What are you reading right now?

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Felstaff
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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Felstaff »

I gave that Doctor Sleep a good whack. Feels like Stephen King writing on autopilot. It's not scary, and is the complete opposite of the claustrophobia that made The Shining such a thrilling, chilling (and occasionally spilling) read, as the story is spaced out over many years, and every location is a wide-open space. Terrifying.

Goodreads gives it a metascore of 4.2/5. I'd give it a 2.5, as it's not a bad story. Not too much of a spoiler, but I enjoyed the telepathic mind-swapping between Dan and Abra. It was interesting, but not enough to be considered a great 'supernatural' novel, and definitely not scary enough to be a horror story. The main antagonist, Rose, was personified by having a single monstrous tusk for a tooth (scary, right?). Ironically, she was a particularly toothless villain. Not once did she really ever have the upper-hand over her nemesis (a 12-year-old girl), and her only insult was to constantly refer to her as 'the bitchgirl'. Quaking in my boots, Mr. King. The most well-written aspect of the book was Danny Torrance's struggles to overcome his alcohol addiction - you genuinely sympathised and empathised with that facet of his character. The book is also overlong at 500+ pages. People talk about short attention spans, but I swear pop-lit books and Hollywood films are getting longer.

Also had a look at Simon Armitage's poetic retranslation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Not too bad - he's kept the alliteration but even though the language is modernised, it still feels a little old-fashioned, in the way that early 20th century writers are considered old-fashioned. Also a medieval morality tale just sounds a bit ridiculous when read in modern language.

Currently reading Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Hilarious. As quintessentially English as Adrian Mole.
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Re: What are you reading right now?

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Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was rather good, all things considered. Best £0.75 I ever spent. Well maybe not the best £0.75...

Currently reading Ready Player One. Engrossing, if suffering from a little firstnovelitis. I really love the 80s culture references, and the overall geekiness, but I'd rather he focused more on the 'adventure aspect' of certain scenes, like a fantasy story would, than simply say "I knew the dungeon off by heart, so sprinted through it and picked up a +1 mace on the way". You've just built up the fact that this MMO you're in has lovingly recreated an obscure Dungeons and Dragons game from 1978 in every single detail, and you skip straight to the final boss? Stop and smell the roses, first, yo.
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Re: What are you reading right now?

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Felstaff wrote:Currently reading Ready Player One.
I started it a while back when amazon had a free 'read the first few chapters of this book' or whatever for it. I thought it was okay, but I was kind of annoyed by the 80s cultural references and geekiness. I grew up a geek in the 80s and very probably Cline's target audience. I love his stand up / spoken word. But it kind of took me out of the book. It felt like pandering. Maybe I'll give it another try at some point though.

I started Bill Bryson's new book, One Summer, America 1927. It is pretty good so far. A lot of interesting little tidbits and anecdotes in typical Bryson fashion.
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Re: What are you reading right now?

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Kaharz wrote:But it kind of took me out of the book. It felt like pandering.
The same has been happening to me over the course of the past hundred pages. My initial enthusiasm is waning, but still it has been engrossing enough for me to miss 3 (three!) bus stops, and very few books have managed that. Somewhere around page 100 he starts using outdated leet-speak more often, which becomes more and more jarring. This is supposed to be 2044, and they still use sux0rz? That neologism, although undoubtedly created in the late '90s, enjoyed the briefest popularity between, what, 2002 and 2003? Even when this book was being written, suxxorz was old hat. It also refers to YouTube and Wikipedia as though they're still in their current incarnation. The OASIS has every piece of media ever created inside it, so why the need for these websites? I would have appreciated even a mere mention that other decades have existed between 1980 and 2044. Everything is 1980s, present day (2009ish?) or 2044, and it's as though nothing in between those dates ever happened.

I feel I should read Snow Crash as my next science fiction (I don't read too much science fiction, and have only really read the classics, some Philip K. Dick, and a few Culture novels)
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Re: What are you reading right now?

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I read a book a couple years ago that had iPads in it. Despite them probably not going away any time soon, authors making references to specific things like that dates books in an uncomfortable way.
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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Astrogirl »

Everybody should read Snow Crash.
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Re: What are you reading right now?

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Liriodendron_fagotti wrote:I read a book a couple years ago that had iPads in it. Despite them probably not going away any time soon, authors making references to specific things like that dates books in an uncomfortable way.
Yup, Doctor Sleep occasionally mentioned iPads, Google, and YouTube. Admittedly, it was very date-fixated (the story runs from 1980s - 2012). I always find it jarring, as it sets the book too deep within current popular culture, and seeing how fast that kind of thing moves on, it rapidly dates the book in question. It reminds of the great scene in Almost Famous when the editor tells the young Cameron Crowe that Rolling Stone can send the interview copy over "fax modem", which can deliver a whole page of type "in under ten minutes".

I have the same problem when fictional media references September 11th, too. Doctor Sleep is full of it, as was Dead Air. Even Love Actually and The Simpsons referenced it, hideously. It all seems so non-fictitious, which is jarring to the fictitious content of the media being consumed.

The only fiction where 21st technology is done well, I think, is The Casual Vacancy, which talks about using SQL injections to take control of an old-fashioned bulletin board. J. K. Rowling deftly manages this high-tech vs. silver-surfer-knowledge, as it's an integral part of the storyline, rather than a simple passing reference to $currently_available_technology.
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Re: What are you reading right now?

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I've been meaning to read both of Rowling's adult books*, but I haven't gotten around to it. Almost all the reviews I saw were positive - the only ones that weren't were complaining that it wasn't Harry Potter, so I feel pretty safe dismissing them. In the book I read with iPads (and Google too, I think), the time period didn't really matter at all to the plot, so it just seemed really gimmicky.

*Both of them are currently sitting on a nightstand next to my bed.
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Re: What are you reading right now?

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Felstaff wrote:I feel I should read Snow Crash as my next science fiction (I don't read too much science fiction, and have only really read the classics, some Philip K. Dick, and a few Culture novels)
The next time you are looking for some sci-fi I highly recommend Schismatrix Plus by Bruce Sterling. Unless you really hate post-humanism sci-fi stuff, then skip it. I've read a few other Sterling books and was not very enthralled, but I love Schismatrix. Nothing against Sterling, I'm just not generally into what he writes. Be warned, it starts a bit slow.
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Re: What are you reading right now?

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Felstaff wrote:
I have the same problem when fictional media references September 11th, too. Doctor Sleep is full of it, as was Dead Air. Even Love Actually and The Simpsons referenced it, hideously. It all seems so non-fictitious, which is jarring to the fictitious content of the media being consumed.
This is pretty much the reason I lost almost all respect for Tom Clancy.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

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I'm reading The Gun Seller, by Hugh Laurie. It's witty, but it's hard not to see the protagonist and his 'handler' as Fry & Laurie's characters in Jeeves and Wooster or countless sketches in A Bit of Fry and Laurie. The protagonist is basically bad-ass, less-than-debonair, and übermenschically strong-- to a near-Under Siege-era Steven Seagal level--which is jarring because my inner voice reads it in the jolly plum-in-the-mouth Hugh Laurie voice (as opposed to his gritty Dr. House American accent), and the two elements don't knit at all. David Solomon is nobody but Stephen Fry, and that comparison is inescapable. He speaks just like him!

Of course, if I had no idea who Hugh Laurie is, then I would be able to read it without drawing such discordant pictures of the characters, and enjoy the wit 'n' whimsy of the novel without picturing this Hugh Laurie as the protagonist. It's supposed to be a spoof of the spy genre, but it does rely too heavily on stereotype. The femme fatale as unchanged from Double Indemnity, with a side of incompetence and regret chucked in to add dimension, as well as the Fat-European-Politician and Kick-Ass-American-General-Who-Uses-Words-Like-'Strike'-And-'Delta'-And-'Recon', stick out. Although he does spend a lot of time making sly digs at these characters, so I guess you could take it as either great satire or lazy parody, judging by how charitable you wish to be with Laurie's self-awareness.

If anything, the only real criticism I have of the book is that it's so apologetically English. Canadans will back me up here, but the protagonist spends more time being self-deprecating than any fictional character I've ever read. Every decision he makes, particularly sexually, requires pages of justification and pontificating. It doesn't exactly spoil the pacing of the novel (which coasts rather smoothly) but there are Monty Python-esque moments of get on with it! I find myself shouting at the pages, usually when I'm on a bus, so nobody takes any notice of me.

I'm on the last bit, so waiting for a twist here and there. I'll keep you posted!!
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Re: What are you reading right now?

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Finished the new Pratchett book, Raising Steam, a few days ago. I didn't feel like waiting until March for the US release, so I ordered it from the UK. There was some of what I'm assuming is British slang that I hadn't heard before, but it was easy enough to figure out from the context, and the cover is much more interesting than what they apparently have planned for the US release.

It was very good. Not as many easy jokes and a bit more obviously political than most of his books, but he has been slowly trending that way for a while. I'd rank it somewhere in the middle of the Discworld books. It started slow and came to a head rather quickly (pun intended), which made the pacing seem a bit off. But it was fairly smooth nonetheless.
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Re: What are you reading right now?

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Felstaff wrote:I'm reading The Gun Seller, by Hugh Laurie. It's witty, but it's hard not to see the protagonist and his 'handler' as Fry & Laurie's characters in Jeeves and Wooster or countless sketches in A Bit of Fry and Laurie. The protagonist is basically bad-ass, less-than-debonair, and übermenschically strong-- to a near-Under Siege-era Steven Seagal level--which is jarring because my inner voice reads it in the jolly plum-in-the-mouth Hugh Laurie voice (as opposed to his gritty Dr. House American accent), and the two elements don't knit at all. David Solomon is nobody but Stephen Fry, and that comparison is inescapable. He speaks just like him!

Of course, if I had no idea who Hugh Laurie is, then I would be able to read it without drawing such discordant pictures of the characters, and enjoy the wit 'n' whimsy of the novel without picturing this Hugh Laurie as the protagonist. It's supposed to be a spoof of the spy genre, but it does rely too heavily on stereotype. The femme fatale as unchanged from Double Indemnity, with a side of incompetence and regret chucked in to add dimension, as well as the Fat-European-Politician and Kick-Ass-American-General-Who-Uses-Words-Like-'Strike'-And-'Delta'-And-'Recon', stick out. Although he does spend a lot of time making sly digs at these characters, so I guess you could take it as either great satire or lazy parody, judging by how charitable you wish to be with Laurie's self-awareness.

If anything, the only real criticism I have of the book is that it's so apologetically English. Canadans will back me up here, but the protagonist spends more time being self-deprecating than any fictional character I've ever read. Every decision he makes, particularly sexually, requires pages of justification and pontificating. It doesn't exactly spoil the pacing of the novel (which coasts rather smoothly) but there are Monty Python-esque moments of get on with it! I find myself shouting at the pages, usually when I'm on a bus, so nobody takes any notice of me.

I'm on the last bit, so waiting for a twist here and there. I'll keep you posted!!
I really need to get my copy back from my friend who has had it for over a year. I would love to give it a second read.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

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It's good! But it's a bit Wodehouse-meets-Clancy, which is almost too odd a combination. I feel it starts to fizzle at The Sword of Justice third of the book, and I'm not sure if Ronnie needed to be in the novel at all?

I'm reading through the Sandman volumes again. I say again, I've never read them chronologically from volume 1 to whatever, just in dribs and drabs; the odd story here and there. They have up to volume 8 in the library, and the only one I've ever physically owned is volume 3 (Dream Country), and that's been in my toilet for a good ten years. So I'm up to volume 4 now. So many of them seem so familiar, as if I've already read them in a dream but I never know how they turn out, and I'm sure I'll forget in a few months' time. I'm like that with media. Neil Gaiman is one of those writers who I feel is, whilst technically masterful, someone I have to keep reading to see if I like him. Like fig rolls. I eat one, and think did I like that fig roll? And then I think I'm not sure, but I better eat another one just in case. And suddenly the packet is empty and I'm clutching at my stomach in a delirious fig-roll hangover.
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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Liriodendron_fagotti »

Finally, after 10+ years, finished The Once and Future King. When I was younger, I set it down for some reason when I was 3/4 of the way finished. I was on Ocracoke Island this summer and picked it up again (starting from the beginning). Then I didn't read much in the way of novels during school, and then school ended. So I finished!

I started Gödel, Escher, Bach. It's really more about Gödel than the other two (at least so far), who just seem to be brought in as supplementary examples. The book is written as if the author is having a conversation with the reader, with the reader barely keeping up and having to re-read and re-re-read a lot.
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