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Reading thread - Page 6

post #76 of 657
iq84 and this leviathan wakes thing at the top of my list right after i finish brief interviews with hideous men. it's funny shit. literally. just read a story about a guy whose dad works in a men's room. as in bathroom. like made a career out of it. being the 'mens room attendent'. funny the whole way through like dfw does.
post #77 of 657
Quote:
Originally Posted by Urthwhyte View Post

I'd not read Tom Jones previously and it's now second only to Middlemarch as my favourite novel.

Middlemarch is next on my reading list. I really liked The Mill on the Floss (love the opening), and consensus is that Middlemarch is Eliot's (err, Evans's) best, so...
post #78 of 657
So I just sat down and read 90 pages straight of Leviathan Wakes. shog[1].gif

And I also used a gift card to pick up Forever: The New Tattoo, The Pale King, and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I've got The Orange Eats Creeps sitting on a desk, and I want to get through Witz and some Murakami this summer too.
post #79 of 657
Need to pick that up

Pale kind is dope
post #80 of 657

Oscar Wao is a well-written, funny and clever book. A pleasure to read, you are going to like it.

 

I also ordered Leviathan and the Once and Future King. I am not really into fantasy, apart from some occasional reads in the past (P.K Dick and the like), but I thought I would try something different.

 

Murakami and Leviathan Wakes in the same order. A mess.

post #81 of 657
Oscar Wao is a really great book, Diaz is an awesome writer. It's especially good if you were one of those "nerdy" kids back then, into comics and videogames and an all around hopeless romantic type. Lots of great humor in it despite the overall bummer theme.
post #82 of 657
About 350 pages into Leviathan Wakes now. It's extremely accessible prose (meaning it's not "literary," if that's the term you might use to distinguish James Joyce from Dan Brown), but goddamn it's a lot of fun. The hard-boiled detective bits give it something of an interstellar Maltese Falcon flavor whereas the freaky shit recalls that one John Carpenter movie on Mars or somewhere else equally not-Earth. And there's a grittiness to the futuristic world that the Daniel Abraham/Ty Franck co-author team illustrates; it's somewhere in the space that fictional worlds like Star Wars, Total Recall, Blade Runner, Akira, et al occupy. And still it feels fresh. I think most of this is due to the constant nod to a believable interstellar real politik (think GoT but set in space, with the focus less on family/kin and more so on planetary—or outer-planetary—allegiance), which is actually very noticeably embodied by one of the two main characters. I'd like if the moral standing of the main characters were a bit less overstated—it would be nice to have something or someone posed as a legitimate counter to their unquestionable goodness—but I think this can be explained as a convention of the genre rather than a lack of imagination on the part of the writers. The book is chock-full of cliches ("the shit hit the fan," alcoholic detectives—well, actually, I'm not going to catalogue all of them now), but I'd feel like a jerk if this mention were meant to sound like a complaint. In a way, there's a slight sense of campiness (or maybe just baseline absurdity I guess? I dunno, but I'm constantly waiting for something truly silly to break out) what with how closely the book follows genre scripts while also earnestly using the phrase "vomit zombies," or staging a bloody massacre slash medical horrorshow in a prostitute-laden blue-collar interstellar casino (lotta compound words right there, geez), or actually calling humans living on Mars "Martians" (I keep thinking of The Great Gazoo), and, well, other stuff too. I'd go on further, but it's late right now, this is probably boring you, and I kind of want to read more. Just know that this is a pretty damn fun book to run through. I get the sense that people with less self-respect would label this a "guilty pleasure" because of conventions and shit, but it's a bit rougher and more colorful than that. And even if it weren't the case that Leviathan Wakes was more than your average detective/save-the-universe romp, there's nothing wrong with some imagination-stirring pulp fiction in my book.
Edited by thewho13 - 6/8/13 at 12:14am
post #83 of 657

Who - I feel that those conventions aren't a problem in the book because of its depth. It's not as if the detective is just alcoholic, or that the 'good' captain is flawless and perfect, or even that 'good'. For me, one of the strengths of the story was the depth of characterisation - no character was restricted to a stereotype (with the exception of the evil scientist).

 

I find that Leviathan Wakes is also hard to summarise in a way that represents how interesting and enjoyable it is. I tried last night, but the narrative itself is not so original, rather, the book is exceedingly well written (the prose is powerful, well paced and engaging) and the characters do allow for an enjoyable story.

 

...while it's not the most subtle of books - it is about an alien virus destroying parts of the galaxy while potential war breaks out between human settlements: how subtle would we like?

post #84 of 657
Yeah, I had trouble making sure that my post reflected what you've pointed out, namely that this book isn't just what it appears to be on the surface (alien virus craze, whodunnit narratives, human redemption arcs, "greater good" conundrums). It'll be difficult for me to point out why I find it so enjoyable to read, why the conventions just work—despite how easily they provoke eye-rolling and fatigue in other texts—and why I don't mind how I can progress through the chapters without having to reflect too much on what I've read.

I'm willing to say that, to my taste, it's likely because it registers as nothing more than just a romp of a space-opera (and a really well executed one at that). Which kinda suggests that there's something shallow about it... But I'm still not yet willing to decide whether I think that's the case or not. Hm. I dunno, I'm kind of conflicted on it: it's super entertaining, but is it just entertaining? This... this is something I can't find my way through quite yet.
post #85 of 657
Considering I still haven't waded through Buddenbrooks (not to mention the rest of Nadas and Musil), you have almost 100% talked me down from this one. shog[1].gif

Who, if you want something substantial, but also fun, you might try Bonhumil Hrabal. I don't think he's written anything that doesn't fire on all cylinders: plot, language, psychological depth, historical weight.
post #86 of 657
Well, I hope that I'm not encouraging anyone to pass over this book. After all, it's really a lot of fun and I can't say I've come across a fictional world as imaginative as Leviathan Wakes in a long time. You're a comic book guy too, right noob? Reading LW kind of feels like reading a comic book (think Y: The Last Man, or Grant Morrison's Animal Man) what with how visually gripping it is. And the pace of the book is very comic book-like too due to how concise the chapters are. It's got a serialized feel to it, which moves the reader along relatively quickly.
post #87 of 657
Quote:
Originally Posted by thewho13 View Post

I'm willing to say that, to my taste, it's likely because it registers as nothing more than just a romp of a space-opera (and a really well executed one at that). Which kinda suggests that there's something shallow about it... But I'm still not yet willing to decide whether I think that's the case or not. Hm. I dunno, I'm kind of conflicted on it: it's super entertaining, but is it just entertaining? This... this is something I can't find my way through quite yet.

 

I don't think there's anything shallow about being able to write something that's genuinely engrossing without being preachy, or (at times) cringe-inducing. To me, that's actually a very fine line and fine art: skilled, not (as I feel shallow implies) less thoughtful, less deliberate, less worthy.

 

That's where I'm at, at least.

post #88 of 657
Thread Starter 

I'd say for me, Leviathan works just because it stays true to a ton of different stereotypical scifi/noir characters/ideas like the alcoholic detective, the evil scientist (albeit a short appearance) and the "good guy" captain, yet still manages to come out with a rather original story. So it's not so much the characters, or the alien virus idea, but rather the idea of combining the two into something that actually manages to be cohesive and entertaining.

 

I doubt anyone will claim it's a literary masterpiece, but it entertains and does a damn good job of it.

 

On an unrelated note, who here is into Neal Stephenson? Between Snow Crash and Anathem, he quickly established himself as one of my favorite authors (Reamde was a bit of a letdown though).

post #89 of 657
Snow crash was great
post #90 of 657

Snow Crash is the best.

 

Cryptonomicon was also something I enjoyed, as was the Diamond Age (which is much less challenging and full-on than Cryptonomicon).

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