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John Klima
Posted on Monday, May 16, 2005 - 01:04 pm:   

OK, so I just started reading A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ and is the whole book as slow-paced as the beginning, or does stuff start happening at some point?

JK
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, May 16, 2005 - 02:03 pm:   

All the interesting stuff happened before the story begins. The apocalypse part, I mean.

Actually, I've never read it. It's one of those books they assign in Science Fiction Class, so I have avoided it on principle, like all assigned reading.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, May 16, 2005 - 02:46 pm:   

I read it in independent in sf in college, along with a bunch of other classics, and I remember enjoying it.

I'm in the middle of The Midnight Band of Mercy It started off nicely but is kind of dull in the middle. Curious to see where it goes though so I'll continue.
It's a mystery taking place in NYC in 1893.
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Vylar Kaftan
Posted on Monday, May 16, 2005 - 02:53 pm:   

I read it when I was a teenager, and remember liking it even though it felt a bit slow at first.

I just finished "A Point of Honour" by Madeleine Robins. I thought it was a great read. A hard-boiled Regency-era detective novel about fallen women and prostitution in the early 1800's. I've never read anything quite like it.

Haven't decided what to read next, but I may embark on this project I've wanted to do for months: choose 10 great stories, and study them closely to find out why they work. A science project, of sorts. I've made a list of stories and it's been in my to-do pile for a while now.
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John Joseph Adams
Posted on Monday, May 16, 2005 - 04:02 pm:   

Klima, you're talking blasphemy.
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Mastadge
Posted on Monday, May 16, 2005 - 07:08 pm:   

I liked CANTICLE a lot. Very funny, at times quite poignant.

I just finished THE PLACE OF TOLERANCE IN ISLAM and am working on WAHABBI ISLAM: FROM REVIVAL AND REFORM TO GLOBAL JIHAD for a class, and Stephen King's THE SHINING for another class. Then I'll be reading Ishiguro's NEVER LET ME GO.
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ben peek
Posted on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 - 05:10 am:   

john--

i remember it being pretty slow for the whole thing.
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John Klima
Posted on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 - 05:57 am:   

I got to the second section of A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ. Still slow, but my interest is perking up. The first section ends pretty startlingly (is that a word?) and then story shifts focus. We'll see what I think in the end. I've been working through a bunch of older SF that I have on my shelf (A MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, CHILDHOOD'S END, CANTICLE, GORMENGHAST trilogy on deck, then maybe some Heinlein, or Chalker, or Doc Smith, who knows?) and I'm finding some of it wanting. I liked HIGH CASTLE fairly well, but am still not sure of how I feel about the ending. I guess since I am still thinking about it, it's certainly evocative and thought-provoking. CHILDHOOD'S END I was underwhelmed with, but I think it's tough to go back to books that other people tout as classics or must-reads. Sometimes it gets your expectations to a level that's unreachable. This is the only Clarke I've read, and I think the concepts in the book were well done, but the tale telling in itself was not great. I think he did a good job of making the aliens...very alien and not giving them human characteristics, but the story just didn't flow smoothly for me. I don't know if that's typical for Clarke (slightly concerned as this was put to me as one of his best works) or there's something else I should try out. Also looking for Fred Pohl recommendations as the ESCHATON books got me in the mood to read more stuff from him.

Also working on finishing King's DARK TOWER books; I'm on the last one, and some things have happened in the story line that strike me as very weak writing and a lack of editing. Which is a perennial King issue. I really hate what happened at the end of SONG OF SUSANNAH and I hope that conceit doesn't continue through the seventh book.

JK
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Minz
Posted on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 - 06:34 am:   

John, despite my fear of pissing off a lot of people, I think your analysis of Clarke is dead-on. I feel that way about each of his novels that I've read (CE, Rendezvous with Rama, 2001 and ??? I forget, but there were a couple others in my youth). I much prefer his short fiction, since it isn't burdened with needing to carry much of a plot, and the ideas get to shine. Rather than further lowering your opinion of Clarke, focus on his short fiction. You'll like it a lot more. And stories like "Nine Billion Names of God" are true classics.

I really enjoyed CANTICLE, though indeed it is slow. I highly recommend THE SPARROW to go along with it. (And if you dig SPARROW, then CHILDREN OF GOD). I think you'll love Mary Doria Russell.

For POHL: you must read GATEWAY (I can track down a spare copy of this) and it's sequel BEYOND THE BLUE EVENT HORIZON. (The other two (or is it three?) heechee novels aren't as significant--though I haven't had time for the new one that came out from Tor last fall--THE BOY WHO WOULD LIVE FOREVER). JEM is also good, and SPACE MERCHANTS is a must-read--especially if you can achieve historical distance and realize these guys (written with Cyril Kornbluth) were writing about a ridiculously commercial society decades before it became ho-hum everyday reality. It's such a shame Cyril died so young...

For King, I again point to the short fiction. I think he's a MUCH better writer when he focuses and tightens a story to its essence.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 - 08:47 am:   

I loved Childhood's End, but what I loved about it was the high concept of it--what the aliens look like, how that reflected back on human culture, etc etc. I don't remember anything else about it.

I read it during that independant study course in college, along with Hal Clement's Mission of Gravity, Van Vogt's Slan, Williamson's The Humanoids, Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, Olaf Stapledon's Last and First Men, and others. I doubt I could reread any of them today.
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 - 10:54 am:   

Yeah, by the time I read CHILDHOOD'S END I expected somewhat creaky prose, but I found the conceptual aspect very well done and in some ways a surprise akin to reading Asimov's THE GODS THEMSELVES after laboring through much of his creaky prose. But Clarke surely shines at short length.

Agreed on GATEWAY and THE SPACE MERCHANTS, and I also loved many of Pohl's stories from the 70's (I believe some of the best were collected in THE GOLD AT THE STARBOW'S END). Pohl and Kornbluth...towering shadows...GLADIATOR AT LAW is still one of my favorite titles.

King peaked with THE SHINING and 'SALEM'S LOT. Nothing since then has worked for me, with the flitting exception of MISERY and a couple novellas from that period (such as THE BODY). More and more his work became about writers forced by powers beyond their control to write crap. I agree that King excels at shorter length.

I'll probably get to CANTICLE eventually. I do like books that take their time...when I'm in the right mood.
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jeff ford
Posted on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 - 11:09 am:   

Marc: I think the best thing King ever wrote is the title story from Hearts in Atlantis. The first novella in the book is pretty good too (the first is what they made the movie out of). I'm talking the one about the college kids play Hearts during the Vietnam War. The writing is perfect and he nails that Maine State college, cause I went to a NY State college a few years after that story was set and, man, it's all there right down to the feel of the dorms and the dining hall. I'm not a big King fan usually, some of the stuff I like, but that novella is one of the best things I've ever read.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 - 11:53 am:   

I loved The Green Mile, and I've liked some of King's more recent short stories, but haven't read any of his recent novels.
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John Joseph Adams
Posted on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 - 04:50 pm:   

For me, King was at his best with The Dark Tower, though I haven't read all or even most of his other work. But I love-Love-LOVE The Dark Tower.

And I'm with Jeff on Hearts in Atlantis being damn good, and I'm very glad happened upon it, which is only because I picked up the book to read "Low Men in Yellow Coats" (the first story in the book that they made the movie out of), because it was Dark Tower-related.
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Christopher Barzak
Posted on Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - 03:08 am:   

Just finished Jonathan Safran Foer's "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and now reading Carol Emshwiller's next novel (advance copy) "Mr. Boots".

I have heard some ill will in reviews and such towards Safran Foer's novel, but I came to the book knowing nothing of his first novel or his life, etc. and I actually really liked the book a whole lot.
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Bruce
Posted on Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - 03:39 pm:   

I've had a love/hate relationship with King's books and certainly agree with Marc about King peaking with SALEM'S LOT and THE SHINING. Still, he has had his moments over the years; the novella collections have been uneven but entertaining, as was ON WRITING, NEEDFUL THINGS and THE GREEN MILE.

THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE is still the only novel I read twice in a row. Loved it.

Currently reading Jeff Ford's VANITAS, then on to Book 4 of the DEMON PRINCES by Jack Vance [THE FACE], and then WHITE TIME by Margo Lanagan.
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StephenB
Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2005 - 08:50 am:   

Salem's Lot is the first novel I read by King and It's still the best, although I haven't read many of his novels. Some I've started and never finished because they start good but then they just deteriorate. I like the Dark Tower series so far, after only the first two books. He's written some short stories that I've really liked but then he's written some I haven't. He's prolific and inconsistent.

I think he does get a hard time though, because of his success, in terms of his writing quality. Hearts in Atlantis proved that he does have some talent and he can write good stuff, at least to critics in the "literary" community. One of the biggest problems I've noticed is how he often starts off really well, introducing some characters in a horrific situation, but then he seems to have trouble ending the story well, and the middle gets cheesey and predictable sometimes.
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Matthew
Posted on Thursday, May 26, 2005 - 07:44 am:   

Currently, I'm reading Our Lady of Darkness by Fritz Leiber and rereading the Lord of the Rings.
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StephenB
Posted on Thursday, May 26, 2005 - 12:56 pm:   

I read the novella Great Work of Time, by John Crowley, which I picked up at a used bookstore for a couple bucks. I like his writing and the story itself was very good. It won a world fantasy award. The story is about time travel and explores some of the paradoxes involved. The philosophical standpoint seems to be of non-linear time and of a multiverse that stems from one original situation. But it's really about the declining British Empire and an organization of Brits who use time travel to try and manipulate the world into their ideal -- with unforseen consequences. Which, without all the time travel, is essentially what the British Empire attempted through their imperialism. Great Work of Time is well researched, gives a glimpse into history, as well as speculation on things like time travel.

It made me think about the current American Empire and its inevitable decline -- whose beginning to document the decline and fall of the American Empire? Anyone? It's only a matter of time, I guess.
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - 06:26 pm:   

I own CANTICLE, CHILDHOOD'S END, GATEWAY, and THE SPACE MERCHANTS, but haven't gotten to them. You know how the to-read pile grows ever larger...

I liked SLAN when I read it a few years ago. I liked "With Folded Hands," the sorta-prequel to the HUMANOIDS better than the HUMANOIDS. I agree with Minz and John about Clarke ... but I am in awe of how he makes his alien cultures so eerie...

I'm currently reading Robertson Davies' THE FIFTH BUSINESS. Good stuff!
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Patrick Swenson
Posted on Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - 11:26 pm:   

I read SOOOO much Clarke in high school. I just remember enjoying the sense of wonder in his work; besides all the books folks have already mentioned, I adored CITY AND THE STARS (his 1st?), as well as A FALL OF MOONDUST and THE FOUNTAINS OF PARADISE.

Right now i'm working my way through OUR ECSTATIC DAYS by Steve Erickson, one of my favorite writers.
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Bob Urell
Posted on Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - 05:47 am:   

Recently finished Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go and I've got some choice words for that one.
Rereading 1984 -- as terrifying a diagnosis of the human predilection for self-immolation as ever there was.
I've got Cory Doctorow's latest, Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town coming in the mail.
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John Klima
Posted on Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - 07:12 am:   

Finished Leiber's SWORDS AND DEVILTRY last night. Started SWORDS AGAINST DEATH today. I'm liking the second book better. They're kind of weird, not sure what I think of them. The books almost read like a parody of S&S fiction.

Going to read Chalker's WELL OF SOULS stuff next. Putting Peake on the shelf for now; could not get past the lugibriousness (SP?) of the GORMENGHAST text.

JK
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Mastadge
Posted on Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - 08:53 am:   

I'm reading Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go and Evelyn Waugh's The Loved One.
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kellys
Posted on Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - 08:54 am:   

I recently finished Kevin Brockmeier's first adult novel, The Truth About Celia. It's a short mosaic novel, at a little over 200 pages, with the central conceit of a grieving father, who is also a fantasy author, exorcising his demons by publishing a short story collection that deals with the loss – disappearance – of his daughter. The novel we are reading is that fictional character's collection. It's certainly well-written, but actually seemed a bit underwritten and tedious to me by the end. I'll definitely keep an eye on what Brockmeier does in the future though.

Just curious: when the heck is Doctorow's new novel actually coming out? I've seen May 1, 16, and July 1, but it currently seems to be unpublished for us regular folk who haven't got our hands on an ARC.
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Bob Urell
Posted on Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - 01:24 pm:   

His website says July 1. Dunno, otherwise.
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des
Posted on Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - 02:10 pm:   

I'm reading Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go

Me, too. This is one of the most moving books I've ever read.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - 02:41 pm:   

I finally got to Bangokok 8 by John Burditt, which I've meant to read since it came out. Bought it in pb in a Polish train station (in English) because I ran out of stuff to read on my trip. It's very good. Mystery/thriller and some interesting characters.

Back Monday night from my trip to the UK and Poland. My computer went wonky on my Monday night and Dell is sending over a tech guy to replace a bunch of major parts tomorrow. I'm on my laptop right now.
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Christopher Barzak
Posted on Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - 04:01 pm:   

Hey Ellen, what's Poland like? I've always wanted to go there for some reason. Family ties and whatnot...
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - 05:07 pm:   

Warsaw is grey --although greener in spring with the trees in bloom. Most of the city has that horrendous Soviet architecture that looks like grey boxlike structures. There is an old part of the city with cobblestones and cafes. Last year we went to Krakow and it's all cobblestones. It looks old. Lots of amber in the amber market in the center of town.
This year we went to Lublin with our host Konrad Walewski. He's from there and wanted to show us around. Not much there but some nice houses. We ate lots of pierogies. Apparently most of the younger generation does not eat Polish food. They eat a lot of Italian.

Gdansk has a nice street in the old part of the city lined with outdoor stands and shops of amber. A lot of the amber comes from there or is worked there (and from Russia). There's also a lovely waterfront that we walked along, also full of shops selling amber.

One day we took a train to Sobat (I think that's the name of the town) on the north sea. We hoped it would be picturesque but it was a kitschy pit. Really awful. But....after the crummy street and past the food area was a beach and a concrete pier that you had to pay to get onto. The pier led out to the north sea. The difference in temp was dramatic. It had been hot the entire time we were there but on that pier it was 20 degrees (or more) colder. It was a great refresher.

Very cheap. $1 was 3.30 Zloties. So anything 100 Z was about $30 or less.
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Christopher Barzak
Posted on Thursday, June 02, 2005 - 02:17 am:   

Sounds interesting. Thanks for the details!
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Mastadge
Posted on Thursday, June 02, 2005 - 05:06 am:   

I'm headed to Poland again in about a month.
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Polish Girl
Posted on Tuesday, June 07, 2005 - 12:52 pm:   

Dear Ellen, I think it was Balic Sea not North...........
hugs,
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, June 07, 2005 - 02:05 pm:   

Really? That's interesting Konrad, our Polish host seemed to think it was the north sea. Uh oh... better check an atlas! Sorry ;-)
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, June 07, 2005 - 02:07 pm:   

Not only are you right, but I had no idea we were so close to Russia.
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StephenB
Posted on Thursday, June 09, 2005 - 12:32 am:   

Read the novella, "The Death of Doctor Island", by Gene Wolfe. Which for those who haven't read it, is about the use of a concious island paradise (the doctor) to rehabilitate the insane and sociopathic. It really is a superb story; the best I've read by Wolfe. The writing is full of style and depth, but not without an engaging story. I'll definitely be picking up one of his collections down the road.



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Vylar Kaftan
Posted on Thursday, June 09, 2005 - 08:20 am:   

I love "The Death of Doctor Island." One of my favorites of all time.

I'm reading "Eats Shoots & Leaves," a hilarious look at grammar in the English-speaking world. I recommend it to anyone who loves language, or has ever spent hours meditating on the proper use and application of semicolons.
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, June 09, 2005 - 11:36 pm:   

StephenB, pick up THE DEATH OF DOCTOR ISLAND AND OTHER STORIES AND OTHER STORIES if you can find it.
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StephenB
Posted on Friday, June 10, 2005 - 06:51 am:   

I will sometime. It's in print. All of his collections are worth it I'm sure. Not to mention his novels. THERE ARE DOORS, looks like an interesting one to start with. So much to read....
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Friday, June 10, 2005 - 07:41 am:   

I also love "The Fifth Head of Cerberus."
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Mastadge
Posted on Friday, June 10, 2005 - 08:40 am:   

Finished Never Let Me Go.

I then took a few days to breeze through some fluff: most of Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series: Stolen, Dime Store Magic, Industrial Magic and Haunted. I'm currently reading Tamar Yellin's The Genizah at the House of Shepher and Connie Willis' Inside Job. I've also read a lot of comics over the past few weeks. Generally best to worst:

Astro City: Life in the Big City TPB, by Kurt Busiek
Lucifer, Vol. 7: Exodus TPB, by Mike Carey
Planetary, Vol 2: The Fourth Man TPB, by Warren Ellis
Planetary, Vol 1: All Over the World and Other Stories TPB, by Warren Ellis
The Ultimates, Vol 1 HC, by Mark Millar
1602 HC, by Neil Gaiman
Mystique, Vol. 1: Drop Dead Gorgeous TPB, by Brian K. Vaughan
Sandman Mystery Theatre, Vol. 1: The Tarantula TPB, by Matt Wagner
Dawn: Lucifer's Halo TPB by Joseph Michael Linsner

and currently reading Point Blank TPB by Ed Brubaker.
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John Klima
Posted on Friday, June 10, 2005 - 12:28 pm:   

I figured out what I'm liking about the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser stories (other than the fact that Lieber creates names like I did for D&D by spelling words backwards: Nehwon ==> No when...ok, not really a word or a phrase, but you get my idea). And that is that the two of them are not on any (at least so far) glorious quests. It's stories about two guys trying to make it in the world. Trying to get money and fame. Not trying to save the world or destroy some ancient artifact or finding out they're the son/descendent of some uber-powerful wizard, etc.

Pretty cool. Next up, need to read people's books before I see them at cons: HERE, THERE, & EVERYWHERE; MAGIC & MADNESS; MIDNIGHTERS; and so much more.

JK
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Friday, June 10, 2005 - 02:12 pm:   

Here, There, & Everywhere looks great. It's in my to-read-soon pile. From his Locus interview, Chris Roberson seems like a really cool guy.

Still on Davies' Fifth Business, and enjoying it.

Eats Shoots & Leaves sounds hilarious.
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StephenB
Posted on Saturday, June 11, 2005 - 08:06 am:   

I read the James Tiptree Jr. novella "The Only Neat Thing to Do." I found the story ironic in the context of the narrative, but also symbolic in the end, considering Alice Sheldon's mode of death just a year later. It starts off as a space adventure story about a young girl who wants to explore the universe and progresses into a psychological first contact story. It has an old school, golden age sensibility, with humanity portrayed as a positive force in the universe, bravely paving its way through the vastness of space. Her background in psychology is apparent in this tale of a heroic young girl's relationship with an alien-mind-parasite. I like what I figure to be a reference to the Pink Floyd song, "Set The Controls to the Heart of the Sun," but in the story the song she hums is referred to as "Into the Heart of the Sun." Is this another song I don't know about? Or am I right? Anyway, it's a really good story.

Last thing:
Alice Shelden wrote a letter to Robert Silverberg saying she wanted to "take myself off the scene gracefully... while I am still me." That's kind of what the girl does in the story...
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StephenB
Posted on Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - 12:10 pm:   

I just finished Hemingway's "The Old Man and The Sea".

The prose is simple and clear, but through that simplicity I really did get a vivid picture of the setting and action. What I think I've learned from it, is that something written with confidence, that allows the reader to fill in much of the detail, provides a vivid setting. I could really place myself in the Gulf Stream and was convinced that Hemingway was familiar with the setting. Perhaps sometimes too much detail and description can interfear with the reader's immersion? But I think that really depends on the style and the setting. If the setting is completely imaginary and unknown, of course more detail would be required.

I couldn't help but root for Santiago and feel for his plight. But from a modern environmentalist perspective, he isn't as triumphant, considering the wake of dead fish he leaves behind.:-) I'm joking, but this is also telling of the nature of man, and his relationship with nature.

I found the ending slightly heartwarming, even though it's supposed to be a little sad. I think it's because, after coming to feel for the old man, it's comforting to know that the boy truely cares for him, and that the poor little fishing community looks out for each other.

I'll make a comparison to a novel I read somewhat recently by Yann Martel: LIFE OF PIE. Both deal with the struggles of a man alone at sea. And both have the man facing off for control against a dangerous but beautiful animal. LIFE OF PIE -- being a full length novel -- has more philosophy and lore, and Pi's ordeal is more epic. For those who haven't read LIFE OF PI, it's definitely fantastic literature, even though it's marketed as mainstream. I liked them both.
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - 12:56 pm:   

Go ahead and get Hemingway's Collected Stories and read them all. I liked Islands in the Stream, too.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - 01:12 pm:   

I've started reading the three originals in China Mieville's new collection. First, a collaboration with two other people is very nicely creepy.
Also read the two originals from Terry Dowling's forthcoming collection. Again, very good.
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - 08:57 pm:   

I have a collection of Hemingway's early short stories and four later ones (including "The Snows of Kilimanjaro." That story is incredible).

I'll have to read "The Old Man and the Sea."

You're lucky, Ellen! Can't wait 'til that Mieville collection comes out.
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 10:58 pm:   

Finally finally finally got my hands on a copy of Redmond O'Hanlon's TRAWLER. Great writer. Still can't compare to IN TROUBLE AGAIN, but funny and compelling nonetheless.

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kellys
Posted on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 07:02 am:   

Ellen: Maybe this isn't the place to ask, but after google failed me it seems the easiest route: could you provide the table of contents for Looking for Jake?

Thanks a bunch. Can't wait for that book as well!
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 07:22 am:   

Looking for Jake
Foundation
The Ball Room (collab with Emma Bircham and Max Schaefer)
Reports of Certain Events in London
Familiar
Entry Taken from a Medical Encyclopedia
Details
Go Between
Different Skies
An End to Hunger
'Tis the Season
Jack
On the Way to the Front
The Tain
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kellys
Posted on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 10:45 am:   

Thanks a bunch!
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John Klima
Posted on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 11:57 am:   

HERE, THERE, & EVERYWHERE was great. I really enjoyed reading it. It only took me two days. It brought me back to the moment when I first read Zelazny or Moorcock; putting ideas in my head that I hadn't ever thought but now couldn't see not thinking.

I've started reading a super-sekrit book. Then onto Justine's MAGIC & MADNESS.

JK
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Anna Tambour
Posted on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 05:30 pm:   

APPROXIMATELY HEAVEN by James Whorton Jr. Beautifully understated.
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Oliver Dale
Posted on Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 11:03 am:   

I'm a little behind with my novel reading, but I just finished Hirshberg's "The Snowman's Children" and Straub's "Lost Boy Lost Girl" and damn, I enjoyed both of those. Good to dip back into a novel or two every once in a while.
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, June 23, 2005 - 10:52 am:   

Ramsey Campbell's THE OVERNIGHT just arrived. Campbell's novels don't always completely satisfy, but I really loved THE DARKER PART OF THE WOODS, and this one looks fun. I'm glad he got a book out of his stint at Borders.

THE ONE SAFE PLACE is one of Ramsey's most cruelly underrated books, maybe because there are no supernatural element. I'm a sucker for grim coming-of-age stories, and that one contains the best acid-trip in fiction.

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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Thursday, June 23, 2005 - 01:42 pm:   

I've gotten back into Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, which I had to stop reading after 200+ pages a few months ago. It's the kind of book I can only take on bus or train day trips. Too heavy to carry around the city, too heavy to carry on a airplane trip. I read some more last weekend on the train to visit my folks, and tomorrow I'll be busing out to NJ so will take it along. I'm enjoying it.
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kellys
Posted on Thursday, June 23, 2005 - 01:53 pm:   

I recently finished Andy Duncan's short story collection, Beuleuthatchie (sic) and other Stories – brilliant! He seems due for a new collection, or even a first novel.
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, June 23, 2005 - 02:55 pm:   

Ellen, I've read the first third of Strange & Norrell in two big chunks. I put it down months ago and I know I'll probably pick it up again months from now. I'm looking forward to reading more of it someday. Most books can't survive that kind of treatment, but for some reason it's worked out just fine with this one.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Thursday, June 23, 2005 - 03:41 pm:   

Marc,
Exactly. I was surprised to notice that when I picked it up again, although there were a few people/situations I'd forgotten, once I continued and encountered them again, I was quickly up to speed.
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Aimee Poynter
Posted on Friday, June 24, 2005 - 07:35 am:   

It's nice to know I am not the only one who put Strange & Norrell down even though I fully intend to finish it.
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ABV
Posted on Friday, June 24, 2005 - 08:11 am:   

I just finished Jeff Ford's The Girl in the Glass and thoroughly enjoyed it. I am now reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

Ann V.
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MarcL
Posted on Friday, June 24, 2005 - 10:49 am:   

I'd like to hear more about The Kite Runner when you've finished it. I read the jacket copy at an airport and it looked interesting.
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Bruce
Posted on Friday, June 24, 2005 - 11:41 am:   

kellys: I thought 'Beluthahatchie and Other Stories' was one of the best single author collections in years; exuberant, surprising. He mentioned a novel, 'Redemption Songs', was on the horizon, and he has enough excellent stories for a second collection.

Just finished 'Cigar-Box Faust and Other Miniatures' by Michael Swanwick and 'The Bloody Red Baron' by Kim Newman. I'm addicted to Mike's short fiction and can hardly wait until 'The Periodic Table of Science Fiction' hits my desk. I wonder if 'The Sleep of Reason' has found a publisher yet?

Kim Newman's take on the Dracula mythos has been splendid; plenty of sly references for the vampire aficionado. I loved the walk-on by Barnabas Collins in the first book.

Next up: 'The Crazyladies of Pearl Street' by Trevanian, 'Weapons of Mass Seduction' by Lucius Shepard, 'Magic For Beginners' by Kelly Link, 'Until I find You' by John Irving, 'Olympos' by Dan Simmons, and yes, the new Harry Potter. I sez Hagid is 'The Half-Blood Prince.

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Bruce
Posted on Friday, June 24, 2005 - 11:44 am:   

Sorry, should've been 'Hagrid'.
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Melissa Mead
Posted on Friday, June 24, 2005 - 02:17 pm:   

So I'm not the only person who took a "Strange and Norrell" break, even though I was liking it. I wish I did have the time to just get lost in it for a few days.
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kellys
Posted on Monday, June 27, 2005 - 07:12 am:   

Bruce: Redemption Songs sounds like a good title for a would-be Andy Duncan novel -- thanks for the info. I agree about Beluthahatchie being one of the best single-author collections of recent years, along with Ford's and Vandermeer's collections. Golden Gryphon has put out some of the best collections this side of the Millennium.

Has anyone read any John Connolly? I never have, but his new Charlie Parker novel looks interesting. Is it worth investing my time? And if it is, do I need to read earlier Parker novels to get into this one?

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ABV
Posted on Monday, June 27, 2005 - 08:31 am:   

Finished The Kite Runner this weekend and it was excellent. This is a perfect example of a great first novel. It is a story about love and honor and guilt and family; the relationship between father and son and between two young boys growing up together - one from a life of privilege and the other the son of the servant. It also gave me insight into another culture and I enjoyed it. Highly recommended.

Now I am reading Anna Tambour's Spotted Lily and finding it quite delightful and decadent!

Ann V.
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mastadge
Posted on Monday, June 27, 2005 - 08:55 am:   

I just picked up the new John Crowley and Paul Park novels, so as soon as I'm done Witcover's TUMBLING AFTER, I'm moving on to them.

Also reading Pinker's THE BLANK SLATE: THE MODERN DENIAL OF HUMAN NATURE and Wheelan's NAKED ECONOMICS: UNDRESSING THE DISMAL SCIENCE
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, June 27, 2005 - 10:54 am:   

Kelly,
I loved John Connolly's first novel and very much enjoyed his ghost story collection Nocturnes--just out over herein the US.
I starte The White Road, which I picked up in pb, and left it as it didn't really hold my attention. I plan to read his new novel though.
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kellys
Posted on Monday, June 27, 2005 - 11:25 am:   

Thanks Ellen. That's good enough of a recommendation for me to give John Connolly a go.

Mastadge: "I just picked up the new...Paul Park..." Huh? Where? I've only see it as forthcoming August 1.

I'm not entirely sold on the Crowley. It looks a little too much like a book "I should read" as opposed to a book "I want to read."
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Mastadge
Posted on Monday, June 27, 2005 - 11:35 am:   

Amazon shipped my copy early. :-)

The Crowley I've seen lauded as his best, which is probably hyperbolic, given LITTLE, BIG, but nevertheless the subject matter interests me and the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. Plus, at nearly 500 pages, it's a pretty substantial tome. I can't wait to dig into it.
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GabrielM
Posted on Tuesday, June 28, 2005 - 08:50 am:   

>>Has anyone read any John Connolly? I never have, but his new Charlie Parker novel looks interesting. Is it worth investing my time? And if it is, do I need to read earlier Parker novels to get into this one?


I read EVERY DEAD THING recently. The plot was preposterous but I enjoyed the style and the character and will likely read some more books in the series. I was expecting more of a supernatural element for some reason. NOCTURNES had a couple of clunkers, but all in all I thought it was a very strong collection (particularly the stories written in the more traditional vein). The Charlie Parker novella in NOCTURNES was excellent.
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Tribeless
Posted on Monday, July 18, 2005 - 06:58 pm:   

going through a lit phase:

Ian McEwan - 'Saturday' as well as 'Amsterdam'.

Also John Updike's 'Rabbit Redux'.

(nose up in the air. sniff).
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, July 18, 2005 - 07:13 pm:   

I loved McEwan's early novels. How are those two?
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jeff ford
Posted on Monday, July 18, 2005 - 07:33 pm:   

Just finished Smila's Sense of Snow, which Marc suggested, and that was really great.

Just started Outside the Dog Museum and I'm hooked.
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GabrielM
Posted on Monday, July 18, 2005 - 08:21 pm:   

I thought SATURDAY was stupendous, one of the best books I've read this year.

Echoes of the novel kept coming back to me all through the aftermath of the London bombings, I suppose because it captures so well the feeling of a city on the edge, waiting for the other shoe to drop and the inevitable attack to happen. I wasn't surprised when the NYT ran a McEwan essay a couple of days after the bombings, it seemed perfectly appropriate.

(Hope to see you Wednesday, Ellen, if you're going to the reading,)
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GabrielM
Posted on Monday, July 18, 2005 - 08:29 pm:   

Jeff, I loved SMILLA except for the ending, which I thought stank. I pretty much use Hoeg's book as my exemplar for great books brought low by crappy endings!
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jeff ford
Posted on Monday, July 18, 2005 - 08:37 pm:   

Gabe: I can't argue with you on that, although I probably liked it more than you did, but so much of it was really fascinating. Are any of his other ones any good? I also have The Spotted Lily on deck and The People of Paper. These should all take quite a while to get through.
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GabrielM
Posted on Monday, July 18, 2005 - 09:10 pm:   

Jeff, I haven't read any other Hoeg, none of it seemed all that interesting.

I have copies of the Tambour and Plasencia books also, not sure when I'll get to them. The Plasencia looks interesting, but the form (with the columns and all) seems a little pretentious. I just got through another McSweeney's offering, LaFarge's FACTS OF WINTER. Recounts the purported dreams of a group of people in a 19th century French winter and then makes up a fictional person as the author. Very pretty and very pointless.

LINT, though -- now that was good!
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jeff ford
Posted on Monday, July 18, 2005 - 09:16 pm:   

Gabe: Yeah, I was into Lint from the early web stuff Steve had up about it. Aylett's sense of humor really cracks me up. The People of Paper, I'm hoping is going to be good. It was expensive and it 's a really nice looking book, but parlor games are in now, and like you said, with some of them there's less there than meets the eye. I'm looking forward to it now.
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jeff ford
Posted on Monday, July 18, 2005 - 09:19 pm:   

Sorry. I meant parlor 'tricks' not 'games.'
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GabrielM
Posted on Monday, July 18, 2005 - 10:44 pm:   

Thing I liked about LINT -- Aylett is not only extremely funny and has a surreal quality that makes him seem fresh and original, but there seems to be a real anger (and even existential despair) at the heart of his humor that lends him weight. And which can be hard to take -- LINT's angle on pop culture is so corrosive I found the book hard to read in more than small doses. (He actually reminds me a bit of the early Woody Allen of WITHOUT FEATHERS and GETTING EVEN, but darker.) I think it's one of the great books of the year.
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, July 18, 2005 - 11:36 pm:   

McEwan's CHILD OUT OF TIME still haunts me. I thought that was the best of his earlier titles. THE INNOCENT was a great read as well. I haven't read many of his very recent novels. I started on AMSTERDAM but wasn't really in the mood.

I have put aside the latest Ramsey Campbell (THE OVERNIGHT) for now. I got to the halfway point where things are finally getting underway, and found that I just couldn't keep the characters straight; and in spite of the exceedingly clever double-edged phrases, the couple of horrific events that had eventually happened were so unconvincing that I wasn't really looking forward to more of them piling on in the final part. Maybe I'll come back to this later. DARKEST PART OF THE WOODS was such an excellent novel. This one just wore me out.

My copy of Harry Potter arrived today, but I think I'll wait till I've read the new Cormac McCarthy first.

I also started (finally) reading George R.R. Martin's GAME OF THRONES, which is excellent. But I don't think I've got the time to devote to its 800 pages right now, let alone the subsequent volumes. Nice to know it's there though when I've got time to read in something more than gulps.

Honestly, what's killing me right now is my vision. My progressive prescription, although only a few months old, leaves something to be desired. I'm having a lot of trouble reading regular size type on plain paper; glossy paper totally wears out my vision. I hate having to think so much about my eyes while I'm just trying to get lost in a book...but if I don't get the glasses perched just right, then one eye or the other is out of focus.... Anyone else have this problem? If so, did you solve it with dedicated reading glasses? I'm ready to go to the drugstore racks and get something deranged looking.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, July 19, 2005 - 08:29 am:   

Jeff, Gabe, I loved Smilla's Sense of Snow. I didn't mind the ending because I felt the whole rest of it was soooo good. She was a terrific character. I picked up a couple of his other books on the basis of loving Smilla but never got around to reading them.

MarcL,
A Child in Time is one of my faves, too. A terrifically subtle, scary novel with sf overtones that very few people ever comment on.

Gabe, yes I'll be hosting KGB tomorrow.
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, July 19, 2005 - 08:53 am:   

Thanks for gently correcting my misquote of the McEwan title, Ellen.

I think I dug the ending of Smilla...maybe there was something at the very, very, very end I didn't like, but I thought the whole set-up was neat. It was the place where I felt I was pushed over into completely unexpected territory. I didn't quite understand it all.
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StephenB
Posted on Tuesday, July 19, 2005 - 11:02 am:   

I heard Saturday's good. That's what I got my mom for mother's day.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, July 19, 2005 - 01:09 pm:   

MarcL,
It was totally inadvertant. In fact, I'm not sure the title I said is correct :-)

Well Smilla went sciffy at the last minute, which was rather bizarre, but I didn't mind.
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, July 19, 2005 - 11:03 pm:   

Yeah, I seem to recall it turned into The Colour Out of Space...got all cosmic. After the build up in the ship, I was sort of expecting it and found it exhilarating. Oh well. No accounting for taste and all that.
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Oliver Dale
Posted on Wednesday, July 20, 2005 - 02:24 pm:   

I just discovered Dan Simmons (in my defense, it's a very lovely rock I've been hiding under). I've blazed through a couple of his novels recently, now working on "Song of Kali" which I'm really loving. Nothing quite like finding a new author you jive with, only to _then_ discover that he's been around for a while and has a backlist that will keep you busy.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Wednesday, July 20, 2005 - 02:42 pm:   

I very much enjoyed Phases of Gravity, Song of Kali, and Carrion Comfort. Haven't had time to read the novels since then.
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Bruce
Posted on Wednesday, July 20, 2005 - 03:37 pm:   

As usual, my reading list changes with what flies into my mailbox, and what arrives at the library and local bookstores.

Recently finished 'The Hidden Family' by Charles Stross, which I liked even more than the first volume. Accelerando's coming up soon, alrighta!

Also, 'Magic Street' by Orson Scott Card. Disappointing, underwhelming. I put down the fourth 'Bean' book as well a few months ago. I do hope he pulls it together for the last 'Alvin' book.

Halfway through 'Olympos' by Dan Simmons and enjoying it, but it'll have to wait as 'Until I Find You' by John Irving came in at the library, and there's a long line at the library for that tome.

Saving Lucius Shepard's, 'Weapons of Mass Seduction' and Kelly Link's 'Magic for Beginners' for a long plane ride in a couple weeks.
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kellys
Posted on Thursday, July 21, 2005 - 01:58 pm:   

Recently read and loved Paul Park's "Princess of Roumania" (can't wait for the sequel) and Kelly Link's "Magic for Beginners." I'm now a few stories into Gregory Frost's "Attack of the Jazz Giants" – it seems to be a really well-written, diverse collection, and I'll probably go dig up some more Frost after this.
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Tribeless
Posted on Saturday, July 23, 2005 - 05:11 am:   

Sorry Ellen, just noted your query re McEwan:

'Saturday': delightful, McEwan at his absolute best.

'Amsterdam': appalling, definitely the worst thing he's written. The ending was crap.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Saturday, July 23, 2005 - 08:33 am:   

THanks. Oh dear.
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, July 25, 2005 - 12:26 pm:   

I guess I'm the only one reading the new Harry Potter. It's like eating a huge bag of potato chips. I'm not sure how she does it. I sit down to look at the first chapter, and 100 pages go by. It's fairly (and I suppose unavoidably) repetitive in the early stages, and I seem to have forgotten everything that happened in the previous book, and yet the very definition of "goes down easy."

I just got Cormac McCarthy's latest, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, and this too makes for almost effortless reading.
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Beth
Posted on Monday, July 25, 2005 - 12:43 pm:   

Currently reading A PRINCESS OF ROUMANIA, CETEGANDA (a hammock re-read), and TTYL, a YA book my son recommended to me.

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Melissa Mead
Posted on Monday, July 25, 2005 - 02:15 pm:   

Marci, you're not alone. I've read HP6 too. It'll be ineresting to see what she does after this.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, July 25, 2005 - 04:39 pm:   

I'm going to take HP with me on the plane to London and train to Glasgow.
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Melissa Mead
Posted on Monday, July 25, 2005 - 05:07 pm:   

Bring Kleenex. ;)
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, July 25, 2005 - 07:54 pm:   

uh oh.:-(
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Patrick Swenson
Posted on Monday, July 25, 2005 - 10:26 pm:   

<<are>>

I read BORDERLINERS and enjoyed it, Jeff. Very different from SMILLA. And it's a quick read.
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Laird
Posted on Tuesday, July 26, 2005 - 02:58 pm:   

Just picked up House of Leaves.

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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, July 26, 2005 - 05:18 pm:   

I enjoyed it Laird. I thought the central core of the story pretty damned creepy.
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, July 26, 2005 - 05:40 pm:   

At the core of HOUSE OF LEAVES is a fine weird novella, one of the best ever written. But I had a very bad reaction to all the material in which it came encased.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, July 26, 2005 - 07:50 pm:   

I didn't mind the other material. It was kind of fun --I liked the footnotes throughout. I could have done without the indices of letters,although they were interesting too.
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Aimee Poynter
Posted on Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 12:08 pm:   

I loved HOUSE OF LEAVES. The idea of the 5 & 1/2 minute hallway was delightfully chilling. I also remember the significance of something the little girl said being pretty scary, too.

I'm reading THE HISTORIAN right now.

Just finshed HP6.
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MarcL
Posted on Friday, July 29, 2005 - 12:31 am:   

Also just finished HP6. It was easy reading, but I didn't feel it got at all interesting or the least bit tense until the last 150 pages. Nothing led inevitably into anything else; it was mostly a string of incidents arranged chronologically through the usual Hogwarts year.

Can't wait for the final volume, though. The payoff in this one was pretty sweet, which bids well for the series finale.
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MarcL
Posted on Friday, July 29, 2005 - 12:39 am:   

Meanwhile, without meaning to start reading it yet, I'm about 75 pages into NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and it reads at an even faster clip than Rowling. It's an all-out crime thriller.

Then I've got a John D. McDonald novel I'm meaning to get back to: CONDOMINIUM. I read the first couple chapters on Amazon, and I'm dying to get into the whole thing. Funny, bleak, beautifully observed. When I was a kid working in a bookstore, this was a bestseller; couldn't keep the paperback racks stocked because the summer beach readers kept going off with copies by the dozens. I dismissed it as I dismissed all the bestsellers. It seemed like something my grandparents might read...hell, it was about a bunch of old people in a seedy Florida condo. But I later got the taste for Travis McGee and tore through a bunch of those, until at this point I can no longer remember which ones I've read and which I haven't. Well, this isn't McGee, and it doesn't fit that formula at all. It's just great writing.
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Peadar Ó Guilín
Posted on Sunday, July 31, 2005 - 03:17 am:   

Has anybody read "Shantaram" by Gregory David Roberts? He paints a picture of Mumbai (Bombay) more alien than any alien city I've "seen" before. It's really thrilling to see how different one human culture can be from another. I'm 200 pages in (20%) and heavily addicted,

Peadar Ó Guilín
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Tribeless
Posted on Monday, August 01, 2005 - 12:10 am:   

Well here I was being high brow, thinking how cultivated it was to be reading Updike's 'Rabbit Redux' (second novel in the Rabbit quinology), but I have to report it's a very very rude little book. Positively naughty. I didn't think they did stuff like that in the 70's.

And a little depressing ...

But apparently such literature is good for me (albeit, hopefully not showing me what I'm to become), so onward and upward.

Might opt for a bit of good ol sci-fi next though for a wee rest period: possibly John Birmingham's 'Weapons of Choice' as it is available in ebook format (thanks to Murph's blog for putting me onto it).
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, August 02, 2005 - 01:48 pm:   

Finished NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. Recommended.

Currently reading Mark Richard's collection, THE ICE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD. Reminiscent of Barry Hannah...good.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, August 02, 2005 - 02:28 pm:   

I'm leaving for Scotland tomorrow and will be taking Liz Hand's new novel mss (suspense) with me and the new Harry Potter book. I hope to finish both by the time I get to Glasgow, if lucky--I fly to London then take the train to Glasgow on Thursday.
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Melissa Mead
Posted on Tuesday, August 02, 2005 - 06:39 pm:   

Happy reading, and have fun!
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mastadge
Posted on Wednesday, August 03, 2005 - 07:02 am:   

Currently reading:

Tainaron: Mail from Another City, by Leena Krohn
The Trial, by Franz Kafka
The Five Fingers, by Gayle Rivers and James Hudson
Poland, by James A. Michener
The Thousand and One Nights, ed. by Muhsin Mahdi
The Sibling Society, by Robert Bly
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kellys
Posted on Wednesday, August 03, 2005 - 01:00 pm:   

Finished reading Tom Picirrilli's November Mourns. Nice atmosphere with a few bone-chlling moments, though the secondary characters felt a little underwritten and caricatured. Mildly recommended as a Halloween read.
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Patrick Swenson
Posted on Thursday, August 04, 2005 - 09:51 am:   

I like Tom Piccirilli's stuff, kellys. Did you read A Choir of Ill Children? Excellent, the secondary characters a bit better done in that one, I think.
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kellys
Posted on Thursday, August 04, 2005 - 11:59 am:   

No, I haven't read Choir, but I liked November Mourns enough to give it a try. Are there any other essential Picirrilli books?
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mastadge
Posted on Thursday, August 04, 2005 - 01:25 pm:   

As it happens, I believe I have two copies of Choir. Shoot me an e-mail if you'd like one.
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, August 09, 2005 - 02:00 am:   

John D. MacDonald's CONDOMINIUM is every 70's disaster movie/miniseries/bestseller rolled into one. Florida sleaze, a huge cast of unpleasant characters, and a killer hurricane to finish them all off. I had more fun with this than Harry Potter 6.


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kellys
Posted on Wednesday, August 10, 2005 - 01:31 pm:   

Recently finished Edward Carey's gothic novel Observatory Mansions. I found it oddly affecting, both deeply moving and consistently humorous, much like the films of Wes Anderson.

Also just finished the novel Trujillo by Lucius Shepard. It's a beautiful and horrific work – very hard to shake. I highly recommend it.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, August 15, 2005 - 01:10 pm:   

Kellys: Observatory Mansions was recommended to me last year and I've got a copy awaiting me but haven't had time to read it. One of these days.
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MarcL
Posted on Sunday, August 28, 2005 - 09:11 am:   

Finally got around to something I've been meaning to read for 20+ years: GORKY PARK.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Sunday, August 28, 2005 - 09:22 am:   

Did you like it?

I finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince last week and enjoyed it. I didn't like the previous one as I thought Harry was going through a very whiny stage that I couldn't stand :-).
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MarcL
Posted on Sunday, August 28, 2005 - 07:47 pm:   

I'm almost done with Gorky Park and yeah, it's great. An amazing amount of research must have gone into it--or firsthand knowledge. I don't know anything about Martin Cruz Smith, but I'm curious to know where all the Moscow police details came from.
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Jason D. Wittman
Posted on Sunday, August 28, 2005 - 10:35 pm:   

I'm about halfway through China Mieville's _Perdido Street Station_. The man has a talent for weirdness.
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GabrielM
Posted on Monday, August 29, 2005 - 07:18 am:   

I enjoyed Cormac McCarthy's new novel as well. I've liked his earlier books but this one's a major stylistic departure; lean, pitiless noir that borders on horror. It's invigorating to see an alredy mature author reinvent himself and upend genre conventions on the way.
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Charlie Finlay
Posted on Monday, August 29, 2005 - 07:46 am:   

MarcL: Gorky Park is one of those novels I reread every couple years and with every rereading I still think it's great. The was I remember the story is that Smith spent about two weeks in Russia. He's got such a gift for people and for fiction that that was enough.
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, August 29, 2005 - 08:25 am:   

Two weeks? Wow. And was it his first book, or simply his first bestseller?

It's extremely polished and very satisfying right through the ending, which is rare.

How are the other Renko books? It must have been interesting reading this when it first came out, not knowing for sure that he would survive to inhabit sequels.
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Charlie Finlay
Posted on Monday, August 29, 2005 - 08:48 am:   

Yeah, two weeks. I may remember the story wrong, and I didn't try looking up any interviews online to confirm it.

I think he wrote half a dozen books before, but GP was his first big bestseller. I often reread Red Square after I finish GP. It's a very different book, about a very different Russia, and it lacks the surprising freshness of GP because you've seen Renko before. But it's also very good. Polar Star didn't make the same impression on me, but that may have had more to do with me than with the book.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Monday, August 29, 2005 - 09:55 am:   

Martin Cruz Smith wrote a bunch of books before Gorky Park (1981), several of which were pseudonymous. I can't lay my hands on the details right now, but he has a handful of novels from the 1970s under his own name, including the 1977 novelization of the film Nightwings.
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Monday, August 29, 2005 - 02:58 pm:   

I saw the film version of Gorky Park (on an airplane of all places) when I was quite young. It freaked me out. Maybe I should read the book to see what I'd think of the original story now that I'm all growed up.

I'm currently reading The Traveler, and it's, um, not very good.

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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, August 29, 2005 - 05:18 pm:   

I loved Gorky Park, which I read when it first was published. Thinking of starting Bangkok Tattoo, the follow-up to Bangkok 8 by John Burdett.
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, August 30, 2005 - 11:11 am:   

I'm going to have to keep reading the Arkady Renko books. I discovered that the latest is set in Chernobyl. Reviews seem to indicate even the weakest of them is pretty good.

I've picked up Strange & Norrell again. Should carry me through until the next must-read comes my way.

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Bruce
Posted on Tuesday, August 30, 2005 - 11:54 am:   

I thought Gorky Park rocked and actually quite enjoyed the movie. Lee Marvin wasn't quite how I envisioned the villain of the piece but he was still sinister and icy. William Hurt, Brian Dennehy and even Alexei Sayle did their characters justice as did the female lead, Joanna Pacula.

Polar Star was the weakest of the lot but still entertaining enough to justify continuing the travails of Arkady Renko in Red Square and Havana Bay. The last novel, Wolves Eat Dogs, while not the read Gorky Park was, is still well worth your time. Looking forward to his next in the Renko series.

The only other Cruz book I've read to date was December 6 [note: Tokyo Station is the same book released in Britain the prior year]. Another finely written suspense novel, it also begs for another installment.
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, August 30, 2005 - 11:36 pm:   

All right, I'll take that recommendation of the full Renko series to heart. I usually tire of series very quickly, so I probably won't chain-read these. But the Chernobyl one sounds especially cool, and reminds me of a game I'm looking forward to: S.T.A.L.K.E.R., a near-future action RPG based very loosely on Tarkovsky's Stalker and a Strugatski novel. It's especially interesting because it's being developed by a Ukranian game company and the designers have taken numerous trips to Chernobyl to gather references for the game. The game has been long in development, and the deadline slips continually,
but lots of gamers are rooting for it.
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LeslieWhat
Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2005 - 12:06 am:   

Just finished The Golems of Gotham by Thane Rosenbaum and am reading Blindness by Jose Saramago, something I feel ashamed not to have read before now. I may take a break and read the Nutritional information on the box of Dove Bars.

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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2005 - 07:04 am:   

I had The Golems of Gotham but never got around to it. How was it? I read Blindness, just before Saramago got the Nobel Prize (isn't that what he won?) and liked it a lot.
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Bruce
Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2005 - 08:20 am:   

I read Blindness as well and thought of it as Lord of the Flies meets The Day of the Triffids. A solid read, it was his most recent work prior to winning the Nobel.
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LeslieWhat
Posted on Saturday, September 03, 2005 - 12:04 am:   

I wanted to like Golems more than I liked it. I'm writing an essay on Comic Voice in Holocaust Narrative in 2nd and 3rd Generation Writers for school or I might not have finished the book. But it looks like everyone else in the world except me liked the book. I'm not sure why I had so much trouble wanting to read about the living characters. I found the dead ones slightly more interesting.
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, September 08, 2005 - 04:05 pm:   

I finally finally finally finished Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. For the final few hundred pages I was not at all inclined to put it down and take a break. This is my favorite fantasy novel of many years. Reading an interview with her at bookslut, where she mentions Alan Garner, I realized that some of the atmosphere she generates in her descriptions of magical landscapes and events is very similar to what I used to get from reading Garner when I was a kid (The Owl Service, in particular).
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, September 08, 2005 - 11:32 pm:   

Also, finally, started Perdido Street Station. I can only say fantasy is in amazingly healthy shape right now.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Friday, September 09, 2005 - 07:17 am:   

I'm in the middle of Bangkok Tattoo, by John Burditt, and enjoying it immensely.
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MarcL
Posted on Friday, September 09, 2005 - 10:13 am:   

Weirdly, I hit a section of the bookstore yesterday, looking at the new George Saunders, where I found BLINDNESS right in front of me and QUIETUS right below that. Both books I hope to get around to someday, both recommended by Ellen. (The Saunders is $13, too much to pay for a novelette.)
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Friday, September 09, 2005 - 11:15 am:   

Marc,
Quietus was less interesting looking back at it than at the time. It won't kill you not to read it. If you can get it cheap cheap cheap, go for it. Otherwise, don't buy it.
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MarcL
Posted on Friday, September 09, 2005 - 12:04 pm:   

Ellen,
What you said should be a blurb on Quietus, instead of the one they used.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Friday, September 09, 2005 - 01:03 pm:   

LOL. I don't think anyone would--if they want to sell books!
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, September 12, 2005 - 09:54 pm:   

Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close just crossed my radar and I've put it on my list for things to read asap. Meanwhile, I've got Rudy Rucker's new book in manuscript (Mathematicians in Love), and it's taking precedent over Perdido Street Station since I can read it without quite so much brow-furrowing and a lot more laughing out loud. I was thinking this morning that my favorite of Rudy's books are Masters of Space and Time (which was mindblowing to me when I first read it, plus it used an image I had always wanted to employ--that of a station wagon modified for space travel) and The Hollow Earth (still, I believe, The Great American Science Fiction Novel). And his Breugel book is beautiful.
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, September 12, 2005 - 09:59 pm:   

I mixed up the title of "Extremely L. and Incredibly C." I just saw above that Christopher Barzak recommended this. I too know nothing of the author or his other work, but the first few pages (readable at Amazon) are all I need to know.
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, September 12, 2005 - 10:02 pm:   

Holy crap. I see that the 7 volume set of Vollmann's RISING UP AND RISING DOWN has now tripled in price from the dealers who are offering it. I guess that means it's out of print.
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Jason D. Wittman
Posted on Monday, September 12, 2005 - 11:24 pm:   

Just started reading Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw." I became interested in it when the 1961 Deborah Kerr movie came out on DVD (haven't seen it yet, the video store didn't have it, and I had to order). The story has kept me interested so far, but why can't Victorians use one word when one will do?

I've heard the Deborah Kerr movie is very good. It'll be interesting to compare it to the 1999 version, "Presence of Mind", with Sadie Frost, Lauren Bacall and Harvey Keitel. And then there's the CBS TV-movie "The Haunting of Helen Walker", starring Valerie Bertinelli--yes, Valerie Bertinelli--as the governess. (And I believe Diana Rigg played Mrs. Grose.)

Jason
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - 07:38 am:   

I finished the police procedural Bangkok Tattoo and liked it a lot. The narrator has a wonderful voice-- a worthy successor to Bangkok 8.
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - 10:32 am:   

Hey Jason, I thought the film based on the James story (I think it's called The Innocents) is really really good. I studied it for a film class. I haven't read "The Turn of the Screw" yet, but I've wanted to for awhile.

Okay, now I'll have to check out Rucker's The Hollow Earth... I liked his interview in Locus, and his "Frek" story that ran in Live Without a Net.

I have currently set The Traveler aside, because it's a joyless read, and am about to happily delve into The Girl in the Glass by some kid named Ford.
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AT
Posted on Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 04:46 am:   

Songs of Leaving, a short story by Peter Crowther from his collection of the same name. There have been some people asking what good fiction is, at a time like these past couple of weeks. This story, for me, answers that perfectly, not to mention that it is a magnificent story, for any time.
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APoynter
Posted on Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 05:32 am:   

I just finished Fitcher's Brides by Gregory Frost (which I liked) and have gone on to A Stir of Bones by Nina Kiriki Hoffman.
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 11:26 am:   

Just read Michel Houellebecq's extended essay, H.P. LOVECRAFT: AGAINST THE WORLD, AGAINST LIFE. Beware, most of the volume is made up of reprinted stories, "The Call of Cthulhu" and "The Whisperer in Darkness," as if they weren't available anywhere else. But Houellebecq's essay is very fine, and Stephen King's introduction is entertaining. Actually, I just like typing Houellebecq. I don't get enough chances to type "cq" right next to each other.
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kellys
Posted on Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 01:30 pm:   

Houellebecq's essay and the American Library Edition of Lovecraft's fiction (edited by Peter Straub) have turned me on to Lovecraft this year. Pathetically and inexcusably, I've ignored his work until now, and found Houellebecq's essay to be a great introduction to Lovecraft's fiction and his sad life.
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 01:50 pm:   

I sent my Dad the excellent American Library edition for his birthday. After years of making fun of me for reading such things, he started reading HPL in a copy he wasn't embarrassed to have on his shelves, and it's been cool to see him develop an appreciation of Lovecraft. Ironically, it was my Dad who turned me onto the Houellebecq essay; he clipped and sent me a review from the LA Times.
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 01:52 pm:   

The definitive treatment of Lovecraft's sad life is S.T. Joshi's biography, LOVECRAFT: A BIOGRAPHY, which is one of the best biographies I've read on any subject. Highly recommended!
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Jason D. Wittman
Posted on Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 07:20 pm:   

Just finished Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw". I know there have been centuries of speculation that the ghosts are just fignments of the governess' overwrought imagination...but I have two questions:

1) How was the governess able to describe Peter Quint to Mrs. Grose (I believe in Chapter III or IV) without having seen him in the flesh, or in picture?

2) How did Victorian children in general behave when they were *not* possessed? If I had a sort of template with which to compare Flora and Miles, I might be better equipped to make a judgment.

As for myself, I recently read a theory that I like: the ghosts were real, but they weren't possessing the children. They were possessing the governess.
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 08:20 pm:   

Just picked up Stephen Jones's HORROR: ANOTHER 100 GREAT BOOKS, since contributors' copies are probably a long way off. Lots and lots of interesting stuff in here, including plenty written by people on this board. I can see another dozen or so books I need to read suddenly blinking into place on my list of must-reads.
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des
Posted on Thursday, September 29, 2005 - 02:16 am:   

Just finished STAR OF THE SEA by Joseph O'Connor. A masterpiece! Shades of Peter Ackroyd and William Golding.

Also reading 'The Genizah At The House Of Shepher' by Tamar Yellin
and the Collected Stories and Novellas of DH Lawrence in one massive ninteen thirties book.
des
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minz
Posted on Thursday, September 29, 2005 - 06:34 am:   

Too much crappy slush. :-(
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, September 29, 2005 - 07:56 am:   

Des...your essay has pointed me back to Bowen. So, mission accomplished!
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des
Posted on Thursday, September 29, 2005 - 08:05 am:   

Thanks, MarcL, that's very gratifying. (For the benefit of onlookers that's E Bowen, not M Bowen!)
des
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, October 04, 2005 - 04:54 pm:   

George Saunders's new "novel" (THE BRIEF AND FRIGHTENING REIGN OF PHIL) is really just a very padded short story. There are some funny bits. It reminded me of a Spongebob episode more than anything. So, still no novel from this guy. That's okay, I guess; I don't require every great short story writer be a novelist. But this was marketed as a novel.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, October 04, 2005 - 09:53 pm:   

I'm in the middle of Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel and am liking it. It's about a psychic --I have no idea where it's going but it's good.
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kellys
Posted on Wednesday, October 05, 2005 - 07:17 am:   

The Mantel book sounds interesting; I'll have to read more about it.

Just finished Richard Bowes' From the Files of the Time Rangers. A little cold in its style and characterization, but I was too in awe of the way he intertwined his stories and romped through 20th-century American politics and culture to much care.

Am now into Alexander C. Irvine's The Narrows. At 50 pages in, I have high expectations for this take on golems, Detroit, and WW2.
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Friday, October 07, 2005 - 11:43 am:   

I'm almost done reading Looking for Jake. Good, solid collection (though I'm liking some tales better than others). Nice to see him stretch his style.

Next up will be Martin Sketchley's The Affinity Trap and then The Algebraist probably. I have too many books rattling the bookshelves and screaming "pick me, pick me!"
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kellys
Posted on Friday, October 07, 2005 - 05:58 pm:   

"Pick me, pick me!" I love that sound coming from a book shelf.
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Saturday, October 08, 2005 - 01:24 pm:   

Hehe, ain't it great? By the way, I'm looking forward to your Strange Horizons review of 'LFJ' at the end of the month, Kelly.
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, October 10, 2005 - 10:28 am:   

I know what I'm reading next:

THE SHROUD OF THE THWACKER

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1401352456/ref=amb_center-3_103972201_1/1 03-3926764-1560609
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, October 10, 2005 - 05:07 pm:   

Weird review of the new Booker Prize winner.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/arts/4329114.stm

The review is ordinary except for this one bizarre non sequitur:

"It is not like a Keanu Reeves movie. It is complex with strange symptoms."

Is this the new critical standard--how like or unlike a Keanu Reeves movie something is? Why not compare Moby Dick to Spongebob Squarepants?
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, October 10, 2005 - 05:40 pm:   

What a truly dumb review.
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Steve
Posted on Wednesday, October 12, 2005 - 07:21 pm:   

Holly suggested I read PEEPS (well, if suggested can mean thrusting a copy into my hands at a bookstore and demanding I read the first few pages). I'm about halfway through the book - an easy read - and enjoying it highly.

After that is FAGIN'S CHILDREN, a work on Victorian child thieves.
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Christopher Barzak
Posted on Wednesday, October 12, 2005 - 09:46 pm:   

PEEPS was great. I just finished Michael Cunningham's SPECIMEN DAYS. It was really good too. A braided narrative, like THE HOURS, but perhaps with a few less connections binding it together than THE HOURS.
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, October 12, 2005 - 10:05 pm:   

I grabbed Nicholson Baker's THE MEZZANINE from the library again just to reread the amazing men's room sequence. A comic tour de force concerning office bathroom etiquette. Worth the whole book, which has other good stuff in it as well.
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, October 12, 2005 - 10:09 pm:   

Has anyone read Stephen King's new one, THE COLORADO KID, in the Hard Case series?

I love the whole concept. This seems like a perfect fit for King. I'll take up a handful of these over a hugely padded megachunk any day.
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rick bowes
Posted on Thursday, October 13, 2005 - 07:57 am:   

kellys

I'm glad the political/cultural part of Time Rangers was a romp for you too!

rick bowes
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LouS
Posted on Thursday, October 13, 2005 - 08:09 am:   

Marc I am ready it right now. Its a very short novel - for King ~180 pages but I am enjoying it quite a bit. There is a subtle Dark Tower tie-in apparently.
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kellys
Posted on Thursday, October 13, 2005 - 10:40 am:   

Mahesh: Thanks, I hope you like it.

Rick: I've not been able to shake Time Rangers, and have a strong urge to re-read it. Can't wait for your collection from PS, and look forward to dipping into your back catalog, starting with Minions of the Moon.

Currently reading M.T. Anderson's Thirsty, a YA coming-of-age vampire novel, for the Halloween season.
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lou
Posted on Friday, October 14, 2005 - 09:22 am:   

Finished Colorado Kid. Really enjoyed it. King can still spin a good yarn and create vivid characters.
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rick bowes
Posted on Friday, October 14, 2005 - 10:10 pm:   

Kellys:

It's unhealthy not to give in to these urges.

Rick
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MarcL
Posted on Sunday, October 23, 2005 - 11:38 pm:   

I just read (and liked) The Colorado Kid and started a thread in case anyone who's read it wants to jump in with speculation. If you haven't read it, you probably won't want to get into the thread. I've kept actual spoilers to a minimum, but others might not. Ironically, one point of the story is that at it's heart, it's not a real story, so you couldn't really spoil it even if you wanted to.

http://www.nightshadebooks.com/discus/messages/2797/5174.html?1130135559

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MarcL
Posted on Sunday, October 23, 2005 - 11:39 pm:   

Arrgh, I can't believe I wrote "at it's heart"...kick my own head repeatedly...
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, October 24, 2005 - 08:05 am:   

I just read the first section of Michael Cunningham's Specimen Days and liked it quite a bit.
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kellys
Posted on Tuesday, October 25, 2005 - 06:24 am:   

Recently finished Kiernan's TO CHARLES FORT, WITH LOVE, a near-great collection with only a few misfires. Now reading Ford's THE COSMOLOGY OF THE WIDER WORLD, a short-novel about a talking minotaur; I'm enjoying it much more than anticipated, having picked it up not for its plot synopsis but just because Ford penned it.
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, October 31, 2005 - 10:36 pm:   

Stalled out rather quickly on Roth's THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA. Will try it again, maybe, sometime in the future.

The much anticipated Chris Elliott opus, THE SHROUD OF THE THWACKER, arrived today. I tried reading the first few pages in the bookstore recently and couldn't do it without embarrassing myself. Here's hopin' it's funny.

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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, November 01, 2005 - 07:57 am:   

THWACKER is hilarious. It's a deliberate mixup of anachronisms, parallel universe, time travel, and American historical fantasy, as a fertile ground for gags. I'll post a quote or two at some point. Can't remember the last time I read something that worked both as a novel and as a pure comedy routine.
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, November 01, 2005 - 09:42 am:   

Posting THWACKER quotes here:

http://www.nightshadebooks.com/discus/messages/2797/5207.html?1130866862
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, November 01, 2005 - 12:18 pm:   

Cute!

I'm busily reading SCIFICTION stuff and for YBFH #19.

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