What are you reading right now?

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We once roamed the vast forums of Corona Coming Attractions. Some of us had been around from The Before Times, in the Days of Excelsior, while others of us had only recently begun our trek. When our home became filled with much evil, including the villainous Cannot-Post-in-This-Browser and the dreaded Cannot-Log-In, we flounced away most huffily to this new home away from home. We follow the flag of Jubboiter and talk about movies, life, the universe, and everything, often in a most vulgar fashion. All are welcome here, so long as they do not take offense to our particular idiom.
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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » August 27th, 2016, 11:16 am

L. Ron Hubbard still thought that shit in the eighties.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Mal Shot First » August 28th, 2016, 4:40 pm

Dalty wrote:I find Dracula kinda hard going. Read it twice and both times it was a bit of a slog.
I forgot to respond to this. Yes, Dracula really was a slog. Leaving aside some of the outdated science (poor Bram Stoker - if he'd waited just a year longer to publish his work, he may have learned of the discovery of the different blood types, which may have led him to rewrite the sections about Lucy receiving blood transfusions from four different men), the structure of the novel was simply tedious. I'm used to reading nineteenth-century prose, so I don't think that's the issue. I think it's that the plot structure should have been rearranged somehow. The most interesting part of the book is Jonathan Harker's account of his experiences in Dracula's castle. You get a real sense of the menace that Dracula's presence evokes, as well as a sense of Jonathan's growing despair as he tries to break out of his prison. But after that first portion of the book, there is hardly ever a direct encounter with Dracula. On the one hand, he is always present as the antagonist (unknown to the the protagonists at first and later revealed), but on the other hand he always seems too distant, even when the four men and Mina Harker are actively chasing him toward the end of the novel.

Anyway, it just didn't seem like a well-constructed story.

I went to another nineteenth-century work after I finished that: Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane. Even though Fontane was one of the authors I covered in my dissertation and even though I wrote about masculinity, I didn't include an analysis of this novel. I had read it once in my first or second year as a grad student and I had read a synopsis to refresh my memory while I was writing the thesis, so it had been 8 or 9 years since I had actually read the book. I probably liked it better this time around after having gotten to know Fontane better as an author and have come to appreciate his style of writing. It was a lot more enjoyable than Dracula, for sure.

Now I'm on to Jane Eyre, which I haven't read since high school. I'm really only re-reading it because I want to give Wide Sargasso Sea another shot, since I don't think I finished it the first time I tried to read it. Jane Eyre is pretty awesome, though. I like how hard Charlotte Brontë tries to portray her as a rationally-thinking educated woman to match wits with Mr. Rochester.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Dalty » August 29th, 2016, 1:59 am

In a similar vain - tried to watch "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" yesterday - the Branagh one. Switched off halfway through. Painful. I remember thinking it was Ok when I went to the movies to watch it years ago.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Scotia » September 4th, 2016, 4:43 pm

So. Picked up the first four books in the Wild Cards series edited by George R.R. Martin. Just $5 at a local used book store.

I'm expecting big things here. Lots of sci-fi heavies involved. Will post thoughts as they occur.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Mango » September 4th, 2016, 8:04 pm

I used to have a few of those, but I think I was too young to be reading them at the time.
Wouldn't mind getting back into them now.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Space Tycoon » September 6th, 2016, 3:57 pm

I'm rereading Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. It just occurred to me that Zaphod Beeblebrox might be based on Richard Branson, or someone similar.

Yes? No? Maybe?

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Mal Shot First » September 6th, 2016, 8:12 pm

Sam Rockwell certainly looked a lot like Branson in the movie adaptation.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Space Tycoon » September 6th, 2016, 8:17 pm

truth brah

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Space Tycoon » September 6th, 2016, 8:18 pm

The Internet agrees with me!

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Dalty » September 7th, 2016, 3:23 am

Should have gone papier mache head like the tv show.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Space Tycoon » September 8th, 2016, 4:20 pm

Ouch! No foolin'.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Space Tycoon » September 11th, 2016, 7:19 pm

I thought you were referring to Branson's recent motorcycle-induced head injury. I mention this in case you were trying to figure out my last comment.

Slow response time. Consequence of middle age.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Dalty » September 12th, 2016, 5:24 am

I was talking Zaphod in the 80s BBC show.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » September 20th, 2016, 10:59 am

Mal Shot First wrote:[P]oor Bram Stoker - if he'd waited just a year longer to publish his work, he may have learned of the discovery of the different blood types, which may have led him to rewrite the sections about Lucy receiving blood transfusions from four different men.
I read Dracula when I was a preteen and really dug it. I had different sensibilities then, so I'm not sure I'd dig it on a reread.

I remember developing some internal apologetics (I don't think I ever really discussed them with others at the time, though I may have mentioned them to you since) for the transfusion scene as a kid. Being a kid and having no real access to secondary lit or research materials, I wasn't fully clear on blood types, allergic reactions, host rejection and the such, but I was vaguely aware that certain types didn't "mix" well. I also remember not being fully clear on whether or not it was known in Stoker's time that these blood types existed. I do remember it being presented as a new and radical thing, so I probably had some idea that Stoker was playing around a bit with what, at the time, was semi-science fiction.

I know now that animal-to-human blood transfusions go back a few hundred years, that some were survived and some were not, and that the survivors probably had the small amounts transfused to thank for their not dying. I don't think the animal-to-human transfusions were meant to replace lost blood. I think it was more about some "humour" bullshit, where they had some idea that giving a violent man lamb's blood would calm him. I also know that human-to-human transfusions came about later and that, at the time, they just sort of had this idea that it was a risky endeavor, that it could save or kill a person, and that sometimes the transfusion just didn't "take."

My preteen transfusion apologetics weren't very nuanced or far-reaching. I really only came up with two possible reasons the transfusion happened to work:
  1. Van Helsing (and, by extension, Stoker), in his well-meaning ignorance, beat the odds and lucked into a perfect compatibility scenario. Lucy could have also been lucky enough to be AB+. Things get more complicated if she wasn't.
  2. The developing vampirism overrode blood type concerns. It was enough that the vampirism was "fed." In both vampire fiction and zombie fiction, you often have a twilight period where the person is effectively dead but retains some semblance of consciousness and control. This is often used as a device either to heighten drama (usually by having the infected person or those around the infected person wonder when the full transformation will occur) or allow the infected person to operate undetected and un-harassed among others who are fully transformed.
My preteen apologetics are no longer very satisfactory to me. It's easier now just to shrug and admit that Stoker didn't know any better and that the scene is science fiction. I do like that Coppola's adaptation preserves the transfusions and that he offers no explanations for the success of the transfusions.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » February 9th, 2017, 11:23 pm

I haven't posted my reads in here since summer of last year. Might as well update with what I've read since then:

Barth, John. Giles Goat-Boy.
Chiang, Ted. "The Great Silence."
Clavell, James. Shogun.
Danielewski, Mark Z. House of Leaves.
Gibran, Khalil. The Prophet.
Herriman, George. LOAC Essentials Presents King Features Vol. 1: Krazy Kat 1934.
Hölderlin, Friedrich. Hyperion. (reread)
Hubbard, L. Ron. Battlefield Earth.
Ohba, Tsugumi. Death Note: Volumes 1-8.
One. One-Punch Man: Volume 1.
Perry, Matteson. Available.
Proust, Marcel. Swann's Way. (reread)
Richter, Conrad. Sea of Grass.
Schmidt, Arno. Bottom's Dream.
Smith, Sidney. LOAC Essentials Volume 2: The Gumps — The Saga of Mary Gold.
Steinbeck, John. Travels with Charley: In Search of America. (reread)
Various. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Minicomic Collection.
Young, Marguerite. Miss MacIntosh, My Darling.
Wells, H. G. "The Haunted Ceiling."

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » July 12th, 2017, 8:45 pm

Here's most of what I've read since February (I left off a handful of comics):

Adams, Richard. Plague Dogs.
Agee, James. A Death in the Family.
Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid's Tale.
Cline, Ernest. Ready Player One.
Collins, Max Allan. Seduction of the Innocent.
Eco, Umberto. The Name of the Rose.
Elkin, Stanley. The Dick Gibson Show.
Gorky, Maxim. Mother.
Hughes, Thomas. Tom Brown's School Days.
Lewis, Sinclair. Babbitt.
Niven, Larry. Ringworld.
Ohba, Tsugumi. Death Note: Volumes 9, 10, 11, and 12.
Orwell, George. 1984.
Rymer, James Malcolm. Varney the Vampire.
Thorndike, Russell. Doctor Syn: A Tale of the Romney Marsh.
Way, Daniel. Supreme Power: Nighthawk.
Zola, Émile. Germinal. (reread)

(Note: Didn't finish Varney, but was too lazy to give it the usual red-letter treatment. That mofo's long as shit. I plan to dip in and out from time to time until it's done. Could be a while.)

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Dalty » July 13th, 2017, 4:34 am

What did you think of Ready Player One?

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » July 13th, 2017, 9:44 am

It was often a mix of aggravating and charming. It was light and readable even when I didn't like the prose. Its version of the future is a little lazy but plausible. I was occasionally charmed by the onslaught of eighties and occasionally put off by it. Spielberg will either really capture what's good about it or ruin it completely. (He apparently removed all references to his own work--even to stuff he just produced--so that will change things a bit.) Zak Penn worked on the script, so it definitely has that going against it.

It sometimes felt like a cheat to me when it charmed me, since it leans on a nostalgia that overlaps pretty well with my own. I'm not sure how much I'd like it if I had been born in the sixties or aughts. One area where it's clear my interests and Cline's don't intersect is Rush. It's also clear Cline didn't read comics growing up or come to value them much as he got older, or the book would be swimming with comic references. Instead, there's next to nothing. I think a planet is called Mjolnir.

If I were to write a similarly masturbatory collection of youthful interests, comics would loom large. I would probably include the comics alongside video games, tabletop gaming, seventies and eighties-era anime, a generic interest in horror, and various bands. Most of those things feature pretty heavily in Ready Player One. Comics are really the only area of my youthful "geek" interests that don't.

The narrative, on the whole, is pretty straightforward and unsurprising, and for all Cline's efforts to be inclusive, the general thrust of it turns out to be fairly White Guy Heteronormative. The most exciting scene is a heist scene, but it's also the most improbable scene.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Jubbers » July 13th, 2017, 10:16 am

The Swollen Goiter of God wrote:
July 13th, 2017, 9:44 am

In all of the similarly masturbatory collections of youthful interests I write, comics loom large.
Fix'd.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » July 13th, 2017, 10:27 am

Pshaw! Comics aren't even *mentioned* in The Suicidists!

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » July 13th, 2017, 10:36 am

Mal can confirm.

I do use the word "comically" twice, but that's different. Also, Mal can only confirm because he's only seen the half that doesn't mention comics.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by neglet » July 14th, 2017, 9:38 pm

Dalty wrote:
July 13th, 2017, 4:34 am
What did you think of Ready Player One?
I should have loved it, being square on target for all the references. I LOVED Rush (and still enjoy them). I think there was a whole section for Python fans, too. But I found it dull, dull, dull. It's no fun watching someone else sit around playing games, and any time the main character got in a pickle, he solved it without trouble.

Here's how I assessed it immediately after reading:

In theory I should have liked it—I mean, two of the key sequences involve the protagonist participating in scenarios based on Rush’s album 2112 and the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and I’m the age that should appreciate all
the ’80s references. But I found this sooo unbearably heavy in backstory—always having to stop and explain most of the references—that it was slow going. It didn’t help that most of the narrative recounted the protagonist playing a video game, or strategizing about the video game, and every time he always had the right tools to win, so any tension was in him solving the meaning of obscure clues. I found it very tedious, except in the few places where Wade actually interacted with other people. It will make a better movie than book.

It's annoying, most people I know love this book, and I just want to run around screaming, "but the main character doesn't DO anything or develop in any way!"

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » January 4th, 2018, 5:30 pm

Here's the July to December reading:

Dykeman, Wilma. The Tall Woman.
Fitzgerald, Zelda. "The Iceberg."
Flaubert, Gustav. Madame Bovary. (reread)
Gaddis, William. The Recognitions.
Grossman, Lev. The Magicians.
Hill, Nathan. The Nix.
James, Henry. The Turn of the Screw. (reread)
London, Jack. The Iron Heel.
Plascencia, Salvador. The People of Paper.
Reznikoff, Charles. By the Waters of Manhattan.
Romains, Jacques. The Death of a Nobody.
---. Men of Good Will: The Sixth of October.
Saunders, George. Lincoln in the Bardo.
Updike, John. Rabbit, Run.
Urasawa, Naoki. Monster: Volume 1.
Wein, Len and Bernie Wrightson. The Swamp Thing #1–10. (reread)
Zindel, Paul. The Pigman.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by neglet » January 4th, 2018, 9:23 pm

I read The Magicians this year, too, and I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would, mainly because the protagonist was a whiny entitled bitch. I have no patience for that any more.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Dalty » January 18th, 2018, 2:52 am

That Iceberg Slim book that Chapelle talked about in his Netflix show.

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