What Are You Reading?


And in the end...
No I haven't but I've just looked it up, not poles apart from Orwell's experience in Homage. Thank you for the recommendation BF Brad it looks great.:)
I think you've summed it up correctly.

Quite a bit of the inspiration for the film's screenplay (written by Jim Allen) came from Orwell's writing. I contacted Jim Allen's daughter once to try and get a play going (also written by her father), 'Perdition', but it never panned out. I got caught up with so many other projects at the time, but she seemed interested.
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“The essential doesn't change.” Beckett
finally got my hands on Anthony Bourdain's Bone in the Throat. A cool mob murder/restaurant novel set in New York, early 90's. Got made into a movie, reimagined in England. I'd check it out despite being wary of the location change.


Founding member
Recent things:

The Trail of the Tramp - Leon Ray Livingston - Ye olde hobo stories tolden in ye olde writing style that makes my teeth hurt (okay, maybe just late 19th centurey writing style, but still), plus the stories weren't that great. This guy put out something like 15 volumes of these adorable "true tales" of hobo life. Individual titles fetch around $100 for a first edition. Save your money. If you're interested in this kind of thing, read the AK Press books.

Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs!: My Adventures in The Alice Cooper Group - Dennis Dunaway and Chris Hodenfield - not bad, way better than I was expecting, but my expectations are extremely low for rock and roll memoirs. Plus he had a writer write the thing (I assume, since "Chris Hodenfield" wasn't in the band or anything). Worth a read if you liked the group, not so much if you didn't care. Some amusing sour grapes around Alice's eventual (inevitable?) split from the group to go solo. Dennis is right though, the original band was the best rock band Alice ever fronted.

Living Like a Runaway: A Memoir - Lita Ford - you know this is a memoir because it says so right in the title. I can't tell you what I thought because I'm having a hard time remembering even one page of it. The only memorable part was where she said (at two different points in the book) that it creeped her out that Joan and Sandy were queer. She quit the band after their first rehearsal, in fact, it creeped her out so much. But she came back and stuck it out, but toward the end of the story reminds us that, hey, she didn't even really want to be there, because, you know, fags.

Queens of Noise: The Real Story of the Runaways - Evelyn McDonnell - the only kind of book where my expectations are lower than a rock and roll memoir is a rock and roll biography. This one had all the earmarks of a bio so questionable that it had to be labeled "unauthorized," but it wasn't labeled that way, and it was an excellent read. Just the right balance between historical detail and storytelling. If you grew up in the 70s, or just want to soak up some music history, you should read it.

Kalamazoo Gals: A Story of Extraordinary Women & Gibson's "Banner" Guitars of WWII - John Thomas - a long title, and a long, repetitive, amateurish book. But - a great story. Who knew that it was a primarily female workforce that turned out Gibson guitars during WWII? You'd be excused for not being aware of that, considering that little was known about the "banner" Gibsons, and the guy who ran the company back then said they didn't even make guitars during WWII. Must read for every guitar aficionado.

Kim Gordon - Girl in a Band - we saw Kim Gordon on the Los Angeles stop of her tour for the release of this book. Poor Aimee Mann was given the impossible task of "interviewing" someone who clearly didn't want to speak, or even, I thought, be seen. Well, the book was just like a print version of that disastrous evening. Evasive, unclear, stingy, grudging - why the fuck bother if that's how you're going to approach something? It took me over a year to finish, that's how unexcited I was to open it up.
currently reading dharma bums for a third time, I prefer it to on the road. Intermittently reading some hosho poetry, right now you gotta recognize when times are good, things will always oscillate and pivot.

if you haven't checked out haruki murakami I'd recommend it, especially his magnum opus 1Q84


“The essential doesn't change.” Beckett
Haruki Murakami. I've read a few. Some I like a lot. One or two I found a little on the boring side. All in all, a worthy writer. I have not read 1Q84 yet. It is on my list. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is a favorite though I must say. A well done twist on the crime novel. It's technically skilled yet not overly academic and stiff. There's a real comfortable flow, totally great main character/narrator, "just right" ending and good choice of vocabulary all 'round.

As to Dharma Bums? I agree. I don't think it's the best ever but I liked it more than On The Road too.

And yes, Hosho's work is great and always worth dipping into every now and again.

I'm just finishing Porno by Irvine Welsh. It's Trainspotting ten years on. I like it, don't get me wrong, it's just I want to LOVE it but don't. It's currently being made into a movie by Danny Boyle, the cat who made "Trainspotting". This sequel, however, is going to be titled "Trainspotting 2", I think. Kind of lazy to name it that, although I can understand why they chose to not name it "Porno".
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For me, something light & nostalgic. I loved the tv series of this when I was in my early teens in the 80s, so I'm now catching up on the serialised, graphic novel version of Gatchaman, with all the original adult dialogue re-introduced and great artwork:

"Down and Out" is one of my favourite books of his. "Homage to Catalunya" is great too!

So far I think Down and Out is my favorite of his books, though I would like to read Animal Farm and 1984 again as I haven't read them in about 10 years since high school when they were assigned reading. They made a great impression on me at that time, but today all I remember are some of the neologisms from 1984. My Orwell phase ended just after I got back from a trip to England this past spring. I struggled to finish one of his lesser known works, A Clergyman's Daughter, which was sort of a mess. He was probably reading too many modernists and felt as if he needed to catch up with them. I wasn't interested in continuing with the novel that came after that one because it is supposed to be similar while The Road To Wiggan Pier or whatever it's called seems as if it would be a sort of Down and Out Pt. II. However, maybe the experimentation in Clergyman was what helped motivate him to move from the realism of his earliest works to the great allegory and speculative fiction in Animal Farm and 1984. I'm sure there's some criticism on that subject. It's too bad he didn't live a little longer to see how popular his books became.

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.

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.

Right on! I'll look into getting a copy of that edition at the library when I get back from England this summer. I just did a search and they do have a few copies.

His politics are pretty idiosyncratic for the time, aren't they? Is there anyone else from that period who is even comparable? It seems as if most of the heavyweights from the period such as Lawrence, Eliot, Pound, etc. were on the far-right and then you had the Boy Scouts (as Joyce called them) Auden, Spender, and such cheering on Stalin. What do you make of people who label Orwell as a "conservative" thinker? What do they even mean by that? I've been noticing a lot of people throwing similar words around as if they don't have any baggage in the context of the recent EU referendum and the coming election in the US, but let's not get too far off subject...

My apologies for this late reply. I check in and out of this forum irregularly. Cheers.


And in the end...
His politics are pretty idiosyncratic for the time, aren't they? Is there anyone else from that period who is even comparable?...] [... people who label Orwell as a "conservative" thinker? What do they even mean by that?
I suppose you could call them idiosynchratic even when it cut into his own political beliefs, he didn't tailor the truth to fit in. To his core he was egalitarian, anti elitist, anti privilige.
Condemning Stalin and his distortion of communism doesn't make him a conservative ( in a political sense, I mean) I think there is a degree of wishful cherry picking there.

Is there anyone else from that period who is even comparable? It seems as if most of the heavyweights from the period such as Lawrence, Eliot, Pound, etc. were on the far-right and then you had the Boy Scouts (as Joyce called them) Auden, Spender, and such cheering on Stalin.

Yes and no... but mostly no for me. You named some of his left wing peers, both Spender and Auden went to Spain too and witnessed the Stalinists betrayal of the republic, Auden recognised later that Orwell spoke out about the morphing of communism into totalitarianism. But Arthur Koestler did that too (he was also in Spain and imprisoned) with his novel Darkness At Noon - and other work of his ( that I haven't read!)

The artists of the right that you name, some of them were not only right wing but pro fascist, a lot of it through an aversion to mass culture and the revolting masses, attracted to a cultural hierarchy (with them at the top of course).
D H Lawrence, I don't know, seems more of a Pagan than anything else? :). T S Eliot, he did publish a lot of left wing writers and poets and was I think a moderate. So maybe democracy does have bad taste and no brains, it's difficult to deny that when you see what's happening at the moment, but it's still better than the alternative.
I agree with your labeling of Orwell's personal philosophy as egalitarian, anti-elitist, and anti-privilege. That's why I don't get why some people label him a conservative. The thing that I find remarkable about him was his power to imagine something outside the political conversations of his time.

Admittedly I don't know as much about Auden or Spender, I only heard somewhere that they were Stalinists. Thanks for setting the record straight for me. The reason why I mentioned those writers was mostly for their reputation for being aligned with certain movements, while Orwell to me appears more original. You see that he has a lot of doubt and lack of confidence in his own work yet he consciously chooses not to hide that. That takes a certain amount of courage you rarely see in political writing to be so honest. Dealing in absolutes is taking the easy way out.

Lawrence is pretty wild, isn't he? He's one that you constantly see critics trying to label. I read an article recently where somebody tried to rebrand him as a progressive because he called an anonymous writer out for a vulgar comment made about women. But then there is that infamous letter, where he seems to advocate euthanasia for the disabled. I've read a fair amount of his work yet his character remains hard to discern. I don't get the impression he cared about causes. If by pagan you mean he had a free-spirit, I definitely agree.

As for Eliot, you may be right about him being a moderate, but he was certainly an elitist, wasn't he? I can see why it would be easy for him to take that stance given his class and excellent education. Being around those ladies going on about Michelangelo and taking tea at Cambridge couldn't have been all that bad. That's not really my scene and I've never known any people remotely like that here in San Diego, but it sounds comfy. And yet those ladies weren't enough for him, were they? His puritan conscience demanded other like-minded people with deep and serious opinions about art.

And lastly Koestler, frankly, I don't know anything about him. I'll have to read his work someday. Would you recommend that novel Darkness at Noon? How would you describe his style?


And in the end...
Auden and Spender were left wing and Spender was a member of the Communist Party but leftit. I agree with you about Orwell having doubts, not about what was happening politically; on that he was very stubborn and committed, but doubts about his own ability as writer, yes.

D H Lawrence: would be Pagan/Druid/Native American:) free spirit.I don't think he was that interested in Big Politics, he gets lumped in as a right wing artist along with the others. I have an old Penguin book of his letters from 1950 edited and forewarded by Aldous Huxley, in it Huxley describes him well and quotes Lawrence as saying "My great relligion is a belief in the blood, the flesh, as being wiser than the intellect.We can go wrong in our minds. But what the blood feels and believes and says is always true" So yes pretty wild, that's an extreme view on euthanasia. I'll recheck my book in case the letter is in there, but perhaps Huxley chose not to put it in at that time.

I'm not a big fan of Eliot ever since I read Painted Shadow about his first wife Vivienne, I agree about the elitiism.

I would recommend Darkness at Noon, I read it years ago ( and it is writen in lovely plain, readable english) because there was a thing about Orwell basing a lot of his character Winston Smith in 1984 from the Koestler's book,
it's based on the Show Trials in Moscow and the the main protaganist Rubashov. There are definitely similarities and both books have a bleak ending.Orwell admired the book, and stayed as a guest of Koestler on a doomed mission to save socialism:) So yes read it if you can Sean.
Stand Still Like the Hummingbird, a collection of essays by Henry Miller, turned out to be a really nice book. I take it from the shelf every now and then, read a couple of pages and think about things I usually do not think about.

In Anderson the Storyteller Miller used a term that I've never heard before: "We repaired to a bar nearby..."
I didn't know that you can repair to a bar. Sounds funny.
In Anderson the Storyteller Miller used a term that I've never heard before: "We repaired to a bar nearby..."
I didn't know that you can repair to a bar. Sounds funny.
I have come across this word, used in this context, before and it sounds like the word refers to the act of going to the bar but does it imply that the characters in the story are in some state of disrepair (thirsty? tired?) beforehand?


Founding member
It doesn't specifically mean going to a bar and it's got nothing to do with disrepair. It's just more "upperclass" speech that's fallen by the wayside. Saying "repaired to the bar" is probably more of a tongue in cheek use, as a more common use would be to "repair" to some other room after a formal dinner.

I thought the term was British, but if you've never heard it on the other side of the Atlantic, maybe it wasn't. Either way, it's not something anyone says anymore, unless they're trying to be funny.


And in the end...
Nice article Andreas. I just didn't do my research first.There was hours of walking after I'd taken my car (not a four wheel drive) as far as it would go. I had nothing to do after that, the ferry back over to Islay wasn't due for a couple of hours; on it I had exchanged hellos with three Swedish guys on the Whisky trail, who were heading across to Jura Distillery, they were lovely; asked me where I was headed etc.

After giving up getting to Barnhill I parked my car back at the wee ferry bit, went for a walk, then a nap in the back of my car, woke up to this loud rumbling noise, sat up to see the ferry, looming large. When I turned around the three Swedes were laughing and waving from their car, they thought I had wandered off and would miss the last ferry out.
I will to go back and maybe rent Barnhill too:). The beaches on Jura aren't great though, dark horrible sand, not like Harris, so not a destination for that.

PS have you seen this about Thomas Mann's house in Los Angeles? it's sad, because I bet that would be a popular destination for staying in
I will to go back and maybe rent Barnhill too
I wish I could accompany you on that trip, in the hope of some free drinks at the distillery :wb:.

have you seen this about Thomas Mann's house in Los Angeles?
To be honest, I've never cared too much about T.Mann's life and work, I didn't even know that he had a house in Los Angeles. But there's one book of him which I read with great pleasure, I think it was his last one: Confessions of Felix Krull.


And in the end...
Okay, you go to the distillery Andreas, I'll go to Barnhill :)
I have The Magic Mountain that's all and it still has the dog ear foldover at p32, where I stopped, I'll get back to it?! (got it as a set with Gunter Grass's Tin Drum, which I did finish).

That looks very different - the Confessions book, going by the comments, I think I'd like it too..
It's been a while since I've been here and I would like to post a few comments. I have been fairly busy trying to read Buk recommendations. The first one is "To Kill a Mockingbird." It was fantastic. Then I rented the movie. It was also grand. I remember seeing it as a kid as they played it over and over again on black and white TV in the 1970's.It's hard to believe that Harper Lee wrote one book. I wrote one book too and no one on planet Earth is buying it.
The next Buk recommendation was J.D. Salinger's "Nine Stories." Buk raved about this. This was also fantastic. As I read each story I started to realize that I had read this before, probably while going to my local community college between 1980 and 1983 where I earned an Associate Degree in Science majoring in Biology.

Then I read "Fahrenheit 451." This was also a Buk recommendation. This story was also engaging. Between bits of reading I couldn't wait to get back to it to see what happened next. I also had flash backs of having read this book. I suspect it was a high school reading deal. I think this book was exceptional as far as feeling like the characters were totally real.
My main man Bukowski loved Carson McCullers so I had to read some of her stuff in order to honor himself. There is a RUSH lyric, "The heart is a lonely hunter on the dangerous frontier." I had a double motivation to read this book as a result since I love RUSH tremendously. I can see why Buk loved her so much. She can really write. Her descriptions of scenes and emotions were incredible. This was her first book and she became an instant sensation.

Reading has become one of my most cherished past time ever since I started to suffer my chronic severe knee pain starting in 2002 after having had 3 knee surgeries. In the words of those literary giants Beavis and Butt Head, "reading rules..it kicks ass, yeah."
Let's switch things up here. I read "in the service of 11:11" because I'm one of those weird New Age people. This is the 2nd of the 11:11 books I have read. Call me weird...I don't care. I also read "The Kindness Diaries" because me Mum sent it to me and she wanted me to read it. I'll do anything my Mom asks including jumping off a bridge. This book is about a Brit who rides a yellow motor bike around the world with no money and no where to stay. He survives on the kindness of strangers and makes it around the world.
I also read Carson McCuller's "Reflections in a Golden Eye." Cool title. It wasn't superb but Buk told me to read it in an round-about way and so I read it.

I also read a Neil Peart's book, "Clockwork Lives." For those of you who may perhaps live in a cave, Neil is the best drummer ever. He is the drummer of RUSH and he is also a good writer.
Last but not least is another Bukowski recommendation "Bow Down to Wood and Stone." This is an incredibly cool title. I love it...Bow Down to Wood and Stone. Hank recommended this book to Sherri Martinelli in the book "Beer Spit Night and Cursing." He kept telling her over and over again to read this book but she never did. It drove Buk a bit mental.

This book was written by Josephine Lawrence and it came out in 1938. I got a first edition for $13 because it was pretty worn in terms of mold and whatnot. The flow of the language was stifled compared to modern day language. It took me a while to get through this one. The character development is thorough and it covers almost their whole lives.

Buk said it was good and that was good enuf form me. I didn't put all of this is one post because I knew people would complain that it was too long if I did it in one post. I'm sure some people will complain that I did multiple posts. I'm trying to increase my stats because I haven't posted in so long. I'm way behind Sky Gazer and Pouge Mahone. I wonder if Roni even remembers me. I'm looking forward to the ever present insults from mjp. It's good to be back.

I'm listening to the B, drinking good beer, and I bought a pack of Pall Mall in tribute to my literary boss.


I didn't put all of this is one post because I knew people would complain that it was too long if I did it in one post. I'm sure some people will complain that I did multiple posts.
Yup, it's hard to please people in these parts.
I'm trying to increase my stats because I haven't posted in so long.
Just throw in a heap of YouTube screens (of your favo(u)rite movie moments, stuff you're listening to and so on) and you'll be there in no time.
I'm looking forward to the ever present insults from mjp.

P.S. Welcome back.
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