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What are you reading? 
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Post Re: What are you reading?
The Yiddish Policeman's Union, Michael Chabon's ambitious attempt to imagine a forced Jewish exile to Alaska while Israel is torn apart by those remaining. Within this setting is a murder mystery and several twists of reality, enough to capture the Hugo, Locus, and Nebula awards for science fiction. That it could be called science fiction... well, I'll take that as the author's self-applied label in order to merit his novel's inclusion into the back spaces of the book store.

The novel is currently being adapted by the Coens into a movie that will hopefully make interesting the tedious that makes up most of what I've read thus far. Chabon isn't the spectacular giver of literary leaps-and-bounds that some claim but his novels have, for the most part, told a story in at least an interesting way. His ultra-conscious genre leaping (Summerland for the young reader, The Final Solution for those browsing the mystery section) makes his work adventurous but, particularly in this latest case, too self-conscious to be the stuff of Leather Bound Masterpiece.

Still, the guy tries. He doesn't half-ass the story, the characters, and wants the reader to work at least a little bit to keep up -- that's something that makes Chabon's work necessary even if it doesn't engage me 100%.


Fri May 01, 2009 6:30 am
Post Re: What are you reading?
majoraphasia wrote:
The Yiddish Policeman's Union, Michael Chabon's ambitious attempt to imagine a forced Jewish exile to Alaska while Israel is torn apart by those remaining. Within this setting is a murder mystery and several twists of reality, enough to capture the Hugo, Locus, and Nebula awards for science fiction. That it could be called science fiction... well, I'll take that as the author's self-applied label in order to merit his novel's inclusion into the back spaces of the book store.

The novel is currently being adapted by the Coens into a movie that will hopefully make interesting the tedious that makes up most of what I've read thus far. Chabon isn't the spectacular giver of literary leaps-and-bounds that some claim but his novels have, for the most part, told a story in at least an interesting way. His ultra-conscious genre leaping (Summerland for the young reader, The Final Solution for those browsing the mystery section) makes his work adventurous but, particularly in this latest case, too self-conscious to be the stuff of Leather Bound Masterpiece.

Still, the guy tries. He doesn't half-ass the story, the characters, and wants the reader to work at least a little bit to keep up -- that's something that makes Chabon's work necessary even if it doesn't engage me 100%.


The last time I was at the bookshop I had this in my hand with the intention of checking it out. Ultimately I decided not to. Your review thus far makes me think I made the right decision. I haven't read anything from Mr. Chabon as yet, but doesn't this guy have a Pulitzer? He must have written something good...


Fri May 01, 2009 11:41 am
Post Re: What are you reading?
ed_metal_head wrote:
I haven't read anything from Mr. Chabon as yet, but doesn't this guy have a Pulitzer? He must have written something good...


He does the Pulitzer, awarded to him for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, a book that I wasn't particularly impressed with but deeply pleased critics and awards committees with its scope and Chabon's frequently great prose. He hasn't yet written anything great, in my opinion, but he's worth checking out for the risks he takes and some of his early noble semi-failures. Stick with the fiction, though; his essays reflect a shrill defensive that doesn't surface in his fiction.


Fri May 01, 2009 7:57 pm
Post Re: What are you reading?
This thread needs to come back. Just finished a couple more books:

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon. I put The Amazing Adventures on Kavalier and Clay on hiatus for the time being and read his first novel. A recent college grad spends a summer in Pittsburgh and finds love and friendship and yada yada yada. I really liked it and parts of it resonated because the main character and I are about the same age. I can't believe Chabon wrote this for his senior thesis, and it's an amazing first novel because he hasn't gotten as showy as he'd later become; just good, descriptive, atmospheric writing.

World War Z by Max Brooks. Something a little more lighthearted and definitely entertaining. It's an oral history of a world-wide zombie war that took place a decade or so before the reporter gathers the accounts of its survivors. The writing style wasn't terrific, as Brooks tends to write most of his characters using the same voice and lingo, he over-dramatizes a lot of the storytelling, and he has an unusual affinity for giving everything an acronym. That said, it's incredible how one guy envisioned how a zombie outbreak would affect every facet of the world's culture, and some of his psychological examinations are fascinating.


Mon Jun 15, 2009 2:53 pm
Post Re: What are you reading?
I forgot about this thread otherwise I would mention Mike Nelson's Death Rat and why you shouldn't bother.


Mon Jun 15, 2009 2:57 pm
Post Re: What are you reading?
El Duderino wrote:
This thread needs to come back. Just finished a couple more books:

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon. I put The Amazing Adventures on Kavalier and Clay on hiatus for the time being and read his first novel. A recent college grad spends a summer in Pittsburgh and finds love and friendship and yada yada yada. I really liked it and parts of it resonated because the main character and I are about the same age. I can't believe Chabon wrote this for his senior thesis, and it's an amazing first novel because he hasn't gotten as showy as he'd later become; just good, descriptive, atmospheric writing.

World War Z by Max Brooks. Something a little more lighthearted and definitely entertaining. It's an oral history of a world-wide zombie war that took place a decade or so before the reporter gathers the accounts of its survivors. The writing style wasn't terrific, as Brooks tends to write most of his characters using the same voice and lingo, he over-dramatizes a lot of the storytelling, and he has an unusual affinity for giving everything an acronym. That said, it's incredible how one guy envisioned how a zombie outbreak would affect every facet of the world's culture, and some of his psychological examinations are fascinating.


I liked but didn't love The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. World War Z on the other hand was fantastic. It was one of those books I started to give as gifts(yea, I'm a nerd like that) so I would have people to talk about it with. Movie adaptation pending, I'm kind of nervous how that will turn out. I also checked out the audio book with a great cast reading the accounts, lots of fun.


Mon Jun 15, 2009 4:21 pm
Post Re: What are you reading?
As for my current reading....
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. I was so into the film, I had to check this out. It was great.
Now reading Hater by David Moody. Pretty interesting so far, will check back once finished.


Mon Jun 15, 2009 4:23 pm
Post Re: What are you reading?
So far read this summer:

The People of Paper - Salvador Plascencia (Highly recommended, lesser known but very entertaining)
Wise Blood - Flannery O'Connor
The Road - Cormac McCarthy (Amazing!)
Child Of God - Cormac McCarthy
Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut (Equally amazing!)

I am currently working my way through The Day of Battle by Rick Atkinson, the second of his Liberation trilogy. I read the first last year.

Books I've bought and will read after my current one:

The Crying of Lot 49 - Thomas Pynchon
Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut
Galapagos - Kurt Vonnegut
Gravity's Rainbow - Thomas Pynchon

Those Neal Stephenson ones sound interesting. I will have to check those out too!


Tue Jun 16, 2009 2:39 pm
Post Re: What are you reading?
My first foray into this thread...

I just finished reading my first Terry Pratchett novel, Pyramids. He came highly recommended by several of my friends. I was not disappointed. This was one of the funniest books I've ever read, and also one of the best fantasies. Pratchett has a gift for language, and he uses it. And the puns. Oh, the glorious glorious puns. Highly recommended.

5/5

I'm now starting the Discworld books at the beginning with The Color of Magic.


Tue Jun 16, 2009 3:43 pm
Post Re: What are you reading?
Patrick wrote:
I forgot about this thread otherwise I would mention Mike Nelson's Death Rat and why you shouldn't bother.

same hear.

V for Vendetta.


Tue Jun 16, 2009 9:02 pm
Post Re: What are you reading?
I'm re-reading Chaim Potok's The Chosen. I read this back in high school and was just blown away by the story and felt compelled to revisit it recently. Highly recommended!!

:D


Tue Jun 16, 2009 10:18 pm
Post Re: What are you reading?
mkratzer21 wrote:
I'm now starting the Discworld books at the beginning with The Color of Magic.


Great! We'll see you in a couple of years! Seriously though, I think the Discworld series might be right up my alley, but the idea of going through 30+ books is just too daunting.

I'd love to know whether Gaiman or Pratchett wrote the car seat belt haiku in Good Omens. I'd like to send that man a dollar or something.

Late frost burns the bloom
Would a fool not let the belt
Restrain the body?


Wed Jun 17, 2009 10:38 pm
Post Re: What are you reading?
Blonde Almond wrote:
So far read this summer:

The People of Paper - Salvador Plascencia (Highly recommended, lesser known but very entertaining)
Wise Blood - Flannery O'Connor
The Road - Cormac McCarthy (Amazing!)
Child Of God - Cormac McCarthy
Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut (Equally amazing!)

I am currently working my way through The Day of Battle by Rick Atkinson, the second of his Liberation trilogy. I read the first last year.

Books I've bought and will read after my current one:

The Crying of Lot 49 - Thomas Pynchon
Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut
Galapagos - Kurt Vonnegut
Gravity's Rainbow - Thomas Pynchon

Those Neal Stephenson ones sound interesting. I will have to check those out too!



Now there's a great list! You can't go wrong with Vonnegut and you can't go wrong with Pynchon. After Gravity's Rainbow you'll never have difficulty reading anything again no matter what the hell it may be -- technical manuals, Esperanto... anything. Seriously... that book has enough ambition to fill several olympic-sized pools dozens of times over.


Thu Jun 18, 2009 1:07 am
Post Re: What are you reading?
ed_metal_head wrote:
mkratzer21 wrote:
I'm now starting the Discworld books at the beginning with The Color of Magic.


Great! We'll see you in a couple of years! Seriously though, I think the Discworld series might be right up my alley, but the idea of going through 30+ books is just too daunting.

I'd love to know whether Gaiman or Pratchett wrote the car seat belt haiku in Good Omens. I'd like to send that man a dollar or something.

Late frost burns the bloom
Would a fool not let the belt
Restrain the body?

I actually didn't realize just how many Discworld books there are! Yeah, see you in a few years, since he seems to write one or two of them a year for the past decade I don't think I'll be catching up anytime soon.


Thu Jun 18, 2009 3:37 am
Post Re: What are you reading?
Here's what I've read over the past few weeks:

Snow by Orhan Pamuk
Killer On the Road by James Ellroy
The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule
Gone Baby Gone by Dennis Lehane

All good but Snow was the best. If you dig true crime then read The Stranger Beside Me.


Sun Jun 21, 2009 10:32 am
Post Re: What are you reading?
I read two so-called 'nonsense' books back to back:

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and The Third Policeman. The Carroll had all of the reported dreaminess that I've heard so much about but to mistake it for great literature would be far too kind of me. It's intended for children and no matter of defense could sway me otherwise. That being said, children have every reason to love it and adults have every reason to delve into the mysteries it likely doesn't have in order to bring some level of meaning to the affair.

The Third Policeman may be written off as nonsense in some sectors but, under all the weirdness and frustration of the text, there is something profoundly tragic. It starts off as a conventional murder and soon becomes a nightmare of seeming randomness. Blending complete fiction (a spear so sharp that it's very sharpness starts a foot before the spear) with genuine frustration (the narrator, unnamed throughout, has to frequently act like he understands much of what's transpiring in order to retain some sanity) makes the book more exciting than enjoyable. But it's unlike anything else out there -- except for Alice.


Thu Jun 25, 2009 2:44 am
Post Re: What are you reading?
majoraphasia wrote:
I read two so-called 'nonsense' books back to back:

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and The Third Policeman. The Carroll had all of the reported dreaminess that I've heard so much about but to mistake it for great literature would be far too kind of me. It's intended for children and no matter of defense could sway me otherwise. That being said, children have every reason to love it and adults have every reason to delve into the mysteries it likely doesn't have in order to bring some level of meaning to the affair.

The Third Policeman may be written off as nonsense in some sectors but, under all the weirdness and frustration of the text, there is something profoundly tragic. It starts off as a conventional murder and soon becomes a nightmare of seeming randomness. Blending complete fiction (a spear so sharp that it's very sharpness starts a foot before the spear) with genuine frustration (the narrator, unnamed throughout, has to frequently act like he understands much of what's transpiring in order to retain some sanity) makes the book more exciting than enjoyable. But it's unlike anything else out there -- except for Alice.

My wife actually wrote her Master's thesis on The Third Policeman, and how the book was an allegory about post-revolutionary Ireland. I've been meaning to read it for a few years now, but haven't gotten around to it.


Thu Jun 25, 2009 4:50 am
Post Re: What are you reading?
I just finished In Cold Blood, and a couple of books before that, From Hell. That's a lot of (semi-)true crime.

Now I need a book full of fun, happy stuff to offset it. I'm thinking Harold Bloom's Hamlet book.


Thu Jun 25, 2009 5:39 am
Post Re: What are you reading?
Carpe Jugulum - Terry Pratchett (my favorite author, I have read this several times before)

Next will be -

Dead Mans Folly - Agatha Christie (the last Poirot I have not read, I am saving this for a long train journey I am taking next week)

Little Peoplw - Tom Holt


Fri Jun 26, 2009 3:58 pm
Post Re: What are you reading?
mkratzer21 wrote:
ed_metal_head wrote:
mkratzer21 wrote:
I'm now starting the Discworld books at the beginning with The Color of Magic.


Great! We'll see you in a couple of years! Seriously though, I think the Discworld series might be right up my alley, but the idea of going through 30+ books is just too daunting.

I'd love to know whether Gaiman or Pratchett wrote the car seat belt haiku in Good Omens. I'd like to send that man a dollar or something.

Late frost burns the bloom
Would a fool not let the belt
Restrain the body?

I actually didn't realize just how many Discworld books there are! Yeah, see you in a few years, since he seems to write one or two of them a year for the past decade I don't think I'll be catching up anytime soon.


There are mini-series within the series, and even then every book can stand alone (except for possibly Lords and Ladies) I always recommend Guards! Guards! to someone starting the series because its the first of the watchman books, and by the time he had written it he was very comfortable in the series and had worked out exactly what he wanted discworld to be.


Fri Jun 26, 2009 4:03 pm
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