New Book Thread because somebody' has got to do it

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by rfisher, May 14, 2013.

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  1. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

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    I think the final paragraph of Gatsby is one of the greatest pieces of writing. of. all. time.

    That paragraph is so perfect I have no need to read the book!! Although I did enjoy Robert Redford playing Gatsby is a not-so-great film. Mostly, just looking at him. . .

    I'm working my way through Robert Jordan's 'Wheel of Time' series for the second time. I started reading it back in the 90s, waiting two years between books. Then, I waited until Brandon Sanderson finished the final book #14 to start them all over again. I am now on #5 and in book heaven, knowing my reading is set for awhile.

    However, I do find Jordan's writing style a bit jarring. I'm an editor, and it's a natural instinct for me to correct his syntax/how he parses his sentences to make them more clear and readable. And some parts of the book are tedious, then other parts roll along rapidly and I can't stop reading.

    Hills Like White Elephants. Hemingway is a rare writer in that he writes between the lines.
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  2. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

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    The Golovlevs by Saltykov-Shchedrin is possibly the bleakest, most depressing thing I've ever read. I really liked it. :)
  3. zaphyre14

    zaphyre14 Well-Known Member

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    My sentiments exactly. Although in my case that part of my life was over almost - gasp - 40 years ago. I figure I'm old enough now to read the trashy stuff I like unapologeticly. Plus I'm in the process of "corrupting" one of my fellow Englsih majors. She's recently retired from teaching and is just now discovering the joys of reading purely for pleasure and not for edification. I don't think she's ever wandered outside of the Classics section of a bookstore before.

    I abandonned Tessa Grant in favor of Susanna Gregory's third Matthew Batholomew mystery, "A Bone of Contention." I seem to be more in a medieval mood this summer. I'll get back to Grant eventually.

    And Dirk Pitt is still saving the world in my car. I am in awe of the audio reader's ability to do accents - I have no problem following conversations because each speaker sounds different. I don't always agree with with the accents - his Boston Lawyer sounded more like a Maine Backwoods Yankee to me - but at least each one is distinctive.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2013
  4. rfisher

    rfisher Satisfied skating fan

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    Just the thought of Gatsby gives me hives. I cannot believe how of all the audio books in the big library, I picked the two most dreary mysteries of the lot. I've listened to the the first CD of both and turned the radio to NPR. I don't mind dark, but geez, the "oh, woe, is me" sucks the life out of a book and the narrators must have attended the "DRAMA" school of reading. All I can say is I'm glad I didn't buy either of these books or I'd be really annoyed.

    I despise "oh, woe is me" characters almost as much as the martyrs which rank right below the idiots.
  5. dbell1

    dbell1 Well-Known Member

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    I realized earlier today why I like fiction. The last 2 books I read were biographies of women who were cheated on. They knew it, they accepted it, and they waited for the man to come to his senses. Hemingway had #2 lined up while #1 was funding his career, and the astronaut wives had to deal with 'Cape Cookies' (although it looks like John Glenn was not part of the group that strayed). Maybe it was that time period, where it was accepted as normal, but I'd be the one walking out and not caring about what people thought.

    I had a college professor who shoved Hemingway down our throats all semester. Short stories, full books, discussions about bullfights and cats. I was ready to pull an Ernest and shoot myself by the end. I didn't want a "Clean Well Lighted Place", I wanted a life without Ernest.

    I've come close to reading Gatsby a few times, but the lives of the fabulous and rich (and those who want to be) never worked for me. I was a Steinbeck worshipper back in my late teens/early 20's. I know some people hate his writing. Books are like food to me - we all have our favorite meals. :)
  6. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    In high school the books I *had* to read were a chore because there were so many I *wanted* to read instead. I would get way behind in the reading, rely on Coles Notes (like Cliff Notes, and this all before the internet of course), and sit there wondering what my English teach found so amusing about Jane Austen. Years later I read all of Jane's books, and found I really, really enjoyed them - and a lot of the lessons and discussions from class came back to me and helped me understand them, and I even found myself chuckling from time to time, like my teacher had.

    As for Hemingway, have you been to his house in Key West? It's worth it just for the cats :)
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  7. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    My take on Gatsby is that the writing is beautiful and the story sucks.

    That's one of my favorites for Intro to Lit. Most of the students completely miss that the couple is talking about an abortion. In my last class, some of them were shocked--SHOCKED--that abortion existed in the 1920s. They had the vague idea that it was conceived, so to speak, in the 1970s.

    What bugs me about Gatsby--and it really bugs me--is that the story reeks of hypocrisy. Look at these shallow and immoral people tuts Fitzgerald as he goes along in his shallow and immoral way, craving the very thing he despises.

    Some people find that tension interesting, but it grates on me.

    Speaking trashy stuff, I am reading a trashy historical romance called A Lady Awakened that has the oddest smut I've ever read in such books. The heroine is a widow whose husband left her essentially destitute. His dissolute heir is set to inherit everything unless, of course, she is pregnant. She hears that her neighbor is the son and heir of a baronet who has been sent down to the country in disgrace, his allowance cut off, and she hires him to impregnate her so she can pass the infant off as her deceased husband's heir and hang on to her home. In the normal course of such books, he would, of course, drive her mad in bed, but instead, she tells him to just get on with it and then compliments him on his speed :lol:. At one point, she is so obviously wishing he would just hurry up that he is unable to perform at all. I figured this wouldn't last long, but they are halfway through the month and he has barely made any headway at arousing her interest in sex at all (and he really doesn't put much effort into it, either). She is, however, most interested in their pillow talk afterward--she is quite passionately fixated on making him a better man.

    Some of the things he says about her are just :lol:. And some of the things she thinks about him are :lol: too.
  8. my little pony

    my little pony snarking for AZE

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    i thought that was part of the point of it, no? plus he pines after this girl and mayhem ensues, but she is just an empty set of a human being so it is all the more tragic. i think it is relatable, esp at the age when it is often assigned in school. of course, that could be the point and you could still hate it. i await my flogging.
  9. LilJen

    LilJen Well-Known Member

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    I *will* give you that. There were some hilarious turns of phrase. Wolfshiem's "two fine growths of hair which luxuriated in either nostril" is a pretty good one. But everyone is so self-absorbed, shallow, and dishonest. And why Nick wants to defend Gatsby, even while he admits that he "never approved of him," is beyond me. But this was my first reading ever, so I'm sure all will become clearer as I (gag) reread and when we discuss it.
  10. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    It depends on what you mean. Most people think the characters in the story reek of hypocrisy; to me, Fitzgerald reeks of hypocrisy in writing the story.

    I don't think Gatsby pines after the girl at all. He pines after what the girl represents to him--both his bygone innocence and his ultimate success. That's why Daisy is such a flat character; she isn't really a character (although she is modeled after Fitzgerald's first love and to a lesser degree all his loves who followed--which tells you a lot about Fitzgerald). And she doesn't show up much because she is supposed to be elusive--like the green light at the end of her dock, she glows in the distance, always insubstantial and out of reach because Gatsby can never have what Daisy (or the green light) represents to him.

    The real love story in Gatsby is Nick's crush on Gatsby, IMO.

    Because that's Fitzgerald. He sees the self absorption, the shallowness and dishonesty, but he still loves his Beautiful People. He can see them for what they are, but he still wants to be them even while he judges them. And Nick is an unreliable narrator--he may SAY he never approved of Gatsby, but that doesn't mean you are supposed to take him at his word.

    Why would you read it again? Once is enough to say you did it.
  11. Lacey

    Lacey Well-Known Member

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    Read Colum McCann's newest TransAtlantic, does anyone know of any of his older books:

    This Side of Brightness
    Let the Great World Spin
    Dancer
  12. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    If anyone is in the market for books (and really, who isn't?), Better World Books is having a flash sale for the next 12 hours or so: http://www.betterworldbooks.com/go/booklovers

    Every time you buy a book, the store makes a donation to a world literacy group. Good cause and a good store!
  13. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Port de bras!!!

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    Fitzgerald is no more hypocritical than Aerosmith singing Eat The Rich.
  14. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    I don't know that I would equate the two, but let's say that I do. And?
  15. Matryeshka

    Matryeshka Well-Known Member

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    I loathe and despise the Great Gatsby with every fiber of my being. I hated it at 15, I hated it at 20, I hated it at 25. There are not words in any language to describe my hatred of the basic storyline. BUT. I also cannot deny:

    I've decided that paragraph is not part of the book. It was tacked on by some uncredited intern.
  16. oleada

    oleada Well-Known Member

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    I haven't read Gatsby. I tried but I got bored :shuffle:

    I finished "Victoria's Daughters" which I think was suggested by IceAlissa in one of these threads. I liked it a lot. Victoria was so meddlesome and annoying (felt so bad for poor Beatrice), but the whole story is so fascinating and I kind of want to read more about that era.
  17. my little pony

    my little pony snarking for AZE

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    matry, isnt your dog named gatsby?
  18. Matryeshka

    Matryeshka Well-Known Member

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    He is named Gatsby. I only ever promised snarks in the book thread--I never promised consistency. I like the name. I also considered Darcy, and I hate Jane Austen even more. I can at least respect Fitzgerald. Pride and Prejudice makes me want to join a local book burning. But I like the Austen movies sometimes--the less like the book, the better. :lol:

    I do get why it's a classic--I did teach the damn thing in AP American Lit and did an almost-credible job. Like others have said, I know why it's considered a great work of literature. The language is beautiful and it's great from an historical perspective--it gives such a perfect window into the excesses of the 1920s. People enjoy reading for different reasons--I read for character. If you're reading for character, The Great Gatsby is not going to do it for you. If you're reading for beauty of language, I can see how it's a total turn-on.
  19. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

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    Last night I finished Welcome Strangers, the final volume in Mary Hocking's "Good Daughters" trilogy and liked it very much. Although there were a couple of characters I just could not warm to, it was, by and large, a satisfying conclusion to the story. As an antidote to Depression-era to Cold War Britain, I started Elizabeth von Arnim's charming novel The Solitary Summer. Von Arnim also wrote Mr. Skeffington, which the Bette Davis movie was based on, and The Enchanted April, which has been staged and filmed numerous times since 1922. The 1991 movie version is delightful, and true to the spirit of the novel.
  20. LilJen

    LilJen Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like Fitzgerald read too much Thomas Mann (obsessed with the happy blue-eyed people, at least in one book I was forced to read).

    I'd read it again only so that I could have an intelligent conversation about it and understand other people's points of view and maybe find something to appreciate or see something differently. I may or may not do that prior to our meeting on that book (not until February).
  21. dbell1

    dbell1 Well-Known Member

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    Busy reading weekend here. I'm totally caught up on Louise Penny's Gamache series and have preordered the book coming out next week.

    Read Orphan Train. I knew nothing about the 200,000 children sent from NYC to the midwest (from the 1850's to the 1930's). It was interesting, but it lost me near the end with some really implausible plot twists. Tried reading All That Is - couldn't get into it, so back to the library it goes...

    Finally started And The Mountains Echoed. I can tell it's going to become an obsession. The first chapters just grabbed me.

    Kindle wise, The Book Thief and Anansi Boys just came in on library loan.
  22. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

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    I won a copy of The Mountains Echoed a couple of months ago but haven't managed to squeeze it in yet between all my library loans and book club books.

    I'm nearly finished The Book Thief, and loving it. Anansi Boys is next on my list.
  23. A.H.Black

    A.H.Black Well-Known Member

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    I liked The Book Thief as well. I currently enjoying The Goose Girl.
  24. Erin

    Erin Well-Known Member

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    I've spent the last few weeks alternating between Nick Hornby and re-reads of annotated Austens. Strange combination, I know. The Austen re-reads were a result of seeing a disappointing stage version of Pride and Prejudice that had me needing the books to cleanse my palate. Hopefully the combination of that and Persuasion will tide me over until the annotated Northanger Abbey comes out on October 1. The only thing really notable thing about the read was that I was struck with a horrific thought that since one of the first words I would use to describe myself is "practical", would that mean I would be Charlotte Lucas? However, I can't see myself ever marrying a Mr. Collins, no matter how practical a choice that would be. I mentioned it to a friend and she agreed that I was definitely not Charlotte and that if I was any Austen character, it was Emma. I'm not sure what to make of that exactly...Emma is probably my least favorite of Austen's novels, but it might be worth another read to see if my friend is right.

    As for the Nick Hornby that was mixed in, I really enjoyed About a Boy and was less enamoured with High Fidelity. Maybe it's because, even though they both feature male characters with arrested development, there was more growth in the About a Boy protagonist. Or perhaps it was because I could hear Hugh Grant's voice in About a Boy and found it charming whereas even though I haven't seen the movie High Fidelity, I still pictured the main character as a smarmy John Cusack.

    Now I'm reading Left Neglected by Lisa Genova (who also wrote Still Alice) for my book club. It is a good read, although I can guess where it is going. Overworked power mom gets into car accident, with some lasting effects and at the halfway point, my guess is that she will not return to her high-powered job and will decide she is happier without it. The specific type of brain injury (called Left Neglect) is pretty interesting though, the main character is likeable, and it's a pretty quick read.
  25. oleada

    oleada Well-Known Member

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    And the Mountains Echoed is also on my to-read list!

    I'm halfway through Kate Atkinson's Behind the Scenes at the Museum, which I'm loving. I can see similarities between that and Life After Life, but I'm liking this more. It's so funny but the writing is also gorgeous. I love the narrator; she is so likable. I like how the story is woven through the generations.
  26. Impromptu

    Impromptu Well-Known Member

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    Ah, I think I know which production you're talking about. I'd been debating whether or not to go to that. I love P&P but that company can be really hit/miss with their shows (I think they spend too much of their budget on wardrobe). I still have flashbacks from a horrific production they did of The Seagull they did years ago.

    I just finished Mira Grant's Newsflesh trilogy, which I loved, but now puts me in a bit of a deficit, because nothing I've been reading holds up in comparison. Going to read Life After Life when I go on vacation this week, so I do have that to look forward to.
  27. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    Hilarious Reject-A-Hit letter from Writer's Digest sponsored program calling for submissions of spoof rejection letters for well known best-sellers.

    Excerpt from spoof-rejected letter by Edward Murphy:

    :rofl:

    See July/Aug 2013 Writer's Digest for the full letter.
  28. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Port de bras!!!

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    I inhaled Life After Life but didn't finish Behind the Scenes at the Museum, don't remember why. Perhaps a Harry Potter book came out that needed reading. :shuffle:
  29. rfisher

    rfisher Satisfied skating fan

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    To quote Mark Twain: A classic is a book people praise and don't read. :D
  30. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

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    I have two books going at the moment, The Solitary Summer by Elizabeth von Arnim. It's the sequel to her charming Elizabeth and Her German Garden and, in a way, a fore-runner of The Enchanted April.

    And IceAlisa inspired me to dip into Dans le noir (In the Dark) by Svetlana Velmar-Jankovic, a Serbian writer who landed on my shelf recently. This one will require much more attention than von Arnim's witty observations and delightful descriptions of her country garden, so I expect to take it slowly.
  31. zaphyre14

    zaphyre14 Well-Known Member

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    I have one of Jack Higgins' Sean Dillon espionage thrillers going in the car. I like Clive Cussler better even if I know the "Hero saves the World" formula by heart. In paper, I have Karen Harper's "The Poyson Garden" going while I wait for another Matthew Bartholomew mystery to arrive.
  32. oleada

    oleada Well-Known Member

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    Eys, I've had that problem, too :shuffle:

    Anyway, I finished it last night and LOVED it. I actually liked it more than Life After Life. Highly recommend it. There's a reveal that didn't quite work so well for me, but the way the stories are woven through time are fantastic. And the writing is beautiful.

    I picked up Marisha Peshel's Night Film, which just came out and looks fascinating. Yay for murder mysteries and cinema :cheer:
  33. dbell1

    dbell1 Well-Known Member

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    Finished And the Mountains Echoed. Cried. I love a book that doesn't give us 'tidy endings'. The story kept me engaged, and thinking. Fabulous.

    Now reading Blood & Beauty about the Borgias, one of my favorite twisted families. I was thrilled to see this come out (and get good reviews). But rumor has it that it stops way short of Alexander's death, so maybe there's a sequel being written?
  34. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Port de bras!!!

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    Very cool! I have my copy of Proust's In Search of Time Lost and am going to need someone to hold my hand through it. Has anyone read it? May be I will give Behind The Scenes another try some day.

    BTW, that JKR murder mystery was just alright after all. It had very well-written pieces of dialog but overall it wasn't as absorbing as I would like a murder mystery to be. I wasn't dying to find out whodunnit. I actually didn't really care.

    Picked up a used copy of Joyce Carol Oates' Middle Age in a book store while on vacation. I guess I might forgive her My sister, my love and other crimes against literature.
  35. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps not.
    I read a non-fiction account of the same subject.
    What actually happened to some of these orphans was startling - not in a good way.
  36. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

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    I have such a book hangover today, after finishing The Book Thief last night.

    But like many a hangover brought on by liquid substances ... so worth it!
  37. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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  38. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

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    So good. I have been thinking about reading it again and I never re-read books. Problem is that I loaned it out to someone and don't know who. lol
  39. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

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    Has anyone read Gone Girl? That sounds interesting. The plot twist intrigues me but I'd like if the rest of the book is good, too.

    I am unsure about The Book Thief being a movie. I have a hard time imagining how that translates to film and how they can capture all of the emotions in the book. I will watch and find out, though!
  40. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    There have been quite a few posts about that book in this and the other reading threads, but I can't swear that the twist wasn't revealed somewhere along the way.

    Agree about The Book Thief--but Geoffrey Rush as Death sounds promising.
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