What Are You Reading?

Skygazer

And in the end...
Yes, I love the introduction to that, it reads like a story. He also goes on to describe the taped poems that John Thomas typed up for Bukowski and John Martin read.
"At this time a balding red haired man with a high, scrubbed forehead, meticulous and kind, with a very faint, perpetual grin, was coming by"
 
John Thomas was an interesting character. Apparently he was a writer of very low output and had a very high I.Q. and was married to a former Nun, I think her name was Philomene Long.
 

mjp

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"Interesting" is way to describe him. There are others. He died in L.A. County Jail, while serving time for sexually molesting his daughter.
 

Skygazer

And in the end...
Had it since early this year, but just started reading it, a good mixture of letter and diary extracts, background info, poetry and prose.
Didn't realise that Rupert Brooke had barely seen any active service and his five sonnets 1914 about the glory of battle didn't fully match his personal view; he died of sepsis following a mosquito bite on the way to Gallipoli.

Learned that Wilfred Owen met Siegfried Sassoon in Craiglockhart hospital in Edinburgh in 1917.Sassoon had just published his Finished with the War: A Soldier’s Declaration (1917) with the help of Bertand Russell. Basically
a short defiant statement, includes this bit "On behalf of those who are suffering now, I make this protest against the deception which is being practised upon them; also I believe it may help to destroy the callous complacency with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share and which they have not enough imagination to realise."

Sassoon avoided being court martialed when Robert Graves persuaded the authorities he was mentally ill and is sent up to Edinburgh. Owens was in awe of him, showing him some of his poetry, he was told they were too soft, not enough reality, not enough criticism of the Establishment. Owen begins to change his poetry to reflect his real experiences and becomes the more famous poet. In one of the letters home from the Front, Owen explains to his mum his writing is shaky because he cut his fingers opening a can of food,but it was shell shock.Some of his accounts are terrible.

As it progresses through the war, the mixture of info/extracts/poetry keeps it compelling:

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Skygazer

And in the end...
No, I haven't seen it, but thank you, I will look it out. There is a short paragraph on Dr Rivers in the book, he recognises that Sassoon is not suffering from mental disorder other than sheer anger and defiance about the portrayal of the war. Sassoon fully expected to be tried and shot for his outspokeness, the impact of that declaration published in the press and read out in Parliament, it was very brave and reckles. Graves lies and descibes Sassoon as wanting to shoot the prime minister, seeing corpses in the street etc. to the authorities, to get him up and into hospital in Edinburgh.

Owen on the other hand was genuinely shell shocked. The book is crammed with other poets, writers - male and female, but I admit it is Sassoon and Owen I am most interested in, the impact of that war on 20th century literature can't be overestimated really and those two poets part in it. Sassoon was the one that pushed for Owen's poems to be published in 1920 ( I think they loved each other deeply)

Thanks again for the referrral.:)
 
I studied Sassoon & Owen at school and they, for the most part, were what got me interested in poetry and its potentiality.

Have you read Sassoon's 'Memoirs of an Infantry Officer'? That's a great read.

Also, Graves' 'Goodbye To All That'. A favourite of mine that I have read many times over (which had to be heavily edited by his literary friends before it was allowed to go anywhere near a printers). His prose is just so relaxed and beautifully written, well-crafted and such an easy read. I've also got a book introduced and edited by him on English & Scottish ballads, which is an informative read.
 

Skygazer

And in the end...
Have you read Sassoon's 'Memoirs of an Infantry Officer'? That's a great read.
No, but I just looked it up, part of a trilogy of semi-autobiographical books. I'd like to read Sherston's Progress which starts at Craiglockhart.
Thanks for that.
I studied Sassoon & Owen at school
We did Owen (and Brooke as a comparative) at school, but not Sassoon. Never touched on Craiglockhart at all, but there was still then ( when I was at school) the academic suppression of homosexuality.in writers.

Found out Craiglockhart is now part of Napier University and houses a small museum based on it's past as a miltary psychiatric hospital and Sassooon and Owen's time there. So after the holidays, I will tke my duaghter through to visit the museum. What you don't know is on your doorstep!
 
Foe hose interested in the history of AMerican songwriting from the business end The B Side by Ben Yagoda is a great read (so far). I never knew that piano roll royalties lead to songwriting royalties accidentally and that step gave the song writer more cash.
It's an interesting thought exercise to read and think how big business will screw the public and the artist next.
Reading this I recall Metallica were skewered for saying how the internet downloading would eat profits. They were right. Who knows how many good writers and even better bartenders and IT support staff now that royalties are so low except the most popular acts.

I wonder if the birth of the large festival circuit is a product of internet downloading ( theft ) and lack of cash for the musician.
I also wonder if small bands make more money from T shirt sales, or bumper stickers than CD's?
Commissioned work may be the way for the up and coming writer. You know like sidewalk portrait painters
I will write a song about you, your love or your family for $500 bucks. OK $200. The song selfie emerges as an accidental bi product of vanishing music royalties.
 

mjp

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If royalties are "vanishing" it's because the record companies let them vanish.

The royalties from an LP or CD are much higher than the royalties for selling a single song download. Much less than the royalties for a vinyl or CD single even. But the record companies let that iTunes model become the standard. They could have said no, or demanded whatever they wanted to demand, but they didn't because, A) stupidity, B) greed.

They also let the online streaming services like Pandora pay much (much) lower royalties than radio or even jukebox owners pay. They did that because, A) they don't understand the Internet, and B) greed.

What gets lost in this talk about royalties is the fact that 99.999% of musicians never saw a royalty payment even once in their lives before the Internet, so nothing has changed for them. What we're really talking about here is a pay cut for the 0.001%.
 

Johannes

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About his youth in Scotland as a drummer in the punk bands "The Bastards from Hell" and "Dreamboys", his stand-up-persona "Bing Hitler", alcoholism, drug-addiction, rehab, divorces, death of his parents, birth of his son up until his job as host of the Late Late Show.

Quite interesting and well written. Touching in parts, funny at other times but not the comedy-funny you'd maybe expect. Rather existential and really not bad.

Recommendation.
 
I've been reading a book called "1968 - O ano que não terminou", which talk mostly about the military dictactorship in Brazil in the late 60s and how the young guerrilla groups face the military government, but it also has a lot of stuff worldwide that year. It's such a great book (and a great theme). Don't know if the book was translated to english. =(
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
I´m reading, "Outrage - An Anarchist Memoir of the Penal Colony", by Clément Duval. He was a famous anarchist who spent 14 years in the penal colony in French Guiana till he finally managed to escape in 1901. He lived in New York till his death in 1935. He once famously declared, ""Theft exists only through the exploitation of man by man... when Society refuses you the right to exist, you must take it... the policeman arrested me in the name of the Law, I struck him in the name of Liberty".
It's a good book, but not one of the best books written about the French penal colony. However, I´m only halfway into the book.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clément_Duval

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PhillyDave

“The essential doesn't change.” Beckett
I'm almost finished TransAtlantic by Colum McCann. Wary of picking it up because of the particular kind of raves it got (using words like luminous) I decided to go for what otherwise could be described as literature or as a traditional modern novel. Very well written, a bit wordy at times, great use of narrative and perspective. Sad but not depressing. I wish I could find a better way of describing the book but here it is - very good.... Wow, what a crappy review!
 

Johannes

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Habe been reading this one, part 1 and part 2.

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The author claims to have been incarcerated in San Quentin and other prisons for years where he developed a system of bodyweight exercises to train your whole body without equipment. It's written under pseudonym and there is a debate running online if his prison-story is authentic.

True or not, what I can tell you is that a series of stretches he calls The Trifecta from CC2 cured me of my chronic back pain.
And an interesting read, either way.

Peace.
 

Johannes

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Somebody recommended this to me.

I was like, "Come on, who wants to read about the worries of a billionaire?"
They said: "No, no, it's really interesting and well written!"

The beginning about his childhood pissed my off. It's like, Mum was perfect, Dad was perfect, Aunt Harriet was perfect, everything was perfect, they always treated me perfect, always challenged me perfectly ... and so on.

But after you get over this it starts rolling. I am still at the first quarter, where Virgin recently signed the Sex Pistols and Branson is flying to Jamaica together with Johnny Rotten to look for Reggae-musicians.

It really is interesting so far.
 
At present, I've been reading a lot of Orwell. I'm planning on reading all of his novels and his most well-known nonfiction. I recently finished Down and Out in Paris and London and Homage to Catalonia. Now I am reading Burmese Days. I really like Orwell's prose style. He gives a sense of completeness that few other authors give. He manages to sound "fair and balanced" about "radical" politics. It's an interesting effect and he gives the impression that the dominant ideology is the true radical politic. I tend to agree with him. I just wish that he didn't have such a chip on his shoulder. In Catalonia you continually see him saying things like "the Spanish soldiers deserved these rations and medical attention more than me..." says the guy who was shot through the throat in the line of duty! In an earlier work such as Burmese Days, the main character who is basically Orwell's stand-in has an ugly birthmark on his face that he is very self-conscious about. Orwell must have felt like a black sheep of the nation.
 

Johannes

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Yeah, I don't know. I would never have read it looking at this cover.

He looked like the likable nerd from next door when he was young. The fake teeth and bleached hair now give the impression of the caricature of a millionaire. Or an evil music-industry-mogul ... now wait!
 
At present, I've been reading a lot of Orwell. I recently finished Down and Out in Paris and London and Homage to Catalonia.
"Down and Out" is one of my favourite books of his. "Homage to Catalunya" is great too!

Gave up on the Whitman biography (I kept getting overdue charges -- a sure sign I'm not interested), I'm now moving on to...

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I enjoyed this book. Some of the letters I'd never seen before. Hope they were genuine. If they were, then they put John Martin into a different light. Both him and Buk had a love-hate thing going. Not sure if Buk formalised his contract with Martin, but in some ways Martin did much for Buk's career (wider recognition for a start), in other ways it suffered pretty badly with Martin's interference. Strange really, because Martin became attracted to Buk's writing when he first read him in 'The Outsider', and then he decides to change him when he becomes his publisher. I think Buk should have gone for a better publisher after fulfilling his initial contract with Martin (the first two books when better offers came along). He could have rewritten the contract and made it more robust, so that his work didn't suffer.
 

mjp

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Hope they were genuine.
What else would they be? Do you think Abel (the editor) fabricated them?
He could have rewritten the contract and made it more robust, so that his work didn't suffer.
He would have had to have done that from the grave, since the bulk of the destruction came after his death.
 
Just about finished the Ralph Steadman's "The Joke's Over: Ralph Steadman on HST" and I find it a much better book that Juan Thompson's memoir. I read Juan's recently and was not overly impressed with it. Part of it is just that Steadman is a much better writer. The main benefit of this book over Juan's is that Ralph is a crazy and great artist, while Juan is just the son of one.
 

Skygazer

And in the end...
At present, I've been reading a lot of Orwell. I'm planning on reading all of his novels and his most well-known nonfiction. I recently finished Down and Out in Paris and London and Homage to Catalonia. Now I am reading Burmese Days. I really like Orwell's prose style. He gives a sense of completeness that few other authors give. He manages to sound "fair and balanced" about "radical" politics..]
Hello fellow Orwell fan!:)
I liked Homage better than Burmese Days, the events of it interested me more. Yes I agree, his writing is beautiful, spare and direct but descriptive too, not thin and meagre.
As to his politics, it's strange that he is regarded by many in the U.S as a libertarian because of his anti totalitarianism, certainly he left Spain in despair at the mess of the left with the different factions and pursued by the communists who were determined to wipe out the Puom militia (which he joined, slightly in the dark about all the in fighting).But he left as a more committed socialist.

[... Orwell must have felt like a black sheep of the nation.
I think he was always a loner. The left wing intellectuals in 1930's Britain when it was very fashionable to be so, supressed/ignored his work as he struggled to get Homage and subsequent Animal Farm published because of the uneqiuvecal and unambiguous anti Stalinist standpoint, many of his peers/ publishers etc. on the left chose to ignore the atrocicities of the regime.
One of my favourite books is a hardback copy I was given of Animal Farm 1995 edition, beautifully illustrated by Ralph Steadman I'd recommend it. At the back is the propsed preface to it, that was left out of the original printing, called Freedom of the Press, which goes some way to explain why he struggled to get published.:D.
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As to his politics, it's strange that he is regarded by many in the U.S as a libertarian because of his anti totalitarianism, certainly he left Spain in despair at the mess of the left with the different factions and pursued by the communists who were determined to wipe out the Puom militia (which he joined, slightly in the dark about all the in fighting).But he left as a more committed socialist.
I've got an interesting book about his work:

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In the back of this book there are published letters of him writing to newspaper editors, after his return from Spain, which was the most frustrating thing for him. Loads of rubbish was being written about the war and getting published in British newspapers of the day and Orwell tirelessly wrote back to editors to correct the news reportage, but the media machine kept grinding on with its crap, as usual. I think it overwhelmed him in the end.
 

Skygazer

And in the end...
Nice book Bukfan Brad. He does too give a warning to readers that his report of events in Spain can only be from his perspective and will be partisan to some degree.

Orwell said that liberty is the right to tell people what they don't want to hear and too many on the left did not want to hear about the communists betrayal of the republic in Spain; refused to publish any such thing. Ditto his critisism of Soviet Russia after the Spanish Civil War, it was "inopportune" and then of course awkward when they became wartime allies.Thankfully Secker and Warburg published his work, being both anti-fascist and anti-stalinist.
He had the courage to do that and be ostracised, but he thought himself lucky, he escaped Spain, pursued by the Stalinists who managed to capture, torture and kill many of his friends.
 
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