What Are You Reading?

mjp

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Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years by Mark Lewisohn. The first in a massive trilogy of books (this volume is 944 pages!), this one covers childhood through 1962, when The Beatles were primed and ready to blast off.

I don't usually like biographies that go too deep into the family history of someone, what great uncle Cletus did in the war, and all that, but this is the first bio I've ever read where I didn't want to immediately skip past the family background. And it starts in 1845, if you can believe it, and includes a three page description of the pre-1971 British monetary system (what the hell was a "bob" anyway?).

As for a 944 page book, I know it's a bit much, but that's why GOD invented the Kindle.

- - -

Lewisohn says: 'We know everything there is to know about the Beatles, so what else can possibly be written?' People say that all the time – and I don't agree with it for a second. I wouldn't argue the Beatles' story has been told often, but I would argue that it can't be told again and differently. It's been related the same old way for so very long and it's also dying under the suffocating blanket of 'celebrity'. I want to start again, I want to press the Refresh button.

This is a comprehensive biography, three volumes, a sequential history in which I set out to relate everything that happened, and do so with integrity, attention to detail, accuracy and, I believe, a fair understanding of where the story needs to be told and how to tell it. I'm writing so it unfolds as if in real time – there's no hindsight cleverness, so you get a vivid sense of the forward movement. The Beatles' story always had tremendous energy, speed, vitality – and this must be tangible to the reader.

It all boils down to this. They were four war babies from Liverpool who really did change the world, and whose music and impact still lives on in so many ways, after all these years. I say, let's scrub what we know, or think we know, and start over: Who really were these people, and how did it all happen?
 

Johannes

Founding member
I'm currently reading, among other stuff, this short story collection by Alice Munro

Munro_Dance.jpg


Most of these stories have been written in the perspective of a young girl living in rural Canada while closely observing what their mother, father, sister, aunts and brother are doing all day.

While before reading this collection I might have made the assumption that stories with content such as this will painfully bore the shit out of my asshole, reading Alice Munro taught me that often times this is the case indeed, but not always.

There is one story, called "Boys and Girls", I really dig. It's all shades and nuances, tho. Except the one where some girl gets hammered and barfs all over herself while babysitting. To this I could relate.
 

PhillyDave

“The essential doesn't change.” Beckett
I just finished Jenni Fagan's The Panopticon and enjoyed it thoroughly. It seems to be the novel of a fully formed writer, unlike some first novels. The use of slang was appropriate and easy. There was a distinct difference between most of the characters dialect but it wasn't so radical that it made it tiresome & thick to read through like an Irvine Welsh novel can sometimes be. And the last chapter was clean, clear, to the point, and clever but not too cute.
 

mjp

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a 944 page book, I know it's a bit much...
To give you some idea how deep this thing goes, I'm 31% through it (no page numbers in the Kindle) and they've only just now named themselves "The Beatles" (or "The Beatals" if Stu gets his way), and they don't even have a drummer yet. That's right, 300 pages about a group before they even got their first drummer.

So if the typical musician's biography or autobiography leaves you feeling like you didn't get enough detail, like you just skimmed the surface (which most of them do), this is the book for you! Ha.
 
I'm Not reading it by now, but have been pointed to the novel:
'FAN MAN' (1974) by one William Kotzwinkle lately.
Does anyone know it? Is it any good? Should I read?
 
I finished The Brothers Karamazov finally after working at it for 2 years. I regret taking so much time to read the novel especially since I hardly payed attention to Smerdyakov (the servant of the family, for those of you who don't remember), not realizing he would end up so important later on. I found just about everything prior to the murder scene very boring except for the occasional interesting scene or line. Raskilnikov is more interesting and dynamic a character compared to the eponymous Brothers K., though the ending with Alyosha is more satisfying and convincing than Raskolnikov's resolve to change his ways in the epilogue. Nonetheless, I read Crime and Punishment in about a few days, not a couple years.

Now I'm reading Abel Debritto, whose book on Bukowski I got through an interlibrary loan. If any of you live in San Diego and want to read his book, I apologize, but I'll be done in a couple days. It's a fascinating book that debunks a lot of presumptions I had about Bukowski's rise to fame. The most intriguing part of the book so far to me is the way Bukowski and his editors created myths to boost his reputation in the little magazine scene. I'll write a bit more about my thoughts on the book in its thread after I'm done. I highly recommend it.
 

PhillyDave

“The essential doesn't change.” Beckett
I'm Not reading it by now, but have been pointed to the novel:
'FAN MAN' (1974) by one William Kotzwinkle lately.
Does anyone know it? Is it any good? Should I read?
is it the re-issue edition with the Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. forward? New York City circa 1970? Can't go wrong. I may have to chase down a copy for myself.
 
Philly, I don't have it yet.
Was looking for a really cheap copy of the original English version, but what I found only started at about 8,- EUR, which would still be alright, but then I saw a German editon titled 'The William Kotzwinkle Omnibus' containing 5[!] novels (Fan Man, Night Book, Swimmer in the Secret Sea, Dr Rat, Fata Morgana) for about 10 and jumped in.
Still waiting for it to arrive.
 

mjp

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you weren't tempted by the 1728pp version of the Beatles book?
I was, but they won't sell that version to a U.S. Kindle. Why an electronic version of a book would only be available regionally is a mystery, but the world is a mysterious place.

From what I've read about the differences between the versions, I don't think I'm missing anything (other than even more minutia, if that's possible).
 

PhillyDave

“The essential doesn't change.” Beckett
Just finished Red Jade by Henry Chang, a police procedural murder mystery. Some of the dialogue was trying to hard to sound cool when in fact it sounded a bit stilted but really the story flowed and the crime and how it unfolded was interesting. Today hit the jackpot. 7 books and On the Waterfront DVD for a grand total of $9.54. 1 i gave to my dad. The others are American Rust by Philipp Meyer, Sundog by Jim Harrison, The Dain Curse by Dashiell Hammett, Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson, Legs by William Kennedy, and Johnny Too Bad by John Dufresne. What should I read next?
 

Black Swan

Abord the Yorikke!
I just saw Mapplethorpe's show at the montreal art museum.
There were a few photos by Diane Arbus, and of Mapplethorpe by a bunch of other photographers.
All this to say that on my way out, picked up Patty Smith's Just Kids. That is what I am reading.
Also picked up a great copy of the Brothers K, mentioned above, for a dollar.
 
I would have liked seeing that show and have been meaning to read the Patti Smith book for awhile, Black Swan. Did you get an old Modern Library edition of Brothers K? I lost mine, unfortunately.
 

Black Swan

Abord the Yorikke!
I would have liked seeing that show and have been meaning to read the Patti Smith book for awhile, Black Swan. Did you get an old Modern Library edition of Brothers K? I lost mine, unfortunately.
No, I found a used 1982 Penguin Classics copy,
Still happy with the one dollar find.
20160918_181040.jpg
As for the show, I'm glad that I went. I loved the Patti Smith photos, Blondie, the music and all. As for the big dicks in 'gros plan', I got tired of the subject, although I can appreciate the quality of the black and white photographs. It was almost funny the way the the show was set up. There were many photos of flowers alternating with hard core sex scenes. His flower shots were not so great. O'Keefe did beat him at that (in paintings).The show is truly dated, even outdated but it was somewhat important in the 70's for any artist to push the limits.
 
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I'm currently re-reading David Calonne's great article On Some Early Bukowski Poems which appeared in the yearbook of the Bukowski Society 2011/12/13. Very much worth reading.
I like the following excerpt, among many others:

even Shakespeare's gone, and I'm no Shakespeare,
and I guess that's what hurts too: to know you are limited
forever,
the sea coming in only so far
and then rolling back,
the hands the lips the eyes
the bodies and sounds of bodies,
knowing you at last as nothing
and leaving as nothing

(from 10:30 P.M.)
 
'FAN MAN' [...] Is it any good?
It's an annoying and stupid book, which I dropped after 20 pages of suffering.
Then picked up a book about the 4th dynasty of ancient egypt and that saved my day's reading experience.
 

Johannes

Founding member
Game of Thrones.jpg


I know. But I ran out of other shit to read. It's - not surprisingly - well made Fantasy if you dig this kind of stuff. I hear they made a quite successful series out of it, just kidding.

Gotta love how everything is always so dramatic in this genre, like everybody is king and your mad dwarfed half-brother who also fucks your wife wants to kill you and nations must fall in blood and battle while some dragons circle overhead.

One day I'm going to write a 5000 pages fantasy epos where people just walk around, look at each other, invite each other to dinner and stroke the cat now and then.
 

LickTheStar

Sad Flower in the Sand
I just finished Jenni Fagan's The Panopticon and enjoyed it thoroughly. It seems to be the novel of a fully formed writer, unlike some first novels. The use of slang was appropriate and easy. There was a distinct difference between most of the characters dialect but it wasn't so radical that it made it tiresome & thick to read through like an Irvine Welsh novel can sometimes be. And the last chapter was clean, clear, to the point, and clever but not too cute.
It's one of my favorite novels of the last decade. I tried, and failed, to convince several friends who enjoyed Welsh to read it. Alas.
 

PhillyDave

“The essential doesn't change.” Beckett
crazy shit happens, bad decisions get made but that's okay, real, good & appropriate. Strong female lead as well. As a young man I knew women a bit like that.
 
I read about half of that book. It was good, but the trek wore me out. The show's good entertainment, though the most recent season was so-so.

Here's some of G. R. R. Martin's best prose:

"He found a line and pulled on it, fighting toward the hatch to get himself below out of the storm, but a gust of wind knocked his feet from under him and a second slammed him into the rail and there he clung. Rain lashed at his face, blinding him. His mouth was full of blood again. The ship groaned and growled beneath him like a constipated fat man straining to shit."

Oh, and the sex? Who could ever forget the line, "her cunt became the world"? Earlier, she was described as "sopping wet." My girlfriend said that the "sopping wet" bit reminded her of a dirty mop.

Most people consider this bad taste, but there's a certain joy to be had in finding nuggets such as these printed on a page. Sadly I don't recall reading these lines in the book I read.

EDIT: When I was writing this post, some new ones popped up about this Panopticon novel. I'll give it a go. Seems like the kind of novel I would like.
 
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Johannes

Founding member
"a constipated fat man straining to shit."
"her cunt became the world"
I missed those too while reading. The second one could almost be Bukowski :D

One character who's really great is Tyrion Lannister. The Dwarf. Finally I get what all the rage is about. The dude is the only one with style in the whole book. Everybody else is heroic or demonic or honorable or a traitor or a kingslayer and all this shit, but "The Imp" rocks it with humor.

And if ever an actor was fitting for this part, they truly found him:

tyrion-lannister-internet-meme.jpg
 
Yesterday I read a critical book review in the paper. It was about David Talbot's The Devil's chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government. Has anyone of you heard about this book?
 
I'm reading a lot of B. Traven. His writing is good approximately 99% of the time. I had read The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and seen the film some time ago, but didn't venture into other works. He is definitely a writer whom I imagine that Bukowski would have liked had he read him.
 

Johannes

Founding member
Have been reading lately:

- Arnold Schwarzenegger: Total Recall. My Unbelievably True Live Story. No big surprises there if you already know the story, but ok written and still mindblowing how some scrawny kid out of a backass Austrian hick town (can relate) can make it to greatest bodybuilder, moviestar, Terminator, governor of California etc. blabla.

- Henry Miller: The Air Conditioned-Nightmare. This was one of the worst Millers for me. Didn't do anything for me, just found it sort of boring.

- Steven Pressfield: The War of Art. About how resistance fucks your life, like you know you should sit down to write that novel but simply CAN'T DO it. The whole resistance part is very good and could relate (like many, probably), but he uses weird christian metaphors at times that are irritating, like "if you plow through ALL THE ANGELS WILL BE ON YOUR SIDE!!" Like wtf? Not necessary imo.

- Mark Hyman: The Ultramind Solution: You should sleep enough, exercise, get enough Vitamin D and other essential Vitamins, avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup and gluten at all costs and most of your worries will disappear, including depression and, possibly, autism. Don't know about this. The High Fructose Corn Syrup appears to be a US phenomenon from what I read, in Europe it's not that common. Not sure if you can back up the autism and depression claims scientifically. His theory appears to be that gluten and High Fructose Corn Syrup are inflaming your brain and causing all kind of bad shit to your body. Very possible, but who knows?
 

PhillyDave

“The essential doesn't change.” Beckett
Just finished In Search of the Third Man by Charles Drazin about the making of and eventual success of The Third Man movie. Well researched and easy read. Good book, favorite movie. Also, reading Silver Screen Fiend by Patton Oswalt. He was obsessed with movies and from 95 to 99 he went to at least 5 a week, often 2 a day or 4 on a weekend and had one time where he saw 12 movies in two days! He went insane. There's a natural flow to his amusing and intelligent run on sentences. Great book.
 
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