Whatcha reading?

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Steve Barber
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Postby Steve Barber » Tue Aug 26, 2014 9:55 am

Ezra Lb. wrote:Anybody but me a "Total Immersion" reader? What I mean by that is when I'm reading an author's work that's all I read for days and days until I get tired and am ready to move on. I don't skip around. I dig deep. What this means on a practical level is I pulled out my copy of STAR ROVER and CALL OF THE WILD and dangit that's not what I planned to read next at all. I'll be Jack Londoning for a while.


I need to check out London's more fantastic stories. Obviously I was raised on the Alaska and Yukon stories.

I have given up on Total Immersion. I did it once upon a time, however ran into a serious problem when I fell in love with Robert McCammon's work, followed by an immersion into Dean Koontz. What I discovered is that while both authors can tell terrific stories, and have considerable skill with words, they follow patterns which emerge if you read too many of their stories at one time. I found myself recognizing things like "that will be the child McCammon will endanger" or "She will be killed by Koontz in the next two chapters..."

I now read an author's work only a few books at a time, to save the pleasure instead of ruining it.
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Ezra Lb.
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Postby Ezra Lb. » Tue Aug 26, 2014 9:22 pm

Well total immersion probably works best on historical authors since you have some idea of what to expect. And frankly some writers just aren't up to it, as you say.

A nice New Yorker article on reading to challenge yourself.

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultur ... of-reading

But there are pleasures to be had from books beyond being lightly entertained. There is the pleasure of being challenged; the pleasure of feeling one’s range and capacities expanding; the pleasure of entering into an unfamiliar world, and being led into empathy with a consciousness very different from one’s own; the pleasure of knowing what others have already thought it worth knowing, and entering a larger conversation.
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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Chuck Messer
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Postby Chuck Messer » Wed Aug 27, 2014 2:45 am

First, I'm reading Mark Tiedeman's recent anthology, GRAVITY BOX. I recommend picking this one up, he has his own take on fantastic fiction and I'm enjoying myself. The nice thing about anthologies is that you can sample from it like a box of candies, and still take in a book or two:

OPERATION DRUMBEAT, a historical account of the U-Boat attack on shipping off the east coast of the US during 1942, which handed us a worse defeat than Pearl Harbor. We really screwed up during that phase of the war.

A CLASH OF KINGS, George R. R. Martin's second book of Fire and Ice. A very engaging tome with interesting characters. It's been pointed out that the probable inspiration for the plot line of the books is the War of the Roses. History could be full of spoilers.

Chuck
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FrankChurch
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Postby FrankChurch » Wed Aug 27, 2014 9:20 am

I'm currently boycotting the New Yorker because of their slanted views on GMOs.

Ready to finally look into the Seven Who Fled.

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Steve Barber
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Postby Steve Barber » Wed Aug 27, 2014 11:11 am

Just yesterday, after a couple of months slogging, finished Jules Verne's AN ANTARCTIC MYSTERY.

Tonight beginning a much more modern (and non-fiction) book, COCKPIT CONFIDENTIAL by Patrick Smith.
All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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Ezra Lb.
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Postby Ezra Lb. » Thu Aug 28, 2014 10:07 pm

I've always found Verne to be a hard slog. Woe betide the daft young punter who goes from Ray Harryhausen's fun and immensely entertaining 1961 movie version of The Mysterious Island to the novel expecting a fast, exciting read like I did. However I've been informed a few times over the years by fluent French speakers that Verne has not been well served in translation. I do look forward to having a son someday just so I can name him Impey.
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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Steve Barber
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Postby Steve Barber » Fri Aug 29, 2014 5:06 am

Ezra
Allow me to recommend a more modern translation of, at least, 20,000 Leagues, which includes several chapters previously deleted.

When Dad was running the Naval Institute they caught wind of two authors doing a retranslation from Verne's original text, reintegrating some pieces that had been left out and that increasingly lazy publishers never bothered to check. After several of the staff read a handful of chapters the Institute agreed to publish the new edition as the definitive translation.

I read it years after slogging through the standard translation and it's definitely superior.

http://www.najvs.org/works/V006_VL.shtml

http://www.usni.org/store/books/fiction/20000-leagues-under-sea
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Chuck Messer
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Postby Chuck Messer » Fri Aug 29, 2014 7:25 am

Yes! I have that edition of 20,000 Leagues and it is a huge improvement. Some have described the standard translation of Verne's novels as being tantamount to character assassination.

The Mysterious Island can disappoint after seeing the Ray Harryhausen movie because the book is simply Verne's take on Robinson Crusoe/Swiss Family Robinson with a cameo appearance by Capt. Nemo. I'd like to read a proper translation of it, though. I mean, talk about ending with a bang.

Chuck
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Ezra Lb.
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Postby Ezra Lb. » Fri Aug 29, 2014 7:11 pm

Cool, Barber thanks. I will check that out. The ones I remember from junior high school were the classics, 20,000 Leagues, Journey to the Center of the Earth and From the Earth to the Moon. I have to say though next to H G Wells, Verne comes off rather clunky. Wells was the one that really fried my little brain. Every couple years I pull out War of the Worlds and enjoy it very much. Definitely one of my desert island books.
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

Mark Tiedemann
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Wed Sep 03, 2014 5:52 am

I'm reading Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings. This while keeping half an eye on all the petty bitching going about the Hugos and what "qualifies" as good SF etc bleeding etc. I fully sympathize with Harlan's decision to distance himself from the regular kindergarten crap that passes for collegial discourse in SF. Reading the Wolitzer while skimming this nonsense is fascinating because The Interestings is an example of what excellent writing can do and the whole point of character.

Along with that I recently began reading Bowl of Heaven by Niven and Benford. The sequel just came out and I decided to find out what a pair of my long-time faves had come up with. I almost wish I hadn't. I've gotten spoiled in the last several years by the quality of fine prose by people like Powers and Patchett and Sayers and Griffith. I read some of this work being published currently as science fiction and while the ideas are wonderful and the plots are clever, I find myself struggling with clunky prose and shallow characters and I keep thinking "There's no fucking excuse for this...mystery is a genre, too, and there are generally terrific characterizations and fine sentences throughout..."

Which of course brings me back to the kerfluffle among the disappointed in SF who seem to be complaining that fine writing is displacing cool ideas and getting all the awards. In a couple of instances I want to say to these people "There is no reason you can't write beautifully as well, but you can't do it if your purpose is to propagandize your narrow ideological, pseudo-libertarian bullshit."

Ah, well.

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Rick Keeney
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Postby Rick Keeney » Wed Sep 03, 2014 9:16 am

Mark Tiedemann wrote:I'm reading Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings. This while keeping half an eye on all the petty bitching going about the Hugos and what "qualifies" as good SF etc bleeding etc. I fully sympathize with Harlan's decision to distance himself from the regular kindergarten crap that passes for collegial discourse in SF. Reading the Wolitzer while skimming this nonsense is fascinating because The Interestings is an example of what excellent writing can do and the whole point of character.

Along with that I recently began reading Bowl of Heaven by Niven and Benford. The sequel just came out and I decided to find out what a pair of my long-time faves had come up with. I almost wish I hadn't. I've gotten spoiled in the last several years by the quality of fine prose by people like Powers and Patchett and Sayers and Griffith. I read some of this work being published currently as science fiction and while the ideas are wonderful and the plots are clever, I find myself struggling with clunky prose and shallow characters and I keep thinking "There's no fucking excuse for this...mystery is a genre, too, and there are generally terrific characterizations and fine sentences throughout..."

Which of course brings me back to the kerfluffle among the disappointed in SF who seem to be complaining that fine writing is displacing cool ideas and getting all the awards. In a couple of instances I want to say to these people "There is no reason you can't write beautifully as well, but you can't do it if your purpose is to propagandize your narrow ideological, pseudo-libertarian bullshit."

What's your source for the Hugo keepoople, Mark?

I lean toward Nebulae.

Ah, well.

Mark Tiedemann
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Wed Sep 03, 2014 9:44 am

Seems difficult to avoid it on Facebook, but several bloggers have taken it up. The Baen Books crowd, at least a vocal smidgen of them, seem all exercised that things of some artistic merit won the major awards this year, leaving all the clanking, clunky, semi-military, nuts-n-bolts, hardware-and-space stuff in the dust.

Brad Torgerson won't shut up about it. I've seen posts by and about Larry Correia. Others who chime in with disparaging comments about anyone who can form a decent sentence. Bunches and bunches of sour grapes from folks who don't seem to realize that the wine is a few booths down from where they insist on standing.

I've seen this kind of noise before, but it seems particularly loud this year and while not text-book right wing reactive it has that flavor to it, probably because of the nonsense with Vox Day and his mysoginism and racism and general misanthropy. Misattributions are going on, claims that so-n-so said this-or-that when they said no such thing, but the fires are springing up so fast putting them out is impossible.

So, y'know...around.

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Re: Whatcha reading?

Postby ATSayre » Thu Sep 04, 2014 8:31 am

I've had the worst luck with books this year. I read Ian MCEwan's latest one, 'Sweet Tooth', and didn't really like it at all. Then I 'Blood Meridian' and got over 100 pages in before I realized I hadn't paid attention to a single thing I'd read since the first chapter. Just too dense for me right now with all that's going on. A friend lent me a 'The Little Friend' by Donna Tartt, as I waned to branch out the authors I read, but I couldn't even finish it because it just felt so damn tedious. Then I tried 'The Fourth hand' by Irving and didn't like it either.
So far there's not been one good book in the whole year.

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Steve Evil
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Postby Steve Evil » Thu Sep 04, 2014 9:01 am

Ezra Lb. wrote:I've always found Verne to be a hard slog.


Alas. When Verne hit his stride, he was wonderful. He really could expound on the wonders of the world. The trouble is, he could also come across as a technocratic bore. He wrote some eighty books, and not all of them hit his stride. 20 000 Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Centre of the Earth are his best known works for good reason. The Underground City and that book on India are much lesser known works for good reason as well.

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Steve Barber
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Postby Steve Barber » Thu Sep 04, 2014 1:21 pm

Andrew -- I've been hit with that experience this year too. Nothing worse than being a hundred pages in and asking yourself "Wait, what? What'd I miss?"

This year I've tackled some older classics, which can be quite dense. Jules Verne's AN ANTARCTIC MYSTERY, Oscar Wilde's THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY, Irving's LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW, etc.

Then again, Dan Simmons' DROOD was no picnic either.

All excellent books, but density isn't my favorite style.
All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.


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