Reading thread

Discussion in 'Streetwear and Denim' started by rjbman, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. pickpackpockpuck

    pickpackpockpuck Senior member

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    found this on tumblr. DFW talking about Bret Easton Ellis (source: http://fourwindsshotgun.tumblr.com/post/64323722851/david-foster-wallace-about-bret-easton-ellis)

    LM: In your own case, how does this hostility manifest itself?

    DFW: Oh, not always, but sometimes in the form of sentences that are syntactically not incorrect but still a real bitch to read. Or bludgeoning the reader with data. Or devoting a lot of energy to creating expectations and then taking pleasure in disappointing them. You can see this clearly in something like Ellis’s "American Psycho": it panders shamelessly to the audience’s sadism for a while, but by the end it’s clear that the sadism’s real object is the reader herself.

    LM: But at least in the case of "American Psycho" I felt there was something more than just this desire to inflict pain—or that Ellis was being cruel the way you said serious artists need to be willing to be.

    DFW: You’re just displaying the sort of cynicism that lets readers be manipulated by bad writing. I think it’s a kind of black cynicism about today’s world that Ellis and certain others depend on for their readership. Look, if the contemporary condition is hopelessly shitty, insipid, materialistic, emotionally retarded, sadomasochistic, and stupid, then I (or any writer) can get away with slapping together stories with characters who are stupid, vapid, emotionally retarded, which is easy, because these sorts of characters require no development. With descriptions that are simply lists of brand-name consumer products. Where stupid people say insipid stuff to each other. If what’s always distinguished bad writing—flat characters, a narrative world that’s cliched and not recognizably human, etc.—is also a description of today’s world, then bad writing becomes an ingenious mimesis of a bad world. If readers simply believe the world is stupid and shallow and mean, then Ellis can write a mean shallow stupid novel that becomes a mordant deadpan commentary on the badness of everything. Look man, we’d probably most of us agree that these are dark times, and stupid ones, but do we need fiction that does nothing but dramatize how dark and stupid everything is? In dark times, the definition of good art would seem to be art that locates and applies CPR to those elements of what’s human and magical that still live and glow despite the times’ darkness. Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it’d find a way both to depict this world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it. You can defend "Psycho" as being a sort of performative digest of late-eighties social problems, but it’s no more than that.
     
  2. noob in 89

    noob in 89 Senior member

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    Ugh -- that's one of the things I've always hated about Wallace -- his tendency, when accused by critics of flat/non-developing characters, empty posturing or word games, or -- anathema of anathema to our present MFA culture -- lack of 'humanity' -- to throw similar writers under the bus. His reaction to Ellis is purely Freudian and completely unfair.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2013
  3. brightorangetrousers

    brightorangetrousers Senior member

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    True, but then it's frightening how many people don't realise American Psycho is -- among other things) -- a satire.
     
  4. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

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    Loved Psycho

    Reading Murakami at the moment, digging every page. So good.
     
  5. Lionheart Biker

    Lionheart Biker Senior member

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    ^ what are you reading?
     
  6. wogbog

    wogbog Senior member

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    I'm reading The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman right now. It's making me chuckle at a highly consistent rate.


    what do you mean by freudian
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2013
  7. noob in 89

    noob in 89 Senior member

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    Just projecting, I guess. Distancing himself from the kind of damning criticism lobbied by people like James Wood or Dale Peck by accusing others of the same thing. It really peeves me. Ellis is obviously very wounded (see his recent twitter tirade). And now, because of things like this interview, and that sad, strained, hopeful graduation speech, the one his publishers duly packaged and sold once they cut him down from his rope, people have a tendency to misread his work, I think. The 'Saint Dave' phenomenon.

    .​
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2013
  8. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

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    Dance, dance, dance
     
  9. fireflygrave

    fireflygrave Senior member

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    yessss
     
  10. Lionheart Biker

    Lionheart Biker Senior member

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    I´m about to start "Kafka on the shore".... wanted to read "after the quake" later on but might see what "dance dance dance" is all about.
     
  11. fireflygrave

    fireflygrave Senior member

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    Just a warning, Dance Dance Dance is technically a sequel to A Wild Sheep Chase which is a sequel to Hear the Wind Sing which is a sequel to Pinball, 1973. It's the "sequel" to a loose series called The Trilogy of the Rat. I read it without knowing this though, and I don't think it really affected how much I liked it. Just makes some of the things the protagonist refers to a little more mysterious. Murakami apparently actually meant for it to work as a standalone as he didn't like the first two books in the trilogy as much as he does his more mature work. But if you're the type of person who wants to read everything in order, just a heads up :D
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2013
  12. FlyingMonkey

    FlyingMonkey Senior member

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    Other way around - Pinball, 1973 is a sequel to Hear the Wind Sing, which was his first novel. You can get them in English from Kodansha over here but there's no official overseas translation. Murakami is right to say that they aren't all that good IMHO.

    For fans of Murakami, it is also worth checking out David Mitchell's early Japan-set work, which was influenced by (if not heavily derived from) Murakami: Ghostwritten and number9dream.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2013
  13. Lionheart Biker

    Lionheart Biker Senior member

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    Thanks, firefly. I´ll probably just buy the ones I can find here. I´m looking to (one day) having read all of Murakami´s work, or at least as much as I can that has been translated to english (or spanish). At lleast until I learn japanese.
     
  14. fireflygrave

    fireflygrave Senior member

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    From what I've read, you can get the first two novels in English, but they aren't professionally translated for English readers or anything. It looks like they were done by a university and don't "feel" the same as the other translations, even setting aside the less mature style (got this from wikipedia).
     
  15. Journeyman

    Journeyman Senior member

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    I'm not sure about that - Pinball 1973 and Hear the Wind Sing were both translated for Kodansha by Alfred Birnbaum, who has translated quite a few of Murakami's books, including the above two novels and Wild Sheep Chase, Dance Dance Dance and Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.

    I haven't read Pinball 1973 but I've read Hear the Wind Sing and I thought that the translation was fine.

    By the way, anyone interested in Murakami, and in translation, should get their hands on a work by Professor Jay Rubin, who has translated several other books by Murakami, including The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, Norwegian Wood, 1Q84 and After Dark.

    In the early 2000s, Rubin wrote a book entitled "Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words", which delves into Murakami's background and his writing style. I found it to be a really interesting book, and well-worth reading.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2013

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