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What are you reading?

Geoffrey Firmin

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Thats kind of what the reviews all said. And with all their minor characters there is naturally a lot of dreck.
I picked it up after reading a review in the NYT they took a different tack in the review.
 

wojt

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1642367384089.png

Good book showing relationship in Churchill's war cabinet. War didn't stop politics from being ugly. At the same time it was somewhat special group of people with very different political ideas, who found a way to work together and get things done.
 

NakedYoga

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Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis. About 1/4 of the way through so far. Always enjoy this kind of satire, and it's always a pleasure when characters unironically use "four flusher" as an insult.
 

smittycl

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smittycl

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smittycl

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Took Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen with me to Oahu and it's been a good choice so far.
It’s mocking me from bedside table as I type this.
 

Scuppers

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Mare Renault, Fire from Heaven.

Almost forgotten author and perhaps the best of this genre.
 

domdomdomdom

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It’s mocking me from bedside table as I type this.
It's been breezy, one of those books where I looked up and realized I'm 150 pages in with a sunburn. The subject matter is par for the Franzen course though and decidedly not breezy.
 

ValidusLA

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In the middle of a 2022 reading challenge with friends. Currently re-reading the Royal Frankish Annal, which I haven't read since college.

It's more entertaining now that it's not assigned.
 

wojt

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smittycl

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Whenever I want a funny read and a break from books that require serious thought I dive back into George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman series. Great stuff.

1642768374674.png
 

am55

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Good luck with that!
I read the first 50 or so pages of the first (a few months after issue) - niece and nephew said I’d love it - progressed no further than that.
I would say it's worth reconsidering that decision. Bullets:
- the first book was also her first, in a more naive "end of history" time, and she was making her teeth, so it's both unstructured and quite openly for young children; but it is also original, weaving tropes and cultural capital into a wholly new world. As you progress through the series you will literally progress with the author as she develops a clear, impactful voice that has few parallels today. I'd say it's very Brahms or Beethoven, start with Bagatelles and finish with the late quartets or Missa Solemnis (Order of the Phoenix in particular). I personally find playing through Bagatelles or the early sonatas very interesting being familiar with op. 110 or "es muss sein". Watch Dumbledore develop from benign all mighty headmaster to a complex, flawed, hilarious and doomed individual, product of his own choice in many ways.
- Rowling captures a certain humanism and care for the other that is (IMHO as a foreigner) at the heart of the English/British soul (perhaps more represented "up north") together with its counterparts which can be more often seen in full display in Parliament. The overriding message of HP is that doing the right thing, being a good person towards others, is worth it (but also don't turn the other cheek cos some people are living parasites with no redeeming features and need to be confronted). I can't word it well obviously but living in the UK for decades that was my overriding impression of my British friends, this warmth and genuine empathy and self-sacrifice that builts a true community. This depth and seriousness of relationships that we perhaps lack somewhat on the continent, and the idea of goodness not out of naivete but a rejection of a more Nietzschean/Hobbesian/Darwinian view of human relationships that offers short term rewards at the expense of others. If I go back to your god forsaken windswept island it'll be for that, cos there's not much else, "innit". If nothing else, I admire her courage at promoting courage.
- the final books do not pull punches and the increase in pace and stake does not jump the shark like virtually all series of that length, instead maturing with its hero into a full blown criticism of human nature a la Grimm. Especially given all the characters have important family history, there's definitely a War and Peace quality to the final chapters of the story.
- The writing is fantastic, gripping, making a masterly use of the genre. I still remember the gut clenching feeling of the horcrux drinking scene in the cave. Hell there is a wave swept island* that we sailed past and looking at it I was thrown back in the book. On par, possibly exceeding Roald Dahl's roast pheasant descriptions. But not quite Hamsun's Hunger, I'll admit.

I read through it first growing up in the UK then again as an adult much later. I remember the excitement as each book would come out, with the later ones transcribed by mad fans or scanned and OCR'ed and shared in fevered Hotmail chains then read all night and discussed between friends the next day (or spoiled - "DD! DIG!" - ahem). I've never seen anything like it before or since. But the second reading uncovered layers of complexity that only life experience could help you connect with.

Rowling's voice is in some respects facing the same anachronism issues as C.S. Lewis whose overtly Christian mythology is perhaps difficult to relate to in our atheist world (that it continues to generate derivative works is testament to the universality of experience captured by Lewis, and the quality of the writing). I will stake my claim that she'll be as enduring.

* edit - couple photos of the place I had in mind:
1642770162430.png

1642770202643.png
 
Last edited:

smittycl

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I would say it's worth reconsidering that decision. Bullets:
- the first book was also her first, in a more naive "end of history" time, and she was making her teeth, so it's both unstructured and quite openly for young children; but it is also original, weaving tropes and cultural capital into a wholly new world. As you progress through the series you will literally progress with the author as she develops a clear, impactful voice that has few parallels today. I'd say it's very Brahms or Beethoven, start with Bagatelles and finish with the late quartets or Missa Solemnis (Order of the Phoenix in particular). I personally find playing through Bagatelles or the early sonatas very interesting being familiar with op. 110 or "es muss sein". Watch Dumbledore develop from benign all mighty headmaster to a complex, flawed, hilarious and doomed individual, product of his own choice in many ways.
- Rowling captures a certain humanism and care for the other that is (IMHO as a foreigner) at the heart of the English/British soul (perhaps more represented "up north") together with its counterparts which can be more often seen in full display in Parliament. The overriding message of HP is that doing the right thing, being a good person towards others, is worth it (but also don't turn the other cheek cos some people are living parasites with no redeeming features and need to be confronted). I can't word it well obviously but living in the UK for decades that was my overriding impression of my British friends, this warmth and genuine empathy and self-sacrifice that builts a true community. This depth and seriousness of relationships that we perhaps lack somewhat on the continent, and the idea of goodness not out of naivete but a rejection of a more Nietzschean/Hobbesian/Darwinian view of human relationships that offers short term rewards at the expense of others. If I go back to your god forsaken windswept island it'll be for that, cos there's not much else, "innit". If nothing else, I admire her courage at promoting courage.
- the final books do not pull punches and the increase in pace and stake does not jump the shark like virtually all series of that length, instead maturing with its hero into a full blown criticism of human nature a la Grimm. Especially given all the characters have important family history, there's definitely a War and Peace quality to the final chapters of the story.
- The writing is fantastic, gripping, making a masterly use of the genre. I still remember the gut clenching feeling of the horcrux drinking scene in the cave. Hell there is a wave swept island* that we sailed past and looking at it I was thrown back in the book. On par, possibly exceeding Roald Dahl's roast pheasant descriptions. But not quite Hamsun's Hunger, I'll admit.

I read through it first growing up in the UK then again as an adult much later. I remember the excitement as each book would come out, with the later ones transcribed by mad fans or scanned and OCR'ed and shared in fevered Hotmail chains then read all night and discussed between friends the next day (or spoiled - "DD! DIG!" - ahem). I've never seen anything like it before or since. But the second reading uncovered layers of complexity that only life experience could help you connect with.

Rowling's voice is in some respects facing the same anachronism issues as C.S. Lewis whose overtly Christian mythology is perhaps difficult to relate to in our atheist world (that it continues to generate derivative works is testament to the universality of experience captured by Lewis, and the quality of the writing). I will stake my claim that she'll be as enduring.

* edit - couple photos of the place I had in mind:
My wife and I read them to our kids back when the books first came out. We approached them as kids books but then would update each other on the books as we took turns reading them to the kids at night. We both became hooked and read them on our own as well.
 

NakedYoga

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I would say it's worth reconsidering that decision. Bullets:
- the first book was also her first, in a more naive "end of history" time, and she was making her teeth, so it's both unstructured and quite openly for young children; but it is also original, weaving tropes and cultural capital into a wholly new world. As you progress through the series you will literally progress with the author as she develops a clear, impactful voice that has few parallels today. I'd say it's very Brahms or Beethoven, start with Bagatelles and finish with the late quartets or Missa Solemnis (Order of the Phoenix in particular). I personally find playing through Bagatelles or the early sonatas very interesting being familiar with op. 110 or "es muss sein". Watch Dumbledore develop from benign all mighty headmaster to a complex, flawed, hilarious and doomed individual, product of his own choice in many ways.
- Rowling captures a certain humanism and care for the other that is (IMHO as a foreigner) at the heart of the English/British soul (perhaps more represented "up north") together with its counterparts which can be more often seen in full display in Parliament. The overriding message of HP is that doing the right thing, being a good person towards others, is worth it (but also don't turn the other cheek cos some people are living parasites with no redeeming features and need to be confronted). I can't word it well obviously but living in the UK for decades that was my overriding impression of my British friends, this warmth and genuine empathy and self-sacrifice that builts a true community. This depth and seriousness of relationships that we perhaps lack somewhat on the continent, and the idea of goodness not out of naivete but a rejection of a more Nietzschean/Hobbesian/Darwinian view of human relationships that offers short term rewards at the expense of others. If I go back to your god forsaken windswept island it'll be for that, cos there's not much else, "innit". If nothing else, I admire her courage at promoting courage.
- the final books do not pull punches and the increase in pace and stake does not jump the shark like virtually all series of that length, instead maturing with its hero into a full blown criticism of human nature a la Grimm. Especially given all the characters have important family history, there's definitely a War and Peace quality to the final chapters of the story.
- The writing is fantastic, gripping, making a masterly use of the genre. I still remember the gut clenching feeling of the horcrux drinking scene in the cave. Hell there is a wave swept island* that we sailed past and looking at it I was thrown back in the book. On par, possibly exceeding Roald Dahl's roast pheasant descriptions. But not quite Hamsun's Hunger, I'll admit.

I read through it first growing up in the UK then again as an adult much later. I remember the excitement as each book would come out, with the later ones transcribed by mad fans or scanned and OCR'ed and shared in fevered Hotmail chains then read all night and discussed between friends the next day (or spoiled - "DD! DIG!" - ahem). I've never seen anything like it before or since. But the second reading uncovered layers of complexity that only life experience could help you connect with.

Rowling's voice is in some respects facing the same anachronism issues as C.S. Lewis whose overtly Christian mythology is perhaps difficult to relate to in our atheist world (that it continues to generate derivative works is testament to the universality of experience captured by Lewis, and the quality of the writing). I will stake my claim that she'll be as enduring.

* edit - couple photos of the place I had in mind:
It's always interesting seeing someone take and discuss Harry Potter "seriously", and I don't mean that pejoratively. My wife is a huge Harry Potter fan. I mean, we have annual passes to Universal almost exclusively for the Harry Potter theme park. She has a wand and a robe that she will wear when we go there. She has all the books, the movies, and if it's on TV (which it seems to always be), she'll have it on in the background while she's cooking or doing other things. I was very cynical and "too cool" for it when we started dating. In the 10 years since, I've come to enjoy it. I've never read any of the books, but I do genuinely like the movies. They are just fun, playful, and lack the meanness/sarcasm/cynicism that is so prevalent now. And I agree that as the serious progresses, the story becomes more complex with more mature themes. You can literally see it in the movies with the coloring/tone of the filming (not sure what the actual film term is for it, but if you look at pretty much an scene in the Deathly Hallows movies vs. any scene in the Sorcerer's Stone, it's a very different/dark tone in the later movies). For context, we're mid/late 30's and now have a 6-year-old son who loves it, too.
 

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