Re: Holiday reading thread

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The Risk Pool by Richard Russo


Posted by: 56 and sunny | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 3:31 PM
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Natsume Soseki's Kokoro is a great pick-me-up.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 3:32 PM
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Why is my first thought, "What does Ben mean by that?"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 3:34 PM
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As someone who never buys books, I really don't know what qualities would make a book worth buying instead of taking out from the library.

How about a collection of "Krazy Kat" full-page strips? Or the newly translated "A Dream in Polar Fog" by Yuri Rytkheu?
http://quarterlyconversation.com/a-dream-in-polar-fog-by-yuri-rytkheu-review


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 3:43 PM
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The Bridge of Birds is my favorite thing to recommend. It's a detective/adventure/quest story with elements of fantasy & mythology set in 7th-century China (IIRC).


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 3:43 PM
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Devil Take the Hindmost is quite nice, though the last thing you may want to hear more about at the moment is financial crises. Still, it's well-written by someone who seems to know what he's talking about, and it does a great job at not only describing all sorts of bubbles over time (I'd never heard of the 1690s bubble in diving apparati or the 1820s bubble in South American debt and mining companies before this book), but also delving into the underlying similarities between these asset price bubbles.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 3:45 PM
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Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.

Alexander Hamilton's biography.

Transparent Things, Nabokov

Miss Lonelyhearts, Nathaniel West


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 3:45 PM
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I was unable to detect what the difference is between the two recent collections of work by Daniil Kharms, and thus didn't buy either of them for fear of buying the wrong one. But you could take a chance and buy one of them.


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 3:48 PM
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Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.

Excellent book. Bloody depressing, though.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 3:50 PM
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Weird. I just bought Kokoro last week.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 3:55 PM
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This list looked good.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 3:56 PM
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The Bridge of Birds is my favorite thing to recommend. It's a detective/adventure/quest story with elements of fantasy & mythology set in 7th-century China (IIRC).

I endorse this recommendation. When I started it I thought it was fine but not that interesting, but it reveals itself to be a great deal more subtle and sophisticated as it goes along, and is a charming good time, too.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 3:57 PM
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i love Bulgakov a lot
especially White guard and Doctor's memoirs, hilarious
then this is also great
never read it all in English though, so if you won't like it then the translation must be not good


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 4:03 PM
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Books for different moods, or a few of my recent recommendables:

Get up to speed on the resumption of trade battles now that the neoliberals are going to replace the neoconservatives with How To Rule The World by Mark Engler.

A sweeping love story in a novel of ideas: Mating by Norman Rush. (Hey look! "A review by Timothy Burke"!)

Borges' Mexican heir Paco Ignacio Taibo spins detective metafiction.

Darcy Cosper's Wedding Season hides a serious argument against marriage in a fluffy and fun chick lit.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 4:08 PM
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13: Cool.

did you know "The Twelve Chairs" was made into a movie by one of America's most famous comics, Mel Brooks? (1970)


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 4:11 PM
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I just finished a totally enjoyable travelogue about the cultural memory of the Civil War in the American South, called Confederates in the Attic, by somebody or other. Some genuinely hilarious scenes with "hardcore" (vs. "farb"---don't ask me!) reenactors, who diet to get the starved look and cherish every blister and chigger bite. It was published in 1998, though, and I'd be curious about what's changed since then. Anyway, I enjoyed it.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 4:13 PM
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The complete Pogo, volume one, can be yours cheep.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 4:20 PM
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Halldor Laxness 'Independent People'

Boris Akunin's Fandorin (historical crime fiction mostly set in late 19th century Russia) series beginning with 'The Winter Queen'

Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus Trilogy (young adult fantasy)

Though I have not finished it yet, Terrence Deacon The Symbolic Species.

Also David Stevenson's history of WW I.


Posted by: Tiny Hermaphrodite | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 4:45 PM
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The memoirs
i didn't know about the movie, i'll try to find it, thanks, CN
there are two movies based on the book
i like the second one starring Andrei Mironov a lot
i would recommend our literature but i'm not sure whether there are books translated into English yet or not and if translated whether it sounds ok or not
i found our folktales though


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 5:00 PM
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Whoa! I just this weekend read Bridge of Birds and its sequel (2nd of 3). I anxiously wait for the third to get to my library. It was very fun. There may have been deeper meaning, but I try not to notice that.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 5:10 PM
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Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus Trilogy (young adult fantasy)

This was really good. The reader is genuinely concerned, all the way along, that the main character might grow up to be a moral monster.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 5:19 PM
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1: The Risk Pool by Richard Russo

Agree. It has become my favorite Russo. For a light read, his academic comedy The Straight Man, is a nice quickie.

Indulge your inner map nerd with George Stewart's Names on the Land: A Historical Account of Place-Naming in the United States, or at least get his great quirky little apocalypse novel, Earth Abides.

Finally Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.

Pogo sounds good too. I think I'll get that one for my daughter.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 5:23 PM
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My unsophisticated palatte loves ridiculous stories.

I recommend Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem, about an orphaned private dick with Tourette's Syndrome. Tourette's is beautifully described in that book, whether realistically or not, I don't know. Also Night of the Avenging Blowfish by John Welter: the unrequited love story of a Secret Service agent and how spam was his downfall. Oh! and if you're fond of wordplay-- then all of Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, beginning with The Eyre Affair; he takes word-geekery in a sci-fi direction.

People tell me I'm easily entertained, so take that into account.


Posted by: wrenae | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 5:36 PM
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Ooh, lots of recommendations here sound good. Maybe I should read fewer blogs and more books.

Here's one:

The Secret History of the Lord of Musashi, Junichiro Tanizaki. (At least we know what he thought about the origin of sexual fetishes. Should have come up in some recent thread here.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 5:52 PM
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I recommend that everyone read the fucking archives.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 5:54 PM
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7: Transparent Things is an interesting choice. Why that one? I would rank it pretty low among Nabokov novels. Short and amusing, though.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 6:04 PM
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25: I know, right? I was still thinking about the most recent children's book thread and now this one comes along. Crazy!

I might start reviewing books (again) soon, but it will be under my own name so I guess I can't link here.

I just finally got around to reading 1491 all the way through (I had read a few of the source articles back when they came out). It was pretty good, but lacking a third act.

I really need to get cracking though, all of this finance busines (Pozzo: PROFESSIONAL WORRIES!) has put a serious crimp in my reading proclivities.

Not to mention my social life. I really need to call some people.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 6:06 PM
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Oh, oh, and I just bought The Revolution Will Not Be Funded, which is the talk of the town and which I plan to read post haste.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 6:07 PM
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Recently I read a thread on some other blog where someone was wanting reading recommendations. About fifteen people dropped in to say "there's this obscure Japanese writer named Haruki Murakami who is so cool!"


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 6:07 PM
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What sort of books do you like to read, Heebie?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 6:11 PM
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25: I know, right? I was still thinking about the most recent children's book thread and now this one comes along. Crazy!

That may have come off as overly harsh. But in this difficult economic climate, the blog has been looking at some belt-tightening measures, and we may have to let some commenters go. Word to the wise.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 6:13 PM
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My writing group compared a screenplay draft of mine to Haruki Murakami, which I think was their nice way of saying it's weird and stands still for inappropriate lengths of time. Still, anywhere you can get a compliment.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 6:25 PM
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31: you sons of bitches. How typical that the little-people are first in line to get the axe. What about the cast of unproductive bloggers you have listed on the side of the main page? Has revocation of their extravagant privileges even been discussed?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 6:25 PM
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Brock hates tenure.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 6:26 PM
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T.H. recommends Halldor Laxness's Independent People. I've read Under the Glacier. I'm going to Iceland in January and was thinking I should read a Laxness book to get in the mood -- any other suggestions?


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 6:31 PM
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Cloud Atlas is great, but I might actually prefer Mitchell's less flashy Black Swan Green. (Might nt, though. Rfts definitely does.)

Heebie, there's this obscure Japanese writer named Haruki Murakami. I bet you'll hate him. On the other hand, you might quite enjoy The Quincunx, if you like Trollope and/or Dickens. Or if you don't, perhaps The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril, written by a friend of a friend.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 7:01 PM
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Or perhaps something from The Canadians Go to Ireland series? Another Disgruntled Immigrant, The History of Putzy Academy, or If I Had Really Wanted to Kill I Would!


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 7:09 PM
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36: wow, the premise of The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril sounds like a lot of fun. How's the execution?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 7:18 PM
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38 - Not actually as good as the premise, but how could it be? It's still quite good, and features some bonus I AM PROVIDENCE love for MC Howard P.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 7:25 PM
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Many people enjoy reading the scholarship on Irenaeus, Gregory of Nyssa, Anselm, and Abelard for the holidays. Those people find that taking detailed notes and sending them to me only enhances their holiday cheer.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 7:29 PM
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Iceland will have slid beneath the waves by that time, Bave. Waves of negative dollars and negative euros.

Everyone you meet will be five million dollars in debt, with no way of paying it off. All the geysers and glaciers will be mortgaged and roped off. All the codfish will be the property of creditors who are themselves bankrupt. Bjork and the sagas will have been be foreclosed.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 7:31 PM
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41: Iceland is like an art installation that illustrates the follies of the era. We should probably just wrap the whole thing in Mylar to preserve it for posterity.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 7:35 PM
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Adam always forgets Cosmas Indicopleustes, one of the pioneers of the flat earth theory.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 7:36 PM
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The Race Beat is an amazing book, a little dense but powerful enough to renew (my) faith in journalism


Posted by: Quasimado | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 7:49 PM
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I just read Homicide and Clockers back to back, which is a fun duo if you like to read about depressing, unsolved murders of desperately poor people! Also they have lots of good swearing.

I ordered this, but since it isn't here yet I don't have anything to say about it. I think there was a review? In some kind of newspaper or magazine based in New York?

You could read Ari's book.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 7:55 PM
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Mating is an interesting one. It is one of my favorite books ever, but some people seem to loathe it and think the narrator is an appalling fiend.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 8:07 PM
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here, http://www.galsan.info/
i don't know German so can't tell how it reads, but his translations should be ok
it's very difficult to translate from my language, all wordplay, humour and wit or rhymes if it's poetry all gets just very simple and flat sounding at least in what i've read translated into Russian
a review at Amazon about our folktales said "While the plot lines are sufficiently simplistic to hearken from any Neolithic culture, it is the artwork that distinguishes this book."
but the illustrations are inspired by the folktales, so one could have imagined that it's the translation that was not up to the original, b/c it's all not the plots only, but the language, telling the story itself what matters
the folktales sound really great not less than f.e Grimm's imo


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 8:20 PM
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I also recommend Michael Thompson's Life and Action.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 8:26 PM
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I just read Homicide and Clockers back to back

Yes, I always like Richard Price.

The place-naming book sounds interesting. My inner map geek is mostly outer. Not very well disguised.

The Race Beat is an amazing book

This is helpful. I don't know anyone who has read it, and I had sort of overlooked it several times, despite the fact that Gene Roberts seems to be almost universally well-thought-of, at least among the people I know who have a sense of him.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 8:36 PM
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They aren't particularly holliday recommendations. but I'll repeat my standard list of books that are both easy to read and very interesting.

In order of attention required:

The Complete Peanuts 1950-54 (though, as Ben mentioned, Pogo would be a more than acceptable alternative

The Last Shot by Darcy Frey is one of the best basketball books out there, and recommended for anyone who likes sports of any sort.

Structures is an extremely readable classic, that I first saw recommended over at DeLong's.

I recommended The Gift in the previous thread, but it's a book that has influenced my sense of the world in significant ways.

Number: The Language Of Science is also a very readable


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 8:37 PM
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Motherless Brooklyn seconded.

TC Boyle's Drop City or Jane Smiley's Thousand acres for contemporary US fiction.

Spence's Modern China or Ferguson's Cash Nexus for great kilopagers.

Leo Perutz (anything, Swedish Knight or Stone Bridge are great) or Georges Perec's Life a User's manual for foreigners with P.

Frustrating that there's nothing like last.fm for reading-- Amazon recommendations don't do it.

English translation of 12 chairs is abysmal, unfortunately.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 8:39 PM
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It's true. Amazon recommendations for fiction tend to be along the lines of "Have you considered reading other books by your favorite authors?" Gee, what a swell idea, Amazon! I'm so glad you suggested it.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 8:41 PM
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Richard Power's Prisoner's Dilemma or Gain. Some of his books are not easy to read. PD is not one of them. It is also his best book about family. Then again, maybe I just like the history of them. (Same in a way for 3 Farmers.)


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 8:42 PM
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Amazon thinks I should read An Introduction to Support Vector Machines and Other Kernel-based Learning Methods over the holidays.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 8:43 PM
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Nixonland.


Posted by: Funky Clod | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 8:46 PM
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The history parts of Gain are great, but the present-day storyline is rather cardboardy. The Richard Powers I love best is the heartbreaking stuff: Galatea 2.2 and Goldbug Variations.

And I'm afraid that I think A Thousand Acres runs right off the rails when it turns to the exceedingly of-its-era revelations about SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 8:49 PM
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Captain Billy's Whiz Bang


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 8:55 PM
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Galatea 2.2

That book I did not like. I wonder if I was missing something key?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 8:57 PM
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56: A Thousand Acres runs right off the rail

Absolutely agree, I thought it destroyed an otherwise very good execution of an interesting concept. It actually angered me as I was reading it. It was working until then, Jane!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 8:57 PM
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That book I did not like. I wonder if I was missing something key?

Possibly the quality of being a giant sap.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 8:59 PM
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58 continued: it seemed to be technologically kind of tone-deaf, like Douglas Coupland but maybe more so. I bet I'll regret saying this, some day.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 8:59 PM
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Sure, clearly the tech is completely from planet What? No.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 9:01 PM
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In the light reading mode - Leonardo Padura's Havana Quartet. Good detective fiction set in late eighties and nineties Cuba. Less light John Crowley, Solitudes or Little, Big. In the 'classic you've (probably) not read' category, how about Musil's Man Without Qualities. Not light at all. Non fiction: Magnetic Mountain by Stephen Kotkin - very good case study analysis of how Stalinism functioned on the ground.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my (tkm) | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 9:04 PM
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56, 59: Huh. So that reaction wasn't just me, then. But I like Jane Smiley generally, or at least always enough to pick up the next book of hers I see.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 9:07 PM
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Power's can plot moving stories but his characterization can too often be cardboard-y. I think Prisoner's Dilemma escapes that trap in both its main story lines. Also there is no reaching on the technology side. Some great fun with history though.

I'll also recommend Gene Wolf's early novel, Peace. A very disturbing ghost story.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 9:09 PM
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'


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 9:10 PM
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Peace! Peace is great. Will Heebie like Peace? I am not so sure.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 9:14 PM
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60: Sifu being a giant sap, there must be some other quality that he's missing. Perhaps his chirality is fucked. That's the downfall of a lot of giant saps who otherwise would do quite well for themselves.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 9:14 PM
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Italics! Who doesn't like italics?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 9:14 PM
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65.b is clearly the finest ghost story ever written by an inventor of Pringles, but unlikely to appeal to Heebie.

I plugged the demented R.A. Lafferty to a coworker today. There's no one like him with the apparently singular exception of Charles Finney.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 9:19 PM
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I third Motherless Brooklyn. Did somebody mention Lewis Hyde's The Gift? It's very good and so is Trickster Makes This World.

Susannah Clarke's Ladies of Grace Adieu and Marie Phillip's Gods Behaving Badly are both fun.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 9:28 PM
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51: librarything is last.fm for books


Posted by: amb | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 9:32 PM
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Cahier by Moleskine is a must for any serious blogger.


Posted by: Econolicious | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 9:34 PM
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Everyone should read Markson's Springer's Progress.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 9:35 PM
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I enjoyed The Quincunx and I believe it's a CT favorite. The female lead character is super annoying, though.

Will Ayers spoke in the District tonight and gave some pretty decent advice for a cure for the election hangover: a big, fat, Russian novel. That does sound good, doesn't it? Fathers and Sons, here I come.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 9:45 PM
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Fathers and Sons, unfortunately, is pretty slim as Russian novels go, so your head might still be pounding by the end.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 9:48 PM
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Fathers and Sons isn't one of the big fat ones.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 9:50 PM
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Curse you, essear.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 9:50 PM
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I recommend Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem

I haven't read this but I am a tremendous fan of Gun, With Occasional Music.

Other recommendations include Counting Heads by David Marusek, which I just loved to death for the world it built and of course the Asimov classics: Foundation, or maybe Caves of Steel. There's something about each of them that I think makes them work well as winter reading, though I can't quite describe it. Maybe it's best described as a shared sense of isolation within the crowd, in some way, in each of those novels.

Obviously everyone has read Murakami but if you haven't, A Wild Sheep Chase is an absurdly fun novel, for certain values of "fun." I love it.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 9:52 PM
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I didn't know Jesus was the cursing type.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 9:54 PM
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Oh, and I've only read The Death of Achilles in the Fandorin mysteries but I loved loved loved it. So full of crunchy goodness.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 9:59 PM
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Actually, speaking of cursing, Benedictine Maledictions, about ritualized cursing by French monks in the Middle Ages, is pretty fascinating. Might be a bit dry for a holiday read, though.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 10:04 PM
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I haven't read this but I am a tremendous fan of Gun, With Occasional Music.

You must be the only person on earth.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 10:05 PM
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Pinkerton's Sister by Peter Rushforth, or for lighter fare, Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon. Second the pick of Cloud Atlas. Londonstani by Gautam Malkani is stupid dope, despite a somewhat lame ending. Microcosms by Claudio Magris is a sort of travel book on intellectual 'roids. the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime is a classic of autistic literature. Christian Bok's Eunoia is all at once clever, original and super-fun; nine of ten Canadian poets viciously envy hate it, so that's a strong vote in favour. Translated Accounts by James Kelman is great, though by no means an easy read. For scholarly inclinations, I still reread the first volume of the Paul Veyne-edited History of Private Life.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 10:05 PM
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Gentlemen of the Road

A swell read for sure, although I wish he'd kept his original title.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 10:06 PM
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Jews with swords! Agreed, Gentlemen of the Road is great if you want something fun and light.

Is "stupid dope" a term of approval?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 10:08 PM
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Implicit pwnage!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 10:08 PM
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86: Is "stupid dope" a term of approval?

By now, it may even be a swipple-approved term of approval!


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 10:09 PM
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88: yo, stupid dope NPR tote, hoss.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 10:18 PM
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85: It surprised me that the "Jews With Swords" title seemed incongruous to people Chabon mentioned it to. Even if you'd never heard of the Khazars: Old Testament and/or ancient Israel, anyone? King David? Samson and the jawbone? Ehud vs. Eglon in Judges? Masada? Bar Kochba? Seems to me at least a few of these should have percolated into pop history.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 10:25 PM
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90: Kirk Douglas as Spartacus!

It is weird, though. On the other hand, reclaiming macho judaism (which I don't think has gone anywhere it needs to be reclaimed from, but anyhow Chabon seems concerned) has been a theme of his. Remember The World's Strongest Jew in Kavalier & Clay.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 10:31 PM
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You must be the only person on earth.

What, other people hate G,WOM? Other people are stupid, I don't care what they think.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 10:34 PM
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92: no, no: you must be the only person on earth who's read Global, War On Mordor but hasn't read Motherless Brooklyn.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 10:39 PM
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The only Lethem I've read is Global War on Mordor.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 10:55 PM
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I bought You Don't Know Me Yet but, for some reason, could never quite bring myself to read it. Just looking at it brought to mind visions of hipster twits in girl jeans.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 11:01 PM
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Lethem is someone I was obsessed with in high school whose work I later realized was afflicted with the terrible disease of sometimes being incredibly bad, sometimes being mediocre, but occasionally being totally brilliant and moving. Girl in Landscape is great, GWOM is good, Amnesia Moon is beautiful, As She Climbed Across the Table is nice. Motherless Brooklyn is fine, The Shape We're In is terrible, and I didn't read anything else by him after that except for a few really tripey bits of memwah in magazines that made me too annoyed to bother with Fortress of Solitude.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 11:10 PM
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This has been in the works for ages. Is it really coming out this year? I highly doubt it.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 11:11 PM
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Some of the stories in The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye are good. Others are terrible.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 11:13 PM
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>The Fortress of Solitude is, by and large, a really terrific book.

Lethem seems like a genre-y guy, though. Pulp with occasional lucky.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 11:13 PM
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Lethem seems like a genre-y guy, though

I wouldn't have expected it to be Sifu who defended the High Literature in this here thread. Something the matter with genre, guy?

memwah

swah?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 11:16 PM
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A swah-ray is when you have people over for cocktails, sure.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 11:18 PM
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100.1: no, not at all! I just think Lethem lost sight of the fact, in a way others more talented have not.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 11:20 PM
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Yeah, Lethem's pulp is the world's finest, really gets stuck in your teeth. When he tries to write "literature" it's pretty terrible.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 11:24 PM
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See, AWB knows what I'm saying.

Which, wow, AWB, you might want to have that checked.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-17-08 11:25 PM
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7's recommendation of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: is that a book still worth reading outside of the context in which it was published?

I used to like Lethem, but like Chabon he's getting credit for doing things that a lot of other writers have done much better before him, but without the approval of the literary establishment. Nor will I forgive him for pissing all over Steve Gerber either.

Several people mentioned various classic newspaper collections. One such project that you might like is the complete (US) Dennis the Menace, which I always loathed before but damn, that Hank Ketcham could draw when he was still motivated too. I picked up the first two collections cheap and they're absolutely gorgeous.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 12:27 AM
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Oh and if you like Tour de Force fantasy, you might give Hal Duncan's Vellum and Ink a try.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 12:29 AM
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Absolutely anything by anyone who comments here, of course


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 3:41 AM
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So great! I took lots of suggestions here and just bought $75 worth of books. (I've had these gift certificates accumulating for a while.)

This may have made the rounds already, but my book to highly recommend this year is Bel Canto. I loved it a lot. Group of dignitaries taken hostage in unnamed city in South America, midway through a formal dinner with guest opera singer. I thought it was beautifully written.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 5:12 AM
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I recommend that everyone read the fucking archives.

What-ev, Grumplestiltskin. Is it time for another list of party themes?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 5:20 AM
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Herewith (re-)revealing myself as the intellectual lightweight around here...

Read "Once Upon a Marigold." Little rich boy runs away from home and is raised by a forest troll. As he grows older, he proceeds to pseudonymously court a princess from afar via carrier pigeon ("p-mail").

(The only reading I do anymore is for Rory's book club. Juvenile fiction is fun!)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 5:26 AM
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What sort of books do you like to read, Heebie?

I don't tend to read much fantasy/sci-fi, and I probably have a shorter attention span than most of the mineshaft when it comes to wading through dense prose.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 5:26 AM
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90: Kirk Douglas as Spartacus!

Spartacus wasn't Jewish... are you thinking of Ben Hur?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 6:06 AM
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As for books, "Sword of Honour" by Evelyn Waugh and "Eastern Approaches" by Fitzroy Maclean are both cracking reads and share similar themes and - to an extent - styles; staying with the theme of irregular warfare, "Quartered Safe Out Here" by George Macdonald Fraser.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 6:12 AM
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Although you've acted already, a couple of great comic reads if you're willing to forgive the authors for various excesses and foibles.
The Thought Gang, Tibor Fischer—"We are not tourists."
The Onion Eaters, JP Donleavy's neglected bawdy romp (OK you have to forgive a lot ... and I see that he's still alive, who would have guessed?). "I am Lead Kindly Light of the Backside Contorted!"


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 8:21 AM
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A couple of SF books that could make good vacation reads:

Chess With a Dragon by David Gerrold and Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grill by Steven Brust are both better and more entertaining than they have any right to be. The former is a good demonstration of the fact that clear writing, a sense of humor, and a dramatic plot count for a lot. The latter has a plot that doesn't completely work but has some very nice writing about the pleasures of music and friendship.

Additionally, I highly recommend both Mindplayers and Synners by Pat Cadigan. Both are well written, and definitely not typical cyberpunk novels. The former is her first book and has the slightly unformed creative energy of a debut. The latter is a later book that is braoder in scope and more carefully constructed. Both are very good, by I personally think Synners is one of the best SF books that I can think of -- though it starts in media res and the first 80-100 pages can be a a little bit overwhelming as you get used to the language and the world


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 9:45 AM
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||
Has there been a discussion yet about this ML piece?
I can't tell whether I love it except for the fact that she put it in a fucking national newspaper, or if perhaps doing so puts the cherry on top of the whole story.
|>


Posted by: x. trapnel | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 11:06 AM
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103 is the truest thing ever.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 11:17 AM
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Oh, and Poisonwood Bible was pretty good. And re:lieberman: triple-puke.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 11:19 AM
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7: Transparent Things is an interesting choice. Why that one? I would rank it pretty low among Nabokov novels. Short and amusing, though.

I would rank it low also. But, as you say, it is short and amusing.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 11:19 AM
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I hate Kingsolver.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 11:19 AM
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Poisonwood Bible was pretty good

I loved the first half of the book and hated the second half of the book.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 11:20 AM
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no, no: you must be the only person on earth who's read Global, War On Mordor but hasn't read Motherless Brooklyn.

I'm another.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 12:45 PM
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116: I am imagining her picturing him reading it, wondering if it will prompt a response. Him reading, debating whether it would be a sacrifice of his pride to respond, wondering what he might say if he did, wondering what it means that she wrote it.

And then there's her husband reading it. Oh, she says that she is happy with him, that her heart emptied its pockets for him, but is that true? If she has let go of the safety net, then what does this story mean?

And then I am thinking of the man who knelt in the last pew at my wedding, who slipped out without saying a word and left his card and gift on the front step of my parents' house.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 1:08 PM
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If she has let go of the safety net, then what does this story mean?

Left the safety net behind and went AWOL. Don't be afraid to mix metaphors!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 1:12 PM
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I appreciate the head's up. Personally I need to read more than I currently do. I recommend John Scalzi's stuff for light SF, fairly breezy, and I think he is a good guy, even though he's turned a little namby pamby and no longer seems to 'taunt the tauntable' now that he is making some bucks. I suppose there are worse things than being too nice though.

Oh, and thanks to whoever recommended Pencil 2 for my animation question. It is not exactly what I want, but I've also asked a HS art teacher to ask her students and a HS friend of mine's daughter illustrates kids books so I've asked her too.

Mostly, though, real artists like to sketch and like tools that start with sketches. Me, I wanna start with a gif and move that around the screen. But who knows what I'll end up getting.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 1:16 PM
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124: How mavericky!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 1:19 PM
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I fourth CLOUD ATLAS, but I agree that THIRTEEN SWAN GREEN might the better of the two books, just less flashy. Once I let myself settle into it really grew on me.

Obvious bestseller, but: I really enjoyed Amy Bloom's novel AWAY.

I'm in a place without English books now, so I'm hard pressed to pull a few more out at short notice, and the above are all novels anyway, which doesn't necessarily appeal. But.


Posted by: Jim Sligh | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 1:25 PM
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It's been out for a while, but if * you haven't read Siri Hustvedt's What I Loved I highly recommend it. Uplifting sadness.

*(biscuit)


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 1:39 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 1:51 PM
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For those former child prodigies among us the book 'Outliers: The Story of Success' sounds like it will help us feel better about not changing the world.

At least not yet.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 3:17 PM
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The Theory of Clouds by Stephane Audeguy


Posted by: waSP | Link to this comment | 11-18-08 3:36 PM
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