ghost of miles

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On Wednesday, December 16, 2015 at 0:54 PM, ejp626 said:

You might like Joseph Roth a bit better, particularly his Berlin reportage, mostly in What I Saw.  Roth was more of a man of the people, though he didn't fit in with society that well either, and drank himself to death to Paris in 1939 (despite having opportunities to move to the US).

I'm reading the Radetzky March by Roth.  It's a rather unusual book so far (about 1/3 into it) but does paint a picture of the Hapsburg Empire that is different than the way Zweig does.

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15 minutes ago, Brad said:

I'm reading the Radetzky March by Roth.  It's a rather unusual book so far (about 1/3 into it) but does paint a picture of the Hapsburg Empire that is different than the way Zweig does.

I enjoy Roth a fair bit.  It is interesting how his politics shifted over time becoming fairly conservative by the time he wrote The Radetzky March, even though he was essentially drinking himself to death at this time and would have presumably had more in common with the working class that he focused on in his earlier works.  I find this interesting anyway.  I'm enjoying the new non-fiction collection The Hotel Years.  My absolute favorite novel by him is Hotel Savoy.

I'm about halfway done with Paule Marshall's Praisesong for the Widow.  It's ok.  I wish less of the novel had been in flashback.

On deck is Mahfouz's The Thief and the Dogs.

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I don't think Roth ever lived a working class life in any narrow sense of that word - and certainly not in 1932 when Radetzkymarsch came out... His behavior was self-destructive already in the early 20s, he was in constant need of money, but this was a high income, high cost life style... he was one of the best-paid journalists of his time ... after 1933 he remained highly productive in exile (another seven novels or so ...), but there were no longer any newspapers that could/would print his work... (in fact, this explains very well why so many of his novels were written so late in his short life...).   I also like Hotel Savoy a lot, maybe the best of his early work... other favorites are Flight without End, The Emperor's Tomb (in a sense Vol 2 of Radetzkymarsch), and Weights and Measures ...

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21 hours ago, ejp626 said:

 

On deck is Mahfouz's The Thief and the Dogs.

I'm interested to know what you will think of Mahfouz. He is very high on my "writers I want to investigate list" but haven't had the chance to read anything from him yet.

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7 minutes ago, niels said:

I'm interested to know what you will think of Mahfouz. He is very high on my "writers I want to investigate list" but haven't had the chance to read anything from him yet.

I like Mahfouz quite a bit.  He has two main periods (three if you count the trilogy of novels he wrote about ancient Egypt, which I don't find very interesting).  He wrote longer, realistic novels with multiple characters, up through the Cairo Trilogy.  I think Cairo Modern is a good representative novel of this period, and if you like it, you might read a few other early novels and perhaps tackle the Cairo Trilogy.  The only one from this period I don't like is The Beginning and the End.

His later period (the majority of his career) features shorter novels, simpler stories (only a handful of characters), often focused on meetings in cafes.  Also, they are somewhat more fable-like or dream-like.  He mostly started to shy away from writing about politics, though The Day the Leader was Killed, is actually a fairly bold work from this period.  From this period, I might recommend Adrift on the Night or Arabian Days and Nights.  Or indeed The Thief and the Dogs, which is starting out well.

Both periods are good, though I have a bit of a preference for the earlier novels.

39 minutes ago, Niko said:

I don't think Roth ever lived a working class life in any narrow sense of that word - and certainly not in 1932 when Radetzkymarsch came out... His behavior was self-destructive already in the early 20s, he was in constant need of money, but this was a high income, high cost life style... he was one of the best-paid journalists of his time ... after 1933 he remained highly productive in exile (another seven novels or so ...), but there were no longer any newspapers that could/would print his work... (in fact, this explains very well why so many of his novels were written so late in his short life...).   I also like Hotel Savoy a lot, maybe the best of his early work... other favorites are Flight without End, The Emperor's Tomb (in a sense Vol 2 of Radetzkymarsch), and Weights and Measures ...

Fair enough.  I was thinking more along the lines of the heavy drinkers William Kennedy wrote about, but your explanation makes sense.

I think I read The Emperor's Tomb too early and didn't much care for it, but now that I have a fuller understanding of Roth and his work, I will try it again after tackling Radetzkymarsch.

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16 hours ago, ejp626 said:

I like Mahfouz quite a bit.  He has two main periods (three if you count the trilogy of novels he wrote about ancient Egypt, which I don't find very interesting).  He wrote longer, realistic novels with multiple characters, up through the Cairo Trilogy.  I think Cairo Modern is a good representative novel of this period, and if you like it, you might read a few other early novels and perhaps tackle the Cairo Trilogy.  The only one from this period I don't like is The Beginning and the End.

His later period (the majority of his career) features shorter novels, simpler stories (only a handful of characters), often focused on meetings in cafes.  Also, they are somewhat more fable-like or dream-like.  He mostly started to shy away from writing about politics, though The Day the Leader was Killed, is actually a fairly bold work from this period.  From this period, I might recommend Adrift on the Night or Arabian Days and Nights.  Or indeed The Thief and the Dogs, which is starting out well.

Both periods are good, though I have a bit of a preference for the earlier novels.

Thanks! The Cairo Trilogy where the books on my "want" list, but maybe I should try to tackle some of his earlier books before that.

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Just finished Trollope's The Warden, the first book in the Barsetshire series.  I think I might  read the complete series. I've already enjoyed the Pallisers quite a bit.

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29 minutes ago, BillF said:

I've never tried Trollope. I was probably put off by the fact that he was favourite reading among British Conservative Prime Ministers - John Major, for example. In fact, Harold Macmillan went so far as to say there was nothing he liked better than going to bed with a good Trollope. ^_^

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/may/29/mps-night-in-trollope

That is so, but Trollope was a working stiff much of his life -- he had a long career at the Post Office and only started earning enough from his writing that he was able to resign at age 52.  Also, he ran as a Liberal in Beverley, though apparently, this was primarily a scheme to show how corrupt the borough was and led to its eventual disenfranchisement: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Trollope

I remember it taking about half of Can You Forgive Her? until I finally got into the rhythm and pace of Trollope -- after that I enjoyed him a lot and finished up the Palliser novels.  However, I did not have the time to read the other 41 novels he wrote!  I've decided in the next 2-3 years I will read some stand-alone novels: The Three Clerks, He Knew He Was Right and The Way We Live Now.  After that I'll try to tackle the Chronicles of Barsetshire.

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Terrific!

Tried to read this 10+ years ago but it lost me. But this time I was gripped. A pretty despairing tale about the thin veneer of civilisation and what happens when the chaos breaks through (amongst other themes...I like his idea about how we always get the past wrong and always tell it quite differently to how others choose to tell it).

Quite a dense and challenging book. He can get very detailed (I think I could make a glove now if someone handed me the kid-skin!). He is also constantly interrupting the narrative by cut-backs to different points in the past which can leave you frustrated when you're waiting for a major confrontation to unfold; but that's exactly how our brains work, the effect I assume he was aiming at. 

I want to read a couple of other authors first but have 'The Plot Against America' lined up - another counter-factual history.   

 

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While I don't care much for the annoying central character in Nancy Lee's The Age (a teenage girl who is just desperate for love and human connection and who makes some bad decisions as a result), this is a pretty compelling book.  It is about growing up in the 1980s and being sure that nuclear war would break out at any moment.

Coincidentally, I am also reading Bernard Malamud's last completed novel God's Grace, which is about what happens after the entire human race is wiped out except one man.  I'm not very far into this one.

Next up after these are Narayan's The Financial Expert and Munro's The Moons of Jupiter.

 

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4 hours ago, A Lark Ascending said:

pastoral__120516230419.jpg

Terrific!

Tried to read this 10+ years ago but it lost me. But this time I was gripped. A pretty despairing tale about the thin veneer of civilisation and what happens when the chaos breaks through (amongst other themes...I like his idea about how we always get the past wrong and always tell it quite differently to how others choose to tell it).

Quite a dense and challenging book. He can get very detailed (I think I could make a glove now if someone handed me the kid-skin!). He is also constantly interrupting the narrative by cut-backs to different points in the past which can leave you frustrated when you're waiting for a major confrontation to unfold; but that's exactly how our brains work, the effect I assume he was aiming at. 

I want to read a couple of other authors first but have 'The Plot Against America' lined up - another counter-factual history.   

 

Yes, I liked that one. I also recall that Plot Against America went very strongly, but then collapsed at the end. (I may be wrong as it was a long time ago.)

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Everytime Philip Roth comes up in this thread, I repeat my belief that he deserves the Nobel prize.

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2 hours ago, ejp626 said:

 

Coincidentally, I am also reading Bernard Malamud's last completed novel God's Grace, which is about what happens after the entire human race is wiped out except one man.  I'm not very far into this one.

 

 

I haven't read that one, but was very keen at one time on Malamud's novels from the 50s and 60s. Perhaps it's time I got back to his stuff.

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Still with Highsmith!

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Had this sat on the shelf for a few years and only just got around to it. 

Sad little book, evocative of the early 60s, pre-swinging England. 

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The only thing swinging on Chesil Beach is the windsock on the Portland causeway road !:D

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1 hour ago, A Lark Ascending said:

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Had this sat on the shelf for a few years and only just got around to it. 

Sad little book, evocative of the early 60s, pre-swinging England. 

Someone knew used to say that McEwan's novels contained enough for a good short story. I guess it's true of that one, though not of The  Innocent, which I'm about to read.

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Just finished this, and am going to start Book 2 immediately.  I plowed through this book, couldn't stop reading it.  I was reluctant to start a 6-volume Norwegian memoir, but  I was completely engrossed in it.  From the “Hoarders-“ like fascination with cleaning the house after his father dies, to sneaking alcohol to a party in high school, to his love of books and music, this was exactly what I was in the mood to read.  Can’t recommend it enough!

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Connie Mack and the Early Years of Baseball by Norman L. Macht.  Volume One of a three volume, 1,800+ page biography of Connie Mack, the old owner / manager of the Philadelphia Athletics.  If you're a baseball fan, it is very interesting to read about the early days of MLB, and the characters that crossed his path.  Looking forward to the other two volumes.

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Edited by Matthew

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Nexus 70 - De terugkeer van Europa (The Return of Europe)
This is a bundle of essays collected by the Nexus institute. This institute tries to keep the values of European humanism alive in these days and age of neo-liberalism, capitalism, declining moral values, and an almost "religious belief" that everything has to be measured by economic (or politic) value. The fantastic essays deal with the questions of what Europe really is (because it is not the EU/Brussel), what makes one a European, what are (or rather were) the European values, how did we lost it (or didn't we?) and is there a way to get back on the right track again. 

Most of the essays are by thinkers/philosophers/intellectuals etc. of today (Robert Skidelsky, Adam Zagajewski, Adam Zamoyski,  Javier Marias, Aykan Erdemir a.o), but throughout the book (like the thread of Ariadne) also ten classic essays have been published from people like: Winston Churchill, Karl Jaspers, Joseph Roth, Stefan Zweig and Robert Musil. 

I think this book should be essential stuff for everybody who feels himself deeply European and/or connected to the European tradition, but feels very sad when they look at the way things are heading right now with conservatism (and I see this with the Right and the Left) nationalism and post-fascism growing all across Europe.

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I wrapped up Narayan's The Financial Expert.  There were a few good scenes (especially in Madras) but this seemed to me to try too hard to be clever.  Plus, I didn't care for the main character, I absolutely detested his spoiled son, and I couldn't really fathom the motivations of the third character (they seemed all over the place and just not internally consistent).

I have to say I think God's Grace by Malamud is just not for me.  It is a very strange book, but almost anything I write about it would be a spoiler.

Speaking of spoilers, the latest edition of Nabakov's Invitation to a Beheading has a blurb on the back that spoils the entire novel!  Are you kidding me?  I honestly don't know if I should bother now, even though this is the publisher's fault and not Nabokov's (and I realize plot is not usually the main point of reading Nabokov, but still...).  I'll get a chapter or two in and see if I am still feeling it, but I have a strong intimation I will abandon this.

After I clear out all this, I have Faulkner in the batter's circle: Go Down, Moses.  I'm pretty sure this is a book I will enjoy without major reservations.

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Had been looking forward to this one. A bit disappointing: the prose is intentionally dry, the narratives conceptual. I suppose I wanted more of a display of imagination, and beyond the tropes of a North American magical realism. Perhaps the best piece in the collection is "Rivers," in which a manumitted Jim relates the story of his life post-HUCK FINN.

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