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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2016 18:36 
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Finished the Szalay. I really liked this one. Each of the nine stories is about a man at a different stage in life, from adolescence to old age, and all seem to be after something they might not be able to achieve whilst pondering about what the point of life is. Most stories seem to fade out rather than have a definite ending, and in a way that matches the novel's themes of the short and momentary nature of life. I'll have to re-read it at some point to see what it tells me about being male in the 21st century. My only qualm is that the author's repeated references to contemporary websites, gadgets, books, and other things might date it a bit too quickly.

Next up: Ottessa Moshfegh's Eileen.


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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2016 19:25 
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Clearly you have forgotten that there's a new Jilly Cooper out.

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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2016 20:32 
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Grim... wrote:
Clearly you have forgotten that there's a new Jilly Cooper out.


What was wrong with the old Jilly Cooper?


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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2016 21:39 
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Kern wrote:
Grim... wrote:
Clearly you have forgotten that there's a new Jilly Cooper out.

What was wrong with the old Jilly Cooper?

She wrote about a school and it wasn't very good.

Also she wouldn't stop using the word "rugger".

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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 9:23 
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Do you actually tead Gilly Cooper novels, Grim...?

Isn't she the one who writes about horses a lot, and sex? Isn't her writing aimed at 50 yr old women?

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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 10:05 
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Yup. Yup. Yup.

I've nearly finished the new one. There's not really any sex in it, but that's okay.

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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 10:07 
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Haha, that's brill. I love odd little nuggets of personality like that.

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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 13:31 
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Mimi wrote:
odd little nuggets

Plenty in here.

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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2016 16:33 
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Booker challenge update: finished 'Eileen'.

In 1960s America a young woman living with a drunk abusive father and working in a borstal plots her escape. It was rather miserable throughout and the Hitchcock-esque denouement felt more like a frantic tying up of loose ends rather than a key piece of character development. 73%.

Next up: Thien's 'Do not say we have nothing'.


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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 17:24 
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Booker challenge update: I read Deborah Levy's 'Hot Milk' when I was away. It's about a young woman trapped in a crappy Spanish resort caring for her demanding and hypochondriac mother. It really grew on me and I enjoyed the side characters, the narrative voice, and the various ailments the mother was having. As with most literary fiction, I think I'm going to have to return to it to start peeling away its various layers, especially the unattributed monologues from characters at the start of each chapter. I won't begrudge going back to it (but it's about to go overdue at the library so perhaps not now).

So, four and a half down, one and a half to go (I'm struggling through 'Do not say we have nothing').


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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 21:03 
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Ah, they arrived.


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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 21:13 
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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2016 0:29 
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Oh godddddds

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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2016 0:34 
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With foreword by Malcolm Fucking Tucker.

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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2016 21:00 
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Booker challenge update: finished Graeme Macrae Burnet's 'His Bloody Project'. Oh boy, this was brilliant. It's a 'history' of a young crofter in 1860s Scotland accused of a grisly triple murder, told through witness statements, his own memoir written in his prison cell, an early form of psychology report, and a trial report, all written in the appropriate styles so if you read a lot of history and didn't realise it was in the fiction section you could easily be taken in *. I was hooked right from the start (a preface considering the authenticity of the work) and the tale of the down-trodden young man's dealings with an uppity village constable, his violent father, and his sexual awakening was a real page turner.

If I can sum up the courage to plod through another 200-odd pages of the tedious 'Do not say we have nothing' by Tuesday I'll be able to say I've read the whole of the Booker shortlist before the winner is announced, but even if I don't I've read more fiction in the past few weeks than in most years, so that's definitely a Good Thing and something to consider repeating for 2017.


* the veracity of the 'Flashman' papers are well-known and much discussed.


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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 22:21 
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Kern wrote:
Kern wrote:
Went onto the local library service's website today and reserved every single entry on the Booker shortlist so that I can finally start my New Year challenge! If nobody returns a book by next month, I might have to actually buy one or two of them.


Finished Paul Beatty's 'The Sell-Out'. Some laugh-out-load parts and many brilliantly worded ramblings but once you get past the humour and the whole shock value* the thing gets wrapped up pretty quickly. Some of the humour relies on detailed knowledge of American culture so I probably missed out on some of it. I'd never heard of the little rascals, for instance. I'll probably re-read it, or at least dip into it to relish and savour the author's turn of phrase.

*
ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
* a black man with a slave and trying to reintroduce segregation to give his community back its sense of identity, all whilst using the Bad Word repeatedly


This one won.

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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2016 6:52 
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It's very funny and very well-written. I'll definitely add it to the re-read list, but my original comments still stand (for the time being!).


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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 0:26 
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Kern wrote:
Booker challenge update: finished Graeme Macrae Burnet's 'His Bloody Project'. Oh boy, this was brilliant. It's a 'history' of a young crofter in 1860s Scotland accused of a grisly triple murder, told through witness statements, his own memoir written in his prison cell, an early form of psychology report, and a trial report, all written in the appropriate styles so if you read a lot of history and didn't realise it was in the fiction section you could easily be taken in *. I was hooked right from the start (a preface considering the authenticity of the work) and the tale of the down-trodden young man's dealings with an uppity village constable, his violent father, and his sexual awakening was a real page turner.

If I can sum up the courage to plod through another 200-odd pages of the tedious 'Do not say we have nothing' by Tuesday I'll be able to say I've read the whole of the Booker shortlist before the winner is announced, but even if I don't I've read more fiction in the past few weeks than in most years, so that's definitely a Good Thing and something to consider repeating for 2017.


* the veracity of the 'Flashman' papers are well-known and much discussed.


His Bloody Project is gripping. Superb. Started it today. Loving it.

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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 0:49 
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MaliA wrote:
Kern wrote:
Booker challenge update: finished Graeme Macrae Burnet's 'His Bloody Project'. Oh boy, this was brilliant. It's a 'history' of a young crofter in 1860s Scotland accused of a grisly triple murder, told through witness statements, his own memoir written in his prison cell, an early form of psychology report, and a trial report, all written in the appropriate styles so if you read a lot of history and didn't realise it was in the fiction section you could easily be taken in *. I was hooked right from the start (a preface considering the authenticity of the work) and the tale of the down-trodden young man's dealings with an uppity village constable, his violent father, and his sexual awakening was a real page turner.

If I can sum up the courage to plod through another 200-odd pages of the tedious 'Do not say we have nothing' by Tuesday I'll be able to say I've read the whole of the Booker shortlist before the winner is announced, but even if I don't I've read more fiction in the past few weeks than in most years, so that's definitely a Good Thing and something to consider repeating for 2017.


* the veracity of the 'Flashman' papers are well-known and much discussed.


His Bloody Project is gripping. Superb. Started it today. Loving it.

Just finished it this afternoon. Loved every minute of it.

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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 12:17 
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Goddess Jasmine wrote:
MaliA wrote:
Kern wrote:
Booker challenge update: finished Graeme Macrae Burnet's 'His Bloody Project'. Oh boy, this was brilliant. It's a 'history' of a young crofter in 1860s Scotland accused of a grisly triple murder, told through witness statements, his own memoir written in his prison cell, an early form of psychology report, and a trial report, all written in the appropriate styles so if you read a lot of history and didn't realise it was in the fiction section you could easily be taken in *. I was hooked right from the start (a preface considering the authenticity of the work) and the tale of the down-trodden young man's dealings with an uppity village constable, his violent father, and his sexual awakening was a real page turner.

If I can sum up the courage to plod through another 200-odd pages of the tedious 'Do not say we have nothing' by Tuesday I'll be able to say I've read the whole of the Booker shortlist before the winner is announced, but even if I don't I've read more fiction in the past few weeks than in most years, so that's definitely a Good Thing and something to consider repeating for 2017.


* the veracity of the 'Flashman' papers are well-known and much discussed.


His Bloody Project is gripping. Superb. Started it today. Loving it.

Just finished it this afternoon. Loved every minute of it.


Archibald Ross is a brilliant character. I am 3/4 of the way through, at trial now, and loving it.

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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 14:12 
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Despite it being psychology and therefore Mere Tittle Tattle, Piffle and Poppycock, this is pretty good. I have learnt things, useful things, and some other stuff.


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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 14:18 
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There's an audiobook version on audible! I'll check it out.


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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 14:19 
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markg wrote:
There's an audiobook version on audible! I'll check it out.


My friend struggles with those, due to a lack of pictures

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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 14:26 
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markg wrote:
There's an audiobook version on audible! I'll check it out.


Yes, do. It has some good stuff on avoiding being pressure sold to, and some really quite interesting g things on getting prisoners of war to collaborate. And i am only a few chapters in!

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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 14:40 
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Cool, I've been really struggling getting prisoners of war to collaborate with me lately.

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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 14:43 
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MaliA wrote:
Despite it being psychology and therefore Mere Tittle Tattle, Piffle and Poppycock, this is pretty good. I have learnt things, useful things, and some other stuff.


Convince me to read it. If you can't, it hasn't worked.

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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 14:43 
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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 14:49 
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Curiosity wrote:
MaliA wrote:
Despite it being psychology and therefore Mere Tittle Tattle, Piffle and Poppycock, this is pretty good. I have learnt things, useful things, and some other stuff.


Convince me to read it. If you can't, it hasn't worked.


Why would I want you to be more persuasive?

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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 15:52 
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MaliA wrote:
Despite it being psychology and therefore Mere Tittle Tattle, Piffle and Poppycock, this is pretty good. I have learnt things, useful things, and some other stuff.

It is an interesting read, I think it covers the culty stuff to start your malicool cult.


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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 16:23 
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Mr Dave wrote:
MaliA wrote:
Despite it being psychology and therefore Mere Tittle Tattle, Piffle and Poppycock, this is pretty good. I have learnt things, useful things, and some other stuff.

It is an interesting read, I think it covers the culty stuff to start your malicool cult.


Association

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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 11:51 
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Just finished Owen Hatherley's Ministry of Nostalgia. It's a rant about retrochic, why we shouldn't just pick and choose things from different eras just because they're stylish, and why we shouldn't project a half-remembered past onto our wishes for how we'd like things to be today. Similarly, he argues that we should consider purpose as much as form when evaluating buildings and arts, although it was only in the latter stages of the book does he admit that he is just as guilty of praising the aesthetics of brutalist municipal housing whilst overlooking its social function as much as anyone.

The best section in the book is his discussion about how we've suppressed the work of the Empire Marketing Board in favour of the more memorable Underground posters and Crown Film Unit documentaries despite being commissioned and produced by most of the same people.

Favourite quote, about the newly-renovated Imperial War Museum:

Quote:
Because of how cheap and flimsy it is, Foster's Imperial War Museum is maybe a more appropriate response to austerity 2015, housing the trinkets of the past (and, of course, their current reproductions) in a building that evokes a Bravo Two Zero version of a PFI hospital.


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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 7:02 
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Am reading A Boy Made of Blocks, a novel by video game journo Keith Stuart. It's essentially an About a Boy-esque story about a father trying to understand his autistic son, and how he does that by playing Minecraft together. It's wobbly when the narrator tries to make wry social observations, but at its strongest when explaining what it's like having an autistic child and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the pleasures and wonder to be derived from Minecraft.

I've not finished it yet but I daresay I'll find myself in some dusty rooms along the way.


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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 18:07 
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This year's Booker shortlist:

  • 4321 by Paul Auster (Faber & Faber)
  • History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
  • Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Hamish Hamilton)
  • Elmet by Fiona Mozley (JM Originals, John Murray)
  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (Bloomsbury)
  • Autumn by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)

I enjoyed working my way through them last year, so will see how far I get this time round! Probably won't try to complete it before the result though as I've got a large enough backlog as it is.


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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2017 8:55 
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I know a few of us enjoyed "His bloody project". There's a documentary on Tuesday where the author returns to where it was set.

His Bloody Project: Author returns to the scene of the crime - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-41253753

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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2017 9:10 
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Looks interesting; thanks for the tip.


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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 17:29 
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Booker Binge 2017: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

In which the spirit world's versions of Statler and Waldorf meet the freshly deceased Willie Lincoln and a grieving Abe.

I wasn't expecting to enjoy this and was a little bit irritated by the early chapters but once I got into it I was hooked. The three main ghosts are really vividly drawn and in their dialogue they come across as old friends trying to understand the behaviour of a new incomer. I particularly liked their use of euphemisms ('sick-box' and 'sick') as they avoided talking directly about their situation. The other inhabitants of the cemetery were just as well drawn, and Saunders' handling of 19th Century racism and the legacy of slavery that clearly extends into the afterlife was cleverly done. The only character who didn't really come across well was Abraham Lincoln himself, but then this tale is more about the deceased than the president.

The author's use of both primary and secondary sources, including books on my own shelf, to describe the circumstances of young Willie's death and to provide additional details about the President and the environment, was clever, especially when drawing attention to contradictions in the text, but I found myself enjoying the words of the ghosts themselves more.


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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 17:29 
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Booker Binge 2017: History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

In which a girl living on the shores of Lake Superior in the upper part of Minnesota in the remnants of a commune copes with growing up, paedophilia, and obsessive Christian Scientists.

Whilst this one was certainly a coming of age novel (a genre that I strangely find myself reading more and more as I creep into middle age, as if I'm trying to capture something and work out what I might have done better), it has a strange, melancholic pace to it reflecting, perhaps, the slowness of life in the vicinity of the Great Lakes. The characters felt very realistic, and all the drama and angst in the book was subtly played out. I feel I probably need to re-read this one to really enjoy the ride as although I was never bored and enjoyed reading it I feel it's certainly more of a character piece or Flaubert-style realism than a thriller with many questions left to the reader to uncover from the text.

Two down; four to go!


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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 18:34 
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Booker Binge 2017: Autumn by Ali Smith

This book is set in those weird few months after the Event the Brexit referendum, but darts backwards and forwards along the main character's life along with that of a British Pop Artist I'd never heard of (Pauline Boty), the life of Christine Keeler, and various character's dreams.

The opening sequence in a post office where she struggles with bureaucracy is great fun, and in several passages the author really captures what life was like on this island a whole year ago, particularly the general state of bewilderment. The dream sequences and the almost poetic language added to this sense that things were changing.

I'm wondering if the subplots of Christine Keeler and Pauline Boty were used to draw a parallel with 2016: both being watershed moments in our nation's history when the old assumptions all suddenly changed. And of course, autumn heralds the drawing in of the year.

I really need to re-read this one soon because I know there's loads of details in the novel that I haven't picked up on as I continue this marathon, but I'm not sure if in ten years we will empathise with the characters trying to understand Brexit in the way we do today.

Three done; three to go!


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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:21 
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Robin Hobb on 6music this afternoon, fans of shape-shifters and rich, meaty stew eaters.


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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2017 18:39 
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Booker Binge 2017: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

I'm torn on this one. I really, really enjoyed the story about the refugees from an unamed Middle Eastern country as their town gets run over by an unnamed bunch of extremists, about the twists and turns of their relationship, and how it was strained and tested by eking out existences in different, foreign cities and cultures. Their relationship is really well written and I really cared about what happened to them. I really felt the emotional strains they were going through and wanted things to work out for them. The descriptions early on of them trying to carry on their affair as war descends on their home town was particularly vivid.

And yet...

You knew there was an 'and yet coming'...

I didn't care for the elements of fantasy and the alternative versions of the western countries they were fleeing to. Sure, the idea of 'doors' was a nice metaphor for how refugees escaped, but it should just have been left at that, rather than the book describing them as actual portals. Similarly, the author creates versions of London and elsewhere where the populace and government are extremely hostile to the refugees' plight, and I'd have preferred a more realistic version of natives' attitudes as these are complicated enough. If the intent was to make us empathise with living in fear in a place that's supposed to be safe, it didn't work for me.

Four down; two to go.


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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 13:48 
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Booker Binge 2017: Elmet by Fiona Mozley

In the twilight world of Britain's underclass, where prize fights are a fun day out, day labouring borders on slavery, and brute force settles most things, a father and two children eke out an existence.

I enjoyed this one. The story was very easy to follow and surprisingly captivating. The descriptions of life at the bottom of society vivid and convincing. I'm not sure what the monologues starting each chapter that take place after the events of the book add to my understanding of the narrator, but those bits could easily be skipped. The ending might feel a bit contrived but it was, to me, perfectly reasonable given everything that led up to it.

Just got '4321' by Paul Auster left to go!


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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2017 18:39 
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Kern wrote:
Just got '4321' by Paul Auster left to go!


Only 15% through but I'm really struggling to enjoy this, and it's a lengthy one. Having four alternative timelines in the book ('Sliding Doors' only manages two) and skipping between them is an interesting concept but I'm struggling to remember what's happened in previous chapters in each timeline. The author also writes in really, really, really long sentences which become difficult to follow after the seventeenth subclause. I'm also not particuarly interested so far in any this particular post-war American kid's lives , and the inclusion of key books, movies, TV shows, and records from the period just feels like the author showing off his Wikipedia skills. But on I plod, in case he ends up on a grassy knoll or something.


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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 8:27 
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Kern wrote:
Booker Binge 2017: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

In which the spirit world's versions of Statler and Waldorf meet the freshly deceased Willie Lincoln and a grieving Abe.


This one won. I still think 'Autumn' was the book that grabbed and moved me most this year, but much of my response was based on reflections in the text of my own particular feelings in summer and autumn 2016 so I don't think it will be as emotionally powerful in a few years' time as 'Bardo' will be.

Read about a fifth of '4321' but have put it aside for now as I wasn't really enjoying it and finding it tiresome.


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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 16:34 
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Went to the local bookshop and bought a nice paper bag.


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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2017 12:55 
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The owner and coder of Ravelry was recommending this book to anyone who writes codes for use by people: Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0393634639/ ... eAbKX57F4K

It looked interesting so I thought I’d pop the link in here in case it interested anyone.

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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2017 13:19 
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Mimi wrote:
The owner and coder of Ravelry was recommending this book to anyone who writes codes for use by people: Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0393634639/ ... eAbKX57F4K

It looked interesting so I thought I’d pop the link in here in case it interested anyone.

Cheers!

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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 11:07 
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This year's Booker shortlist:

    Anna Burns (UK)                                       Milkman (Faber & Faber)
    Esi Edugyan (Canada)                              Washington Black (Serpent’s Tail)
    Daisy Johnson (UK)                                  Everything Under (Jonathan Cape)
    Rachel Kushner (USA)                             The Mars Room (Jonathan Cape)
    Richard Powers (USA)                             The Overstory (William Heinemann)
    Robin Robertson (UK)                             The Long Take (Picador)

Not sure if I'm going to burn through all of them before the result this year or not. Probably need to read more fiction and I'm quite bored of a rather plodding biography of General Grant I've been ploughing through, yet have the Bob Woodward book on Mr Trump in the queue that I'd like to start to see if it changes my opinion of him.

Might read the blurb and page lengths of each and see which takes my fancy.


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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 11:42 
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Kern wrote:
yet have the Bob Woodward book on Mr Trump in the queue that I'd like to start to see if it changes my opinion of him.

Are you expecting it to?

This is where I learn Kern is a huge trump fan.


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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 11:44 
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I'm hoping to be pleasantly surprised to discover it's all for show and he's running the most efficient and effective administration since Franklin Roosevelt.


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 Post subject: Re: New generic book thread
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 11:47 
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Mr Dave wrote:
This is where I learn Kern is a huge trump fan.


Back in April I was part of a crowd of around 1000 yelling 'Make America Great Again'.


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