Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Beach Reading

I have gotten sloppy about keeping the "what I'm reading" part of the sidebar current. I finally gave up totally on "Against the Day." Pynchon just never grabbed me with this one. I kept at it longer than I probably should have because he's one of those writers you're supposed to appreciate, and, I will admit that the failure was mine. I'm sure it's a fucking masterpiece that will be studied in lit departments all over the goddamned world. But, I'm done.

For my beach stay I have a stack of

"The Religion" by Tim Willocks. The first of a proposed trilogy, the first book is looking like a telling of the Turkish siege of Malta. So far it's pretty good. I like it anyway.

"The Queen of Subtleties - A Novel of Anne Boleyn" by Suzanne Dunn
I love the full-contact politics of the Tudors.

"Nelson - A Dream of Glory, 1758-1797" by John Sugden
This got a great review in the Sunday Times (London)

"The Bone Parade" by Mark Nykanen
This was on the bargain listing at Barnes & Noble, but I got it because I went to High School with the author. I would hope that he would rescue something of mine from the bargain bin at Tower records. I'm looking forward to it.

And of course, as soon as it arrives (and I made sure to amend the shipping info on my pre-orders)

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows"
quite possible the only MUST READ of the season.



Blogger pissed off patricia said...

thanks for the email and info. :)

If the lady barn cat doesn't name herself, Fred the Cat suggests, Barn Bitch. If that's to harsh, he also suggested Lady of the Barn.

12:18 PM  
Blogger Sherry said...

i hate it when you are supposed to just melt over certain authors or artists or what have you.

i've wasted more time and money(and i resent the loss of time way more) on books or movies etc, that were touted as genius(and made me feel marginal at best because somehow i just didn't get all the fuss)

i still remember the movie tess, or reds.

ack! yet...?

ah well. have fun.

12:38 PM  
Blogger pissed off patricia said...

I agree with Sherry, there are several books that a lot of people think works of art. I try to read them and my hair starts to hurt.

Since I was not familiar with either of your daughters suggested cat names, I had to google both. My vote goes to Boudica. Seems she could kick some butt. That should carry over to a lady cat in charge of kicking some mouse butt too.

12:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm the only one of my immediate family who has not read A Tale of Two Cities. My sister, brother, and both parents all scratch their heads over that since they think it's one of the best stories they've ever read.

I can't bear the endlessly detailed everything of Romantic Era writing. It just drives me batty.

I've never read Twain for the same reason.

- oddjob

2:57 PM  
Blogger BadTux said...

Let me know how The Bone Parade reads, MB. I've heard of it, but have been reluctant to pick it up much for the same reason that I put down Stephen King's "Pet Sematary" about the time that the protagonist's little boy got killed. It was pretty clear to me at that point what had to happen, given the setup. And I just didn't want to read about it, no matter how good the book was (and King was at the top of his powers when he wrote that one, so it was VERY good).

Oddjob, you need to read Twain. His stuff does *not* read like Romantic Age twaddle. For one thing, it's funny as hell while poking a stick at the stupidities of human beings. In many ways Twain was the first modern writer. I do not believe that a man can consider himself an educated human being unless he has at least read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which, I promise you, is a romp -- but a romp with teeth as Twain pokes fun at society's stuffed shirts and taboo subjects. (His take on Southern gentry, for example, is absolutely hilarious -- and point blank accurate, from what I've confirmed via direct family history). It's snarkalicious!

12:41 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i definately will let you know tux. mark was a jock in high school, he played basketball, but he was also a "thinking" jock, who moved outside the circles of athletics. he went on to become a disc jockey, an emmy winning reporter for NBC and then he sort of fell off my radar. (like falling off the radar isn't something i've done before).

and oddjob, please give twain (especially "adventures of huckleberry finn") another chance. of course, you have every right to say "i'm busy reading stuff that interests me so fuck off. . ." but there is a lot to read in there. social commentary and some pretty good yarn spinning.

7:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've tried "Finn" once or twice. I can't get beyond the second page.

Sorry. For me it fails on the most basic of levels. The writing just doesn't hold me, and I'll be damned if I'm going to painfully plow through something because everyone else thinks I have to in order to be an educated human being.

- oddjob (who did plenty of that in high school thanks very much)

5:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's not to say I've never read anything at all by Twain. I think his observations about the horrors of the German language are gut-bustingly funny (especially because they're true)!

- oddjob :-)

6:04 PM  
Anonymous Stephen T said...

Some of Twain's best are the works he refused to publish until after his death. "The War Prayer" is one of my favorites.

7:05 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

nuff said oddjob. i do know the feeling. to get something that eveyone else says is genius and not see it is maddening. feeling left out, inferior, stupid, blind, all of those inadequacies, all behind not liking a book or movie you're supposed to like.

8:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the other hand, THIS is a magnificent opening! I was just fourteen when I read it in high school, but I still remember. Put on your best Louisiana accent and read it aloud to yourself. If you have any ear for things like rhythm and cadence you'll immediately recognize you're reading the prose of a master poet.

- oddjob

9:50 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

agreed. one of my favorites, along with "elmer gantry" and, i haven't been able to find it recently but there is a raymond chandler passage that describes what happens to l.a. when the santa ana winds start blowing. how arguments turn into murders, how sparks become conflagrations. . . brilliant stuff

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I've read that before. The writer makes some sort of comment about the wife eyeing the knife while toying with fantasies of murdering her husband, all on account of the santa ana, right?

- oddjob

7:45 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

that's exactly the one. it's some gorgeously effective writing.

8:25 PM  
Blogger BadTux said...

Chandler's writing is generally gorgeously effective writing to begin with. I wish I could write like that. I remember a passage in one of his novels, ah, "The Long Goodbye" I believe, where our hero watches a bug walk across a windowsill. The bug is described in loving detail as a police detective grills him. I liked it so much that I must admit I lifted the general idea for a passage in one of my novels where my protagonist suffering from PTSD is talking to a vet with PTSD well sorta talking around the vet if you know what I mean (sort of hard to say you're talking "to" someone if you're watching a bug crawl on the pavement not to mention that both of them kinda talked around the elephant if you know what I mean). It just so aptly summed up the feelings of the protagonist (i.e. as a bug about to be splattered under the heel of forces that he did not understand but that he knew were much bigger than him). Reminds me that it's time to re-read Chandler...

Oddjob, just open Huckleberry Finn somewhere near the middle. My bet is that you will be laughing your head off within five pages, and then the rather sluggish beginning will seem not such a bad price to pay to get to that payoff. (The beginning does the setup, but you don't need to know it in order to have fun downriver).

As for All the King's Men, in Louisiana it was generally considered to be a hatchet job against Huey Long years after he was no longer around to defend himself, so I avoided it and instead turned to reputable historians when I wanted to learn about Huey. That's the problem with using an easily identifiable person as your template for a novel, especially when you're doing it fairly close after the death of the man. It'd be as if I wrote a novel with a barely disguised George W. Bush as the main character... somehow, I doubt that it'd turn out being anything other than a hatchet job no matter how "fair" I tried to be.


12:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BT, don't worry about whether it's a hatchet job or not. It's a worthy read as a novel, regardless of how you feel about Long.

- oddjob

5:45 AM  

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