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Reading thread

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

  1. Superb0bo

    Superb0bo Well-Known Member

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    ^^fully agree on both both the derivative style of the last Murakami novel and the genius of Neuromancer. I read it first as a 13 year old, very confusing. Have probably reread it 5-10 times since. Too bad his last coupe of books have been a bit disappointing. The "Bridge" trilogy was probably the last Gibson I really liked.

    Anyone like Ursula LeGuin? I havent read all her work, but the "earthsea" novels are amazing as fantasy goes, and some of her scifi work offer a truly visionary (and depressive) view of human future existence (or present more likely)
     
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  2. wogbog

    wogbog Well-Known Member

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    I've read The Left Hand of Darkness. Enjoyed, although maybe more for the discussion of sex/gender than for the writing or the story. Been meaning to read the Earthsea novels next.
     
  3. artishard116

    artishard116 Well-Known Member

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    Loved earthsea when I was younger, been meaning to re-read.
     
  4. Superb0bo

    Superb0bo Well-Known Member

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    ^^ It was still beautiful when I re-read it a couple of years ago.

    "the word for world is forest" is great aswell, a depressing precursor to Avatar...
     
  5. thewho13

    thewho13 Well-Known Member

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    I'm reaching the very final pages of WUBC right now, and I have to say I really love this book. Kafka was my introduction to Murakami, and after that I couldn't resist shoving my face into 1Q84 and then Norwegian Wood after that.

    In each one of these books, there have been passages where I read, take a break, sit back for a second, and say to myself, "okay, okay, this is getting just a little bit too out of hand." Some thread in the narrative starts to twist around other seemingly disconnected threads in an extraordinarily convenient (yet somehow fluid) way, while at the same time the style of the writing ramps up even more and becomes a hyper-Murakami self-caricature. For me, I found it was more pronounced in the longer books like 1Q84 and WUBC.

    Nonetheless I love these books very much. I think Murakami is the first author I've come across in four years who has made me respond so strongly to fiction and the idea of writing. His books are filled with easily recognizable tropes, but I'm not bothered by that. People say the same thing about Wes Anderson, another one of my favorites in the business of world-creating. I think that the reason I can put up with so much "repetition" is that I'm an easy sucker for anything that can poignantly illuminate the absurdity of being an unfit or unusual individual in a world dominated by the inertia of larger structures.
     
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  6. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Well-Known Member

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    You should - there are so many quite subtle philisophical undertones in her works, every time I re-read I pick up more.

    Also, 19Q4 > WUBC, IMO. So much so.
     
  7. artishard116

    artishard116 Well-Known Member

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    I'm nearing the end of wubc and feeling the same way. I think maybe people just prefer whichever one they read first...
     
  8. futuresailors

    futuresailors Well-Known Member

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    WUB short story>WUBC novel
    The core of the story was great, but the pacing was trying.
     
  9. rjbman

    rjbman Well-Known Member

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    Le Guin is my jam. So far just read The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, but both were fantastic in their own right. Can't believe I waited this long to start reading her books. Her short stories are pretty incredible too.
     
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  10. eluther

    eluther Well-Known Member

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    @futuresailors I just felt like it was tacky. Just bad writing. I bought it the day it came out and paid full MSRP for it, so I wasn't going to waste my time and money with it. A friend of mine lives in Seattle and went to a talk that the translator gave and he said he doesn't like reading in translation. If you're not invested in it, makes sense you wouldn't try to do it exceptionally well. Like I said, I only got 100 pages into it, so I didn't even begin to see repeated conventions.
     
  11. noob in 89

    noob in 89 Well-Known Member

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    Man, this is the second time I've read someone on here exclaiming the lapidary prose of Neuromancer, and I've got to say -- from the excerpts posted, I just don't see it. I wonder if this is one of those books people read at a crucial time or remember fondly from their youth. So much strikes me as amateur-ish or vague. Bits like "began to decelerate" manage to convey a handful of missteps in so short a space I just ugh I just why....


    *I admit, do like tufting as a verb -- that part is good -- but the rest.... :(

    We should prolly throw these guys, Gibson, McCarthy, Murakami, into some kind of death match and sort this all out.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2014
  12. GoldenTribe

    GoldenTribe Well-Known Member

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    I haven't read Neuromancer and I have no idea if "began to decelerate" is anything but a random phrase, but I would like to know what you are suggesting is wrong with it. (I notice it is a dictionary example.)

    Surely that use of "exclaiming" is a greater error, in any case.
     
  13. noob in 89

    noob in 89 Well-Known Member

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    Well, first, I'm against random phrases, a lack of care, which is what this feels like. A book can have workmanlike prose, sure, but this was held up as an example of the opposite. Decelerated feels cold, clinical, in a scene of great emotion -- technically correct -- but probably more at home in technical writing. I don't insist on minimalism, but "slowed" would be infinitely better. "Decelerated" and "kilometers" are vague and ungrounded and conjure no mental image. And a moving train has plenty of opportunities for that. Logically, "began" is troubling. Can you preheat an oven? Or do you heat it? Likewise, do you begin to decelerate, or do you just, you know, decelerate? The piece would also sound better without it. I am a fan of good sound.



    exclaiming [the virtues of]

    I take shortcuts on my phone, because the internets :teach:
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2014
  14. dan138zig

    dan138zig Well-Known Member

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    did anyone ever feel that reading fiction is a "waste of time" compared to nonfiction? I've been reading these pop-psychology/marketing books like Influence and Tipping Point and I just feel they actually can make my life better, with knowledge that can be applied in everyday life. while fiction, despite being a great source of entertainment, is virtually disposable.
     
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  15. thewho13

    thewho13 Well-Known Member

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    No
     
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  16. futuresailors

    futuresailors Well-Known Member

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    2 people like this.
  17. dan138zig

    dan138zig Well-Known Member

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    come to think of it, there are some fictions I've read that resonate deeply. bukowski, kerouac, miller, palahniuk, the usual suspects. I guess I just gotta find more like them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2014
  18. Journeyman

    Journeyman Well-Known Member

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    An interesting viewpoint, and one quite different from my own - which is why discussing literature is interesting.

    I really enjoyed both Wind-up Bird Chronicle and 1Q84. I liked WUBC more than 1Q84, but that perhaps is because WUBC is the first Murakami book I ever read and I read it in both Japanese and English (which is something that I'm not capable of doing anymore as my Japanese has degraded considerably). As it's the first one I read, I may well have overly fond, nostalgic memories of it (similar to what someone was saying about Neuromancer a page or two back).

    Anyway, I definitely prefer both WUBC and 1Q84 to Kafka on the Shore. The story in Kafka just didn't gel as well for me as did the stories in some of Murakami's other works. Perhaps I should re-read it.



    Do you watch TV dramas or comedies? Do you go to see movies? How are these things different to reading fiction?

    Not only is reading an enjoyable way to pass the time, but reading good fiction allows you to get into someone else's vision of the world. Well-written fiction is a joy to read, and is worth reading simply for that reason alone.
     
  19. eluther

    eluther Well-Known Member

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    I think that's an important stance to acknowledge – because it's really easy to conclude that something that's nothing more than one person's cognitive contrivance has much less utility than something that can explicitly help you work in the world. I am certainly not accusing you of doing this, but if you literally just read the words on the page and maybe paint some kind of vague scene that the writer cajoles, you certainly aren't going to a deep experience that enriches your connection to those around you. You could very well just be reading a gossip column in the Odessa Tribune.

    However, if you develop empathy and understanding for how literature as an art form works, it can be more instructive and more persuasive than something as explicit as Malcom Gladwell. Narrating a series of events lets someone surreptitiously convey their point without immediately arming your defenses. I read the whole of Crime & Punishment and really enjoyed it, only to find some bullshit salvation narrative at the end; but it's completely conceivable that Dostoevsky could persuade you to avoid the anxiety of Raskolnikov's duress by simply being Christian. That's a powerful way to shape someone's life, both in realizing that literature has that power and in the persuasion of any individual author.

    I won't belabor the point any more, but I think it's worth being cognizant of the fact that literature has a very real everyday value if you invest time to work with it.
     
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  20. thewho13

    thewho13 Well-Known Member

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    Meant to post this earlier, but I forgot to actually sit down and finish my thoughts. It's a long-ish read.

    Anyway, I just finished reading the WUBC. Really great stuff. I agree with Matt above: 1Q84 stands head and shoulders above this one, but I wouldn't want to give the impression that I think this is a "lesser" book. I haven't read enough Murakami to decide for myself where exactly it stands, but it reeled me in just as far as the other stuff I've encountered. I like how unflinchingly Murakami portrays hard, cruel human behavior (Boris "the Man-Skinner," yikes), and I like how beautifully he renders the sad, damaged people who have no choice it seems but to go on delivering or alternatively suffering the violence he illustrates. He's brutally frank when dealing with violence and pain, and he's brutally frank dealing with sensuality too. Though the obvious point here might be how (relatively) sexually explicit his books can be, he also captures the moments of intimacy between humans that is not strictly limited to a sexual act or to time-worn relationships. The glance from a stranger walking down the street can trigger a fanciful daydream, human touch calls forth a web of complicated emotional history, and a simple conversation with a neighbor about death and hereditary baldness can be a bridge from lonely despair to profound human connection.

    I think the difference for me between 1Q84 and WUBC is mostly just a matter of pace and style. Each of these books hit their own snags in the storyline where I just had to just sit dumbly, book in front of me, lost and wondering, "why the fuck are we going in this direction?" But they both picked up (for me at least). It's just that 1Q84 hit that snag halfway through, whereas WUBC hit that maybe a third of the way through. 1Q84 is over 1,000 pages. That a book could hum along for more or less 500 pages without one bump along the way made for a ridiculously inviting read. That's basically 5/6 the length of the WUBC. Also, I loved the weird fairy tale shit running throughout 1Q84. Dark and upsetting folk and fairy tales have always been a really intriguing genre for me. The Little People was like a mix of Terry Pratchett and something that is disturbing and not Terry Pratchett. WUBC was of course dark and surreal and all over the place, but I think I preferred how much more profoundly significant the mystical aspects of the narrative were in 1Q84.

    And there was actually a female narrator. A really welcome change. I don't know if Murakami has any other female protagonists, but my hunch would be he doesn't. The female characters in his books kind of remind me of the character Chameleon from the first novel in that awful series of books by Piers Anthony. Maybe that sounds dumb. Maybe you don't know who Piers Anthony is. You might not think he's awful. But anyway there are pretty much always female characters of a certain type: a young, innocent fantasy girl character who holds a sibling-like relationship with the main character, although there are some stray sparks of sensuality between the two; an older and more experienced woman of refined taste, stern-yet-tender demeanor, and a problematic past, who also elicits a minor sexual pulse in the narrative; a one-true-love who is so close yet so far away; and then typically a somewhat important woman who has frequent sexual relations with the main character. Aomame wasn't truly unique in terms of eluding familiar categories, but she was just as well drawn character as any of Murakami's other male characters, and I think that's an important thing in books, in general. Of course, these figures are tropes: they're meant to show up the way they do. I don't know why Murakami decides to write these kinds of characters (that's someone else's graduate thesis I'm sure), but I'm sure it's something he's conscious of. In fact I know he's aware of this, because he says as much in this really interesting interview. But it's nice that 1Q84 tried to open up some different doors and step away a little from a set pattern.

    Speaking of Murakami tropes, the pop-culture references might understandably get old to some readers, but I've enjoyed how they've enhanced the text for me. I never really thought it would be worthwhile to listen to classical music, but the way he embeds them so fittingly into the text is like when you read an interesting Wikipedia page and come across a link to yet another article and smile to yourself, "hey, I'd like to learn about that too." Click. Now reading about the Battle of Nomonhan. Click. Now listening to Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Cool. Maybe I'll pick up a book on one of these topics and learn more about them. Yeah, that's a great idea. Come to think of it, that's a pretty concrete demonstration of how fiction can offer me something when I didn't really expect anything to begin with. I just wanted to read a good story and now I'm sitting here with this head full of ideas about how the heck humans bump around and make meaning out of their strange and heavily insignificant lives, and I've got a desire to read more about the different experiences humans can have, the things they can observe, the thoughts they can have, the ways in which they can express, etc. On this point, 1Q84 and the WUBC were pretty much equal. I think most of his books are at the same level in that respect. They just make me want to learn a little more, open up new connections to the world. I didn't mean to end my thoughts by responding somewhat to danzig's question above, but I guess I would have wound up here if I went on about reading fiction long enough. It's a bug. You get bit by something and then suffer this strange headrush of curiosity. Franz Liszt. Russian history. A former professor's published book. Your brother's boring and unintelligible lawyering job. I really enjoyed both of these books, and when I encounter truly great fiction it makes me want to reach out and touch more of the world. Or, in Murakami's case, taking a curious exit off the highway and stepping into a new world entirely.
     
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