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Discussion in 'The Reading Room' started by Lancealot, Aug 13, 2006.
Jane Austen, Mansfield Park
Always fun to escape into an Austen novel. I've read them all, but every other year or so, I'll reread one. Most recent reread was "Northanger Abbey."
Henry James failed to appreciate Jane, and Virginia Woolf's estimate that she lacked realism is mistaken.
I am very much enamored of this English rose and deeply appreciative. :eusa_clap
She's had a pretty good run in pop culture over the last several years with movies based on her life and her books and books expanding on her novels. Some of the movies were okay in a light way, but nothing really shined through.
Autobiography of old style British East End gangster, Roy Shaw(Deceased).
Like most of these gangster autobiography's by so called celebrity criminals, the book is probably 'Ghost written' and it shows. I will probably read it to the end as I finish most books I start but a one word review here is in order. Crap!
Though I still would not like to have met Mr Shaw on a dark night if he knew I wrote this
Reconsidering James Augustine Aloysius Joyce.
Considering The Most Dangerous Book, The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses, by Kevin Birmingham.
Biggest problem I find with a lot of those is that they all want to retrospectively recast themselves as being bigger than the Krays, and twice as stylish... I've read a few fascinating books on, by and around the Krays, though. Couple of years ago, I read "Reggie Kray's East End Stories", which was not quite autobiographical (though there was an element of that), but more about people he knew, "East End Characters". The thing that really sticks in my head is that one of Reggie and Ronnie's grandmothers was a teenage girl in the East End in 1888, and remembered well the atmosphere of the area at the height of the Whitechapel Murders. Wouldn't it be something to have her on tape? If only!
Currently, I'm reading Bag of Bones, a mid 1990s Stephen King I missed first time around. I love King's work - I've read about half of his oeuvre and yet to find one I didn't like. I do beleive he deserves much more respect as a writer, but alas genre authors are rarely afforded the respect they deserve in their lifetime. I suppose he has some small change - like $500 bills - that he can dry his tears with if this ever bothers him. :lol: I've also got a whole pile of great books that have come in over Christmas to add to my reading pile. Hopefully I'll find the time after I go back to work on Monday....
Though not a King fan, his semi biographical On Writing was most enjoyable.
This is well said. :eusa_clap
few days ago I went and had my hair cut - and that reminded me of "Bernice Bobs Her Hair".
I've decided to read it again, and started posting chapters on my blog
That and "Diamond as Big as The Ritz" are two of my favorite Fitzgerald short stories.
True stories from the past are fascinating, especially from these times when the only real entertainment was theatre(music hall) early cinema and dad reading from the Bible. Where ever there is entertainment there is money and of course where there is money there are usually gangsters.
I finished the Roy Shaw book, you would think no one was ever tougher and had plenty of excuses for loosing fights, but always came out on top in the end.
There were so many inaccuracies such as steam trains in the 1970s it was an easy read that if I had left it on the train home I could have made up an ending in my mind and been fairly accurate.
I too have a large stash to get through, from Fangio, the racing driver to a novel, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and a rare book titled Operation Elvis about the publicity generated in Elvis's enlistment as a GI. Most are bought second hand at car boot fairs so if I do loose them it's not such a big hit on the pocket.
Harp, Woolf said that? Try opening Mrs. Dalloway at any random page and not laughing out loud. Martin Amis described his father, Kingsley, as paging through it and saying, "Oh, no he didn't." "She couldn't have!" Oh, my Lord! Please!" My sentiments exactly. See Hugh Kenner's "A Sinking Island" for the very interesting (and nasty) backstory on "Mrs. Dalloway."
Thomas Pynchon's "Inherent Vice"
Yes, but whose afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Currently revisiting The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain bests Pynchon's metaphysicial comedy.
"The San Francisco Earthquake" by Max Morgan Witts and Gordon Thomas. Published in 1971, this is an excellent minute-by-minute narrative account of the Great Disaster of 1906.
One day in 1972, while walking home from school across the parking lot of an abandoned gas station, I found this book lying there on the gravel -- and I felt a sudden visceral horror at the idea of a book, any book, being left outside at the mercy of the elements. So I picked it up and took it home, and it's been on my shelf ever since -- thru childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, and on into middle age. It was the start of a lifelong habit of bringing home discarded or abandoned books, and I've never forgotten it was the first one. And only now, nearly forty-three years later, am I finally getting around to reading it.
Good for you! That's admirable. A friend of mine once told me that when she travels and brings along a book to read, she tears out the pages as she's read them and throws them away. I found that rather shocking.
I've been trying to read a series of lousy novels (not deliberately) set during the golden era, defined vaguely as 1920 - 1945 or so. Evidently there's a great trend among young women writers to place their characters & plots in those decades, no doubt because they find that period romantic or evocative. Lately I've seen a plethora of poorly-researched, anachronistic, and eminently forgettable fiction set in some vague "vintage" time where pony-tails, V-mail, Maybelline mascara, and adulterous affairs (mind you, confessed to a man stationed overseas in a letter that evidently never went anywhere near a censor) jostle one another with reckless abandon. It seems to me that these women writers are indulging in a fit of pointless facile nostalgia, or perhaps they feel that the historic setting adds flavor that they're incapable of otherwise bringing to their stories.
Sorry, that turned into more of a rant than I had intended. I can't even remember the authors' names (and I should probably refrain from stating them anyway, given my negativity) b/c all of those books went back to the library. I couldn't even finish half of them. I was looking for some light reading that wouldn't demand too much brain work at the end of a long hard day, but these foolish efforts sure didn't fit the bill.
Don't most people know that women in the 1940s didn't wear pony tails and that V-mail was censored? One epistolary novel, written by a pair of dingbats as a cooperative effort, essentially had two 21st century women disguised as war wives writing to each other about their affairs & complaining, e.g., about how the hubby had to write his letters in tiny handwriting to fit the V-mail stationery. Seriously?!?
I do wonder whether these people make the slightest effort to read more than a wiki page or two in order to research the historic & cultural context of those decades. All of the characters are modern people dressed up in some haphazard bundle of "vintage" outfits and behaving like ... well, "no better than she ought to be."
Other than Kate Morton, who really is a wonderful & knowledgeable writer and certainly is not included in this rant, I can't think of a single modern author (I mean, an author working in this genre) whose works deserve a recommendation. I loved Morton's second & third books & can't wait for her next one. If anyone else has some ideas or suggestions, by all means let me know!
Sounds like a good read. Always been fascinated by disasters: fires, earthquakes, ship sinkings, etc. What I find interesting is that they usually come to pass because of multiple factors, the absence of one of which would have prevented- or at least mitigated- the resulting loss of life.
The Coconut Grove Nightclub fire in Boston was a good example: if the scenery had not been flammable, or if the emergency exit doors had been sufficient, or if the place had not been so packed with the post football game crowd, or if there had been a working fire extinguisher handy when the employee first noticed flame, etc. These Perfect Storm scenarios are always interesting to examine.
Funny, I have a copy of Orwell's Animal Farm that I found in the trash can at my old high school, which I found while clearing out my locker on the last day of school in 1982, the year that I graduated. And I still have it.
"The Good Old Days: An Informal Study of America's Manners and Morals As Seen Through The Sears Roebuck Catalogs from 1905 To The Present. " by David L. Cohn.
Published in 1940, this big, impressive volume is the first attempt to use the Sears and Roebuck catalog as a field for sociological study. Despite the title, this is not a nostalgia romp, nor a "look at the funny clothes we used to wear" indulgence, but a serious attempt -- albeit often light in tone -- to understand what Sears meant to mainstream America over the first four decades of the twentieth century. Worth the price of the book all by itself is Cohn's extremely perceptive discussion of the sale of contraceptive products by Sears, which first appeared in the early 1930s, and by 1940 occupied almost an entire page in the drugstore section of the catalog.
Cohn's work is an early example of the sort of popular sociology that became more common during the postwar era -- along with "The Good Old Days," he wrote similar books examining the evolution of American marriage and the rise of the automobile over the first half of the century. While not quite a muckraker of the Vance Packard/John Keats style, he had a very sharp eye for the doings of the gentlemen whose sons would one day become The Boys From Marketing.