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Thread: The Book Discussion Thread

  1. #101
    The Pan Spinal's Avatar
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    My favorite Beckett play is Endgame. Deeply poignant, funny and sad all at once. The Beckett on Film DVD set is outstanding.
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  2. #102
    Quote Quoting Melville (view post)
    If it's the same edition that I have, then it's divided up into the different collections that were published independently. Everything in Ficciones is amazing. The other collections are pretty good, but they pale in comparison.
    *votes Dreamtigers*

  3. #103
    Screenwriter Duncan's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Melville (view post)
    If it's the same edition that I have, then it's divided up into the different collections that were published independently. Everything in Ficciones is amazing. The other collections are pretty good, but they pale in comparison.
    Oh yeah, I noticed that The Idiot wasn't on you list. That was next for me as far as Dostoevsky goes. Since there are so many by him on there, I was wondering if you felt it was inferior, or just haven't read it yet.
    Wishful thinking, perhaps; but that is just another possible definition of the featherless biped.

  4. #104
    Quote Quoting Duncan (view post)
    Oh yeah, I noticed that The Idiot wasn't on you list. That was next for me as far as Dostoevsky goes. Since there are so many by him on there, I was wondering if you felt it was inferior, or just haven't read it yet.
    The Idiot is fantastic.
    *loved Prince Myshkin*

  5. #105
    Not a praying man Melville's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting SpaceOddity
    *votes Dreamtigers*
    I think that's listed as "The Maker" in the Penguin edition. If so, I can't remember a single thing about it. I generally prefer the Borges stories that concisely express a single abstract idea in an unusual, clever way. I found his more autobiographical work and his strict genre stories a bit tedious. I don't remember where Dreamtigers fits into that spectrum.

    Quote Quoting Duncan
    Oh yeah, I noticed that The Idiot wasn't on you list. That was next for me as far as Dostoevsky goes. Since there are so many by him on there, I was wondering if you felt it was inferior, or just haven't read it yet.
    The Idiot is great, particularly its disturbing climactic scene, but it's a complete mess structurally. The messiness is actually pretty interesting in the way it adds to the generally bizarre tone, but in the end I didn't think it quite worked. I also found the story less philosophically interesting than, say, The Brothers Karamazov, although it definitely still has a lot of good ideas.

    The only "major" Dostoevsky book that I have yet to read is The Demons (aka The Possessed). To those who have read that one: is it worth prioritizing?

  6. #106
    dissolved into molecules lovejuice's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Melville (view post)
    The Idiot is great, particularly its disturbing climactic scene, but it's a complete mess structurally. The messiness is actually pretty interesting in the way it adds to the generally bizarre tone, but in the end I didn't think it quite worked. I also found the story less philosophically interesting than, say, The Brothers Karamazov, although it definitely still has a lot of good ideas.

    The only "major" Dostoevsky book that I have yet to read is The Demons (aka The Possessed). To those who have read that one: is it worth prioritizing?
    on the demons. no, i don't think it's worth prioritizing. dostoevski's strongest asset, for me, is his characters, and not that the cast are weak here, but it is not quite on par with his others. understandably since mr. D aims political, so it's more a novel about the idea than any other.

    you don't like the idiot? out of the three i've read, that one is my favorite. as you said, its messy structure is in fact a charm. and how can you not love some of the more "cinematic" scenes: the guilty confession game, the suicide declaration, the broken vase, and the wedding which perhaps is the most beautifully written scene i've ever read in any novel.

  7. #107
    What is best in life? D_Davis's Avatar
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    I am going to work on a literary project. For the next year, I am going to read through most of the Hugo award winning novels. I will be skipping a few years in which I will pick one of the nominees to read rather than the winner (2001 for instance, Rowling won for The Goblet of Fire, and beat out the far superior Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer (well, I can't really say it is superior because I haven't read GoF, but based upon what HP I have read, I assume that Sawyer's book is better)).

    I am almost finished with a re-read of The Demolished Man, the first Hugo Award winning novel. I am enjoying it even more now that I am reading it at an older age. Bester's prose and narration are vastly superior to many authors. I challenge any one here who has never taken the dive into the speculative fiction genre to read this. But be warned, your mind will get blown.

  8. #108
    The Pan Spinal's Avatar
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    I started reading the first Harry Potter book to my kid, but we abandoned it about three or four chapters from the end because he was getting impatient and bored. Maybe he's a bit young for them, but this kid has listened to things like Bridge to Terabithia and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Personally, I wasn't terribly impressed with it either and haven't bothered to finish it on my own.
    Coming to America (Landis, 1988) **
    The Beach Bum (Korine, 2019) *1/2
    Us (Peele, 2019) ***1/2
    Fugue (Smoczynska, 2018) ***1/2
    Prisoners (Villeneuve, 2013) ***1/2
    Shadow (Zhang, 2018) ***
    Oslo, August 31st (J. Trier, 2011) ****
    Climax (Noé, 2018) **1/2
    Fighting With My Family (Merchant, 2019) **
    Upstream Color (Carruth, 2013) ***

  9. #109
    What is best in life? D_Davis's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Spinal (view post)
    I started reading the first Harry Potter book to my kid, but we abandoned it about three or four chapters from the end because he was getting impatient and bored. Maybe he's a bit young for them, but this kid has listened to things like Bridge to Terabithia and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Personally, I wasn't terribly impressed with it either and haven't bothered to finish it on my own.
    I read the first book, and half of the second, and wasn't impressed at all. It's just not my thing. As an adult, I prefer my sci-fi or fantasy to be either more thought provoking (Dick and Bester), or far more pulpy (Harry Harrison), and HP resides somewhere in between. I am not saying it's bad or anything, just not my thing.

    I had no idea GoF had won the Hugo though - it just seems like such a bad choice. I guess it caused quite a bit of controversy, wiki details this a bit. I am especially shocked it won over Calculating God, which seems like a sure-fire Hugo award winner. It is a superior example of good science fiction.

  10. #110
    Not a praying man Melville's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting lovejuice (view post)
    you don't like the idiot? out of the three i've read, that one is my favorite. as you said, its messy structure is in fact a charm. and how can you not love some of the more "cinematic" scenes: the guilty confession game, the suicide declaration, the broken vase, and the wedding which perhaps is the most beautifully written scene i've ever read in any novel.
    Well, I did say that The Idiot is great, so I obviously like it. Regarding those specific scenes, the guilty confession game was a good example of Dostoevsky's scenes of social "revelation" (and accompanying humiliation and misunderstanding), but it didn't really tie into the themes of the novel as nicely as similar scenes did in The Brothers Karamazov. The suicide declaration scene was also good, but it seemed to progress in odd fits and starts, and went on far too long. The broken vase scene was amusing (and had some interesting parallels to the main thrust of the story) but it wasn't nearly as amusing as something like The Crocodile. The wedding scene really pinpoints my main problem with the novel's odd structure: two of the characters in the love triangle are pushed into the periphery for such a large portion of the book that the ending is robbed of most of its impact.

  11. #111
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    The only Borges I've read is "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" and that hurt my brain so much I've been weary to wade further into his bibliography, though I have briefly considered purchasing Dreamtigers.

  12. #112
    Not a praying man Melville's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Horbgorbler (view post)
    The only Borges I've read is "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" and that hurt my brain so much I've been weary to wade further into his bibliography, though I have briefly considered purchasing Dreamtigers.
    "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" is probably my favorite Borges story. I loved its presentation of how different language structures induce different ontological structures. Great, brain-damaging stuff.

  13. #113
    The Pan megladon8's Avatar
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    I have 70 pages left of "Life in the Time of Cholera", and I have to say I am not nearly as impressed as I'd hoped.

    I am really enjoying it, but I am not finding it nearly as gut-wrenchingly romantic as other books I have read - hell, even other books I have read recently.

  14. #114
    Producer Lucky's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting megladon8 (view post)
    I have 70 pages left of "Life in the Time of Cholera", and I have to say I am not nearly as impressed as I'd hoped.
    Hah, thanks for this. I'm pushing this back on my list. I just picked up Fifth Business tonight and will probably start it tomorrow after I finish Into the Wild.

  15. #115
    Montage, s'il vous plait? Raiders's Avatar
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    Where's my goddam :| smiley for these ridiculous last two posts? I need to edit this because no amounts of "bah" and "you're wrong" can say it like that gorgeous emoticon.
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  16. #116
    Not a praying man Melville's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting megladon8 (view post)
    I am not finding it nearly as gut-wrenchingly romantic as other books I have read - hell, even other books I have read recently.
    I thought that was kind of the point of the book. Here's what I wrote after reading it a few years ago (beware spoilers):

    I was somewhat surprised by the general tone of the book. Given its title and reputation, I thought it would be a lot more... romantic, or something. Instead, it seemed almost like an attack on melodramatic romance. Florentino's 50-year 'obsession' with Fermina doesn't really seem all that impressive or romantic. The book keeps saying that he’s madly in love with her, but it never evokes or describes this love. He seems to maintain his ‘love’ for her just as a matter of course, and it seems pretty mundane by the time Dr. Urbino dies. At one point the narrator says that Florentino had been in a ‘private hell’ for 50 years, but I’d just read 200 pages describing those 50 years, and they seemed anything but hellish. Sure, his continual ‘love’ affairs all end with him longing for Fermina, but that hardly strikes me as being a private hell. Perhaps it would seem hellish if his longing was perpetually evoked by the text, but the text seems to specifically avoid such an evocation. The longing is repeatedly mentioned, but never described; instead, the love affairs are described, which belies the purported longing. Similarly, Florentino's love letters are repeatedly mentioned, but they are never shown to the reader. It’s as if the author specifically wants us to see Florentino’s love as empty and illusory.

    Compare this with the opening chapter about Dr. Urbino. He supposedly doesn’t love Fermina as passionately as Florentino does: the later chapters repeatedly say that he favours stability over passion, that he doesn’t initially love Fermina at all, that his love consists mostly of familiarity, and so on. And yet he comes off as far more romantic in that first chapter than Florentino does in the rest of the book. His last words to Fermina are “Only God knows how much I loved you”; he says “It is a pity to still find a suicide that is not for love.” Even his love for his parrot seems more passionate than any of Florentino’s loves. Everything he does seems imbued with a little passion: even the tremendous success of his opera house “never reached the extremes Dr. Urbino had hoped for, which was to see Italianizers and Wagnerians confronting each other with sticks and canes during intermissions” (by far my favourite line in the book). The language itself seems more romantic in this opening chapter than in any that follow; sentences repeatedly start in the banal and end with a melodramatic flourish, just as Urbino’s seemingly mundane concerns lead to true passions. In the later chapters, the language seems to level everything– sure, it’s still fairly flowery, but there are no flourishes, making everything equally important... and more importantly, making everything equally unimportant.

    And this seems to be a central idea: Florentino’s ‘love’ for Fermina is so single-minded and unvarying that it exists to the exclusion of all else. Thus, life itself is robbed of the romance (“the ordinary magic of everyday life,” as USA Today calls it on the inside front cover) that Dr. Urbino experiences in it. With that romantic context removed, even Florentino’s single-minded love becomes banal. So, after his initial bout of choleric love in the second chapter (the only time his love is really evoked), we get three chapters of banalities. Stuff happens, but what happens isn’t terribly important; the events aren’t even described in any particular order, because even the passage of time is just so terribly banal. Even Dr. Urbino and Fermina’s relationship is made banal in these sections, though not to the extent of Florentino’s affairs. Finally, after Dr. Urbino’s death, temporality returns, as Florentino reenters the world. But by then he realizes that he can only win Fermina’s love in the same way that Dr. Urbino did: with a solid foundation of routine. Thus, even his choleric love has been killed, and he has literally caused the death of those most taken by it (his young lover America and the pigeon girl). And, unfortunately, by leveling the world into banalities with his ‘obsession,’ he’s also destroyed the romance of life that Dr. Urbino had. So, his never-ending romantic riverboat journey is on a lifeless river, under the flag of a cholera that he no longer even suffers from. “Desperate to infect [ot]her[s] with his own madness,” he’s killed the world, and divested himself of that madness of which he was so proud.

    I could be misinterpreting the whole thing. It could be that Florentino’s mad love is actually meant to be a good thing, that the river has been killed simply by banal ‘progress’, and the love that Florentino and Fermina find actually injects some life back into it, symbolized by the lone manatee. But it seems to me that the lone manatee symbolizes the life that ‘stable’ romance injects back into the river that was destroyed by mad romance. Admittedly, my reading is pretty simplistic, and it’s no doubt contradicted by any number of things in the text. But, in any case, the one thing I’m sure of is that America is the only sympathetic character in the whole book. She was the only one who actually experienced the hell that Florentino thought he did. Curse his oily hide!

  17. #117
    The Pan Spinal's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Raiders (view post)
    Where's my goddam :| smiley for these ridiculous last two posts? I need to edit this because no amounts of "bah" and "you're wrong" can say it like that gorgeous emoticon.
    The loss of Mr. Neutral will be the downfall of this forum.
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    Us (Peele, 2019) ***1/2
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    Prisoners (Villeneuve, 2013) ***1/2
    Shadow (Zhang, 2018) ***
    Oslo, August 31st (J. Trier, 2011) ****
    Climax (Noé, 2018) **1/2
    Fighting With My Family (Merchant, 2019) **
    Upstream Color (Carruth, 2013) ***

  18. #118
    Winston* Classic Winston*'s Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Spinal (view post)
    I started reading the first Harry Potter book to my kid, but we abandoned it about three or four chapters from the end because he was getting impatient and bored. Maybe he's a bit young for them, but this kid has listened to things like Bridge to Terabithia and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Personally, I wasn't terribly impressed with it either and haven't bothered to finish it on my own.
    Probably for the best then. The first couple of chapters of the first book are the best part of the series.

  19. #119
    Screenwriter Duncan's Avatar
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    I've only read 100 Years of Solitude, but judging from that one Marquez really doesn't seem like the gut-wrenchingly romantic type. Especially when other titles include "Memories of My Melancholy Whores," and "Of Love and Other Demons."
    Wishful thinking, perhaps; but that is just another possible definition of the featherless biped.

  20. #120
    Screenwriter Duncan's Avatar
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    I read 3/4 of the first Harry Potter when it was just getting big, but never finished. The series didn't interest me after that.
    Wishful thinking, perhaps; but that is just another possible definition of the featherless biped.

  21. #121
    The Pan megladon8's Avatar
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    Well, it's got "one of the greatest love stories of all time" written on it in about 6 different places, and it's billed as that by everyone and their grandmother - even Oprah said it's one of the most romantic books she's ever read.

    But apparently the point of it is that it's not romantic?

    Um...yeh...

    I just haven't found it too romantic. "The Time Traveller's Wife" had much more emotion and was much more romantic than this.

    However, I am still enjoying it.

  22. #122
    Not a praying man Melville's Avatar
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    I think the idea is that it is romantic in a more subdued, comfortable way, that it argues against a false, overblown romance. Or maybe other people just responded to it very differently.
    I am impatient of all misery in others that is not mad. Thou should'st go mad, blacksmith; say, why dost thou not go mad? How can'st thou endure without being mad? Do the heavens yet hate thee, that thou can'st not go mad?

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  23. #123
    Montage, s'il vous plait? Raiders's Avatar
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    I believe Marquez himself warned of the trap his book laid out for those unsuspecting readers. It is a book highly critical of the romantic world view of its main character and I have always felt that the book's equation of lovesickness as a terminal illness was more than a little tongue-in-cheek.

    EDIT: I would also say that being a great love story does not have to be romantic.
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  24. #124
    Quote Quoting Raiders (view post)
    I believe Marquez himself warned of the trap his book laid out for those unsuspecting readers. It is a book highly critical of the romantic world view of its main character and I have always felt that the book's equation of lovesickness as a terminal illness was more than a little tongue-in-cheek.

    EDIT: I would also say that being a great love story does not have to be romantic.
    If the story's about romantic love rather than other types such as friendship etc surely romance is an essential component. *shrug*
    Maybe Marquez's intent is to demote 'mad love' to fallacy.
    But, any love story that advocates the explicable misses the point.

  25. #125
    Quote Quoting Horbgorbler (view post)
    The only Borges I've read is "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" and that hurt my brain so much I've been weary to wade further into his bibliography, though I have briefly considered purchasing Dreamtigers.
    Buy it. *campaigns*
    Dreamtigers is one of the most beautiful articulations of longing I ever read.
    *nods*

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