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Discussion in 'Books' started by riverplate, Dec 23, 2008.
Ruling for Salinger, Judge Bans ‘Rye’ Sequel - N.Y. Times
Amazon Erases Two Classics From Kindle (One Is ‘1984’) - N.Y. Times
David Eddings has always been a guilty pleasure of mine, but the more I read him, the more I think he's actually one of the most subversive fantasy authors out there. He plays his cliches and tropes perfectly straight, and yet his books are so laden with snark that you get the feeling that they're not to be taken seriously.
Hilary Mantel Wins the Man Booker Prize - N.Y. Times
The Novel is Dead. Long Live the Memoir.
Or So Says this Non-Fiction Writer
For the most part, it's hard to quarrel with "Memoir: A History," but Yagoda does manage to slip a little controversy bait into an otherwise reasonable book. Behind much of the current kvetching about the memoir boom lies the impulse to protect the artistic supremacy of the novel. So when Yagoda writes,"fiction has become a bit like painting in the age of photography -- a novelty item that has its place in the Booker Prize/Whitney Museum high culture and in the genre-fiction/black velvet-Elvis low but is oddly absent in the middle range," he's inviting trouble and knows it.
It's true that material that writers would once have worked into fiction -- classic autobiographical first novels like "The Bell Jar" or James Agee's "A Death in the Family," for example -- will now more likely be presented as memoir. But whether such novels once occupied the whole extent of the middlebrow fictional spectrum between, say, a Booker Prize winner like Ian McEwan's "Atonement" and a Tom Clancy thriller is debatable. Besides, "Atonement" was as successful as any memoir (and more successful than most). "The Lovely Bones" sold as well as "Eat Pray Love," and probably to the same readers. Yagoda's statement about memoir usurping the novel is the sort of thing people worried about the future of literary fiction seize upon in their frequent moments of hysteria, but -- like a lot of the dicey memoirs he writes about -- it has a tenuous connection to actual fact.
More truly provocative is Yagoda's assertion that the rise of memoir shows how "authorship has been democratized"; everyone has a story to tell and who better to tell it than the one who lived it? We put less faith in expertise and objectivity, and more in what's spoken "straight from the heart." Furthermore the authenticity of a first-person account of a true story will, in many readers' minds, make up for a lack of the literary finesse required in fiction. James Frey could not find a publisher for the preening, bombastic "A Million Little Pieces" when he first attempted to sell it as a novel; marketed as a memoir, it was a hit, and continued to sell well even after he was publicly disgraced for making up many of the book's more melodramatic events.
The 2009 National Book Awards:
Colum McCann's novel Let The Great World Spin for fiction
Keith Waldrop's volume Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy for poetry
T. J. Stiles for The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt for Non-fiction
and for Young People's literature, Phillip Hoose won with Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, which the article describes as "a biography of Ms. Colvin, who as an African-American teenager in 1950s Montgomery, Ala., refused to give up her seat on a bus nine months before Rosa Parks took the same stand."
Diary That Inspired Faulkner Discovered - N.Y. Times
According to the Writers' Alamanc, today is the birthday of Robert Frost:
Acquainted with the Night
I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.
I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.
I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,
But not to call me back or say good-by;
And further still at an unearthly height
One luminary clock against the sky
Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.
And, in a sign that the Zodiac has been defeated in this match, it is also the birthday of Beat poet Gregory Corso:
Should I get married? Should I be good?
Astound the girl next door with my velvet suit and faustus hood?
Don't take her to movies but to cemeteries
tell all about werewolf bathtubs and forked clarinets
then desire her and kiss her and all the preliminaries
and she going just so far and I understanding why
not getting angry saying You must feel! It's beautiful to feel!
Instead take her in my arms lean against an old crooked tombstone
and woo her the entire night the constellations in the sky-
When she introduces me to her parents
back straightened, hair finally combed, strangled by a tie,
should I sit with my knees together on their 3rd degree sofa
and not ask Where's the bathroom?
How else to feel other than I am,
often thinking Flash Gordon soap-
O how terrible it must be for a young man
seated before a family and the family thinking
We never saw him before! He wants our Mary Lou!
After tea and homemade cookies they ask What do you do for a living?
Should I tell them? Would they like me then?
Say All right get married, we're losing a daughter
but we're gaining a son-
And should I then ask Where's the bathroom?
O God, and the wedding! All her family and her friends
and only a handful of mine all scroungy and bearded
just wait to get at the drinks and food-
And the priest! he looking at me as if I masturbated
asking me Do you take this woman for your lawful wedded wife?
And I trembling what to say say Pie Glue!
I kiss the bride all those corny men slapping me on the back
She's all yours, boy! Ha-ha-ha!
And in their eyes you could see some obscene honeymoon going on-
Then all that absurd rice and clanky cans and shoes
Niagara Falls! Hordes of us! Husbands! Wives! Flowers! Chocolates!
All streaming into cozy hotels
All going to do the same thing tonight
The indifferent clerk he knowing what was going to happen
The lobby zombies they knowing what
The whistling elevator man he knowing
Everybody knowing! I'd almost be inclined not to do anything!
Stay up all night! Stare that hotel clerk in the eye!
Screaming: I deny honeymoon! I deny honeymoon!
running rampant into those almost climactic suites
yelling Radio belly! Cat shovel!
O I'd live in Niagara forever! in a dark cave beneath the Falls
I'd sit there the Mad Honeymooner
devising ways to break marriages, a scourge of bigamy
a saint of divorce-
But I should get married I should be good
How nice it'd be to come home to her
and sit by the fireplace and she in the kitchen
aproned young and lovely wanting my baby
and so happy about me she burns the roast beef
and comes crying to me and I get up from my big papa chair
saying Christmas teeth! Radiant brains! Apple deaf!
God what a husband I'd make! Yes, I should get married!
So much to do! Like sneaking into Mr Jones' house late at night
and cover his golf clubs with 1920 Norwegian books
Like hanging a picture of Rimbaud on the lawnmower
like pasting Tannu Tuva postage stamps all over the picket fence
like when Mrs Kindhead comes to collect for the Community Chest
grab her and tell her There are unfavorable omens in the sky!
And when the mayor comes to get my vote tell him
When are you going to stop people killing whales!
And when the milkman comes leave him a note in the bottle
Penguin dust, bring me penguin dust, I want penguin dust-
Yes if I should get married and it's Connecticut and snow
and she gives birth to a child and I am sleepless, worn,
up for nights, head bowed against a quiet window, the past behind me,
finding myself in the most common of situations a trembling man
knowledged with responsibility not twig-smear nor Roman coin soup-
O what would that be like!
Surely I'd give it for a nipple a rubber Tacitus
For a rattle a bag of broken Bach records
Tack Della Francesca all over its crib
Sew the Greek alphabet on its bib
And build for its playpen a roofless Parthenon
No, I doubt I'd be that kind of father
Not rural not snow no quiet window
but hot smelly tight New York City
seven flights up, roaches and rats in the walls
a fat Reichian wife screeching over potatoes Get a job!
And five nose running brats in love with Batman
And the neighbors all toothless and dry haired
like those hag masses of the 18th century
all wanting to come in and watch TV
The landlord wants his rent
Grocery store Blue Cross Gas & Electric Knights of Columbus
impossible to lie back and dream Telephone snow, ghost parking-
No! I should not get married! I should never get married!
But-imagine if I were married to a beautiful sophisticated woman
tall and pale wearing an elegant black dress and long black gloves
holding a cigarette holder in one hand and a highball in the other
and we lived high up in a penthouse with a huge window
from which we could see all of New York and even farther on clearer days
No, can't imagine myself married to that pleasant prison dream-
O but what about love? I forget love
not that I am incapable of love
It's just that I see love as odd as wearing shoes-
I never wanted to marry a girl who was like my mother
And Ingrid Bergman was always impossible
And there's maybe a girl now but she's already married
And I don't like men and-
But there's got to be somebody!
Because what if I'm 60 years old and not married,
all alone in a furnished room with pee stains on my underwear
and everybody else is married! All the universe married but me!
Ah, yet well I know that were a woman possible as I am possible
then marriage would be possible-
Like SHE in her lonely alien gaud waiting her Egyptian lover
so i wait-bereft of 2,000 years and the bath of life.
Re: 2009 Pulitzer Prizes
Meachem's American Lion left me totally underwhelmed.
The Hemingses of Monticello is another must read for any Jefferson enthusiast. There was another book about Jefferson out last year called The Path to Monticello which was EXCELLENT.
Re: 2009 Pulitzer Prizes
The winners of the 2010 Pulitzer Prizes have been announced...
HISTORY: LIAQUAT AHAMED
"Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World"
BIOGRAPHY: T.J. STILES
"The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt"
FICTION: PAUL HARDING
GENERAL NONFICTION: DAVID E. HOFFMAN
"The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy"
DRAMA: TOM KITT (Music), BRIAN YORKEY (Book & Lyrics)
“Next to Normal”
POETRY: RAE ARMANTROUT
Re: 2009 Pulitzer Prizes
I've been meaning to read that. I thought it looked really good.
These days, people are reading more than ever, just not books.
Sentences are shorter. Most times they are fragments.
The best fiction to get most young males into reading might be transgressive fiction, but you won't see it shelved the way chick lit now is.
Middle age women are the majority of readers. Content that pleases them is what drives the market. Mainly this content consists of a message that states the world will be a nice enough place to have a future full of more kids.
It's no surprise the female authors have an advantage. Since readers like to identify with the Point of View. Thing is, most women make terrible artists. Many of these women are bored housewives. I don't think my comment is too bad about female artists because they own the baby making department and that is no short feat. It is, after all creation.
Men, on the other hand, are not encouraged to express. When they do, for whatever reason, they can be supreme in comparision to women. Something about a dual gender gives men the advantage. Don't get me wrong. Women are natural communicators, better than almost all men, but . . . when a man, some freak with a talent goes and puts it on paper, art gets real artsy.
The problem is the audience. Women for women.
She will be deciding the movie, too.
Now back to random thoughts on books . . . nobody writes a happy novel. Everything is about conflict. The reader identifies with the main character as he overcomes a problem. The reader projects her/himself using these techniques to breeze through any dilemma that is sure to arise in real life, and with style, interest and colorful catch for your phrase.
So . . . this means that conflict is needed. To say you need it for a story is wrong, but to meet expectations, yes.
It might be difficult to capture happiness or meaningful boredom, but even if the writer did this masterfully, the reader would want it ruined with a twist of badness.
Somehow, imagination and fiction is only credible if the tainted part steals the glory of any good moment. A nice town will be visited by the worst stranger during the worst weather.
Yes, entertainment is for fun and the escape, but we mimic the same drama in conflicting terms in our day to day lives. You can hear it in the pauses of a real arguement, influenced by the conflict that entertained us. The dramatic turning away and slamming of doors.
Love stories are not stories about being in love, or how to experience love, they are about lovers being prevented from fully loving each other. Every romance is built on this. Somebody or some evil group is trying to shoehorn the lovers away from each other. Otherwise, this love, this conceptal thing that is so important would be very boring. The love should stand by itelf as awesome. Since it does not, the audience feeds on this white lie so many times, entertainment form after form. No wonder disappointment plagues relationships in real life.
My only point will be this, extraordinary events and extraordinary people give us this escape and that should not be short changed for what it does to relieve ourselves, to experience things like danger and fear from a safe distance.
But something has to be said for the ordinary peanut butter jeally sandwich scene.
Oh and enough with people who have the education to deal with corpses deciding to show what they know, insider and all, from dna to story. You're a morgue tech, not an artist.
I hope I had spelling mistakes.
I recommend Bookmarks magazine. The editors compile book reviews from various sources, reproduce relevant snippets, and provide a plot synopsis and a summary of the overall critical opinion. The magazine includes sections of reviews of literary fiction, mysteries, science fiction, and non-fiction.
In addition to the reviews, the magazine includes author profiles, reports from book clubs, "Best books on..." a given topic, and other interesting bits.
Autobiography of Mark Twain: 100 Years After His Death — Per His Orders — He Reappears - N.Y. Post
Is Mass Market paperback dead?
It's been years since I read enough that I picked up a cheap paperback. Then I was tasked for finding some paperbacks for my grandma (historical romance) and thought I'd pop by the used book store and grab a whole bunch on the cheap.
Talk about sticker shock. Even 1/2 price, they were still like $4 a book. So, $8 for a generic paperback? Sweet Jesus. That's a NY Times bestseller on Amazon.
I pretty much agree with everything else the article said. Aside from the price, reading cheap books took a back burner as soon as we got internet in 1999. Now, unless I'm in Wal-Mart or Dollar General, I don't even see paperback racks anymore. Not anywhere.
It's kind of sad, really. I remember several of these cheap books being pretty good.
I can go to my local library and buy all kinds of paperbacks for anywhere between .25 to a dollar. Then, Half Price books sells all kinds of paperbacks for a dollar or two.
I rarely ever buy a book new anymore. I usually get them at a used book store or online.
A book store of any kind is somewhere I can spend hours. I sometimes go to Borders on my lunch break and end up being like an hour late back to work.
Two questions for fellow readers:
1) Has anyone ever tracked every book they have ever read? I was thinking about trying to compile a database of the books I read.
2) Does anyone ever have trouble reading? Like you just cant sit down and read without getting board in like 10 minutes even if it is a good book? I am going through one of those periods right now. I think it may be because my mind has just too much to think about.
I have a pretty good idea about every book I've read as an adult (at least post-collegiate.) Services like Good Reads, Shelfari, Library Thing, etc. make it easier to keep track of
Yeah, I've been in a rut lately. Can't find anything to really get into. There are times when I'm reading a two books a week and now I'm lucky if I can get through one in two months. I know it's just a phase, but it's frustrating.
I think this is a growing phenomenon due to the pace of the world, technology, the internet especially. We're being groomed to feel like texts should be easily scrollable and digested. I've definitely noticed a lot of prominent essayists comment on this recognition in themselves--and it's always worrying to them, of course.
Note to self: check these out.
I have these ruts too. They're not too hard for me to wait out any more since I know they'll eventually pass. And sometimes, they're caused by overdoing it in the first place, so I just use the time to get extra exercise, listen to music more attentively than usual (though I'm pretty sure I'll never again listen to the Wagner's complete Ring cycle in a single day like I did last year while I was trying to stay off a twisted knee), things like that.
One thing that's increasingly difficult for me is to read fiction. I don't know why. I've read maybe two novels this year that I hadn't assigned to a class, and while one was memorable, for the most part, it just hasn't been happening. This has been going on for close to a decade.
As to Dr. Jones' diagnosis, I'm positive that's happening to a lot of people, but I try to make sure I avoid OD'ing on new media. I worked damn hard to develop my attention span, and I'll be damned if some guys in Silicon Valley, guys who are basically the Typhoid Marys of self-inflicted ADHD, are going to ruin it for me.
I've used all three at various times, but I prefer Goodreads.com.
Here's one famous Atlantic essay from a couple years ago on the topic.
"I’m not the only one. When I mention my troubles with reading to friends and acquaintances—literary types, most of them—many say they’re having similar experiences. The more they use the Web, the more they have to fight to stay focused on long pieces of writing. Some of the bloggers I follow have also begun mentioning the phenomenon. Scott Karp, who writes a blog about online media, recently confessed that he has stopped reading books altogether. “I was a lit major in college, and used to be [a] voracious book reader,” he wrote. “What happened?” He speculates on the answer: “What if I do all my reading on the web not so much because the way I read has changed, i.e. I’m just seeking convenience, but because the way I THINK has changed?”
Bruce Friedman, who blogs regularly about the use of computers in medicine, also has described how the Internet has altered his mental habits. “I now have almost totally lost the ability to read and absorb a longish article on the web or in print,” he wrote earlier this year. A pathologist who has long been on the faculty of the University of Michigan Medical School, Friedman elaborated on his comment in a telephone conversation with me. His thinking, he said, has taken on a “staccato” quality, reflecting the way he quickly scans short passages of text from many sources online. “I can’t read War and Peace anymore,” he admitted. “I’ve lost the ability to do that. Even a blog post of more than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it.”
Anecdotes alone don’t prove much. And we still await the long-term neurological and psychological experiments that will provide a definitive picture of how Internet use affects cognition. But a recently published study of online research habits , conducted by scholars from University College London, suggests that we may well be in the midst of a sea change in the way we read and think. As part of the five-year research program, the scholars examined computer logs documenting the behavior of visitors to two popular research sites, one operated by the British Library and one by a U.K. educational consortium, that provide access to journal articles, e-books, and other sources of written information. They found that people using the sites exhibited “a form of skimming activity,” hopping from one source to another and rarely returning to any source they’d already visited. They typically read no more than one or two pages of an article or book before they would “bounce” out to another site. Sometimes they’d save a long article, but there’s no evidence that they ever went back and actually read it. The authors of the study report: It is clear that users are not reading online in the traditional sense; indeed there are signs that new forms of “reading” are emerging as users “power browse” horizontally through titles, contents pages and abstracts going for quick wins. It almost seems that they go online to avoid reading in the traditional sense."
I'm a copy editor(!), so I get burned out pretty quick. I normally read 6-8 books in a 'spurt,' then I'm done for about 8 weeks. I've also noticed that I tend to read most of them during the warm months, where as I watch more movies during the winter months. I don't think the Internet as a whole has really hurt my reading as much as my job has.
That being said, I think the problem with the Internet is that I read a lot of crap online. And I think that might be part of the problem. Give me a well done article from the NY Times or The Atlantic, and I'll read the whole thing, even if it means I have to click through 20 pages. But it's the too long or lukewarm (or both) blog posts that I tend to skim.
I like to think of it like this: (And forgive me if this is too clunky to follow -- it's late.) Twenty years ago, we had to pay for everything we read. Give or take. So, if you really liked an article, publication or book, you'd pay money for it. And if it was crap, you wouldn't bother. But now with the Internet, it seems I find myself reading articles and blogs that aren't really worth my time, just because they're there and they're free.
It's like abandoning Umberto Eco for dime store paperbacks. Eventually, you're going to get burned out because the quality isn't there. And instead of going back to Eco, you just quit reading until the urge hits again.
But that's just me. It's late and I think I had a good point to make somewhere, but I'm tired and I'm pretty sure I've read about 1,000 inches tonight.
Impressive. I had to review the "what are you reading" thread just to recall stuff form 2010 to include in Doc Wankler's best of 2010 thread.