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Turner
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Joined: Fri Aug 23, 2002 2:04 am
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Location: Germany
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 4:27 am 
 

Yeah I think we may have to agree to disagree on that one - I did read it in English (and I'm Australian, despite the location thingo) so it's just a case of my sense of humour not accepting Pratchett-esque jokes. That's ok, though. I know my whole family hates it too, so there's at least 3 or 4 of us out there ;)

But just as an indication of what I find funny in a book, Bill Bryson's description of Liverpool (or was it Manchester?) was hilarious for me. Actually, most of his stuff gets a chuckle. Maybe that says something about my level of humour, haha.

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Calusari
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Joined: Thu Apr 27, 2006 1:36 am
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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 5:32 am 
 

Yup, good call. I quite like Bill Bryson too, though... so there is some common ground. :beer:

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Framentanz
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2012 2:28 pm
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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 12:44 pm 
 

Bill Bryson's work is really hilarious, just struck my nerve with several novels.

Concerning Pratchett, one of my friends uses to refer to him as the Douglas Adams of Fantasy, which I simply cannot agree with. To me, Pratchetts jokes become rather dull pretty fast. I remember laughing about the first pages of his book where Death has his midlife-crisis, but actually it gets quite monotonuous after a short time.

At the very moment, I am working myself through the bibliographies of Philipp Roth and T.C. Boyle, both being truly fantastiv authors. Plus, there lies an edition of Puschkin House by A. Bitow, which sounds promising.

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Nephilum667
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Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 5:29 am
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Location: Louisiana
PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2012 3:55 am 
 

Working on McCarthy's The Road, any fans?
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Calusari
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PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 7:45 am 
 

I quite enjoyed it; I still haven't seen the film matching content and form, and in creating a memorable atmosphere from ingredients that could have become very genre-typical. Just thinking about it now, actually, makes me realise that it's one of those texts that is so successful in forging an impression through atmosphere and images that the title alone suffices to bring up the mood of the work and instantly create a visual world. It's not as ridiculously incredible as some of the over-enthusiastic critics made it out to be, but I found it worth reading; it really made me want to read more of McCarthy, especially 'Blood Meridian', which is pretty high on my to-read list.

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altered_vlad
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Joined: Sun May 03, 2009 8:44 pm
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PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 8:42 am 
 

English literature readers, I need your help!

Recently a library bought a batch of used books from a foreigner and put the up for sale. It's pretty hard to come by English books where I live except for famous writers like Shakespeare and the likes. The problem is that I don't recognize anything from these books (with the exception of B.S's Dracula of course!) I'm only familiar with Victorian and some of early 20th century literature but, as far as the recent (relatively) stuff is concerned, I'm near ignorant.

So please if you recognize anything that is worth my time, recommend!

http://postimage.org/gallery/110a05u0/8a90f95a/
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Calusari
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PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 9:15 am 
 

Not that I'm any kind of expert, but I desperately needed a distraction, and I love going through bookshelves (real or virtual), so I just have to contribute. Firstly, not to offend the owner of those books, but you not recognising anything here has nothing to do with your knowledge: it looks like it's mostly pretty terrible, airport level stuff. Here's what I recognised (apart from Dracula, which you saw as well):
- It's not English, but IMHO the best thing here - 'One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich' by Solzhenetsyn.
- There's an Arthur C. Clarke there; couldn't make out the title, but he's a pretty influential (and often excellent) sci-fi writer, so it might be worth checking out.
- 'The Dark is Rising', by Susan Cooper: first book in an awesome and much-loved children's fantasy series; probably not your age level, though.
- 'And Then There Were None', Agatha Christie - not my cup of tea, but still a classic whodunit.
- 'Mary Barton', Elizabeth Gaskell - again, not my thing, but Gaskell is esteemed quite highly by lots of people; she tends to write that type of social comedy/drama with lots of characters and a narrative based mostly on observing everyday interactions/situations.
-'A Farewell to Arms', Hemingway; canon classic, though I'm not a fan.
The rest looks pretty awful, to be honest. There're a few famous but terrible airport romance novelists, like Barbare Michaels, who I would avoid at all costs, but also some others that make me curious. My tip would be to leaf through some yourself; pick up a book that looks interesting to you, and you may find some little known but worthwhile treasures.

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failsafeman
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PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 9:29 am 
 

I took a peek at the pictures, and the only thing I noticed was Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising, an excellent children's fantasy book (in picture DSC02862). Don't let the 'children' part throw you off, though, it's quite entertaining if you're into fantasy at all. It's one of those 'regular British kid finds out he's got magic powers' stories that Rowling borrowed so much from, but here the mythology is very well thought-out and pretty original. And not shitty, like Harry Potter.
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altered_vlad
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PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 9:49 am 
 

Thanks for giving it time!

The first time I went there I bought Lolita, The Crucible and some of Stephen King books (that I hated but one of them, Insomnia, was signed) So I thought maybe there are some gems there that I didn't recognize but yes, most of these seemed to me like garbage literature, the kind of crap that gets adapted into tv movies at best.

I'll be sure to pick up the Arthur C. Clarke one as I'm a fan of Sci-fi. I already know of Gaskell and Christie and both of them bore me to tears.

And I think that there is no Hemingway there, there is a Farewell to M...something by Jeanne something...probably another airport romance...

@failsafeman, ok I'll give it a try although that description puts me off a bit. The only "children's" book that I've read is Carroll's Alice but I greatly enjoyed it!

Edit: I read Wikipedia's article on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and sounds like that book is something I will greatly enjoy!

Thanks for your help Calusari.
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Calusari
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PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 10:16 am 
 

:beer: Always glad to help, dude!

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Nephilum667
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Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 5:29 am
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PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2012 12:50 am 
 

Calusari wrote:
I quite enjoyed it; I still haven't seen the film matching content and form, and in creating a memorable atmosphere from ingredients that could have become very genre-typical. Just thinking about it now, actually, makes me realise that it's one of those texts that is so successful in forging an impression through atmosphere and images that the title alone suffices to bring up the mood of the work and instantly create a visual world. It's not as ridiculously incredible as some of the over-enthusiastic critics made it out to be, but I found it worth reading; it really made me want to read more of McCarthy, especially 'Blood Meridian', which is pretty high on my to-read list.

I have yet to finish it, but I saw the film and I was very interested in how the book would turn out. I like the emphasis of the atmosphere in his story and how for other people it drove them to insanity, but for the main characters they
Spoiler: show
kept the fire going.
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RedMisanthrope
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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2012 8:36 pm 
 

Some quick reviews of the books I read in the last three weeks (don't be too impressed, one is three hundred pages long while the other barely scratches two-fifty).

Lord of Light by Roger Zelanzey

This is an excellent sci-fi/fantasy book about a colony planet ruled by a group of technology-modified humans, who fashion themselves as the gods of the Hindu religion. One of them breaks away from them, and becomes a bit of a Buddha paragon, spreading the Noble Truths throughout the planet. Zelanzey has a flair for language and his prose is fantastic. The pacing is a bit odd. The story is mostly past events, and the ending pretty much concludes the first thirty pages. Still, I can see why many regard this as a classic in the genre. It's an interesting inquiry about identity (the gods need to inhabit new bodies, lest they die the real death, and gods who are killed are replaced by other gods who take on their name and attributes) as well as a nice insight about how people who become gods remain just that in the end; people. Highly recommended, a very pleasant read.

The Croning by Laird Barron

I've praised Barron in this thread a few times. He's one of a new crop of weird/Lovecraftian authors who doesn't stay too close at the Master's heels, as Barron has a more human touch with plenty of hedonism. Think Hemingway meets Howard. This is Barron's first novel, and tells of a classic unreliable narrator as he struggles to remember and make sense of the occult horrors that have happened throughout his life, and how the deeds of his ancestors and crypto-anthropologist wife are tied in. Barron is one of the few authors I've come across to genuinely creep me out, as the body snatcher style creatures represent a more terrestrial, boogeyman threat than a sleeping Great Old One. Lots of occult nods in this one, and a chilling ending to boot. Check this one out if you like this genre even a little bit.

Now, onto 2666 by Bolano.
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Slaytanic55
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 12:08 am 
 

Planning to read Johnny Got His Gun pretty soon. Is it any good?

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Calusari
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 12:59 am 
 

Seconding that question; I've always wanted to read it, and I'd love to know how anyone who's read it thinks it compares to the film.

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Scorntyrant
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 2:03 am 
 

Lord of Light is fantastic, just read it again recently.
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ralfikk123
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 3:32 pm 
 

Ray Bradbury died. I didn't get much into his work, but Fahrenheit 451 is a great novel.
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John_Sunlight
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 3:44 pm 
 

Scorntyrant wrote:
Lord of Light is fantastic, just read it again recently.

Also liked that. Used Mahasamatman as my name in online games for years. One interesting thing is that the chapters are supposed to be dis-joined enough that you can start anywhere and pick up the story and read them in a cycle and the narrative flows smoothly. I actually tried this when I re-read it and it works!

Btw, I don't recommend using "Mahasamatman" as a screen name. It's hard to pronounce and innevitably get's shortened to "Maha", which sounds terrible. Of course, it was better than Azzedar. "What's up Azz?" *sigh*
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Necroticism174
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 1:39 am 
 

Currently reading Angel Dust Apocalypse by Jeremy Robert Johnson. Probably in my top 3 short story books ever. He paints very bleak, strange and unique apocalyptic pictures. That and most of the stories are fucking metal. I strongly recommend it.
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sortalikeadream
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 3:39 am 
 

Started reading The Sublime Object of Ideology. I know that I'm not properly absorbing and digesting all the ideas, but it's still an interesting, engaging read. I figure my understanding will grow as I revisit it and become more acquainted with the intellectual tradition his book focuses on.
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Calusari
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 4:26 am 
 

"Sublime Object...' is an excellent book, probably my favourite of his (aside from the The Ticklish Subject, perhaps); his views have changed a bit since then, but, to me, that early work is among his best argued and most consistent.

And, seconding ralfikk:
R.I.P. Ray Bradbury; one of the most incredible storytellers of the 20th and 21st centuries.

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darkeningday
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 4:36 am 
 

I've only read Fahrenheit 451, and I honestly thought it was a lame amalgam of the iconic works of Yevgeny Zamyatin and George Orwell. Like. Almost a blatant rip-off of both of them. The prose flowed nicely but wasn't certainly wasn't anything special. Perhaps I'll give it a second go...
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John_Sunlight
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 5:55 pm 
 

Nah, F451, Brave New World, 1984, even The World Inside and Dayworld are all terrible. That literary premise is doomed.
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sortalikeadream
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 8:01 pm 
 

You don't even like We?
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Empyreal
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 8:30 pm 
 

We was pretty bad. Brave New World was awful. Haven't read 1984 but I for some reason want to give it a chance, dunno why because I hated Animal Farm and I don't like the dystopian genre, but hell, might as well try just to say I did...
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sortalikeadream
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 9:16 pm 
 

What's wrong with We? Animal Farm sucks and is nothing like 1984, which isn't as good as We. I haven't read Brave New World.
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mcmufffins
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 11:28 pm 
 

I have to read I Am the Messenger, Crime and Punishment and Cry, the Beloved Country this summer for my English class. I Am the Messenger looks like it sucks, but Crime and Punishment and Cry the Beloved Country look pretty interesting.

Can anyone here tell me what they think of these books?
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Calusari
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 10:31 am 
 

Empyreal wrote:
We was pretty bad. Brave New World was awful. Haven't read 1984 but I for some reason want to give it a chance, dunno why because I hated Animal Farm and I don't like the dystopian genre, but hell, might as well try just to say I did...


Not exactly an eloquent contribution on my part, but I'll let the emoticons speak for me - :o :scratch: :nono: :oh shit:

The 'dystopian genre' is one of my favourites - so much so that having this word somewhere in the blurb is generally all it takes for me to pick up a novel - so I'm a bit rattled that so many posts here proclaim they dislike it. Part of me wants to scream 'how could any sane person not like 1984 or Brave New World or F451?', but I understand that's pointless; if you don't like the genre, it's perfectly understandable why you don't like those books. So, yeah, basically I'm trying to say: of course you can dislike those books, I'd just like to register my shocked disagreement. Just out of curiosity, what aspect of the books - especially Brave New World - caused the negative reaction? Is it the plot or the style...?

mcmufffins wrote:
I have to read I Am the Messenger, Crime and Punishment and Cry, the Beloved Country this summer for my English class. I Am the Messenger looks like it sucks, but Crime and Punishment and Cry the Beloved Country look pretty interesting.
Can anyone here tell me what they think of these books?


Out of those I've only read Crime and Punishment; an utterly, incredibly magnificent read that, if it catches you in the right way at the right time, can change the way you look at the world and at people, at least for a little while. Stick with it, even if you get bogged down; it is so, so worth it, at the very least because you'll be able to contribute to those cool conversations that happen at 3 am at every student share house party.

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Kveldulfr
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 10:55 am 
 

mcmufffins wrote:
I have to read I Am the Messenger, Crime and Punishment and Cry, the Beloved Country this summer for my English class. I Am the Messenger looks like it sucks, but Crime and Punishment and Cry the Beloved Country look pretty interesting.

Can anyone here tell me what they think of these books?


I can tell you that Crime and Punishment it's an excellent book. The plot it's kinda simple, but the psychological aspect of the novel it's really great, detailed and quite accurate: you might feel identified with some of the characters or sympathize with some of their deliberations. The dialogues are incredible and how deep Fyodor goes into the man's mind it's amazing. Add to this how well he's able to describe his country and its society, effectively and naturally inmersing you into the places he describes.

Currently I'm finishing Dostoyevsky's The Idiot, which I strongly recommend to anyone interested in psychological novels.
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Empyreal
The Final Frontier

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 11:26 am 
 

Calusari wrote:
Empyreal wrote:
We was pretty bad. Brave New World was awful. Haven't read 1984 but I for some reason want to give it a chance, dunno why because I hated Animal Farm and I don't like the dystopian genre, but hell, might as well try just to say I did...


Not exactly an eloquent contribution on my part, but I'll let the emoticons speak for me - :o :scratch: :nono: :oh shit:

The 'dystopian genre' is one of my favourites - so much so that having this word somewhere in the blurb is generally all it takes for me to pick up a novel - so I'm a bit rattled that so many posts here proclaim they dislike it. Part of me wants to scream 'how could any sane person not like 1984 or Brave New World or F451?', but I understand that's pointless; if you don't like the genre, it's perfectly understandable why you don't like those books. So, yeah, basically I'm trying to say: of course you can dislike those books, I'd just like to register my shocked disagreement. Just out of curiosity, what aspect of the books - especially Brave New World - caused the negative reaction? Is it the plot or the style...?


I don't like the story style. It's all too easy - the world sucks and blah, blah, blah - what am I to gain from that? What does it teach me? How is it to inspire me? I understand what they're trying to get across: that humanity is fucked if we don't change certain things and become aware of our faults, in so many words. But that does not really inspire me to any greater notion of the human spirit, which is something all my favorite books do, and it does not really offer any kind of emotional hook for me beyond the drab grey depression - very monochromatic in tone and texture. If a book has a plot about some future world where humanity is under some kind of totalitarian rule and one lone rebel is out to prove them wrong, I'll probably just not pick it up on principle. Bottom line is, they bore the hell out of me at the end of the day. Lots of people like them, but they just make me roll my eyes. Can't connect to the characters and the storylines just seem predictable and dull even despite the no doubt talented writing on display.

On the brighter side of things, I finished reading Moby-Dick the other day and I loved it. Melville's egregious attention to every last detail was sometimes frustrating but it never deterred me from the overall epic scope and the astounding characters. How did I miss this all these years? I will look forward to reading this again someday, after I'm out of school and have more time for reading. This is a book that affirms our mortality and embraces it in a glorious, beautiful and tragic way - all in the mode of one man's driven obsession. What a story.

Edit: I've actually never read 'We.' I was thinking of 'Anthem.'
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Nahsil
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 5:50 pm 
 

how exactly does it embrace our mortality in a glorious, beautiful and tragic way?

I wrote a paper over the central theme of Moby Dick and it's not an easy book to pin down, much less to glean singular affirming meaning from.
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Empyreal
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 6:29 pm 
 

I don't see anything wrong with making an assessment after just one reading; not like it's clad in stone, and you can always make amends to it later. It was a powerful, powerful book, and what struck me about it was essentially what I said - mortality. The sense that these men are risking their lives for Ahab's mad journey. It's the sections with Ahab alone, sort of internally monologuing to himself, that really got to me. His character fascinated me - such a singular monomaniacal (to use Melville's terminology), driven man. His obsession, which has devoured him, says a lot about how one can throw everything away not out of necessity but just out of personal, internal vendettas.

Spoiler: show
And like that one chapter with the Samuel Enderby - the captain of their ship also lost a limb and has no desire for revenge at all. Ahab's hunt for the whale is a manifestation of something in him - the whale does not care at all either way. Ahab seems to see his hunt for the whale as something much more than just a hunt for the whale but rather as an affirmation of his pride and place on Earth. Hubris, maybe you'd say.


But yeah, you're right, it was only on one reading, and I'm sure I'll pick up more the next time I read it, whenever that might be. But this is what struck me about it...although I'm pretty tired and probably am not articulating as well as I'd like.
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Nahsil
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 8:48 pm 
 

I personally saw things like a rejection of Transcendentalism/"religions of nature" and a lot of philosophical/metaphysical allegory, but I read a lot of criticism for my paper and there's a multitude of interpretations. It's kind of ridiculous. Melville was a little post-modern and that book shows it. He tends to explore certain worldviews and attitudes toward things with the different characters. It's just a weird ass, complicated book. I'm probably more partial to his short stories.
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Empyreal
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 10:44 pm 
 

I had to read it in the middle of doing a torrential downpour of other work during a hellish 6-week summer schedule, but I really liked it, and nothing else I've read by Melville (Benito Cereno, Billy Budd and Bartleby, although the first two I had to really skim through in order to be prepared for the exam I had to take...so yeah) impacted me nearly as much as this, to be honest, although I appreciate the writing just fine. Moby Dick worked for me because of the sheer oddity of it all - what a strange book this was, you're right. It's hard to even articulate, really - I loved the characters, I loved the life-or-death sense of adventure, etc. It was a big, passionate, monstrous epic of a book even despite the incredibly odd little tangents it took all the time. But it wouldn't have been the same without those, either.
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sortalikeadream
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 3:50 am 
 

Nahsil wrote:
I personally saw things like a rejection of Transcendentalism/"religions of nature" and a lot of philosophical/metaphysical allegory, but I read a lot of criticism for my paper and there's a multitude of interpretations. It's kind of ridiculous. Melville was a little post-modern and that book shows it. He tends to explore certain worldviews and attitudes toward things with the different characters. It's just a weird ass, complicated book. I'm probably more partial to his short stories.


Have you read any of his other novels?
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Nahsil
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 4:07 pm 
 

nah, honestly there's a lot of things I'd rather read. His short stories "The Piazza" and "Factory Girls" are cool, though. I like "Bartleby" too.
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MazeofTorment
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 5:55 pm 
 

Necroticism174 wrote:
Currently reading Angel Dust Apocalypse by Jeremy Robert Johnson. Probably in my top 3 short story books ever. He paints very bleak, strange and unique apocalyptic pictures. That and most of the stories are fucking metal. I strongly recommend it.

I second this. Don't remember it vividly at this point, as its been some 5-6 years since I read it (my only time reading it), but its pretty excellent. I should pick it back up soon. Could really use a change of pace after I finish reading Faulkner's "Go Down, Moses, which is, of course, awesome because its Faulkner.
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Nahsil
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 6:21 pm 
 

I'm reading Game of Thrones, and next up are Foucault's Pendulum, Waiting for Godot and more Borges stories.
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darkeningday
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 7:05 pm 
 

O_o.

That's akin to watching a hat-picked Renny Harlin flick before settling down to a Michael Haneke marathon. I thought you didn't like shitty fantasy...?
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sortalikeadream
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 8:06 pm 
 

Nahsil wrote:
nah, honestly there's a lot of things I'd rather read. His short stories "The Piazza" and "Factory Girls" are cool, though. I like "Bartleby" too.


Cool, same here. The prof I had for Moby Dick talked about Pier like it was a 19th century American Finnegan's Wake. He sort of made me want to read it but not really.
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Calusari
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2012 2:29 am 
 

Empyreal wrote:
[I don't like the story style. It's all too easy - the world sucks and blah, blah, blah - what am I to gain from that? What does it teach me? How is it to inspire me? I understand what they're trying to get across: that humanity is fucked if we don't change certain things and become aware of our faults, in so many words. But that does not really inspire me to any greater notion of the human spirit, which is something all my favorite books do, and it does not really offer any kind of emotional hook for me beyond the drab grey depression - very monochromatic in tone and texture. If a book has a plot about some future world where humanity is under some kind of totalitarian rule and one lone rebel is out to prove them wrong, I'll probably just not pick it up on principle. Bottom line is, they bore the hell out of me at the end of the day. Lots of people like them, but they just make me roll my eyes. Can't connect to the characters and the storylines just seem predictable and dull even despite the no doubt talented writing on display.


Thanks for elaborating!
In my view, while there are certainly some mediocre, 'I'll tick all these boxes and I've got myself a dystopia' books in the genre do exemplify that oversimplified rebel vs. world dichotomy, the better ones (like 1984, F451 and Brave New World) go far beyond that. They don't just explore the flaws that could overwhelm humanity when they become the basis for a society; they question if there's anything about humans that could make resistance to such a society worthwhile and, more importantly, possible. What would or could we do in similar circumstances, and why should we? If we are shaped predominantly by our socio-cultural contexts; if not only conformity, but also supposed rebellion, are categories defined by those contexts; and if all such contexts are relative and contingent; then on what basis can resistance to these contexts be carried out and justified? Or are those claims wrong, is there a some aspect of our character that persists unchanged, and provides an indomitable ground of and reason for resistance? Is there anything we would or wouldn't do? It's the bleak pessimism that, for me, provides the very emotional hook you mention. Nonetheless, it's interesting to get another view on the genre.

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