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2016 50 Book Challenge - Page 212

post #3166 of 3273
A few years after Plath's death, Ted Hughes began work on Crow, his slimmest book, his darkest character, and my personal favorite (probably because it was my introduction to his work). A crow is born, wanders around, and does things. (Or doesn't). Simple. Magnificent.


sample (Click to show)

Two Legends

I

Black was the without eye
Black the within tongue
Black was the heart
Black the liver, black the lungs
Unable to suck in light
Black the blood in its loud tunnel
Black the bowels packed in furnace
Black too the muscles
Striving to pull out into the light
Black the nerves, black the brain
With its tombed visions
Black also the soul, the huge stammer
Of the cry that, swelling, could not
Pronounce its sun.

II


Black is the wet otter's head, lifted.
Black is the rock, plunging in foam.
Black is the gall lying on the bed of the blood.

Black is the earth-globe, one inch under,
An egg of blackness
Where sun and moon alternate their weathers

To hatch a crow, a black rainbow
Bent in emptiness
over emptiness

But flying.


#2
post #3167 of 3273

I haven't read books since high school (and then not particularly for enjoyment), but I had been going in and out of the local library earlier this year for DVDs and decided I might as well get a few books while I'm at it.

 

I guess I just never found any books I liked before, because I was actually able to finish reading my 50th book this year today. Granted I think I just like books meant for people who don't like reading (e.g. pulps), but at least I'm having fun.

 

I think I'll just list the highlights rather than all 50:

 

  1. The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley
  2. Double Indemnity by James M. Cain
  3. The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
  4. The Little Sister by Raymond Chandler
  5. The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
  6. The Big Nowhere by James Ellroy
  7. The Name of the Game is Death by Dan J. Marlowe
  8. Fast One by Paul Cain
  9. Black Wings Has My Angel by Eliott Chaze

 

Honorable mentions would be the Matthew Scudder novels by Lawrence Block from the 80s and the Robot series by Isaac Asimov.

post #3168 of 3273
List (Click to show)
1. Hicksville
2. Slaughterhouse 5
3. Firefight
4. Snow Leopard
5. The Rehearsal
6. Lagoon
7. Solo Faces
8. Breath
9. The Internet is Not the Answer
10. A Sport and a Past Time
11. White Teeth
12. The Bell Jar
13. The Invisible Man
14. The Subtle Knife
15 Consider Phlebas
16. The Amber Spyglass
17. The Liar's Key
18. 1000 Splendid Suns
19. The Windup Girl
20. Fire Colour One
21. The Player of Games
22. The Buddha of Suburbia
23. Prince of Thorns
24. King of Thorns
25. Emperor of Thorns
26. Oryx and Crake
27. Use of Weapons
28. The long way to a small angry planet
29. Heart goes last
30. Generation A
31. The Medium is the Message
32. Them
33. The psychopath test
34. Essentialism
35. Signs at the End of the World
36. The Wasp Factory
37. Sapiens
38. Lost Spaces
39. What Money Can't Buy
40. Seveneves
41. Flowers for Algernon
42. A Crown of Cold Silver
43. Central Station
44. Why People Photograph


44. Why People Photograph

 

Robert Adams - a venerable and esteemed artist in his own right - is an accomplished writer about photography. This is a collection of essays that he has written over several decades. The topics vary from reviews of biographies, reading into past photographer's personalities from their photos, and the change in nature over the 20th century. In fact his best essay (the second last one) is a long, quiet and angry series of ideas about how environmental destruction is taking place and ruining an experience of nature that is solitary and impactful.

 

An excerpt:

 

"For generations little may change in the American political and economic system, at least without the impetus of some disaster, several of which are easily imaginable, but their occasion and consequences are uncertain. What does seem clear now, though, is that our government is not presently open to fundamental reconstruction that would allow correction of the worst failures in our stewardship of the land. In part this is because there is no longer - if there ever was - a center of values, other than material ones, to which a majority subscribe and in part it is because of our political system has been corrupted (bought) by the economic system. Altering that economic system is, moreover, improbable in the absence of catastrophe, since most Americans are convinced that it offers them opportunity, and thus that capitalism and democracy are appropriate to each other. (I believe that for most people the chance at wealth is illusory, that capitalism and democracy are in many ways antagonistic, and that there is a desirable affinity to be nurtured between democracy and socialism.)

 

Because our politics and economics aren't likely to change in the near future, I hold small jope that the America West, even significant parts of it, will remain open. The region's central, defining characteristic - space - is unlikely to be retained in anything resembling its original sense because, in accordance with out system of values, it is not as important as the chance to amass wealth."

post #3169 of 3273
44 LABYRINTHS: Emma Jung, Her Marriage to Carl and the Early Years of Psychoanalysis by Catrine Clay Picked this up last night so far so good. Although I find it a misnomer to use the term psychoanalysis when it should it Analytical Psychology. Ok put the pedant back in the box.
post #3170 of 3273
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
0. Asterix and the Missing Scroll
1. The Whisperer
2. The Vanished Ones
3. Quarterly Essay: Political Amnesia
4. From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant
5. The Lost Girls of Rome
6. Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
7. Never Mind
8. The Vegetarian
9. Man on Fire
10. Comfort Zone
11. The Invisible man From Salem
12. Red Light
13. Balancing Act
14. Crimea: The Last Crusade
15. Misterioso
16. The Lost Sailors
17. Black Run
18. The Natural Way of Things
19. Piano Lessons
20. Pedigree
21. Sing Fox To Me
22. Mister Roberts
23. Talking To My Country
24. The Bricks That Built the Houses
25. Oblivion
26. The Sixth Extinction
27. The Cruel Stars of the Night
28. Normal
29. The Shepherd's Crown
30. Vixen
31. The Heart Goes Last
32. Firing Line: Australia's Path to War
33. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
34. Fever of Animals
35. Our Souls at Night
36. Thermopylae: The Battle for the West
37. She Will Build Him a City
38. Quota

39. The Secret Chord
The Secret ChordThe Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I've enjoyed a few of Geraldine Brooks' recent novels, notably March, so I was keen to see what she did with the life story of King David.

The story is narrated by the prophet Natan, who first encounters David as the leader of an outlaw band in the time of Shaul. David kills Natan's father, whereupon Natan is seized in a prophetic fit and foretells David's future as a great king. David takes Natan under his wing, and he gradually becomes one of his key advisers.

The book starts out with David reaching middle age and facing the fact that he can no longer lead his army in battle. He gives Natan his blessing to write a full account of his life from his very youngest days, talking to all of the people who have cause to love and hate him. In doing so, Natan learns that there is more to the story of David than even he suspected.

That story is a rattling good yarn full of betrayals, intrigue, battle, love and ambition, with an over-arching sense of destiny. The familiar characters are all there: Joav, Batsheva, Shlomo, Avshalom, Shaul, Avner and Goliath all appear. Brooks brings them to life and gives this well-known tale a freshness and an occasionally lyrical beauty that the story of a great musician-king deserves.


View all my reviews
post #3171 of 3273
68. The Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour- Volume 4, Part 1- The Adventure Stories

Not as good as his Western stories, and I had read nearly half of them in other collections.

3 books to go...
post #3172 of 3273
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
0. Asterix and the Missing Scroll
1. The Whisperer
2. The Vanished Ones
3. Quarterly Essay: Political Amnesia
4. From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant
5. The Lost Girls of Rome
6. Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
7. Never Mind
8. The Vegetarian
9. Man on Fire
10. Comfort Zone
11. The Invisible man From Salem
12. Red Light
13. Balancing Act
14. Crimea: The Last Crusade
15. Misterioso
16. The Lost Sailors
17. Black Run
18. The Natural Way of Things
19. Piano Lessons
20. Pedigree
21. Sing Fox To Me
22. Mister Roberts
23. Talking To My Country
24. The Bricks That Built the Houses
25. Oblivion
26. The Sixth Extinction
27. The Cruel Stars of the Night
28. Normal
29. The Shepherd's Crown
30. Vixen
31. The Heart Goes Last
32. Firing Line: Australia's Path to War
33. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
34. Fever of Animals
35. Our Souls at Night
36. Thermopylae: The Battle for the West
37. She Will Build Him a City
38. Quota
39. The Secret Chord

40. Beast
BeastBeast by Paul Kingsnorth

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Paul Kingsnorth's new novel is a short account of a man's retreat from modern society. Edward Buckmaster, presumably a descendant of Buccmaster from The Wake, leaves his wife and child behind and heads to a derelict cottage in the moors to live as a hermit.

Buckmaster has a terrible accident and, unable to seek help, ends up in a primal survival state. While he is out one day, from the corner of his eye he sees a mysterious beast. What can it be? He begins to obsess about the beast and tries to conquer his pain and track it down.

The language in this book is compelling. The description of Buckmaster dealing with the aftermath of his accident is excruciating; you feel his pain viscerally. In the latter part of the book, Kingsnorth changes his punctuation and the metre of his prose to effectively convey Buckmaster's slide into delirium. It's well done, and this novella is a worthy successor to The Wake.


View all my reviews
post #3173 of 3273
List (Click to show)
1. Hicksville
2. Slaughterhouse 5
3. Firefight
4. Snow Leopard
5. The Rehearsal
6. Lagoon
7. Solo Faces
8. Breath
9. The Internet is Not the Answer
10. A Sport and a Past Time
11. White Teeth
12. The Bell Jar
13. The Invisible Man
14. The Subtle Knife
15 Consider Phlebas
16. The Amber Spyglass
17. The Liar's Key
18. 1000 Splendid Suns
19. The Windup Girl
20. Fire Colour One
21. The Player of Games
22. The Buddha of Suburbia
23. Prince of Thorns
24. King of Thorns
25. Emperor of Thorns
26. Oryx and Crake
27. Use of Weapons
28. The long way to a small angry planet
29. Heart goes last
30. Generation A
31. The Medium is the Message
32. Them
33. The psychopath test
34. Essentialism
35. Signs at the End of the World
36. The Wasp Factory
37. Sapiens
38. Lost Spaces
39. What Money Can't Buy
40. Seveneves
41. Flowers for Algernon
42. A Crown of Cold Silver
43. Central Station
44. Why People Photograph
45. The Wheel of Oshiem


45. The Wheel of Oshiem

 

A conclusion to a trilogy - some gritty fantasy that relies on narrative over character. Much more readable than most books that fall into this category and the author is clearly informed, avoiding most of the pitfalls of the genre. There's a happy ending, the battles get won, some people change, the bad guys lose, but it doesn't feel cheap the way those endings usually do. I preferred the other series written by the same author (Mark Lawrence) which was much more upfront about avoiding sequels, having logical conclusions (if your main character is a murdered they are probably going to get murdered).

 

Still not a bad book, just not amazing.

 

I'm almost through my twice-yearly binge on fantasy and SF books. Nearly.

post #3174 of 3273

I'm around 120 pages into The Alienist by Caleb Carr, a detective thriller set in 1896 New York City, for #52. The one thing that really impresses me about his writing is his descriptions. He has a great knack for imagining a scene and describing it so well it feels like I'm watching a film. A great read so far.

post #3175 of 3273
Roberto Bolaños The Secret of Evil. Never has a book with such an eye-catching design had the quality to match. This one, a collection of all the random, half-finished shit found on his computer when he died, is way more entrancing than all the mountainous polishments of turds heaped upon us by the MFA factories year after year after year. His stories and regular-length novels are so engrossing, I still haven't dove-in to his door-stoppers. I feel that if I did, my soul might implode.

#3, I guess...?
post #3176 of 3273
List (Click to show)
1. Hicksville
2. Slaughterhouse 5
3. Firefight
4. Snow Leopard
5. The Rehearsal
6. Lagoon
7. Solo Faces
8. Breath
9. The Internet is Not the Answer
10. A Sport and a Past Time
11. White Teeth
12. The Bell Jar
13. The Invisible Man
14. The Subtle Knife
15 Consider Phlebas
16. The Amber Spyglass
17. The Liar's Key
18. 1000 Splendid Suns
19. The Windup Girl
20. Fire Colour One
21. The Player of Games
22. The Buddha of Suburbia
23. Prince of Thorns
24. King of Thorns
25. Emperor of Thorns
26. Oryx and Crake
27. Use of Weapons
28. The long way to a small angry planet
29. Heart goes last
30. Generation A
31. The Medium is the Message
32. Them
33. The psychopath test
34. Essentialism
35. Signs at the End of the World
36. The Wasp Factory
37. Sapiens
38. Lost Spaces
39. What Money Can't Buy
40. Seveneves
41. Flowers for Algernon
42. A Crown of Cold Silver
43. Central Station
44. Why People Photograph
45. The Wheel of Oshiem
46. Red Rising

 

46. Red Rising

 

Darrow is a miner - a Red - on Mars. Each day he toils with his crew under the belief that they are helping terraform mars so that the rest of humanity can colonise the planet soon, escaping a dying Earth. When he and his wife end up in trouble with the local authorities, she is killed and he is swept away - soon finding out that he has been lied to (as have the other Reds): they are just miners, working for no money in hellish conditions so that others can profit and live in comfort.

 

Darrow lives in a stratified society - each different group has a colour and serves a social purpose. With the Golds at the top being vicious social Darwinists it seems unlikely for anything to change. Yet with some Gattaca-esque gene treatment Darrow enters the brutal and bizarre world of the Golds to try and change his home.

 

Part Hunger Games, part Ender's Game and part Gattaca this novel is so much more than the sum of its parts. I started reading it and wrote it off in the first 50 pages as unoriginal guff, and then spent 4 hours finishing it last night because it got great. There's enough to make the world building pretty unique, there's enough to make the characters more than the super human author as protagonist fantasy that so often happens, there's enough layering and complexity and trade-off for it not to feel cheap. Nothing is gained without something else being lost, and people suffer and die. 

 

The prose is interesting - small tweaks that make a big difference, a bit of nuance - and it's smooth reading: not a lot of unnecessary description or flourish,

 

I really enjoyed this and if you guys know anyone who liked those novels I mentioned before gift them this book: they will love it.


Edited by LonerMatt - 9/20/16 at 12:40am
post #3177 of 3273
45 Grant and I, Inside and outside of the Go Betweens by Robert Foster
For any one who had a misspent, (well spent) youth of sex and drugs and rock n roll this is the book for you more so if your a man of certain age and Australian. And or anyone who lived through the 1980's independent music scene anywhere to be honest.

This is an entertaining, intriguing memoir of life trials and tribulations in one of Australia's best, in terms of artistic talent, rock bands. Its also a musicological and social history of the post punk period and beyond, spanning Australia and beyond.

The Go Betweens never cracked it big time or had a Top 40 hit, when you consider the lyrics of Streets of Your Town with the line "And this town is full of battered wives" how could that make it to the top of the pops, when at that time domestic violence was tragically par for the course in all levels of society.

Above all its the story of a creative bromance between Robert Foster and Grant McLennan.
post #3178 of 3273
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
1. Hicksville
2. Slaughterhouse 5
3. Firefight
4. Snow Leopard
5. The Rehearsal
6. Lagoon
7. Solo Faces
8. Breath
9. The Internet is Not the Answer
10. A Sport and a Past Time
11. White Teeth
12. The Bell Jar
13. The Invisible Man
14. The Subtle Knife
15 Consider Phlebas
16. The Amber Spyglass
17. The Liar's Key
18. 1000 Splendid Suns
19. The Windup Girl
20. Fire Colour One
21. The Player of Games
22. The Buddha of Suburbia
23. Prince of Thorns
24. King of Thorns
25. Emperor of Thorns
26. Oryx and Crake
27. Use of Weapons
28. The long way to a small angry planet
29. Heart goes last
30. Generation A
31. The Medium is the Message
32. Them
33. The psychopath test
34. Essentialism
35. Signs at the End of the World
36. The Wasp Factory
37. Sapiens
38. Lost Spaces
39. What Money Can't Buy
40. Seveneves
41. Flowers for Algernon
42. A Crown of Cold Silver
43. Central Station
44. Why People Photograph
45. The Wheel of Oshiem
46. Red Rising
47. Golden Son

 

47. Golden Son

 

The 2nd book of the Red Rising trilogy really ramps up the action, expands on the world building and starts to force the main character to realise that without changes he is going to die and lose everyone. Many characters die, things are sweet, tragic, successful and there are failures. The pace of the novel is frightening at times, but that's really the way most of this stuff is.

 

Definitely enjoyed it, but found how quickly everything escalated to be a bit tricky.

post #3179 of 3273
46 DARK MATTER by Blake Crouch. This is a seriously weird book to call it simply SciFi is an injustice. Read a third of and its well written, moves at pace and has some facinating ideas on the Multiverse and Identity amongst other things.. Seriously weird and entertaining.
post #3180 of 3273
List (Click to show)
1. Hicksville
2. Slaughterhouse 5
3. Firefight
4. Snow Leopard
5. The Rehearsal
6. Lagoon
7. Solo Faces
8. Breath
9. The Internet is Not the Answer
10. A Sport and a Past Time
11. White Teeth
12. The Bell Jar
13. The Invisible Man
14. The Subtle Knife
15 Consider Phlebas
16. The Amber Spyglass
17. The Liar's Key
18. 1000 Splendid Suns
19. The Windup Girl
20. Fire Colour One
21. The Player of Games
22. The Buddha of Suburbia
23. Prince of Thorns
24. King of Thorns
25. Emperor of Thorns
26. Oryx and Crake
27. Use of Weapons
28. The long way to a small angry planet
29. Heart goes last
30. Generation A
31. The Medium is the Message
32. Them
33. The psychopath test
34. Essentialism
35. Signs at the End of the World
36. The Wasp Factory
37. Sapiens
38. Lost Spaces
39. What Money Can't Buy
40. Seveneves
41. Flowers for Algernon
42. A Crown of Cold Silver
43. Central Station
44. Why People Photograph
45. The Wheel of Oshiem
46. Red Rising
47. Golden Son
48. Morning Star

 

48. Morning Star

 

 

End of the trilogy. The book seems locked in a cycle of betrayal-redemption (which I think is deliberate) until that cycle is broken. Good times, but as is often the case with a trilogy, ready for it to end when it does. Sometimes I wonder about you guys reading the detective novels, whether sometimes you enjoy the character/book but at the same time tire of it when it's nearing the end.

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