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Author Topic: Fiction  (Read 14222 times)
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rmdig
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« Reply #1440 on: May 05, 2008, 06:52:29 AM »

Having scrolled through Martel's list of books, I was surprised to find Elizabeth Smart's By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept.  Has anyone here read this book?  I've held it in my hands a few times but never took the next step and bought it.  The cover blurbs tend to make it sound unappealingly over-the-top, comparing it to opera if I remember right.
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desdemona222b
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« Reply #1441 on: May 13, 2008, 10:18:12 AM »

Picked up Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men Last Night, but I probably won't be able to start it for a couple more weeks.  If anyone else has read the book or is interested in discussing it, please let me know.
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madupont
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« Reply #1442 on: May 23, 2008, 03:24:45 PM »

Having scrolled through Martel's list of books, I was surprised to find Elizabeth Smart's By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept.  Has anyone here read this book?  I've held it in my hands a few times but never took the next step and bought it.  The cover blurbs tend to make it sound unappealingly over-the-top, comparing it to opera if I remember right.


That sounds utterly familiar, author's name. I read a review, suspect it was nytimes.com but could have been Kirkus Reviews?  Will check, because as I recall this was a very improbable story, meant to sound romantic, but something was very, very off.
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madupont
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« Reply #1443 on: May 23, 2008, 04:35:15 PM »

rmdig re: Smart, Elizabeth

By A Customer

"This book is painfully, wretchedly, horribly bad. There's a reason this book is not commonly hailed as a classic by academia. There is a difference between using prose-poetry form as a method to subvert the traditional intentions and expectations of poetic form and writing in such a convoluted manner that one's words and images become a "code," only decipherable by readers who believe they've experienced just as nasty a relationship as the author and can insert whatever necessary information they think they need to. There is absolutely nothing vaguely interesting about the author's intentions or thoughts (so far as one can tell), and there is nothing remotely skillful about the style in which the text is constructed. The only use for this text is as an example to university literature and creative writing students of "what not to do." The highpoint, however, is that the metaphors and images are so over-done, so bad, so downright ludicrous that the whole text becomes really, really funny."

There was another review with some useful information but I lost it when transfering my notes with the mouse who is being tricky today. This still does not resolve where I read the actual review in the last week!
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madupont
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« Reply #1444 on: June 09, 2008, 01:13:43 PM »

Donotremove,
We recently discussed Chinese novels newly translated; such as
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/04/books/review/Prose-t.html?scp=119&sq=&st=nyt
THE SONG OF EVERLASTING SORROW

A Novel of Shanghai.

By Wang Anyi.

Translated by Michael Berry and Susan Chan Egan.
440 pp. Columbia University Press. $29.95.

And this novel particularly well describes something that has come up today.

"Throughout the novel, Shanghai, with its distinct and mysterious longtang — neighborhoods circumscribed by narrow alleys — is as powerful a presence as its citizens and provides the occasion for the most poetic writing, as in this description of young girls’ bedrooms, “where anything can happen, where even melancholy is noisy and clamorous. When it drizzles, raindrops write the word ‘melancholy’ on the window. The mist in the back longtang is melancholic in an ambiguous way — it unaccountably hastens people along. It nibbles away at the patience she needs to be a daughter, eats away at the fortitude she must have to conduct herself as a woman. ... Every day is more difficult to endure than the last, but, on looking back, one rues the shortness of the time.”

                              *             *               *
"Meanwhile, the city itself changes almost beyond recognition. By the final chapters, old Shanghai has become a polluted modern metropolis, the maze of its longtang shadowed by high-rises and hideous new construction." :

http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/40544,features,save-the-hutong

Just the look on Prince Charles face says it all. He is after all a maven of architecture.

This second slide:
http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/40544,features,save-the-hutong,2

an aerial view of snowfall on the roofs of the hutong clearly demonstrates the problem, you can spot the courtyards of the old family homes but the crowded conditions that have resulted from population growth will leave the Prince of Wales looking aghast.

Ironically, the old design of the community watches was safer than the new hi-rise buildings in earthquake prevalent neighborhoods.

It was impossible to keep living as when "Kissing the Cook":
SERVE THE PEOPLE!
By Yan Lianke.
Translated by Julia Lovell.
217 pp. Black Cat/Grove/Atlantic. Paper, $14.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/04/books/review/Schillinger-t.html?scp=118&sq=&st=nyt
Related
First Chapter: ‘Serve the People!’ (May 4, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/04/books/chapters/first-chapter-serve-the-people.html?ref=review

or,
Wolf Totem, by  Jiang Rong
527 pp. The Penguin Press. $26.95.


http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/04/books/review/Mishra-t.html?scp=120&sq=&st=nyt

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JakeJoliet
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« Reply #1445 on: June 22, 2008, 02:11:19 AM »

Picked up Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men Last Night, but I probably won't be able to start it for a couple more weeks.  If anyone else has read the book or is interested in discussing it, please let me know.


Read that, and a number of his others.   NCFOM is very accessable, compared to his others, but Blood Meridian is my favorite.

The guy knows how to write about evil.   
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #1446 on: June 22, 2008, 11:39:54 AM »

Haven't read No Country For Old Men, but I find McCarthy's work interesting in general.  There is the sense that McCarthy knows how to write about evil.  But it is more than evil.  His stories present us with spiritual devastation, but even when the characters don't choose it, there is the possibility of grace.  And so in Blood Meridian, we have the scalpers discussing the existence of God, the idea of listening for His voice.  The priest tells the skeptical kid something to the effect that when you don't hear God's voice, that is when you begin understand that you have heard it all your life. 
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desdemona222b
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« Reply #1447 on: June 24, 2008, 01:22:45 PM »

Hi, peeps - sorry I didn't notice the responses to my Cormac McCarthy post.

I have to admit that I'm neurotic when it comes to plot - if I don't understand it, I am determined to make sense of it as though it is reality.

When I watched the movie, I couldn't make heads nor tails of what actually happened with the drug dealers massacre.  It didn't make much sense to me that anyone would kill all the drug dealers and the guy with the money and then leave it all behind to be taken by just anyone who happened along.  Surely Chigurh didn't do that, so who killed everyone, why was all the valuable stuff left behind, and how did Chigurh know what was going on. 

The rich guy who hires a hit man to go after Chigurh ends up getting his money back from Chigurh in the end, but why did he assume Chigurh had the money to begin with?

I feel really stupid because the book really didn't help me at all.

Now, having said all that, I did enjoy the book and I really regretted having watched the movie first because I think it ruined it in a way for me.  The cold-blooded nature of the man and the pathetic end of Carla Jean were very poignant, much more so than in the film.

Current fiction project - The Poisonwood Bible.  I only wish I had read this years ago - what a great novel.  It's very complex and Kingsolver manages to achieve several different voices, which is incredibly difficult.
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #1448 on: June 24, 2008, 01:54:46 PM »

Yes...the voicing in PB is absolutely wonderful. 

I haven't seen the McCarthy movie, or read the book.  I do have the book around here somewhere.  I will probably take your advice and read before watching.

Have you read any of McCarthy's other works?
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