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[News] What are you currently reading?
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Sian
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Old Jun 1, 2008, 08:35 AM Local time: Jun 1, 2008, 01:35 PM #101 of 187
Stephen King's The Stand.

I was in town and I really had an urge to buy a book to read, for some reason I can always rely on good ol' Stephen to entertain me. It's not complex, the characterisation isn't always amazing but I do enjoy the genre. I was going to pick up the first of the Dark Tower series, but it wasn't there =(.

I was speaking idiomatically.
Bernard Black
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Old Jun 2, 2008, 07:40 AM Local time: Jun 2, 2008, 12:40 PM #102 of 187
I always meant to read the Dark Tower series myself, although a friend of mine said that the books tended to drag on quite a bit. I found that with a few of his other books, but I still love to read them.

I've started a long distance English Literature course recently, and the first book on the list is Michael Frayn's Spies. I've heard mixed reviews, but mostly the bad ones are from previous students. This makes me believe that I will enjoy the book since I've had a tendancy to enjoy texts from my previous English classes.

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Old Jun 3, 2008, 01:46 AM Local time: Jun 2, 2008, 10:46 PM #103 of 187
Just finished World of Warcraft: Tides of Darkness. It's the novelization of Warcraft 2. It was actually quite good. I've been on a Warcraft book kick lately. Before that I read the War of the Ancients trilogy.

I just started reading the first Harry Potter book last night.

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Old Jun 3, 2008, 01:52 AM Local time: Jun 3, 2008, 12:52 AM #104 of 187
Just finished World of Warcraft: Tides of Darkness. It's the novelization of Warcraft 2. It was actually quite good. I've been on a Warcraft book kick lately. Before that I read the War of the Ancients trilogy.

I just started reading the first Harry Potter book last night.


Just tore through The Great Derangement. Everyone needs to read it. Especially the religious. Same with The End of Reason.

On a less religious note, Mistakes Were Made is a fantastic read about memory and how it works. Brilliant.

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Old Jun 3, 2008, 02:05 AM 1 #105 of 187
China Mievelle's Perdido Street Station. Brilliant work of blending genres in a steampunk setting. Very in-depth imagery of both the hideous, and beautiful. It is very difficult to find a steampunk novel like this. (Heck, it is hard to find a steampunk novel in general)

Also reading Neil Gaiman's American Gods. Fascinating details about ancient pagan gods being overrun by current "gods" of America. Profoundly captivating and astounding descriptions of each gods and their role throughout the various landscapes of America.

Just started reading some HP Lovecraft. Nothing much to say about that.

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Old Jun 5, 2008, 01:21 AM #106 of 187
I always meant to read the Dark Tower series myself, although a friend of mine said that the books tended to drag on quite a bit. I found that with a few of his other books, but I still love to read them.

I've started a long distance English Literature course recently, and the first book on the list is Michael Frayn's Spies. I've heard mixed reviews, but mostly the bad ones are from previous students. This makes me believe that I will enjoy the book since I've had a tendancy to enjoy texts from my previous English classes.
The last 3 books are the main culprits so far. First four are golden though. Last 3 are still great though.

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elwe
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Old Jun 5, 2008, 02:03 AM Local time: Jun 5, 2008, 02:03 AM #107 of 187
Just finished John Steinbeck's East of Eden not long ago. While I wasn't too fond of Grapes of Wrath, I decided to give Eden a go, since I heard that it was an excellent read. Well, I wasn't disappointed. Some parts dragged, but by "some," I mean a fairly insignificant number of scenes. Otherwise, I was glued to the book. Perhaps the characters weren't entirely realistic, as you get your extremes of good and evil, but I felt that they were very well-fleshed out. Great themes as well. I was glad to see that Eden wasn't as "preachy" as Grapes, even with the themes and points, and even without the details to analyze, the plot holds as well.

So yeah. I really did enjoy Eden. In fact, it's now one of my favorite books.

China Mievelle's Perdido Street Station. Brilliant work of blending genres in a steampunk setting. Very in-depth imagery of both the hideous, and beautiful. It is very difficult to find a steampunk novel like this. (Heck, it is hard to find a steampunk novel in general)

Also reading Neil Gaiman's American Gods. Fascinating details about ancient pagan gods being overrun by current "gods" of America. Profoundly captivating and astounding descriptions of each gods and their role throughout the various landscapes of America.
Both of these sound highly intriguing. Gawd, I'm in the mood for steampunk. I'll definitely be looking into these, since I just finished Eden. Actually, I'm still in the middle of The Beautiful and the Damned by Fitzgerald, but I never really got around to it. Maybe I'll finally finish it this summer. It's a shame, really. I absolutely love Fitzgerald's way with words.


Edit: So I just started Perdido Street Station. It's pretty good so far, although I wasn't too enthused about all the excessive details and descriptions. Well, this seems promising, so I'll see where it leads.

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Last edited by elwe; Jun 6, 2008 at 04:18 AM.
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Old Jun 12, 2008, 05:04 AM #108 of 187
Currently reading The Algebraist. It's hard sci-fi, written about human interaction with the rest of the galaxy 2000 years in the future, mostly concerning their interaction with an ancient gas-giant native race called Dwellers. Covers a wide variety of themes, quirky at some points, almost h2g2 humor, but deadpan delivery. The author has a keen understanding of human nature and ambition.

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Old Jun 15, 2008, 07:12 AM Local time: Jun 15, 2008, 02:12 PM #109 of 187
Recently completed Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk, and liked it quite a lot, more so than any of his other novels that I've read. It appears a bit gimmicky at some points, but not as much as his later books, and there was one bit at the end that I didn't really like, but the characters where interesting, the writing still fresh (unlike Snuff, which is quite possibly one of his worst books yet), and the conclusion is actually satisfying, unlike the ending of Choke for example. If only his more recent novels still ahd that fresh feeling, but nowadays he only seems to care about shock value.

Finished reading Blindness (Jose Saramago) last night. Not my first book from this writer, so I was already used to his writing style (little to no punctuation, extremely long sentences), but this book was still a surprise to me. In an unnamed city, a man who's waiting for the light to turn green suddenly loses his sight. The city soon realizes that this is just the beginning of an epidemic, and the government decides to quarantine all those who are already blind or those who may be infected in an old mental institute, forcing the blind people to rely only on themselves for help, without any contact with the outside world.

The beginning of the book was pretty creepy to me, since the author places you in the blind man's perspective. You get the feeling that you have no idea what's going on, that you are guided by unknown people, and that you yourself are left blind. It isn't until a woman shows up who can still see, that I lost this unsettling feeling, only to be confronted with the horror that people are capable of in the mental institute. The author frequently interacts with the reader, commenting on the situations that he creates in the institute, making it all the more disturbing since he uses it to analyse the dark side of the human mind. The descriptions of the institute and the city are also depressing, showing people who have lost all sense of organisation and behave like animals, without any consideration for others, Saramago paints a terrifying portrait of the social degradation that occurs.

The book has also been made into a movie by Fernando Meirelles (Cidade de Deus, the Constant Gardener) starring Julianne Moore and Gael Garcia Bernal, which has already been shown in Cannes and will be released in September or October. I'm curious to see how Meirelles can evoke the disturbing feeling from the first part, when the reader is basically blind, and how he can create the same atmosphere that the book has. I have high hopes though, since Meirelles is an excellent director, but still worried that a story of blindness can't be brought to the big screen.

I started Notre-Dame de Paris, by Victor Hugo. I tried to read it before, in a horrible dutch translation, so now I'm trying the French version. I also got Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words by Jay Rubin (the translator of Norwegian Wood and the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle) from one of my classmates, which should be an interesting read.

I was speaking idiomatically.
Kyndig
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Old Jun 18, 2008, 04:05 PM #110 of 187
Currently reading The Algebraist. It's hard sci-fi, written about human interaction with the rest of the galaxy 2000 years in the future, mostly concerning their interaction with an ancient gas-giant native race called Dwellers. Covers a wide variety of themes, quirky at some points, almost h2g2 humor, but deadpan delivery. The author has a keen understanding of human nature and ambition.
Sounds interesting. I have been contemplating the acquisition of his new book "Matter" which just recently came out. The only book that I have read by this author is Inversions, which is about two friends from a space-faring culture that insert themselves into two different countries on a pre-industrial world to test their differing theories on how best to bring about social reform. An excellent book and definitely not your typical speculative fiction.

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Paco
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Old Jun 19, 2008, 11:37 AM Local time: Jun 19, 2008, 08:37 AM #111 of 187
Last week I went out and bought a bunch of books. So far I've been through How Wal-Mart Is Destroying America (And The World), I Am America (And So Can You!), The Rape of Nanking, Nothing Sacred, No End In Sight and 1984 (again...).

Right now I'm reading through this little book called Anything For A Vote. Quaint little summary of presidential campaigns since the start of this country and how low they've plotted and schemed in order to win their respective elections. Honest Abe really wasn't as honest as you'd like to think.

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Old Jun 19, 2008, 02:06 PM Local time: Jun 19, 2008, 11:06 AM #112 of 187
I'm about halfway through American Psycho right now. I can't decide whether to pick up Fight Club after I finish it or to finally get started on the second Dark Tower book. Or finally get around to finishing the second Harry Potter book. I can't seem to get into that one for some reason.

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Old Jun 21, 2008, 12:10 AM Local time: Jun 20, 2008, 09:10 PM #113 of 187
I'm about a third into Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald. So far, I'm enjoying it. I've always been a fan of him and I'm sure this won't disappoint.

Before this, I read The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow. I randomly decided to pick it up at a local used book store and I wasn't disappointed. It took me a little while to get into it and pick up Bellow's writing style, but that's mostly because I had read Hemingway before and it was quite a change. By the end of the book, I felt myself totally relating myself and my own experiences, thoughts and desires to what Augie was expressing. I recommend it.

Jam it back in, in the dark.
And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected." - John Steinbeck
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Old Jun 21, 2008, 02:05 AM Local time: Jun 21, 2008, 02:05 AM #114 of 187
I've got a couple books going right now. I'm the type of person who can't read just one book at a time. I'm pretty heavily into The Lazarus Project by Aleksander Hemon. It's hard to explain, but it has to deal with a Jewish immigrant who is killed by the chief of police in 1920s Chicago for being an "anarchist assassin." Then 90 years later a journalist delves deeper into the story, trying to uncover the details.

I'm also reading Soon I Will Be Invincible, by Austin Grossman. It's a funny parody of comic book superheros, told in narrative form. An epic story of good versus evil! This book is great fun...and a relatively quick read (if I weren't reading 3 books at once!)

And one other fun read that a friend recommended... Rumo by Walter Moers. It's about a cowardly dog that finds a demonic sword that urges him to go on a quest to kill monsters (in the most basic sense). Very imaginative read with a lot of adult humor hidden between the lines (verry Potter-esque in that it appeals to both kids and adults, for different reasons. was suggested by my friend who is a huge potter-phile).

Both of these sound highly intriguing. Gawd, I'm in the mood for steampunk. I'll definitely be looking into these, since I just finished Eden.
Mieville is probably one of the best steampunk authors you can read, in my opinion. I loved Perdido, but I think I liked The Scar even more. I'm currently reading Iron Council and it's quite good too, but it's not my favorite. He has another, Rat King, that he wrote before Perdido, and I hear it's quite good as well. Just have a lot on my backlog.

Another good author in the genre is Hal Duncan -- he has his The Book of All Hours trilogy (2 of 3 completed: Vellum and Ink). Highly recommended and I'm anticipating the third book.

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Old Jun 21, 2008, 05:38 PM Local time: Jun 21, 2008, 03:38 PM #115 of 187
I finished the Road awhile ago by Cormac McCarthy. It was an interesting read up until the end where it felt like the author had enough of the book and just decided to end it. I kind of wish there was more character development between the father and son. Overall he did a good job describing the environment but I feel the book is over hyped.

I'm currently reading The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America by David Hajdu. It gives an interesting insight and history on comic strips and comic books. Comics have pretty much been attacked since their inception. If it wasn't for their supposed corruption of youth then it was because they were regarded as a lower art form. Sounds pretty familiar doesn't it? There are many parallels between comic books and video games in this regard. The are attacked by politicians and religious groups for supposedly causing violence among the youth. Hajdu does a fine job describing the incidents providing facts and adding spice through some creative adjectives. A good read.

I also picked up several graphic novels a week or two ago and I've yet to read them yet.

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Old Jun 26, 2008, 11:47 PM #116 of 187
I'm gonna finally jump into this thread, something that should have happened ages ago.

I just finished Nelson DeMille's Wild Fire, and will be putting a full book review in my journal sometime soon. His books always have just enough reality to make their concepts terrifying, although this particular book dragged, despite the nukes involved.

Just last night, I finally picked up Dante's The Inferno and have reached the Seventh Canto. I think I'll be finding a complete copy of Dante's Divine Comedy though, because the copy I got from my Grandmother's basement is not only just Dante's trip through Hell (and not Purgitorio or Paradiso), but its also over 50 years old at this point, and I'm sure a better translation has come out since then.

I'm also reading Soon I Will Be Invincible, by Austin Grossman.
That one is currently sitting in my 'books to read' pile, and I cant wait to get to it.

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Old Jun 27, 2008, 06:03 AM Local time: Jun 27, 2008, 07:03 PM #117 of 187
Just bought a re-print of Elric by Micheal Moorcock....
Just finished Daughter of the Forest...
I started Son of Shadow but but I was getting slow.. so I stopped reading.
I also just re-read Storm Front and Blood Rites of the Dresden Files... I wish they had more of the Dresden books in the store. I just read book 1 then jumped to book 6! (There were times I had NO IDEA what they were talking about).

I was speaking idiomatically.

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Old Jun 29, 2008, 02:42 PM Local time: Jun 29, 2008, 02:42 PM #118 of 187
Oh hi there book thread. Long time book reader first time book poster abouter.

I just recently finished My Tank Is Fight from the Something Awful crew. It's actually a pretty interesting read if you're into war machines, even if you aren't a fan of the site.

I'm currently splitting my attention between Stephen Colbert's I am America (And So Can You), which is the first book I've ever openly chortled at while reading, and Richard Dawkins's The Blind Watchmaker. It's a fantastically non-stuffy argument for natural selection and has provided lots of excellent material for me to use if I ever find myself arguing with a creationist. I also recently purchased the His Dark Materials series (Wow at all the atheist books, didn't actually plan that.), but I haven't actually cracked the cover because I don't want to read three books at once.

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Old Jun 29, 2008, 02:55 PM Local time: Jun 29, 2008, 11:55 AM #119 of 187
In honor of The Master, I have pulled a few of his books off my shelf and am currently re-reading them. I started reading "Sometimes A Little Brain Damage Can Help" last night after I finished reading "Napalm & Silly Putty". When I'm done with that, I'm going out to see if I can find "When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops?" at Borders since I don't have that one yet.

Additional Spam:
I'm currently splitting my attention between Stephen Colbert's I am America (And So Can You), which is the first book I've ever openly chortled at while reading...
I just finished that one myself a couple of weeks ago and it's probably one of my favorite comedy books. I especially loved his section on religion where he outlines all the benefits of religion and how we can benefit from them.

"If you're good, you don't die. It's my favorite gift of religion because it's the most practical. For instance, I recently purchased that PBS Civil War series on DVD but I haven't had the time to watch it. But, thanks to religion, after I depart my earthly body I'll have all of eternity to watch those DVDs with Abraham Lincoln! Surely he'll be able to tell me if Ken Burns got it right."


FELIPE NO

Last edited by Paco; Jun 29, 2008 at 03:01 PM. Reason: This member got a little too post happy.
Schadenfreude
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Old Jul 7, 2008, 02:21 PM Local time: Jul 8, 2008, 03:21 AM #120 of 187
I'm currently working my way through Headcrusher by Alexander Garros and Aleksei Evdokimov, and so far it's quite an entertaining read. I bought it pretty much as an impulse buy along with two other books (Smalltime by Jerry Raine and Espedair Street by Iain M. Banks) at a bookstore which sells defective (for lack of a better term . . . still very readable, though, mostly just minor defects) books, extra print runs and the like. Which means the books are often quite cheap.

I might start reading one of the other two soon. If I can tear myself away from all the gaming that I've been doing, that is.

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Last edited by Schadenfreude; Jul 7, 2008 at 02:53 PM.
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Old Jul 7, 2008, 02:28 PM Local time: Jul 7, 2008, 01:28 PM #121 of 187
I'm still trying to finish The Student Conductor by Robert Ford, which was written by a UT grad student a few years back, and is about music, so I figured it would be right up my alley. I just have problems getting around to reading these days...

While I'm on planes, trains and automobiles in Europe I'm going to read The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova and Memnoch the Devil by Anne Rice at the request of my best friend. I've never read anything by Rice, so I'm not sure what to expect... as much as I like vampires, most people think I've read her stuff. Not so.
We'll see.

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Old Jul 7, 2008, 03:21 PM Local time: Jul 7, 2008, 12:21 PM #122 of 187
I finished Tender is the Night just the other day. I think that it's a wonderful book, but I probably would have enjoyed it much more if I hadn't kept putting it down, then picking it up and reading it a couple of days later. I'll file it away for rereading later.

I have since started reading The Winter of Our Discontent by Steinbeck, who remains one of my favorite authors. I'm a little over halfway through it and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. I really like Ethan Hawley and his thinking, on top of Steinbeck's wonderful ability to capture the idea of American, small town values.

There's nowhere I can't reach.
And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected." - John Steinbeck
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Old Jul 7, 2008, 03:23 PM Local time: Jul 7, 2008, 10:23 PM #123 of 187
China Mievelle's Perdido Street Station. Brilliant work of blending genres in a steampunk setting. Very in-depth imagery of both the hideous, and beautiful. It is very difficult to find a steampunk novel like this. (Heck, it is hard to find a steampunk novel in general)
Reading it as well. And loving it to pieces.
Wouldn't call it steampunk though... Even if I can't come up with any other useful label, short of "urban fantasy".

This thing is sticky, and I don't like it. I don't appreciate it.

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Old Jul 8, 2008, 06:19 AM Local time: Jul 8, 2008, 03:19 AM #124 of 187
In the past few days I've read done a good bit of reading, namely making my way through three collections of Harvey Pekar's American Splendor. I enjoyed the movie adaptation, but his voice comes across so much more clearly in its original form. He manages to make the day to day minutiae we so routinely ignore hold great meaning. Even more impressively, he manages to make his life compelling without indulging or embellishing a thing.

I've also just started on Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children. For the short bit that I've read (sixty pages or so), it's a wonderful novel. The story is charming and engaging, and the prose is so full of energy and life it's astounding. Sixty pages, and I can already tell Rushdie is a master of manipulating words, making every last one fit exactly as he'd like. I know it seems a hyperbolic rush to judgment, but it's refreshing to see such innovation in style, such originality in story, even if it all was written over twenty five years ago.

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Last edited by YO PITTSBURGH MIKE HERE; Jul 8, 2008 at 06:23 AM.
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Old Jul 8, 2008, 09:44 AM Local time: Jul 8, 2008, 04:44 PM #125 of 187
Victor Hugo - Notre Dame de Paris

Spoiler:
I’ve tried reading this book before, but the dutch translations didn’t feel right. Now, having finished the french version, I realize how difficult it is to make a correct translation. Most of the names are puns on characteristics, so to ignore a translation is to ignore the rich language that Hugo uses. Then there are other names that can’t be translated because of their historical context, so there you have the first problem, and unfortunately most translators solve this by a mix, which feels too artificial. A second problem is the setting. Hugo dedicates at least 50 pages to a description of Paris, a description that would make no sense to someone who doesn’t know the city or speaks french if a translator decides to leave it like that. But a translation of all the location names damages the setting, since you don’t recognize Paris anymore. There where several streets that I know, but that I failed to recognize in the dutch translation, making it more difficult to get a good feel of the environment and atmosphere.

Regardless of these small remarks, Notre-Dame de Paris is a wonderful book. The prose is rich and beautiful, the story still excellent and moving. There are only a few books where an author manages to transform a building into a character (Mishima Yukio’s Kinkakuji being another example), but Hugo is certainly the master. The Notre-Dame isn’t intrusive, it isn’t the explicit center of the story, but it still manages to serve as a vital aspect, take it away or replace it with another building and you won’t get the same effect. The three main characters, Claude Frollo, Quasimodo and Esmeralda are all drawn to it, as a way to escape the difficulties they encounter (Frollo wants to get away from worldly temptations, Quasimodo sees the Notre-Dame as the only place that accepts it. and Esmeralda just wants to live), so even without words, the cathedral stands at the heart of the story.

Another reason why I liked the book is Hugo’s talent to analyse history, like the evolution of architecture being replaced by printed media as a way for humanity to express itself (one of the most enjoyable things I’ve read over the past year, check it out at the Gutenberg Project), or the history of the Notre-Dame. This novel proves to me that Hugo is, just like Dumas, one of the best French novelists.


Mark Z. Danielewski - House of Leaves

Spoiler:
This is definitely one of the more complex books that I’ve read in the past months. The various layers of the narrative (the Navidson documentary, the academic discussion of the documentary, Zampano’s interpretation, Truant’s interpretation, the editors’ version and finally the author’s story) make it way too difficult to explain what is going on in the book, I tried to summarize it, but failed. The complexity is one of the things that made me enjoy the book, but also one of the things that annoyed me the most. The strongest point of House of Leaves is ironically the only one that never existed, the Navidson documentary. The story of the house and the darkness inside is well written, and the academic discussion that was created around it kept me interested until the end. It is well written, has some memorable passages (Navy burning the book as he reads it, the analysis of Navy’s decision to return to the house).

Unfortunately, the book doesn’t stop here, and ends up being too complex. The main flaw is Johnny Truant’s story. The writing style here is annoying, the character speaks in long sentences that fail to keep your attention (especially if you compare it to Jose Saramago or Oe Kenzaburo, who manage to create complex page-long sentences that are just begging to be reread for their beauty and structure) needlessly distracts, and is in general uninteresting if you take away the growing madness. I had no interest in his family, so the inclusion of the letters written by his crazy mother served no purpose. Another aspect that gets annoying is the typography. Again, there are some nice finds like the scène where Navy climbs a ladder and the layout follows this process, but most of the time it feels too random, and it interrupts the flow of the story (you have to read parts of the book in front of a mirror, other moments you end up constantly turning the book around to keep up with the typographic structure).

The Navidson Record was an enjoyable read, but the rest of the book, the other layers of the story, the countless footnotes and especially the appendices that only add to the confusing atmosphere, taking the fun of reading out of it. This is the only novel by Danielewski that I’ve read, but it was interesting enough to check out his later books, hoping that he strays from making his books to complex.


Jay Rubin - Murakami Haruki and the Music of Words

Spoiler:
I haven’t finished this book completely, simply because it creates spoilers for other Murakami works that I haven’t read yet. It is an enjoyable read, mainly for the various trivia and anecdotes about Murakami, but it’s nothing more than that. Most of the works that Rubin analyzes don’t offer anything new, although a comparison of the various interpretations for the Wind-up Bird Chronicle for example is interesting.

The main aspect that bothered me that Rubin writes too much as a fanboy, he never seems to be critical enough for Murakami’s work, aside from Kafka on the Shore. He fails to point out obvious flaws in Murakami’s earlier work, and he just isn’t objective enough for my taste. This is a shame, since he quotes various Japanese sources that are critical and offer an objective analysis, and it’s a shame that he chooses to ignore this. He addresses the criticism, but he easily dismisses it, trivializes it. For example, he only casually mentions Oe’s critique, dismissing it with a snide and unwarranted remark, not even taking the time to see why exactly Oe is so critical. A more objective view would benefit the Murakami’s work, but I guess that a fan like Rubin isn’t the best man for the job (Murakami Fuminobu does a much better job at a literary analyis).


Up next: A quick reread of The Brothers Karamazov before my huge Amazon shipment arrrves.

I was speaking idiomatically.
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