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2014 50 Book Challenge - Page 60

post #886 of 1918

For me - LOTR is the most overblown fantasy series of all time, with GoT coming in a very close scond. One suffers from 'oringality' (people excuse the awful writing and lazy narrative arc because it was 'the first') the other from mass popularity (again excusing the sloppy writing, fairly pathetic plot line, and disastrous inability to finish anything that is started).

 

Great fantasy - Jennifer Falon, Brandon Sanderson's original work, Patrick Rothfuss - is brilliant because it does not rely on gimmicks, tropes, or cliches to tell a great story. Fantasy, often, is the most narrative-focsed genre (rarely comments on human relationships/life/etc) - so the narrative better be fucking amazing since there's rarely that much more depth to focus the work. I think also fantasy is the genre Modernism left behind - there's very rarely any truly dark, broken, melancholic characters in fantasy (SF is MUCH better that this, IME).

 

IMO/IME and all that jazz.

 

I love fantasy, but let's get real - it's trying to do something else then other genres, that's all.

post #887 of 1918
Quote:
Originally Posted by LonerMatt View Post

For me - LOTR is the most overblown fantasy series of all time, with GoT coming in a very close scond. One suffers from 'oringality' (people excuse the awful writing and lazy narrative arc because it was 'the first') the other from mass popularity (again excusing the sloppy writing, fairly pathetic plot line, and disastrous inability to finish anything that is started).

Great fantasy - Jennifer Falon, Brandon Sanderson's original work, Patrick Rothfuss - is brilliant because it does not rely on gimmicks, tropes, or cliches to tell a great story. Fantasy, often, is the most narrative-focsed genre (rarely comments on human relationships/life/etc) - so the narrative better be fucking amazing since there's rarely that much more depth to focus the work. I think also fantasy is the genre Modernism left behind - there's very rarely any truly dark, broken, melancholic characters in fantasy (SF is MUCH better that this, IME).

IMO/IME and all that jazz.

I love fantasy, but let's get real - it's trying to do something else then other genres, that's all.

Have you read Michael Moorecock's Elric series? I rather enjoyed it.
post #888 of 1918
54. Sputnik Sweetheart 2001 Haruki Murakami

LIST

A tale of relationships and reality. The narrator has a close iconoclastic friend. She drops out of college to write novels. Then meets a business woman; discovers she's a lesbian; and falls in love with her. The business woman doesn't return the love due to an extremely traumatic experience some years before. The narrator's friend vanishes; and the hypothesis of both experiences is that they are exits from reality. One temporary, one permanent.

I liked it, and enjoyed the Wind Up Bird Chronicles as well.

Perhaps a little Kafka on the Shore next...
post #889 of 1918
55. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time 2003 Mark Haddon

LIST

Narrative from an autistic boy writing a book which ends up being the book.

Excellent.
post #890 of 1918
Quote:
Originally Posted by harvey_birdman View Post

Have you read Michael Moorecock's Elric series? I rather enjoyed it.

Why not take on the whole of Tale of the Eternal Champion, from Von Bek onwards? Only 14 door-stoppers. (Elric is one instalment of it). Should keep Matt amused until school holidays end.

I got about half-way - to The Dancers at the End of TIme - before I ran out of puff. Elric would have been next up.
post #891 of 1918
Quote:
Originally Posted by LonerMatt View Post

1. The Undivided pt 1

2. The Undivided pt 2

3. No Country for Old Men

4. The Difference Engine

5. Wake in Fright

6. The River of Doubt

7. The Pearl

8. Crytonomicon

9. Shot in the Dark

10. Malcolm X - Biography

11. Final Empire

12. The Quiet American.

13. Habibi

14. The Invisible Man

15. Tender is the Night

16. Guardians of the West

17. King of the Murgos

18. Demon lord of Khandar

19. Sorcress of Darshiva

20. Seeress of Kell

 

21. Once We Were Warriors

 

Story of a Maori family in 1990. Follows most members of the family through parts of their lives involving domestic abuse, rape, theivery, alcoholism, sex, confusion and cultural failings. While ending on a 'high' it had some of the most evocative passages that I've read in quite some time. Absolutely brutal, absolutely New Zealand, fantastic.

 

Feels good to be putting some more books up there on the board.

post #892 of 1918
56. Split Second David Baldacci 2003

2 Secret Service agents who have failed in their duties protecting 2 separate presidential candidates are brought together to solve the crimes. There are a lot of plot twists and I didn't figure it out till 50 pages from the end.

Which makes it pretty good in my-ahem-book. smile.gif
post #893 of 1918
15. The Master of Us All, by Mary Blume (2013)

Writing a biography of Cristobal Balenciaga must have been quite a challenge. Balenciaga was an intensely private man, who only gave one press interview in his entire life. He never made public appearances at his own fashion shows, and avoided the social whirl that surrounded his industry. So there is very little source material to work with, other than anecdotes from people who knew him, many of whom still respect his desire for privacy.

Because there is very little new that can be said about the man, this book works much better as a history of the company he founded. It has a lot of interest about Balenciaga's history, designs and operation, and of the Paris haute couture industry as a whole. Quite a bit of the book is given over to key employees of Balenciaga, and the story is mostly told through their eyes. A good read for people who are interested in fashion or social history.
Edited by California Dreamer - 4/12/13 at 5:21am
post #894 of 1918
16. The Lazy Project Manager, by Peter Taylor (2009)

In this book, project management consultant Peter Taylor espouses his concept of "productive laziness". This essentially boils down to running projects effectively, in a manner where the project manager does not get over-burdened. Can't object to that!

The book presents as its key insight that if you spend the time up-front to plan your project carefully, then it will be easier to execute. This is a basic notion that is understood by pretty much every project manager in the field; it's hardly new thinking. Taylor dresses his basic idea up with a chatty style and some vignettes from his professional experience, which is not really that exceptional compared to other PM consultants I have dealt with. The book is very glib, and fails to address obvious and common problems with applying this idea, such as inheriting a project after the intiation stage, or not being given sufficient time to do the up-front planning you would like. Essentially the book is a bit of fun, an ad for his consulting practice. It's not much use to any of the experienced PMs the book is addressed to.

Applying Taylor's own philosophy, I'd suggest there are far more productive ways to spend the limited time you have for professional reading.
post #895 of 1918
57. Simple Genius 2007 David Baldacci

The aforementioned ex-SS agents team up again to investigate the suicide of a scientist from a think tank across the river from a CIA base in VA. Not surprisingly, they solve it, and good guys turn out to be bad guys. And vice versa. Plus there's a treasure- just like in a Cracker Jack box!

The Innocent is better, but this was better than Split Second.
post #896 of 1918
17. Just Kids, by Patti Smith (2010)

This review is for the audio edition, narrated by the author.

Patti Smith's memoir of her life with Robert Mapplethorpe is an engaging look at the lives of two struggling young artists in the cultural hotspots of 70s and 80s Manhattan. It is surprising how much of the Manhattan scene Smith was connected with, well before she was famous. The Factory, the Chelsea Hotel,  the Beat poets, the Woodstock musicians, Rolling Stone, Smith had links to them all. Her book is of interest more for her insights into these artistic movements than for the CBGBs scene that made her famous.

There are some cringing moments where she over-indulges the hero-worship of her youth (Rimbaud, Jim Morrison etc) but it's not too cloying.

That said, the audio experience of this book turned me off audiobooks forever. Smith speaks slowly and deliberately, taking 10 hours to read a book I could read myself in half that time. I also found her accent annoying after a while: too many dropped gs, feller-artistes, draw-wings and so on for me. It just got irritating. 
post #897 of 1918
Quote:
Originally Posted by LonerMatt View Post

For me - LOTR is the most overblown fantasy series of all time, with GoT coming in a very close scond. One suffers from 'oringality' (people excuse the awful writing and lazy narrative arc because it was 'the first') the other from mass popularity (again excusing the sloppy writing, fairly pathetic plot line, and disastrous inability to finish anything that is started).

Great fantasy - Jennifer Falon, Brandon Sanderson's original work, Patrick Rothfuss - is brilliant because it does not rely on gimmicks, tropes, or cliches to tell a great story. Fantasy, often, is the most narrative-focsed genre (rarely comments on human relationships/life/etc) - so the narrative better be fucking amazing since there's rarely that much more depth to focus the work. I think also fantasy is the genre Modernism left behind - there's very rarely any truly dark, broken, melancholic characters in fantasy (SF is MUCH better that this, IME).

IMO/IME and all that jazz.

I love fantasy, but let's get real - it's trying to do something else then other genres, that's all.

I don't disagree that those two cycles are over-blown. I'm not a huge Tolkien fan. What I was getting at was that the archetypes that his undeniable popularity burned into the public mind have been ripped off endlessly by the likes of Eddings and Rowling and many others.

My own favourites in the genre are the Gormenghast trilogy (mostly the first two) and Jonathon Strange.
post #898 of 1918
Clockwise counting 36/50: Stieg Trenter - The Dwarfs (1963)

Probably the weakest of all Trenter books I have read so far. The Dwarfs are small sized photo models who are engaged in a lucrative side business of prostitution and cleverly exploited in a big-time robbery. I found the story too simplistic and I missed the exquisite descriptions of locations, food and drink of Trenter's better efforts. In general it seems that his earlier novels are stronger than the later ones.
post #899 of 1918
Clockwise counting 37/50: Dorothy L Sayers - Strong Poison (1930)

Female mystery author Harriett Vane is accused, arrested and almost convicted for murdering her ex-lover with a dose of arsenic. Lord Peter Whimsey takes an interest in the case, falls in love with the accused lady and solves the case which has an unusual twist to it. A strong effort by Sayers. I am reading her mysteries in order of publication, having skipped the first one since it is widely considered inferior.
post #900 of 1918
Clockwise counting 38/50: Junichiro Tanizaki - Quicksand (1930)

A novel about an obsessive erotic lesbian relationship between Osaka upper class women and the relations with their respective boyfriend and husband. This is an excellent novel which I would highly recommend. Tanizaki is a masterful storyteller and his masterpiece is undoubtedly The Makioka Sisters. Another very good novel (better than Quicksand in my opinion) is Naomi.
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