended to do, as a mere stylistic flaw; for it raises serious questions of artistic good faith. When a writer while pretending to record scenes, incidents and their impact is in reality engaged in inducing hypnotic stupor in his readers through a bombardment of emotive words and other forms of trickery much more has to be at stake than stylistic felicity.
 

hitmouse

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I tend to love florid prose (Clark Ashton Smith, Jack Vance, Angela Carter, for instance) and there are passages of Lovecraft that I think are great, but I would agree he is very uneven and there are parts where the purple prose is really a cover for ineloquence. Some of Chinua Achebe's remarks about Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness are very applicable to Lovecraft as well:

The eagle-eyed English critic F. R. Leavis drew attention long ago to Conrad's "adjectival insistence upon inexpressible and incomprehensible mystery." That insistence must not be dismissed lightly, as many Conrad critics have tended to do, as a mere stylistic flaw; for it raises serious questions of artistic good faith. When a writer while pretending to record scenes, incidents and their impact is in reality engaged in inducing hypnotic stupor in his readers through a bombardment of emotive words and other forms of trickery much more has to be at stake than stylistic felicity.
I don’t put Vance in the same basket, prose-wise as Lovecraft or CAS. Not even close.
 

tobl

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Thin Air by Richard Morgan
you know what's anoying? i found some russian writers i liked and now puf... i mean covid, now invasion... oh and let's not forget the asteroid.... what's next? interdimensional invasion by chutulu?
ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

i guess i have to re read some books... i am in book 2 of

SOLBIDYUM WARS SAGA​

by dale musser.
is it a master-piece? no. but is way better than many writings out there.
by the way,on that book of world war you didn't like how long did the invasion last?
 
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tobl

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SO.... i finally understand this reality. For those Who have seen it i congratulate you. If you haven't please do. Today i finally discovered we are living in the life of Brian
 

tobl

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I don't know, wasn't it the DNF one I had?
i guess you didn't finish :) anyway apparently reality is better than fiction nowadays. i mean library are putting sci fi in the current affairs section lol
hinestly i haven't seen the movie yet, but i did see a clip yesterday of the life of brian and clic... there's society today. if you join that with the simpsons predictions can someone please let me out of this multiverse dimension to some dimension where logic applys? i mean... there must be one right?
 

The Big Peat

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I tend to love florid prose (Clark Ashton Smith, Jack Vance, Angela Carter, for instance) and there are passages of Lovecraft that I think are great, but I would agree he is very uneven and there are parts where the purple prose is really a cover for ineloquence. Some of Chinua Achebe's remarks about Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness are very applicable to Lovecraft as well:

The eagle-eyed English critic F. R. Leavis drew attention long ago to Conrad's "adjectival insistence upon inexpressible and incomprehensible mystery." That insistence must not be dismissed lightly, as many Conrad critics have tended to do, as a mere stylistic flaw; for it raises serious questions of artistic good faith. When a writer while pretending to record scenes, incidents and their impact is in reality engaged in inducing hypnotic stupor in his readers through a bombardment of emotive words and other forms of trickery much more has to be at stake than stylistic felicity.

To me, this seems to be expecting things from Lovecraft he deliberately didn't want to provide. He wrote stories in which humanity suddenly found itself face to face with creatures (and therefore a universe) that saw humanity as insignificant, ridiculous, "a negligible and temporary race".

To insist on inexpressible and incomprehensible mystery is a way and means to emphasise just how insignificant humanity is in these scenarios. That there are things we simply don't have the facilities to understand. That there are things besides which we are as mayflies, and how many of us expect mayflies to be able to give accurate descriptions of humanity?

To try and describe them fully - and to describe the narrators as believing they can describe them fully - would undercut his themes and stories.



As for the idea that insistence upon inexpressible and incomprehensible mystery is something that raises questions of artistic good faith in the first place - that it is somehow morally wrong for an author to not sketch out what the narrator sees in full, but to give hints and give their emotional response in full - I am really quite baffled. It's one thing to not like a style of art, but to go around accusing it of lacking good faith? Seems a bit much.
 
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