ghost of miles

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I'm doing something I swore I'd never do again: struggling to finish a book I'm not enjoying. The book is Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson, and while he held my attention through the first two books, this one is wearing me down. One problem is that most of the characters, while well done, are thoroughly unlikable. I know this is an award winner, but I really can't recommend it.

Last year I read his most recent SF novel 2312. The man is just not such a good writer as all the acclaim would lead you to believe. I'd read the first two Mars books while in high school and wanted to get into SF again. I shouldn't have bothered with mr. Robinson. What a letdown.

I'm glad it's not just me. With his reputation, I was expected a classic. It's certainly not what I got.

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9780380788620_custom-442c84defe04a127fe6

Cryptonomicon Mass Market Paperback
by Neal Stephenson (Author)
Just started this 1000+ page tome and I've already encountered more math formulas than in many non-fiction physics books.

Another 'new' writer for me in my return to SF. I've only read Snow Crash so far, though The Diamond Age is on the 'ready' shelf.

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So far Robert Boswell's novel "Tumbledown" is excellent, though quite dense in its at times almost slow-motion "noticing" (though it's not self-conscious in style). My only problem is the psychiatric treatment center setting and that many of the characters are significantly eccentric or worse "clients" in the orbit of the book's troubled-himself central figure, the 33-year-old therapist who is in line to be the facility's new director. My problem is that these "clients" and their problems seem, thanks to Boswell's skill and empathy, so damn real to me (yet also, as it no doubt should be, significantly "other") that I find consistent contact with them to be disturbing. Of course, it pretty much needs to be that way.

I was alerted to the book by this review:


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Bought Unspeakable and Marches On to complement Apes of Wrath which was hilarious with its commentary and glossary:

Evildoer Anyone who is not a frenna freem

Freeman moxy Mercas gif to the wurl

Yurpeen Union Another organisation of evildoers

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All you could ask for in a series of history books.

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Luis Alberto Urrea: Queen Of America

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Sorry to ask this here but I thought you readers might know. I'd like to know whether there is a thread where people have written their own thoughts like as a musing or a poem or something?
Thanks. regards, page

Edited by page

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Cory MacLauchlin: Butterfly in the Typewriter - The Tragic Life of John Kennedy Toole and the Remarkable Story of A Confederacy of Dunces

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Bill Bryson, "One Summer: America, 1927"

Just finished it, actually. Fun, undemanding reading.

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Now reading:

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Thanks for bringing that up. Checked online blurb and it looks right up my street - put an order in. Just finished the last but one David Downing novel which is set in late '45 in Berlin and across southern and eastern Europe against the backdrop of the mass migrations and the Jewish routes to Palestine. I teach the Cold War to 17-18 year olds so books like this provide constant new information and anecdotes.

Can recommend this one I read last year that overlaps though covers a longer time period:

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Edited by A Lark Ascending

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Now reading:

51_En_Cb_Pdi_KL.jpg

Thanks for bringing that up. Checked online blurb and it looks right up my street - put an order in. Just finished the last but one David Downing novel which is set in late '45 in Berlin and across southern and eastern Europe against the backdrop of the mass migrations and the Jewish routes to Palestine. I teach the Cold War to 17-18 year olds so books like this provide constant new information and anecdotes.

Can recommend this one I read last year that overlaps though covers a longer time period:

nba-3.jpg

After I finish Savage Continent I'll probably order the following recent title which has been getting good reviews.

Amazon.co.uk

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Edited by erwbol

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Finished Robert Boswell's "Tumbledown." Terrific novel. Boswell takes some risky narrative chances toward the end and brings it all off beautifully (e.g. creates two divergent paths of the plot -- one in which a particular character commits suicide, another in which he does not -- and sustains them in rapid alternation almost until the very end). What a generous book, too. A lot of these people (many of them "clients" in a private mental hospital) are in significant, even dire, straits in life, but he isn't out to unduly punish them or us or to provide dubious uplift either. In particular, one semi-subsidiary character who comes across for a good while as a fairly annoying transcendental doofus eventually and quite believably comes to behave with a good deal of soulful good sense.

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Cory MacLauchlin: Butterfly in the Typewriter - The Tragic Life of John Kennedy Toole and the Remarkable Story of A Confederacy of Dunces

Toole and his mother were certainly fascinating characters.

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I'm actually in the middle of a lot of novels, which isn't something I generally like to be doing, so I will try to close out on a few. The main problem is that the Proust volumes are quite heavy in addition to being slow going, so I can't take them everywhere, esp. if I know I need to be carting other things back and forth to work. I will have close to 8 hours on the bus tomorrow (Sat.) and maybe will get through a couple of shorter books instead.

Anyway, Proust's Within a Budding Grove.

An e-book version of Henri Alain-Fournier's Le Grand Meaulnes

Jeremy Thrane by Kate Christensen

Vargas Llosa's The Bad Girl (I am not at all taken with this one. I find it repetitive and quite tedious actually.)

That Awful Mess on Via Merulana by Carlo Emilio Gadda (Maybe the best of the bunch, but I am having some trouble understanding why what comes across as largely a police procedural was considered (at one point) a major modernist masterpiece. Unless I am totally off-track, the revealing of how many unlikely people are implicated in the crimes was old hat when Priestly did it in An Inspector Calls.)

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I knocked off 2 from my list (The Bad Girl and Le Grand Meaulnes). While I will always prefer a printed book for reading on the go, reading the epub file (through an epub-reader extension on Firefox) wasn't too bad. I went ahead and downloaded a few more epub files from Project Gutenberg. Apparently, a bunch of folks on-line are reading Middlemarch in Dec. and have a whole schedule to follow. I might join along.

I should be able to finish That Awful Mess on Via Merulana by Friday, then refocus on Proust. Or at least I should have been able to, except I have gotten interested in reading Robert Walser (Berlin Stories, The Tanners, etc.).

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Now reading:

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Thanks for bringing that up. Checked online blurb and it looks right up my street - put an order in. Just finished the last but one David Downing novel which is set in late '45 in Berlin and across southern and eastern Europe against the backdrop of the mass migrations and the Jewish routes to Palestine. I teach the Cold War to 17-18 year olds so books like this provide constant new information and anecdotes.

Can recommend this one I read last year that overlaps though covers a longer time period:

nba-3.jpg

Thanks for the Anne Applebaum recommendation, I've just started it.

Edited by kinuta

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In general, I have been underwhelmed by Anne Applebaum's various oped pieces in the Washington Post and/or Slate. They usually strike me as neo-con-lite (and consistently Rah-rah'ing for American Power) to the point I rarely click through if I see her name in the byline.

However, I had no idea that she lives permanently in Poland and is married to Poland's Minister of Foreign Affairs Radosław Sikorski. That is certainly interesting.

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I've been keeping it light, trying to recover from the Mars trilogy; I read Alan Dean Fosters For Love of Mother-Not and just reread Methuselah's Children by Heinlein.

I may have to take a break from SF for a bit; I feel one of my recurring Vonnegut jags coming on...

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Just finished. I do like her books - long and so many sub-plots. The characters are endearing too. Not for oh-so-hard-to-please-aesthetes.

Just started:

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Thanks erwbol - this is good.

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Picked up a cheap used copy of this which turned out to be signed by the author. An eminently readable jazz autobiography, of particular interest to me as Peter is almost exactly my age and the changes in the British jazz scene 1950s to present are all recognizable to me. Fascinating stories of jazz greats - and he knew many. He was particularly close with Philly Joe as they had the same "hobby". Lots of humour, too, as for instance when as a young man during his brief baritone-playing phase, he gets off a bus with his saxophone case to be greeted by a chirpy Cockney with, "Wotcher got in there, mate, a bleedin' submarine?" :lol:

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Cornelia Nixon: Jarrettsville

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Still on my Tolstoy kick:

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In the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation.

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