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Thursday, June 2nd, 2005
6:55 pm - Something of a disappointment

Have you ever had a friend rave on about a certain author only to find that when you get hold of their works and start to read you wonder what all the fuss was about?

That happened to me recently. She went on and on about this Irish author William Trevor. Now I'll be honest I'd never heard of him. I've tried to read James Joyce, love Edna O'Brien and Seamus Heaney's Beowulf is a favourite of mine but Trevor? No. Not read a thing. She was kind enough to pass on a book of all his short stories, plus some novels 'Fool of Fortune' 'The Children of Dynmouth' 'The Silence in the Garden' and 'Mrs Eckdorf in O'Neills Hotel' and I set out to read them.

Now here's the confession. I couldn't finish any of them. I was bored rigid. Now the illustrious Graham Greene said Fool of Fortune was a very fine novel. The Washington Post called it 'arresting, powerful and indelible.' The New York Times said it was the author at his best. Oh dear. I hate it when you read reviews like that and you can't evn remotely begin to share the view. Makes you feel at first that maybe you missed something somewhere.

He writes what is called 'mannered fiction'-well so did Jane Austen only hers is witty. I couldn't get to care about the characters or what happened to them. Apparently the reader is supposed to observe human behaviour from the outside but I really didn't want to waste my time doing that on his characters.

No ones taste is the same but my friend was disappointed I didn't share her enthusiasm. I was disappointed too as I couldn't even begin to 'get' where that enthusiasm stemmed from.
Ah well...in the charity bag they go unless anyone desperately wants them.

current mood: disappointed

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Sunday, January 30th, 2005
12:21 pm - several questions regarding Murdoch and McGregor

Long time, no interest! I'm in a rather bookish mood (I personally blame spending one incredibly short hour staggering around inside the massive Waterstones in Oxford yesterday) and thought I'd throw some questions this way for a few trustworthy opinions.

- Has anyone read Iris Murdoch? There has been great interest in her work ever since the film Iris came out several years back, which I love, but I've yet to pick up a novel and give it a go. I've heard she's difficult to read. Any recs, impressions, and/or testimonies?


- A friend of mine has been trying to push Jon McGregor's If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things onto me, but I'm afraid that it may be, well, unremarkable what with the allegedly nameless entities. In a way it sounds similar to Plainsong, a novel that I read over the summer and found somewhat dull. If you've happened to read the formerly mentioned novel, what did you think? Worth a shot?

x-posted to books

current mood: quixotic

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Thursday, December 30th, 2004
7:16 am - Two strange books

The Sensualist & The Unconsoled

Link opens in my LJ.

current mood: accomplished

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Thursday, October 7th, 2004
6:47 pm

Google has a book-searching option now. Any thoughts on what this means for libraries, book sales, etc?

current mood: curious

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Friday, June 18th, 2004
12:07 pm

Hi guys, first post here.
I'm in my mid-semester holidays at the moment, and I'm reading a few different books.
I just finished Wicked by Gregory Maguire, which I really enjoyed. There was this inescapable humanity to Elphaba (The Wicked Witch of the West), I was a little bit in love with her by the end. I thought it would be much darker before I started to read it - and it was, it was definetely a dark novel - but there was such fantastic humour and lightness at times.
Also reading the 5th in Lemony Snicketts Series of Unfortunate Events (yes, yes, I know they're kids books but I am addicted), but thay only take a minute to read.

I'm re-reading Eugenides The Virgin Suicides, because it is my favourite book and I finally got it back off a friend after 2 years. I know a couple of people I've rec'd it to haven't enjoyed it, but I was completely mesmerised by the poetry and etherealness of it. Or, the boys sense of the ethereal that was in essence the romanticising of girl's everyday. He is definetely one of my favourite writers. I had issues with the movie, but that's a different post.

Ok, anyway. Glad to be here.

Oh, and my other favourite writer is Tim Winton (Cloudstreet, Dirt Music etc). Pimpage. Go check him out. The best Australian writer.

current mood: tired

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Saturday, May 29th, 2004
6:57 pm

So...it's summer. Time to read til our eyeballs fall out. So what's everyone reading?

I'm currently reading "On the Trail of the Women Warriors: Amazons in Myth and History." The author is a television producer and a writer, and she explores the origins of the myth, whether the Amazons were in any way real, etc. It's actually very interesting, she goes into the customs and history of a lot of the nomadic people of Russia and the middle east. Very cool.

Your turn! :)

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Wednesday, May 19th, 2004
10:36 pm - News concerning "The Da Vinci Code" and its author

Because it has been mentioned in several other posts on this community, I thought some of you would be interested in this article dealing with Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" and the alleged sequel.

Interesting, though not surprising, that there is sequel in the works. The stir it has caused basically ensures its stamina to be milked for many, many years. But a movie? The dustjacket holding some sort of a code to Number Two? How much attention does this really deserve? I know at work (my uni's library, mind) there was always a copy of the book on hold, and we had three. It's insane how popular it is for such a meager work of literature. A good enough read, sure, but the writing is, well. Bad. How much can that account for? Apparently not much to the rest of the world.

I have to admit, however, that I devoured the book in less than twenty-four hours.

Baaah. < /sheep>

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Saturday, May 15th, 2004
10:37 am - Question

What is everyone reading at the moment? How is it? Would you recommend it? If you're not reading anything at the moment, what is next on your list? Why?

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Saturday, April 17th, 2004
10:26 pm - Angels and Demons

I just finished Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. It was..interesting. On one hand, it hit every button I have ever had on the subject of religious iconography, the Vatican and the Illuminati (my only religious leanings. heh.), was quite factual and I couldn't put it down. I may have even done a little dance when my Significant Other vetoed going out because that meant I could curl up in an armchair and read for the evening. omg. I just lost out on SO time for a book. wtf!

But on the other hand, the ending of the book really threw me out. It just didn't make sense to me from a plot point of view, as it all just got confusing, when the end is normally for tying up the loose ends and making people go "oh, man. I can't believe I didn't spot that!". It probably didn't help that I was partly spolit as I'd already started to unravel the the twist somewhere in the middle of the book.

[Tangent: does anyone else do that in thrillers? Start unravelling the twist and then ignoring it because you want to read the book without going "Hah! Was so right!" at the end? Or is it just me? Sometimes it's not even concious, just something happens and it all starts collecting in the back of your mind.]

I'm planning on reading the 'Da Vinci Code' even though I have a suspicion I'm going to have similar problems with the story. But with any luck, it'll also let me repeat the feat of sinking into a book for hours. That feeling is rare enough to treasure and if it's as interesting and informative as Angel and Demons, I'll be happy.

current mood: bookish

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8:26 pm - eugenides

an author-pimp.

at the moment i'm reading middlesex, by jeffrey eugenides. it won the pulitzer prize in 2003, and it's quite simply the most remarkable book.

the first lines:

"i was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless detroit day in january of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near petoskey, michigan, in august of 1974."

the book spans three generations of a greek-american family, although the focus is always on cal, the book's narrator. eugenides is the most breath-taking writer, and his narrative is gripping. he also wrote the virgin suicides, which i also loved (by the way, is the film worth seeing?).

so, a pimp. read it now!

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Wednesday, April 14th, 2004
11:17 pm - dear boy, this is the movies

I profess: my heart is torn in two. On one hand, I'm a book geek. On the other, I'm a film geek. At times it works out fine and dandy. (Fuck you, "White Oleander"! ...er, the film version, that is.) Other times, however?

It almost physically hurts to decide which I prefer over the other; the film or the book. One has charm and appeal because it is the original, one had the director-screenwriter-actors' imprint on it, which also makes it original, but, let's face it, most of the time, it's not what you, or other people, imagined. Case in point for me? The Hours. Which did I enjoy more? The movie, which I saw four times in the cinema, or the book, which I've read twice, but only after my initial three times seeing the movie? They both have their pluses, including an Oscar and the Pulitzer Prize, damn them both.

I try my best to read the book before I see the movie. Recently I did this with "Cold Mountain" and quite possibly enjoyed the movie much more as a result. This is a personal quirk, however, and though I understand that others do not care one iota about getting both sides of the experience, I still want to graffiti movie posters with neon pink spray paint, writing: "THE BOOK IS BETTER."

My questions to you are, why do people look at me funny when I rant about what a burden choosing is? Okay, that's not really the question. The question is, do you feel the same? Is it possible to feel passionate about both the book and the movie, or do you generally pick one or the other? Do you find yourself saying, "the movie is terrible, but the book is awesome," or vice versa, to complete strangers? Do you prefer reading the book before, or after, you see the movie, or does it not matter to you? Is there some sort of plague on Stephen King to make all of his movies horridly suck? Okay, so the last question is optional, but still.

current mood: chipper

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Wednesday, March 31st, 2004
11:27 pm

You ever find yourself reading a book, and maybe it's more on the "brain candy" end of the spectrum, but it's entertaining enough and you're enjoying yourself and then:


The author hits you between the eyes with something that's just wrong? Like maybe there's a plot point set in your home town, because maybe he looked at a map and said, oh, that's an interesting name, let's put this there. And maybe, instead of doing ten seconds of internet research from his home on the other side of the country, he did something stupid like:

compressed the 16 schools of the elementary district you attended/substitute taught in into one which is somehow able to serve the city population of 75,000 with no problems.

(The book: 3rd Degree by James Patterson.)

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Saturday, March 27th, 2004
1:19 am - it's friday night and I'm reviewing books

Hello! First time posting here, but I really have been enjoying everyone's posts. I'm in another book community, mainly for reviews. And since I have to force reviews, because I'm not too good at writing out my thoughts but love to share them anyway, I thought I'd make the most of what I threw together by cross-posting here.

The first book is The Charioteer by Mary Renault. I mentioned I was bad at reviewing, well, I'm even worse at summarizing, so this is straight off the back of the book/amazon.com:

After enduring an injury at Dunkirk during World War II, Laurie Odell is sent to a rural veterans' hospital in England to convalesce. There he befriends the young, bright Andrew, a conscientious objector serving as an orderly. As they find solace and companionship together in the idyllic surroundings of the hospital, their friendship blooms into a discreet, chaste romance. Then one day, Ralph Lanyon, a mentor from Laurie's schoolboy days, suddenly reappears in Laurie's life, and draws him into a tight-knit social circle of world-weary gay men. Laurie is forced to choose between the sweet ideals of innocence and the distinct pleasures of experience.

This book started off really good. I liked Laurie a lot, and I really liked Andrew. I even liked Ralph, though when he came (back) into it is when the book seemed to drag on a bit. I also seemed to like him less as the book went on. I always hate to just label a character like this, but he was really very Mary Sue-like. I kept hoping there would be more with Andrew, but as the book went on there was less and less. However, my biggest problem was the writing. For some reason parts of it seemed very vague, or cryptic almost, and I found that I had to go back and read whole passages just to figure out what just happened, or what something was supposed to mean. And there were times when I still couldn't figure it out. Too many conversations between Laurie and Ralph seemed to have hidden meaning behind what they were actually saying, and I guess in this case I just didn't get it. It was an okay book, but not really something I'd recommend to anyone. It's just too bad that the last half wasn't as good as the first. Has anyone else read this, or anything else by this author? I'm still curious to try something else by her, but I'm wondering if all her stories have the same vague thing going on.

The second book is Dream Boy by Jim Grimsley.

Short summary:

Jim Grimsley's stunning and heartbreaking novel recounts the story of a painful first love between two adolescent boys who bravely sustain each other in a world of domestic disintegration. At once haunting and sublime, Dream Boy is an amazing tale of boundless hope - and ultimate tragedy.

I can't express how wonderful this book was. At a mere 195 pages it's quite a short read, but the author manages to make you feel all kinds of emotions throughout, and he creates such a memorable story. This was one of those books that I spent the following couple of days still thinking about. I even felt compelled to re-read parts of it, because I liked the characters so much. Grimsley's writing is beautiful, and because I liked this book so much I've already run out of things to say about it (without giving spoilers, anyway). And I realize that the summary and my babble are pretty vague, but it's so short I wouldn't want to give too much away. ;)

Same question; has anyone read anything else by this author? I'd really love to hear your opinions, because if his other books are as good as this one then they are definitely worth checking out.

current mood: sleepy

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Friday, March 26th, 2004
7:53 pm - Recs!

I thought I'd pimp the three books I have in rotation, because. Why the hell not? Anyway, in no particular order:

Bobos in Paradise by David Brooks. An exploration of the strange new class of Bourgeois Bohemians (Bobos for short) -- those people who "work hard and play hard" aka the sort of people who actually buy into the literary pretentions of the Lands End catalog. Fascinating, if somewhat frightening.

In the Absence of Men by Phillippe Besson. Oh my heart. This more than makes up for my disappointment with Mary Renault's writing. It's a translation from the French, so I don't know how much of the dreamy lyricism of the words is the author's and how much is the translator's, but I don't care.

"I am sixteen. I am as old as the century.

I know there is a war, that soldiers are dying on the front lines of this war, that civilians are dying in the towns and the countryside of France and elsewhere, that the war -- more than destruction, more than the mud, more than the whistle of bullets as they tear through a man's chest, more than the shattered faces of the women who wait, hoping sometimes against hope, for a letter which never arrives, for a leave of absence perpetually postponed, more than the game of politics that is played by nations -- is the sum of the simple, cruel, sad and anonymous deaths of soldiers, of civilians whose names we will one day read on the pediments of monuments, to the sound of a funeral march.

And yet, I know nothing of war. I live in Paris. I am a pupil at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand. I am sixteen.

People say: what a beautiful child! Look at him, he really is magnificent. Black hair. Green, almond-shaped eyes. A girl's complexion. I say: they are mistaken, I am no longer a child.

I am sixteen and I know perfectly well that to be sixteen is a triumph."

I've rationed myself: it's a small book, only 160 pages or so, and I only let myself read a few pages at a time. It's too beautiful to rush through.

And finally, a porn rec. What, you think I'm kidding?Collapse )

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Thursday, March 25th, 2004
9:57 am - popularity is a socially transmitted disease

Not meaning to start a flame war (c'mon, we're all adults here, right? we can agree to disagree!) or anything of the sort, but out of curiousity's sake: in your humble opinion, what is the most overrated book or author you've come across?

Saying Harry Potter sucks without attempting to read it, of course, is a void argument. Ha!

I'd have to say Anne Rice. I've read Interview With a Vampire, and though the storyline is interesting, the writing itself couldn't hold my attention. It got to the point where I became ADD while reading that book. I prefer the movie, thanks.

current mood: calm

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Wednesday, March 17th, 2004
6:08 pm

I just reread "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card, and am going to toss a thought out, just for kicks.

Ender vs. Harry Potter. Discuss.

Also, did anyone else see extreme Ender/Valentine vibes in there? He wins the computer fantasy game when he kisses Val on the lips, she's the only person that he wants to protect, and they run away to another planet to live out the rest of their lives together. I know I'm not the only one who saw the incest.

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Thursday, March 11th, 2004
4:28 pm - What next?


Hi. I'm new. I like what people in this community have to say so.... It makes me sad that things seem to be dying down. I thought that I would share my top ten list with first lines because I think they are fun. It really is first lines that get you into the book. You can often tell if you are going to like them by their first lines. This, of course, is not a rule.

I also thought that I would ask some advise. I am just finishing Robinson Crusoe and I don't know what to read next. I am trying to choose between 1984 by George Orwell, Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brien, and Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger.


My Top TenCollapse )

current mood: blah

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Wednesday, February 25th, 2004
1:37 am

Hey, folks. I'm participating in 50bookchallenge, and I just posted my latest book review, for At Swim, Two Boys, by Jamie O'Neill, in my journal here. Discussion is very much welcome. Would y'all perhaps be interested in being informed of new reviews as I post them, or would that be too annoying?

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