What Book Did You Read Last Night??? (3 Viewers)

dunderhead

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recently The Discomfort Of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld

Pretty disturbing characters struggle to deal with grief.

Not for me. very much just kept reading to finish it rather than being compelled to see where it goes.

Now on Conal Creedon's Begotten Not Made which I'm really enjoying
 

Lili Marlene

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I spent a few days working through this monster 20th century history classic from 1993


R.90aed06988635e4636e4c7383e0f385b


for a book that doesn't mention the internet (email gets a brief word at one point) he comes to some seriously 21st century conclusions.

The problems for the future, according to him in 1993, are as follows:

* Pollution and climate change. He even spends time talking about rising global average atmospheric carbon dioxide parts per million.

* Unchecked neoliberalism ("Neo-liberalism" in this book) which will break down social order when allowed to run without the balancing pressure of socialism from the USSR, i.e. If the entire population of poor countries can be written off as unproductive there's no reason that internal populations can't be written off and demonized as well. He also says that economic historians tend to take a dimmer view of the merits of free-market evangelism than economic theorists.

* Identity politics, called as such, which will teach people to forge bonds only over ever-decreasing shared characteristics.

1993 man, they had some crazy ideas.
 

snakybus

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Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang – All 600 pages of this was sober, elegantly written sci-fi that was quite beautiful so it feels too much to say it was a chore, but I definitely flagged along the way and looked forward to finishing it. Part of this undoubtedly is that personally I find that there aren’t many stories that can fill out 600 pages and also, I just get exhausted with lengthy books (but for some reason still keep reading them). I did stick with it, though, because the ideas in it were very original and there was decent world building. It was all about a colony on Mars and the cultural differences that emerge that lead to/result from necessary differences in the whole idea of ownership of culture and in particular copyright/intellectual property, which sounds very unexciting but was actually one of the more interesting parts of the book. (There was also a clear debt to The Dispossessed by UK LeGuin.) What wasn’t great was the character development. Most of the people talked either like academics or one-dimensional cut-out characters and there were way too many of these faceless sorts dipping in and out of the story. But that only flattened things for me a little, rather than undo them altogether. I’d certainly recommend this to anyone into thoughtful sci-fi, and doesn’t mind a doorstop.

Augustus by John Williams - I don't read much historical fiction so I thought I'd give this a go as I loved Stoner. It's a cracker, a fictionalised account of the life of Augustus Caesar told through letters and diary entries of an array of characters. The first half charting his rise is the most enthralling and then it tails off a bit as he gets older and it focuses a little more on his daughter Julia, though it's still great.

Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto - a classic Japanese novella from the '80s. Really nice and eccentric. It reminded me of Pedro Almodovar a little. Lots of sensual moments involving everyday sort of people, and some funny/quirky situations. I'll definitely read more of her stuff.

Death's End by Cixin Liu - the final, whopping, 700-page installment of Remembrance of Earth's Past. I went into this a bit apprehensive as it is said to be the weakest of the three books. And although that's probably true as it's a completely bonkers book (the final quarter just seems to go from one completely nutso idea to the next with just a tenuous story to connect them) and just tries to fit in way too much, I was never bored once and still loved the whole thing. I did a blog post about this here.

One Billion Years to the End of the World by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky. This was my first foray into the Strugatsky brothers' stuff and, although this was readable enough I found it a bit dissapointing. It's mostly just some research scientists sitting around drinking and talking in a kitchen.

The Sound Mirror by Heidi James. Excellent exploration of the fractured lives of three women and their interconnections. Very sad and a bit cynical. But very impressive and original.

The Wandering Earth by Cixin Liu. I couldn't resist picking this up, it's actually a graphic novel version of the short story collection. Grand, but depressing. The art was incredible but I'm not sure if Liu's work translates very well to graphic novel format. It's very talky/explainy.

How Are We Going to Explain This? by Jelmer Mommers. Non-fiction, very well researched book all about climate change. A bit like an extended TED talk, on paper. Scary out.

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr – I thought this was grand if a bit of a struggle at times. A triptych of stories spanning millennia in which some monks carry the torch for literacy and science in a post-apocalyptic world. A little bit like Slaughterhouse Five in that it (more obliquely) alludes to the bombing of Monte Cassino and the horror and absurdity of war and was pretty thought-provoking in other respects too. I enjoyed the funny bits more than the more boring tracts of abbots/monks contemplating.

Foster by Clare Keegan – It seems I’ve read loads of books about rural Irish families, loss, poverty and neglect, but this novella still hit the target for me, plus it was set in more or less the era of my own childhood. Pretty brilliant.
 

thumped

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Deaths End is a bit of a slog alright. I do wonder how much of that is down to the translation process & the act of getting concepts across?

Like, not entirely related but I’m on my second try at playing Hideo Kojimas ‘masterpiece’ Death Stranding on the ps5 and it all just feels… off? I don’t know how much is down to the game/plot being intentionally very very weird, or if the script was just better when Kojima wrote it in Japanese.

Bad and completely unrelated translation example:


Sorry it’s been a long day and I’m probably not explaining myself very well here.
 

snakybus

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Deaths End is a bit of a slog alright. I do wonder how much of that is down to the translation process & the act of getting concepts across?
I've been thinking about this, and I don't think it's down to the translator. I think he just writes clunky. But weirdly I don't find it hard to read. I'm really not sure why. People say he's an ideas guy but I also think he knows how to tell a story and doesn't fuck around.

Lady: "We can only send 1 kg into space, how can we possibly send a human to communicate with the aliens?"
Hard-ass dude: "Because we're going to send a FROZEN HUMAN BRAIN."
hahaha
 

GO

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climate change. A bit like an extended TED talk, on paper. Scary out.

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr – I thought this was grand if a bit of a struggle at times. A triptych of stories spanning millennia in which some monks carry the torch for literacy and science in a post-apocalyptic world. A little bit like Slaughterhouse Five in that it (more obliquely) alludes to the bombing of Monte Cassino and the horror and absurdity of war and was pretty thought-provoking in other respects too. I enjoyed the funny bits more than the more boring tracts of abbots/monks contemplating.
Holy fuck,I just went to the library and ordered this ,this very afternoon!

What a coincidence
 

GO

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Heh..I'll report back but tbh I'm not as clever as I look. I mightnt have much of value to say.

The premise intrigues me though
 

Cornu Ammonis

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One Billion Years to the End of the World by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky. This was my first foray into the Strugatsky brothers' stuff and, although this was readable enough I found it a bit dissapointing. It's mostly just some research scientists sitting around drinking and talking in a kitchen.
I felt the same reading Roadside Picnic. It was very “we’ve had an idea but we can’t really string it into a book”. How Tarkovsky read it and made Stalker on the back of it is bewildering. I have another book of theirs to read before I write them off entirely.
 

snakybus

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I felt the same reading Roadside Picnic. It was very “we’ve had an idea but we can’t really string it into a book”. How Tarkovsky read it and made Stalker on the back of it is bewildering. I have another book of theirs to read before I write them off entirely.
Hmm, shame as I was hoping that one would be a bit more story-ish and fun to read, as their most highly-rated one. I watched Stalker recently actually and found that a bit tough-going and hard to follow and all, so this doesn't bode well. Ah well.
 

Cornu Ammonis

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Hmm, shame as I was hoping that one would be a bit more story-ish and fun to read, as their most highly-rated one. I watched Stalker recently actually and found that a bit tough-going and hard to follow and all, so this doesn't bode well. Ah well.
It’s easier to follow than the film by a long shot. The film is a different beast entirely.
 

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