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Night Shade Books
Posted on Wednesday, February 05, 2003 - 01:01 am:   

This is where I'm going to make random posts about whatever I happen to be reading at the time.

Right now I'm reading 4 books, not counting whatever I'm reading for Night Shade.

Steven Erikson - Memories of Ice. The 3rd "Malazan Book of the Fallen", and good stuff. Big fat fantasy, but well written big fat fantasy, and I generally hate big fat fantasy. MoI is the usual Erikson book, and it takes about 200 pages to figure out what the hell is going on. It happens right after book one, The Gardens of the Moon, and takes place simultaneously with book two, Deadhouse Gates. Much sense is finally being made of warrens, ascendents, and the rest of the magic hooptystuff.

John Fowles - The Magus. I'm really enjoying this, as it's the first book I've read in probably ten years where I don't have any idea what it's about. I don't even know if it's genre, lit, or a gardening textbook. Only about 75 pages into it, so I haven't really formed any opinions yet.

Scott Nicholson - The Red Church. I heard a lot of good things about this, but I'm 80 pages into it and it just seems like every other crap horror novel I've read. Monster mash, of the usual and uninteresting variety. I'll give it until page 100, then I'm pitching it.

Edward Carey - Observatory Mansions. Been meaning to pick this up forever, just never got to it. I'm only about 50 pages into it, and it's weird. Good, but weird. No idea where it's going.

Jason
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Jay Caselberg
Posted on Wednesday, February 05, 2003 - 03:11 am:   

Jason, The Magus is just great. Wonderful book.
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Stephen Gallagher
Posted on Wednesday, February 05, 2003 - 03:56 am:   

It's a long time since I read THE MAGUS but I have to agree. I found it utterly absorbing but I'm not sure that I could analyse it and tell you why... take it apart and look at its elements and you can well understand the complaints of those who don't 'get' it and call it ponderous, overblown, tedious... but if you click with it, it's none of the above. I have the same kinds of discussions about Tarkovsky movies.
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Rhys
Posted on Wednesday, February 05, 2003 - 04:21 am:   

What you've just written exactly describes the way I feel about Durrell's THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET, which I sort of love and dislike at the same time...
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Jack Haringa
Posted on Wednesday, February 05, 2003 - 04:34 am:   

Jason, I'm suprised at your reaction to Nicholson's THE RED CHURCH. While the initial premise may seem familiar, I found the setting evocative and the characters well-drawn and interesting. Also, it's prose is very tight, something rarely seen in pop-fiction first novels. Certainly, it's not as artistically written as something like THE MAGUS, but it doesn't have those aspirations. Oop, better stop now before I go off on a defense of popular/ plot-driven fiction....

~Jack~
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Night Shade Books
Posted on Wednesday, February 05, 2003 - 04:40 am:   

Jack,

I'll give The Red Church a chance, but so far it just doesn't seem to be much more than the usual run-of-the-mill horror novel.

I try to keep my reading mixed up, which is why I'll try and read so many different types of books simultaneously. I'm certainly not a lit-snob, given the complete set of W.E.B. Griffin _The Corps_ novels I've got on my shelves :-)

I'm probably not the guy to be gauging horror these days. I spent the better part of 1997-2002 reading horror, horror, and nothing but horror, and I'm pretty burned out on it.

Jason
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Wednesday, February 05, 2003 - 01:57 pm:   

I have to agree with Jason on this one. I gave The Red Church about 4-5 chapters and pitched it. And I don't consider myself burned out on horror. This one just didn't do it for me. It struck me a relatively clichéd set up, and I never found the characters very engaging. The exception was the opening chapter, which featured the child and his brother at the Church -- this was a pretty effective opening. I felt that the next 4 chapters just didn't maintain that level of quality. I guess I’m getting finicky in my old age.

-JML
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Jay Caselberg
Posted on Wednesday, February 05, 2003 - 02:17 pm:   

Alexandria Quartet -- Yeah. Death in Venice.

Or is it Death in Bognor?

Still classics.
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Ben Wooller
Posted on Thursday, February 06, 2003 - 02:06 am:   

While waiting for my copy of 'Things That Never Happen' (and 'Light') to arrive, I'm reading Joan London's 'Gilgamesh' and 'The Princess Bride'.



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jonathan briggs
Posted on Thursday, February 06, 2003 - 03:27 pm:   

Jason, I'll save you an extra 70 pages or so and tell you "Red Church" doesn't get much better. I got about halfway thru before it went into the used bookstore trade-in pile. Pedestrian writing, blah characters, dull dull dull. Like much genre horror these days, it seems. Wanna read something great, check out the guy who blurbed it, Stewart O'Nan. His "Names of the Dead" is a terrific read. Covers somea the same territory as Straub's "Koko." Not sure who got there first. At the moment, I'm reading Toni Morrison's "Beloved." If you can find a copy that doesn't have Oprah's damn logos all over it, I recommend it highly. Now THAT is a horror novel!!! I'm talking deep-in-the-pit-of-yer-gut horror, with images that hang around in yer head bothering you for days. No, seriously.....
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jeff
Posted on Thursday, February 06, 2003 - 09:51 pm:   

Jason: Did you know that there are two versions of The Magus? Fowles took the book and rewrote it after it had been published and out for a few years. I remember reading it before it was rewritten. I think the changes are mostly at the end of the novel, but I think it changes quite a bit there. Well, hope you enjoy your version.

Best,

Jeff
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Jack Haringa
Posted on Friday, February 07, 2003 - 04:52 am:   

De gustibus non disputandum est. I enjoyed "The Red Church" and thoroughly disliked "Beloved". Straub's "Koko", by the way, predates O'Nan's "Names of the Dead" by a decade. If you can bear the second-person narration, O'Nan's "A Prayer for the Dying" is well worth seeking out as well.
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Night Shade Books
Posted on Friday, February 07, 2003 - 10:35 am:   

Jeff: I have the revised edition of The Magus.

Jack: Agreed on "A Prayer for the Dying." Second person present tense has to be my least favorite POV, but in the case of APftD, it was well worth it. I haven't read any of O'Nan's other books, but I plan on it at some point.

Jason
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Jay Caselberg
Posted on Friday, February 07, 2003 - 11:21 am:   

I've just recently finished HARD-BOILED WONDERLAND AND THE END OF THE WORLD by Haruki Murakami. Strangely disappointed by it all. I guess it would appear "darkly surreal" to the average mainstram reader perhaps. Problem was, I'd seen such a lot of it before in different forms.

One interesting little twist was that I found certain parallel threads within Harrison's LIGHT.
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jonathan briggs
Posted on Friday, February 07, 2003 - 12:51 pm:   

I have O'Nan's "Prayer for the Dying" in my ever-multiplying to-read piles, along with "The Magus" and "Observatory Mansions." One day, sigh. Yep, checked my copyright dates, Straub got there first (and wrote the better novel, I think), but they're both excellent reads. Also reading a book of James Ellroy short stories, "Hollywood Nocturnes." Not as engaging as his "big" novels but good. His "Black Dahlia" is onea my faves.
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Jay Caselberg
Posted on Friday, February 07, 2003 - 01:18 pm:   

Jonathan, have you ventured into James Lee Burke yet? Effortless writing and wonderful touches of almost magic realism sprinkled throughout the gritty murder investigation stuff.
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Night Shade Books
Posted on Friday, February 07, 2003 - 01:27 pm:   

I've only read Burke's Robicheaux novels, and enjoyed them thoroughly up until Cadillac Jukebox. I don't know if it went downhill after that, or if I just got burned out on them. But Purple Cane Road was damn good as well.

Jason
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Jay Caselberg
Posted on Friday, February 07, 2003 - 02:50 pm:   

It's easy to do. I burned myself out on Jonathan Carroll.
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Jack Haringa
Posted on Friday, February 07, 2003 - 06:54 pm:   

James, I became a fan of Murakami's work based on his earlier novels like WILD SHEEP CHASE, HARDBOILED WONDERLAND, and DANCE, DANCE, DANCE (although I thought his first and most popular book, NORWEIGIAN WOOD was adolescent and maudlin). I was somewhat disappointed with the recent WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE, which had an interesting premise but seemed to go nowhere very very slowly.

What I find interesting in his early work is the merger of the surreal and absurdist with the culture of contemporary Japan. I discovered his books while I was living over there, and that may account for my great appreciation of what he has done. His novels, like the stories of Kobo Abe, are so contrary to the Showa tradition of naturalistic narratives with passive and stoic protagonists that reading them felt like someone opening a window in cramped and smoke-filled room.

~Jack~
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Jay Caselberg
Posted on Saturday, February 08, 2003 - 02:23 am:   

Jack, I can see the underlying reasons for the appreciation, but taking it as something outside a tradition (I've only read the one of his, after all) as a stand-alone novel, I felt myself treading awfully familiar ground. I guess in my own reading, I'm seeking something that tweaks my thought processes and imagination, and apart from the tangential tie to LIGHT which I'd finished pretty soon before, there wasn't a lot in there that did that for me. Referential familiarity and understanding certainly are important -- the moments where you go "Oh yeah" -- but it's not everything.
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Stephen Gallagher
Posted on Saturday, February 08, 2003 - 04:23 am:   

For me James Lee Burke illustrates the problem you can get with a series character. Obviously the more believable you make them, the better they are; but the downside is that after a few books, the amount of baggage and backstory they have to carry undermines that very credibility. I entirely bought Robicheaux as a human being but I began to gag on the cartoonish amount of incident that had stacked up behind him.

There are all kinds of attractions in series characters (for readers but also for publishers, who can use brand strategy like other commercial producers) but in my heart I still have the feeling that the best novels are about the biggest thing that ever happened to the protagonist.
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Jay Caselberg
Posted on Saturday, February 08, 2003 - 05:59 am:   

Amen, and when Big Things keep happening to characters, then it becomes problematic. That was one of the reasons I burned out on Carroll. The same Big Things kept happening.
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jonathan briggs
Posted on Saturday, February 08, 2003 - 01:21 pm:   

Jay, yes, I've read the first five books of the Robicheuax (argh! dammit) Robicheaux series and enjoyed them very much. Very rich prose tho Burke, inevitably, tends to repeat himself with all the detailed descriptions of sunsets and flowers and swamps, etc. Still, I read at least one of his books per year. A year or so between books helps prevent series burnout for me. I agree with Stephen. Every time I see a new crime series character, I gotta groan. There are too many. I'm already following Patrick Kenzie, Burke, Harry Bosch, Robicheaux, Easy Rawlins, Hap and Leonard, etc., etc., etc. And usually, when a new series character pops up, you start seeing characteristics the author lifted from all the previous series characters. My big problem with John Connolly, whom everybody else seems to like, is his Charlie Parker just seems like a Frankenstein patchwork of all the aforementioned names. More standalone crime novels, please. Carroll's also in my to-read piles. I've read a few of his short stories but none of his novels.
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Stephen Gallagher
Posted on Saturday, February 08, 2003 - 04:15 pm:   

I'll admit to a soft spot for Travis McGee, despite the fact that he's prey to all the above series-character faults. I think it's maybe because he's less of a character and more of a conscious archetype, so he can be played like a Robin Hood or a Lancelot and loaded up with endless adventures.

(Surely McGee is a classic male fantasy avatar... no money worries but no material encumbrances, his few posessions are essentially toys, he has deep heart-to-heart relationships with every woman and they *still* move on to make way for the next...)
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Jay Caselberg
Posted on Saturday, February 08, 2003 - 04:40 pm:   

Okay, here's a question then...

How much is the series character a product of the publisher, wanting to tie in a reader with familiar friends. It's a formula that works, why fix it?

I had a comment from an acquiring editor recently that my problem is that all my novels are different. Now, to certain extent, that's going to be addressed by the forthcoming books, but I have a couple more, and they are, as he says, completely different. They remain unsold.
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jonathan briggs
Posted on Saturday, February 08, 2003 - 05:08 pm:   

I'm not in the biz, so I wouldn't know how much publishers drive the series glut. I'd suspect a lot. In an interview over at January Magazine (cool site), Dennis Lehane hinted that he was beginning to burn out on his own creation and may end the series. He said you ask a reader what his favorite book in a series is, and no one sez the 14th. True.

By the way, Stephen, are you the same Stephen Gallagher that wrote "The Horn"? I recently read that in a Stephen Jones antho. Cool story.

Finished "Beloved." Oppressive but I thought it was a magnificent book. Picked up Alan Warner's "Morvern Callar." Still getting used to the rhythm of Scottish writing. I love all those "Acid Plaid" authors, but so far, Warner hasn't grabbed me like Irvine Welsh or Duncan McLean did. Maybe you havta be an amoral, shallow young Scottish woman to "get it." As a redneck white boy rapidly aging out of my slackerdom, I'm having a little trouble relating or caring. Still early yet tho, so I'll give it some time.
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Stephen Gallagher
Posted on Sunday, February 09, 2003 - 03:32 am:   

>>By the way, Stephen, are you the same Stephen Gallagher that wrote "The Horn"? I recently read that in a Stephen Jones antho. Cool story. <<

Oui, ce'st moi, and thanks for that very welcome boost on a slow Sunday morning!

The problem with series characters goes back at least to Conan Doyle's efforts to close the file on Sherlock Holmes and move on to other stuff... he tried the strategy of asking excessive prices to put his publishers off, but the Strand mag simply paid them. So he killed the character, but then the pressure got even greater.

It's definitely a market/publisher driven thing more than it is an author impulse... while an author may well feel the urge to return to familiar characters and do new things with them, that's quite a different thing to stamping out the same template with variations for ever.

Readers may want it but, let's face it, a definition of hell is that it's the place where you get what you want. I've spent most of my daughter's life trying to explain to her that a magical experience, repeated exactly, is never going to feel the same the second time. She's 16 now and I'm still explaining it.

My gut feeling is that 4 books around a character is probably a maximum. Maybe Philip Marlowe pushes the envelope on that one.

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jonathan briggs
Posted on Tuesday, February 11, 2003 - 08:11 pm:   

I finished slogging thru "Morvern Callar" tho I'm not sure why I bothered. Maybe coz it's short. That's always a good quality in a crappy novel. I suppose it has its moments here and there; there's even a fairly decent dismemberment. But mostly it reads like the mind-numbing diary of a teenybopper bubblehead. Our dim heroine, Morvern, natters on and on and on about toenail polish, lip gloss, her period, obscure tekno and Every. Single. Freaking. Silk Cut. She sparks with her "goldish lighter." And there's some jazz about class warfare, yadda yadda. After while, I wasn't reading so much as dragging my unwilling eyeballs across strings of meaningless words. Best to avoid, or wait for the movie.

Not sure what's next: This Alastair Reynolds cat or John Ridley, who wrote a pretty good little noir called "Stray Dogs" that Oliver Stone didn't totally ruin when he turned it into "U-Turn."
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Mike Jasper
Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2003 - 06:24 am:   

Just thought I'd add a late "ditto" to the Stewart O'Nan novel, A PRAYER FOR THE DYING. I think I came across this novel thanks to Ellen Datlow's intro in the Year's Best Fantasy and Horror from a year or three ago, and I'm glad I did.

An even bigger plus for a slow-ass reader like me is that the book is very short. Almost a novella, I think.
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2003 - 07:27 am:   

Just found this thread.

THE MAGUS was one of the most influential books I read in my late teens/early twenties. I read it at least twice and found it mysterious, sexy, visionary. In fact, I loved Fowles until DANIEL MARTIN, hiw "realistic" novel which bored the hell out of me. I couldn't bring myself to read the "revised MAGUS as I didn't want more explained to me.

I agree with Jack H who said NORWEGIAN WOOD by Harukami was adolescent and maudlin--I skimmed it on a plan home from Japan and could barely stand it. If it was written in the USA it wouldn't have been published. It's so below his usual level of writing that I'm surprised he allowed it to be published in English.

I'm currently reading QUIETUS by Vivian Schelling, a horror novel published by a small out of genre press in 2002 that's being reissued (and edited) by a major mainstream press in 2003 (Doubleday maybe?) Although it's taking me an inordinately long time to read it (because I don't have time to read novels with all the short story reading I do) I'm still engaged and eager to discover what happens.

I got a used copy of OBSERVATORY MANSIONS on the rec of Jeff V I think but don't know what year I'll get to it <g>
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Night Shade Books
Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2003 - 07:42 am:   

I am enjoying The Magus, but it's a bit of a slog. It's kind of a book I need to spend time with, and I tend to read in 5 minute chunks, when not answering the phone or doing other thrilling Night Shade stuff. I'm about halfway through it, and it's weird. I've got the revised edition, and I have no idea what the difference is. I've also got a copy of Fowles' The Collector sitting here, which I'll tackle once I'm done with The Magus.

Jason
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2003 - 08:24 am:   

I believe he made the ending more explicit. Anyone else know?
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GabrielM
Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2003 - 11:40 am:   

I read the revised edition many years ago and my recollection is that the ending is supposed to be different. I don't know if "more explicit" necessarily, I seem to recall it was still rather ambiguous. (Doesn't the book have a foreword or afterword or something where he explains why he did it? I thought it had....)

I went through a serious Fowles phase in college, read all his novels in the course of a month or two. I wish he was still writing fiction. I recall picking up Observatory Mansions when it came out solely because it had a blurb from Fowles.
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Jack Haringa
Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2003 - 01:30 pm:   

Ellen--What's most astounding to me is that Norweigian Wood has been Murakami's most successful novel to date in Japan. It's spawned a film version (perhaps made-for-TV), and still makes adolescent girls swoon over there.

I'm reading only(!) two books concurrently: Walter Pater: Lover of Lost Souls by critic Denis Donoghue. Two things this literary biography has taught me: Walter Pater led a dull life; and Donoghue is a very good critic but a poor to middling biographer. The second book is Adrian Ross's short novel The Hole of the Pit as reprinted in the Ramsey Campbell-edited Uncanny Banquet. A very curous beast, this tale; written in 1914 under the pseudonym Edward Arnold, it takes place in and assumes the language of 1645 England, during the civil war.

~Jack~
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2003 - 03:09 pm:   

Jack--well no one said the Japanese had better taste in their reading than Americans <g>

It's perfect for adolescents who don't want to read anything thoughtful--shallow romance.
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Peggy H
Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2003 - 03:25 pm:   

Ellen, it's Penguin who's doing the paperback of Quietus.
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Forrest
Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2003 - 06:31 pm:   

I'm not a big fan of cross-posting, but sometimes it's easier to cut and paste (I'm expecting smartass comments on this sentence - bring it on!). This is what I recently posted over on Mike Jasper's board:

Lessee. I'm in the middle of Shakespeare's KING LEAR, KJ Bishop's THE ETCHED CITY (excellent, thus far - watch out for KJ - great writer), and Prakash Kona's STREETS THAT SMELL OF DYING ROSES, a highly experimental, stream of conscious work about the streets of Hyderabad, India, published by fugue state press (who have published, incidentally, some really cool experimental fiction and poetry). And all this after admitting on another board that I don't really read that much in the way of novels. Of course, this might be it for the year - except that I'll be buying Nick Cave's AND THE ASS SAW THE ANGEL when it's re-released sometime this month.

Forrest

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Forrest
Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2003 - 06:34 pm:   

I'm wondering if anyone who has a copy of OBSERVATORY MANSIONS out there has had a chance to read it yet? It's one of my favorite books, though it's only been out for a couple of years. Absolutely brilliant.
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2003 - 06:51 pm:   

Thanks Peggy.
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jonathan briggs
Posted on Friday, March 07, 2003 - 12:17 am:   

Forrest, "And the Ass Saw The Angel" is great. New Cave album ain't bad either tho I liked the last one better. Waiting for KJ Bishop's book to go on sale somewhere (can't find it online, Prime must be late releasing it). "Observatory Mansions" is still in the pile tho after hearing folks rave, it's moving nearer the top.

At the moment, I'm reading:

Conjunctions 39: Only 4 stories into it, but DAMN, is this good!!! This is like "seminal anthology" good. After "Lull," I jumped online and ordered Kelly Link's book. The Crowley's my favorite so far.

"Plainsong" by Kent Haruf: No plot to speak of, and the writing is, well, plain. Yet I'm totally into it. Can't figure out how it works, but it works.

"Mystic River" by Dennis Lehane: I donno, I'm kinda disappointed after all the hype. It's certainly more realistic, but as far as the writing, I don't think it's any better than Lehane's other stuff. Don't get me wrong, it's very good, crime fic fans should check it out. It's just not as good as the pages and pages of revues at the beginning of the book might lead you to believe.

"In The Dark" by Richard Layman: Coz sometimes Velveeta tastes good.
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Garry Nurrish
Posted on Friday, March 07, 2003 - 05:26 am:   

Jonathan, you can find KJ's book here:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/189481522X/qid%3D1047043274/sr%3D11-1/ref %3Dsr%5F11%5F1/104-7532795-9075162

I dunno if this link will work from here - you might have to copy and paste it into your browser address bar.

Garry.
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jonathan briggs
Posted on Friday, March 07, 2003 - 06:53 pm:   

Thanx, Garry, I'd looked at Amazon earlier this week, and there was a 3- to 5-week wait for the book, but I guess they got a batch in. Cool. I'll order it.
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KJ Bishop
Posted on Saturday, March 08, 2003 - 01:58 am:   

Jonathan:
I'm flattered that you're considering buying Etched City. Amazon are out of stock again. I think they're only getting in a couple at a time.
It can be ordered at bookstores - they can get it through Ingram distributors - or via the Prime Books website:
http://www.primebooks.net/books/book_detail.asp?isbn=1-894815-22-X

KJ



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jonathan briggs
Posted on Sunday, March 09, 2003 - 06:13 pm:   

Hi, KJ, yer generating lotsa buzz on these boards, so I'm intrigued. If Amazon's out again, I figure Shocklines will get some sooner or later. One way or the other, I'll track it down.
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KJ Bishop
Posted on Sunday, March 09, 2003 - 07:04 pm:   

Jonathan - Amazon's sort of in stock again. If you go to the URL that Garry pasted up, and click on the 'new and used' link, Prime are selling a few copies there, to stop the 'You Can't Buy This' sign coming up on Amazon. They're even a little bit under rrp. It's a back-door sale :-)
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GabrielM
Posted on Monday, March 10, 2003 - 09:27 am:   

I ordered the book from Amazon a few weeks ago and just received a message yesterday saying they wouldn't be able to get it for me. Ugh. Guess I'll try Prime....
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KJ Bishop
Posted on Monday, March 10, 2003 - 11:35 am:   

Gabriel - that is particularly sucky of Amazon. It shouldn't have happened; they should just be able to order a copy from the distributor. I've emailed them to find out what is going on.
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GabrielM
Posted on Monday, March 10, 2003 - 12:44 pm:   

They say they can't obtain it "from any of [their] sources at this time." Be happy to send ya the email if you want it. Give 'em hell.

Come to think of it, I also ordered a copy of Simon Logan's I-O from Amazon a while back and still haven't received it, although there they haven't sent me the "your order is DEAD" notice. Anyway, maybe there's something screwy going on with the Prime - Amazon connection.
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KJ Bishop
Posted on Monday, March 10, 2003 - 12:52 pm:   

Please do send me the email. I mean, people can still order the book from Amazon's marketplace section, but that's kind of besides the point re what happened with your order.
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Garry Nurrish
Posted on Tuesday, March 11, 2003 - 03:48 pm:   

RE: The Etched City

I think the problem is actually with the distributor because it's unavailable at BN too.

I spoke to the publisher about it yesterday - apparently it will be fixed soon.

Garry.
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Brian Willis
Posted on Thursday, March 13, 2003 - 05:58 am:   

Anyone else here read any of Maxim Jakubowski's crime novels? Just read 'Kiss Me Sadly' and it knocked me out (almost said 'blew me away' but given the talent displayed in the novel by the main female character... well, read it and you'll see what I mean). The ending is one of the most unexpected and shocking that I've ever read. And I'm fairly unshockable (or should that be cynical and jaded?)
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jonathan briggs
Posted on Friday, March 14, 2003 - 07:43 pm:   

I'm two stories and two essays into the new Jack Cady collection, and I'm enjoying it very much. Peppered thru the prose are these little bits of description that are so perfect in their simplicity that I can imagine Cady laboring over them for hours to get them just exactly right. Good stuff.
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Night Shade Books
Posted on Friday, May 23, 2003 - 01:28 pm:   

I'm reading Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead right now. I've been meaning to read it for years.

It's surprisingly contemporary. For a book written in 1948, it doesn't feel dated at all, and it reads pretty quick for a 720 page book.

For those that haven't read it, it's about a platoon of Army soldiers trying to take some island in the Pacific back from the Japanese. The point of view shifts from character to character are some of the smoothest I've seen, and it's very easy to keep the cast straight.

Downsides: The characters aren't terribly sympathetic. Most of them are pretty much shits. Also, he does these "Time Machine" entries throughout the book, in which he'll examine a given character prior to the war, from childhood to enlistment. They come more and more frequently as the book carries on. For my money, they're terribly disruptive, and they manage to make even the semi-likeable characters into unlikeable shits.

It's also a bit slow. Damn little has actually happened, and I'm 475 pages into it.

All in all, so far it's an enjoyable read.

Jason
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Night Shade Books
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 01:01 am:   

Did a bit of book shopping today:

Charles de Lint - Circle of Cats. I'm not normally a YA kinda guy, but I'd seen some sketches of the Charles Vess artwork, and they were pretty amazing. The center piece is of a girl surrounded by singing cats. Had to buy it just for that. And yeah, I'm cat people.

Measures of Poison - Dennis McMillan's 20th Anniversary anthology, chock full of goodness. 700 pages of goodness. I've read the Kent Anderson, George Pelecanos and James Crumley pieces so far, and I'm impressed. Here's to hoping our 20th Anniversary looks this good.

Stephen King - The Gunslinger. Yeah, I plunked down for the revised edition, and I'll probably plunk down for the other three volumes as well. I already had the Grant editions, as well as the trade paperbacks, but you can't have too much King. Well, maybe you can, but I can't.

Geoff Ryman - Lust. Couldn't tell you why I like Ryman so much, as he's not really my style. But I've yet to read a book of his I didn't like. I read Lust in one sitting, and it's basically 400 pages of gay sex, with a little metaphysics sprinkled here and there. I dug it.

Jason
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 01:28 pm:   

I Finished this a month ago, but was reminded how good it was because the author just came through for a singing....

Fluke: Or I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings by Christopher Moore. If you like Whales, Hawaiian culture, The culture of Biological field sciences, or just well written, hilarious satire, don't miss this one.


Also... In keeping with the humorous motif, I've been reading through the "Garret" books by Glen Cook. Fun stuff. Try not to read more than 3 at a time, because the hard-boiled detective/fantasy fusion can be kind of repetitive back to back, but these are fun, solidly done, top shelf humorous fantasy.

-JL
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benjamin greville
Posted on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 07:43 am:   

im reading Papr:kut by Ian McLachlan. you definitely need to be open-minded to enjoy it. lol. not really sure where its going but is well written and different.
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ellen
Posted on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 08:38 am:   

I've just read Southern Blood, a horror antho out of Australia edited by Bill Congreve and am very impressed by some of the stories in it.
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Jonathan Strahan
Posted on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 03:40 pm:   

Reading? I'm in the midst of Tricia Sullivan's new novel MAUL, which describes itself as a science fiction novel of sex, shopping and terrorbugs - and is! It's very good so far. I'm also reading a John C. Wright 'Night Lands' novella. I don't know what I think about the whole writers writing new Night Lands stories thing, but this is pretty good too, and you can see it over on Andy Robertson's website.

Jonathan
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Cheryl
Posted on Tuesday, November 25, 2003 - 02:36 pm:   

MAUL is wonderful. It is on my Hugo list.

I've just finished ABSOLUTION GAP by Al Reynolds and shortly will be diving in to 1610: A SUNDIAL IN A GRAVE by Mary Gentle, both 600 pages or so.
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Night Shade Books
Posted on Tuesday, November 25, 2003 - 03:22 pm:   

I'm reading Midnight Lamp, Gwyneth Jones' follow up to Bold As Love and Castles Made of Sand. I'm only a couple of pages into it, but I liked the first two a lot.

Jason
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Jonathan
Posted on Tuesday, November 25, 2003 - 05:02 pm:   

Hey Jason

I loved BOLD AS LOVE, and liked CASTLES MADE OF SAND. As you know, I wasn't as convinced about MIDNIGHT LAMP, though I'll be very interested in what you think of it. I think Jones is doing something interesting in the series, but I'm not sure the new book doesn't flag as the middle of a set of five.

Jonathan
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Bob Urell
Posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2003 - 09:03 am:   

Finally getting around to ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE. Also reading, for school, THE BOOK OF J, THE AMERICAN SHORT STORY and THE WESTERN CANON.
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Iron James
Posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2003 - 09:18 am:   

Series novels are sort of a pet peeve of mine, and with two exceptions, I wish all would end after no more than five novels.

The exceptions are the Travis McGee novels. I never tired of those, at least not enough to stop reading.

The second exception is the Matthew Scudder novels by Lawrence Block. I tired of Block's other series quickly, but it seems to me the Scudder series has only gotten better and better over time.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2003 - 10:27 am:   

I feel the same way about Richard Stark "Parker" novels. Of course they are cheesey and repetative. but they are my vice. I love them.
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Mastadge
Posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2003 - 01:13 pm:   

Bob,

I just picked up THE BOOK OF J myself. Not for school, but on Matt's recommendation, along with TESTAMENT: THE BIBLE AND HISTORY. Anyway, whaddaya think of J so far?

And I seem to be one of about two people in the world who didn't particularly like ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE.
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Bob Urell
Posted on Thursday, November 27, 2003 - 01:19 am:   

Hi Nate,
I don't really know what to think, just yet. I have a lot of personal bias I'm working on setting aside, but some of the history asserted in the text and the introduction I'll have to verify through secondary sources before I buy fully into it, y'know?
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Earl Patrick Dean
Posted on Friday, December 12, 2003 - 08:12 am:   

Attention Philip K. Dick fans on this list: I'm one too, and I own a big run of his novels, both used and new. The only two I don't have that were published are Humpty Dumpty in Oakland and In Milton Lumky Territory. That is, unless there has been some newly released, complete novel recently. I check them off using Sutin's list in Divine Invasions. Some of my favorite PKD novels are Time Out of Joint, UBIK, Martian Time-Slip and VALIS. Of his more ordinary books, Crack in Space is good, with some imbedded images that I've remembered for over 10 years. I did not like Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. It was too abstract for me-- I just couldn't find a place to grab on.
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Earl Patrick Dean
Posted on Friday, December 12, 2003 - 08:25 am:   

PKD fans: I'll clarify my earlier message. All but those two of his novels are represented in my collection. I don't pick up every edition of a book, and I do not have all of Phil's short story collections. Hand of Darkness, for example, is missing. But I do have all 5 volmes of his short stories in the Citadel Twilight paperbacks (not the selected reprints, the 5 as they originally were collected).

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