Mentioned in the previous thread that I was reading "The German" by Lee Thomas; finished it last night -- wow, what a great, great book -- gripping, tense, richly detailed characters, a double-whammy climax. Could make for a fantastic film.
Just started THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt. Fifty pages in, and I am already deeply immersed in it. Just wow. I haven't read her other two books, so didn't know what to expect.
"The Murder Room" by Michael Capuzzo.
Non-fiction about the Vidocq Society, group assembled by three men (ex-FBI agent, forensic artist & a profiler) to solve cold cases. It's somewhat slow but, interesting.
"Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"
Years ago I saw the movie, which wasn't all that great.
Last month I visited Savannah, and I read the book when I returned home. It's pretty good.
Dorothy L. Sayers "Strong Poison." "The World Without Us"(it fell behind the sofa, just found it) and Hedrick Smith's "Who Stole the American Dream."
Based on the last thread I have bought The Goldfinch and The German. Can't wait to read both. Thanks everyone!
"Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" is a great book, and a fascinating story. The movie had nothing in common with the book, except the title. Huge disappointment.
I'm two-thirds of the way through "The Interestings" by Meg Wolitzer. The character development is pretty good and the storyline is interesting. There's even a secondary character who's gay and not one dimensional but his storyline is a bit of a cliché.
Is The Goldfinch a children's book?
"Breakfast With Lucian", by Geordie Grieg.
A short biographical essay about the artist Lucian Freud and his extraordinary life.
High life (Dukes), low life (gangsters, Leigh Bowery), millions earned and lost (gambling), countless woman and children (plus some men), and phenomenal talent.
His estate was worth £98m, and the Archbishop of Canterbury took his funeral. No novelist would dare to invent such a character.
Some poetry this week....
Complete Poems of Cavafy (reading this for the 4th or 5th time; on of my favorites)
The White Train by John Spaulding
and a Philip Levine book
"Carrying the Fire", by Michael Collins
He is, 'easily bored', and, 'writes for people that are easily bored' - it shows, the man is delightful; witty as hell, and not just a little snarky.
On Buzz Aldrin: "Fame has not worn well on Buzz. I think he resents not being first on the moon more than he appreciates being second."
On Walt Cunningham: "Outspoken, blunt, small chip on shoulder; strange mixture of Marine fighter pilot and Rand Corporation research scientist; a complex man alternating between genuine warmth and outright hostility."
Just started reading From Scratch Inside The food Network. Really interesting so far.
10 You may like Dangerous Muse: The Life Of Lady Caroline Blackwood. Fascinating character! A member of the Guinness family, married Lucian Freud and went on to marry Robert Lowell. Her daughter Ivana Lowell wrote "Why Not Say What Happened" that is a pretty interesting read.
The whole series of 'Mind and Life' books, where, over some 20-odd years starting in the late 80s, the 14th Dalai Lama has been engaged in talking to leading Western scientists in neuroscience, cognitive psychology,quantum physics et al.
It's amazing how much the millennial old Buddhism has in common with these latest cutting-edge researches. And most important of all, the dialogues are mostly non-doctrinaire, so anyone can learn something from these East-West encounters.
Personally I find the parts on Mindfulness particularly helpful, as I am a born worrier and am perpetually wrecked with anxiety. Learning about mindfulness really has changed my life. It feels so good and energising to be able to live in the Present, and not be constantly bogged down by either the past or the future.
I just finished Graham Nash's autobiography "Wild Tales." Great book and reveals a lot about his relationships with Crosby, Still and Young. It also reveals a lot about other singers of the 60's and 70's. I did not know he helped build an early prototype of the laser jet printer which is now on exhibit at the Smithsonian. He's quite a photographer as well. However, no sequel to this book.
Just finished "Last Night at the Viper Room", a sad story of River Phoenix's life and death. While reading, I realized that I still think of him as a movie star but 18 year olds today have probably not seen any of his movies and have no idea who he was.
I'm now 50 pages into "The Goldfinch".
Night Film by Marisha Pessl. So far, very interesting.
Since they're making a new film of it, I finally decided to read Scott Spencer's Endless Love.
It's interesting but so sexually explicit I can't imagine the new film will be any better.
I thought about "Night Film", but didn't read a single positive review.
I'm just about done with "Paul on Mazursky," the interview/bio by Sam Wasson, which I enjoyed. I'm halfway through with "The Double," George Pelecanos' latest. I like the clarity of his writing, and his mastery of his characters and plot.
But I mostly read him because his books take place in DC, unofficial, non-governmental DC. No one else is chronicling the changes DC has gone through in the last decade or more as it goes from "Chocolate City" to "Not-So-Chocolate City." (That's not my name for DC, so relax, please, Racist Troll[s].)
About two thirds of the way through "Fairyland" by Alysia Abbott, about being raised by a gay father in Haight-Ashbury. Really interesting and her prose style is clean and compelling.
"The Carrie Diaries: Summer in the City", by Candace Bushnell.
The Returned by Jason Mott
R20, Night Film is a very cleverly written novel. But it just isn't as much fun to read as Special Topics in Calamity Physics. I think it suffers from the comparison. Maybe that is why the reviews weren't as good as they might have been.
I just finished two Nicholson Baker books, The Anthologist and Traveling Sprinkler. I loved both.
Just started Best American Essays, edited by Cheryl Strayed. So far, so great.
And thanks to the other thread, I read the jaw-droppingly good Mayor of Casterbridge, which I somehow missed as an undergrad. Holy shit, I want more like that. I bought a few more Hardy novels and can't wait to start them, too.
I'm reading "Maple Leaf Rag" by Stephen Brook, but I can't recommend it. He's a stupid British born American journalist by trade, and he jets off to Canada without apparently doing an hour's research. He has a gift of gab, but he makes bad choices of places to visit and people to interview, his descriptions are conventional and unobservant, and he is utterly lacking in critical or analytical thinking skills. What's worse, he manages to make much of the book about himself, not Canada. Oh well. I guess Canadians were flattered when it came out because they get so little attention from south of the border.
The final post of the last thread asked about Penelope Lively, so wanted to say that I read her novel "How It All Began" as well as a Young Adult work "A Stitch in Time" also. I wouldn't say she's my favorite writer, but the books were worth listening to as library borrowings.
Currently, I'm about halfway through Jodi Kantor's "The Obamas" - a portrait of them as First Couple, focusing more on Michelle's adaption to the role of First Lady. I'm getting into it more easily than I'd thought I might.
I recently finished "The Sleeping and the Dead" - a noir/thriller set in Memphis by Jeff Crook, a fantasy writer (whom I'd never heard f) branching out into mystery. The main character is a straight woman, but many (most?) of the others are gay male; I was surprised it's written by a straight guy.
I read "Maple Leaf Rag" many years ago, and the description above matches my recollection.
From Splendor To Revolution: The Romanov Women
It's ok. Includes bejewelled diva Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna who would have been a DL icon in 1900.
But given I have about 5,000 magazines shelved (30 years of Vanity Fair, UK Tatler, Architectural Digest, World Of Interiors, After Dark, etc etc), I'm taking time out to read some of those given I may not ever have time to read them again. It's a weird experience reading Tatler and Vanity Fair from the 80s: more than half the celebrities are dead, and the period seems as remote from today as the 1880s.
I think Last Night At The Viper Room is just the same old bullshit that has been written 50 times. Most of it is probably nothing near the truth.
To the poster who suggested, The German, a huge thank you. What a story teller!! Absolutely loved the book.
Necessary Errors by Caleb Crain, about a group of American and British expatriates in Prague in 1990. The main character is gay and a budding writer. Not much really happens -- I'm about halfway through -- and the other characters are thinly drawn, but the writing is sharp and I find the depiction of this small world oddly compelling.
Five Days in London: May 1940
Story of the how Churchill declined to make peace with Hitler after the fall of France and convinced Parliament that Britain should fight on, alone. He had a great line --
"If this long island story of ours is to end at last, let it end only when each one of us lies choking in his own blood upon the ground."
Churchill didn't think he was going to win -- he felt that resistance itself would be a moral victory and buy time. He later referred to the Battle of Britain in his memoirs "as a good time to live or die."
Of course, Churchill was essentially drunk during this entire time, something that bothered the non-drinker Hitler to no end. Another great line -
'I could not live without Champagne - in victory I deserve it, in defeat I need it'
I was reading Alan Lyss, Humberto Fagundes and Patricia Corrigan's book, Chemotherapy and Radiation For Dummies, but it turned out that it's for people RECEIVING treatment, not for people administering it.
So I switched to Marina Lewycka's book, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, which was ultimately disappointing. Next up is Bob Smith's book, Selfish and Perverse.
I'm struggling my through the audio production of "The End of the Affair" by Graham Greene -- awful story, which seems motivated by a desire to justify his conversion to Catholicism (see also: "Brideshead Revisited"). Colin Firth's narration is very good.
Green Eggs and Ham.
Still reading Proust's masterpiece.
Stopped reading "Beautiful Ruins" after 80 pages. Can't believe this is what is considered good writing today.
Now about 100 pages into "Crime and Punishment". Editing was not highly prized back then I take it.
R38 I wouldn't edit one sentence from Dostojevsky nor Tolstoy.
R39, perhaps R38 just wanted to shorten the names. Would it have spoiled things if Raskolnikov had been named Biff?
"His estate was worth £98m, and the Archbishop of Canterbury took his funeral. No novelist would dare to invent such a character."
On top of all that, r10, he was the grandson of Sigmund Freud!
I don't get Graham Greene. Also struggled through The End of the Affair because I worked on a new opera of the novel. As dreary as the novel.
One must have to be British. And Catholic.
The Mayor of Casterbridge is truly a mid-Victorian novel for readers who don't like mid-Victorian novels. I read a couple of Hardy's others after it, The Return of the Native and Far From the Madding Crowd, but neither came up to the first.
But I'm still looking forward to Tess and Jude the Obscure.
Blindness by Saramago. I read it a while ago. I was thinking about it recently, so I got the audio book and am listening to it. It is simply beautifully written. The story, generally, is the the rapid decline of civilization when the disease of a white blindness strikes the population. I highly recommend it.
Don't listen to r38. Beautiful Ruins is a great fun read.
Not great literature, true, but witty plotting, quirky characters and smart writing. Especially fun if you're old enough to remember the Liz/Eddie/Dick affair.
Thanks r28 for responding to my previous question about Penelope Lively. I'm now reading an earlier novel of hers According to Mark about a biographer writing about a famous novelist.
This one reminds me of David Lodge more than Barbara Pym.
Has anyone read Lodge? He's one of my favorite (relatively) modern British writers though he has seemingly never enjoyed the popularity here that he has in the UK. I've read them all but his biggest hits, Small World and Changing Places, are brilliant fun and a good place to begin if you like smart British comedies of manners.
And speaking of that genre, is anyone else a fan of John Mortimer? I could never get into his Rumpole of the Bailey series but adore his other novels, especially Paradise Postponed.
And then there's Patrick Gale, of a younger generation.
I am reading The Girl Who Played With Fire.
R46: I recently re-read the entire Rumpole canon, and have the final book on my TBR pile; I loved the TV series. Mortimer wrote a lighter novel called "Summer's Lease" a sort of mystery about Brits in Tuscany (a/k/a "Chianti-shire"), which I liked; it was made into a movie starring, I believe, John Guilguid, though I haven't watched it (yet).
I haven't tried Lodge, but will consider the titles you mentioned of his.
A funny British novel with gay content that I can suggest for readers of this thread: "A Surrey State of Affairs" (alt title "The Tumultuous Year of Constance Harding") by Ceri Radford.
Oh r28 you must read Mortimer's Paradise Postponed.
r43, I totally agree. The Mayor of Casterbridge was my first Thomas Hardy and I was absolutely enthralled -- then I tried Tess of the D'Urbervilles and I just couldn't get into it. I'll probably try again in a few years.
The Mongoliad, book 3 - multiple authors, including Neal Stephenson and Eric Bear
Oldy but goody.
50th Anniversary Edition.
City of Night by John Rechy.
R42, I tried reading Brighton Rock a little while ago and found it impossible. It was boring and often incomprehensible.
I've found Patricia Highsmith similarly boring and just incredibly outdated.
Seems to me that sometimes novelists who are extremely famous in their day, writing books that are deeply expressive of their era and with "social" themes, can become outdated extremely quickly and their legacy doesn't really last beyond a generation or two.
This can be seen in the fact that over the past 200 years there have been many huge bestsellers that are today never read and the names of their authors barely known.
I'm a big "Rumpole" fan, books and videos. Leo McKern was born to play Rumpole. Might you by any chance be a "Mapp and Lucia" fan? They are deliciously evocative of their time and place.
Finished "The Goldfinch". It was much better than Tartt's last book, "The Little Friend".
Tried to read Goldfinch. Thought I was going to like it after the first few pages. But when it went back to the guy's childhood I became increasingly aware that a woman was writing a male character and I just didn't buy it. Fortunately, I'm still in the Kindle free sample. So I haven't bought it yet.
r47 has baby taste and r53 is a moron.
Finally reading "Miss MacIntosh, My Darling" I say finally because I purchased the paperback about 10 years ago (close to 900 pages+).
I just googled that book, R58 - sounds interesting
r42, I never read the relationship books, but I loved his short stories and The Power and the Glory.
I just finished reading Lost Girls, about the LI serial killings. It was a lot of PC background about the victims, and less about the evidence. There is something weird about it, though.
Bleeding Edge, Thomas Pynchon's new novel. Takes place in New York in 2001, between the dot com bust and 9/11. I've had to remind myself a couple of times that that hasn't happened, and the characters have no idea it's going to happen. Some good Upper West Side social/economic/real estate history, too.
Hey r57, I think you're a complete fucking moron too! Oh, and Brighton Rock is shit and Graham Greene is a boring fart.
R47, I really enjoyed the Millennium series by Stieg Larsson.
Not everyone reads for edification, r57. Some people read for fun and there's nothing wrong with that.
It (theoretically) subsidizes the poets, intellectual authors, and foreign language translations.
R55, do you have anything else to say about The Goldfinch?
I'm currently reading Good Living Street by Tim Bonyhady. It's a relatively interesting account of his wealthy Jewish family (with some conversions to Catholicism), who lived in Vienna in the period before the Second World War broke out.
His maternal family, the Gallias, were among the glitterati of what's sometimes referred to as "Vienna 1900", having their portraits painted by Klimt and being patrons and consumers of the Wiener Werkstätte design studio. Bonyhady sometimes pushes that too much, and the names Klimt, Mahler, Alma Schindler get repeated ad nauseum in the early parts of the book when Bonyhady discusses his great grandparents.
The narrative gets more penetrative and consistent once Bonyhady's grandmother Gretl starts writing her own diary and when his mother Anne is a child/teen.
I'm just at the bit where they have to flee to Australia because the Nazis have taken over Austria.
Klimt's portrait of Hermine Gallia is now in the National Gallery in London (see link).
Hot news, R63, the poets and intellectual authors read for fun. Then again, not everyone has the same idea of fun.
r64, that sounds interesting.
Have you read The Hare with the Amber Eyes?
It has a similar plot line about the death of the UMC in Vienna.
I haven't read that book yet, r66, but it's author Edmund de Waal, wrote a beautiful piece in a newspaper in response to an exhibition called The Portrait in Vienna 1900, which is currently on at the National Gallery in London, so it's definitely on my list.
Good Living Street is not at that level of writing, but it's value lies in its portrait of the lives of actual individuals in that era and seeing what is was actually like to live in "Vienna 1900". For example, for the wealthy elites it was socially important to have your house and everything in it designed and produced from scratch by a professional designer. Also, the weird social controls parents had on their children.
He writes mainly about the lives of his great grandmother, grandmother and mother, and they seemed to be at concerts and operas 3-4 times a week.
Lately I've read Dave Eggers' two recent novels - "Hologram for the King" and "The Circle," which just came out. They are very different - "Hologram" is short, chiseled prose, sort of a modern update of "Death of a Salesman." Whereas "The Circle" is long, a bit sloppy, a kind of rambling indictment of social media and the way we let it dictate our lives. It was a fun read, though.
Also read "MaddAddam," an awesome conclusion to Atwood's trilogy about the decline of the human race. The whole thing is a tremendous reading experience. And just finished "Brief Encounters with Che Guevara," a short story collection by Ben Fountain that I also recommend. It recalls Graham Greene, actually - stories about well-meaning white people getting in over their head in various 3rd World locales.
Next I think I'm going to re-read "White Noise." It's been something like 15 years since I read it and I'm very excited, my admiration for DeLillo has only grown in that time.
Thanks, R64. I'm going to order GOOD LIVING STREET. My mother's father was from Austria, and there's no such thing as "ad nauseam" mentions of Mahler, IYM.
r64, by the end "The Goldfinch" was almost a thriller, with drug dealers, art forgers, swindlers, hustlers, and possible hookers, but still maintained Tartt's moody style. Someone else mentioned that they were too conscious while reading the beginning that it was a female author writing a teenage male, but as a male reader I didn't really get a sense of anything being amiss. Overall, the narrator is the kind that she wrote really well in "The Secret History": a damaged, sexually ambiguous young man.
Has anyone read any of David Leavitt's recent efforts? I've heard almost nothing about his last 2 or 3 books.
I'm about to start on Dave Cullen's Columbine. Anyone read it?
"Cities On A Hill" by Frances Fitzgerald. The entire works of Augusten Borroughs.
I really liked a lot of Leavitt's early stuff, R71, but the last one, The Indian Clerk, was a real chore for me to get through. I read it halfway through and put it aside for more than a year before finishing. It's well written but just didn't grab me. I did come to appreciate it more by the time I finished.
Two Hotel Francforts, which came out last week, is on my nightstand, beneath the new Donna Tartt and Wally Lamb. (Yes, I'm middlebrow.)
I couldn't get past the first chapter of The Indian Clerk. Very disappointed as I loved so much of Leavitt's earlier books. Can't even remember what came before that one...did I read it??
So I'm cautious of his latest. I haven't seen any reviews of Two Hotel Francforts yet, though the period subject matter in his hands sounds ponderous.
I'm about to give up on Bleeding Edge. It might be "adult taste," and it is well-written, but I could not care less about the lead character, let alone anyone else in the book. I'm about halfway through.
First in a series of British mysteries called "Maisie Dobbs" by Jacqueline Winspear.
And "The Song of the Spiderman" about the behind the scenes of the troubled Taymor/Bono Broadway musical.
I read most of the Maisie Dobbs books. First one is mostly a series setup, so don't expect a lot in terms of a mystery plot. The next few are quite well done, and then the series began going downhill for me as boring, formulaic, etc.
true R78.. not much mystery in the first one (almost done) but I do plan to read the others.
R69, I just meant Bonyhady has a tendency to name-drop Mahler, Alma and Klimt every few lines to conjure up the glittering image of "Vienna 1900". Freud gets a regular mention too.
It's a good book, a little uneven but a great tribute to his mother and grandmother, as well as the tale of one of the great art and furniture collections of Vienna.
R70, that book is almost 800 pages long and it's been out for just over a week - I admire your fortitude in reading it so quickly!
Bringing Home the Birkin - Michael Tonello
Anything by Max Lucado.
The "Silo Saga" trilogy: Wool, Shift, and Dust
I'm currently in the middle of Shift.
If you like post-apocalyptic fiction, this stuff is both good AND unique.
The Daughters of Mars, by Thomas Kennealy. Excellent novel about two sisters who served as nurses in WWI. I finished it on a plane flight and felt very self-conscious because the ending made me cry.
Also, How Much Is Enough, by Robert Skidelsky and Edward Skidelsky. One of the best books I've ever read. I can't overpraise it. It has changed the way i look at my life, history, and modern politics.
After some heavy reading lately, I decided to jump into some light history: "Scandal: Infamous Gay Controversies of the Twentieth Century" by Marc E Vargo, which covers 6 notorious gay events: Roger Casement and his Black Diaries; the murder of Pier Paolo Pasolini; Radclyffe Hall and the censoring of The Well of Loneliness; the defection of British spies-for-the-KGB Guy Burgess and Donald MacLean; Simon Nkoli and the Delmas Treason Trial; and the Eulenberg Affair. It's a short but informative book, which mostly serves to inspire the reader to want to read more in-depth on the topics (for me, particularly Simon Nkoli, who I'd not heard of prior to this).
I just finished David Leavitt's THE TWO HOTEL FRANCFORTS. It puts him back on my list of favorite authors.
That's good to hear about Leavitt's newest. Thanks for responding on that r86.
I'm a big fan of Edith Wharton and have read all her major novels but picked up a lesser-known one (at least to me) The Reef today in a second hand-shop. Does anyone know it? Am I in for a treat?
But reading the posted Amazon reviews of the Leavitt book scared me away from it, even the more positive ones.
Indeed I am a Mapp & Lucia fan, R54, both the TV series and the novels -- Qui Hai! If you haven't seen it, track down a video called Barchester Chronicles (covers first two books in Trollope's Barchester series), featuring Gerladine MacEwan as a delicious Mrs. Proudie ("If she were MY daughter, I'd lame HER!") and a dishy Alan Rickman as Mr. Slope.
Well, then don't read it, Puss. But I liked it, in spite of how tarnished his reputation had become with me. I don't want to tell you the only thing I didn't like, because it would be a spoiler, but look, it's a short book, no more than 200 pp., and if you don't like it, you can throw it against the wall and curse me out.
I almost couldn't put it down, but it got late the first night I was reading it, and I fell asleep. I finished it the next day.
R15- thanks for the recommendation going to give the book a try..
Anyone ever read Infatuations by Javier Marias. I'm a third of the way through. I don't think I have ever read a book so totally given over to reflection. So far it has retained my interest despite the fact that virtually nothing happens (except for one very brutal incident at the start of the novel).
R87--beautifully written, ugly story.
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
r93 are you referring to David Leavitt or Edith Wharton?
Just finished Night Film by Marisha Pessl. bad dialogue and a silly, labyrinthine plot that all ends up going nowhere.
It's a wonderful book, r92. Marias is a wonderful experience. r82 has baby taste. I am also noting a definite Anglophia wafting through these threads. You people need to develop a more expansive and global reach in your reading. There is a whole world out there you know.
Pardon us, R98, for reading whatever the fuck we want.
R98, consider who the poster at R82 is before drowning us in yet another wave of your babytaster attitude. (IOW, I think it was a joke.)
I just finished Richard Kramer's THESE THINGS HAPPEN, which I liked a lot. For those who don't know, Kramer wrote for thirtysomething, My So-Called Life, and Once and Again. The first "gay" episode he wrote for thirtysomething, with David Marshall Grant and Peter Frechette was considered groundbreaking at the time.
Though there is a teenager at the heart of this story, it's also the story of the 40-y.o. gay man who is the teen's father's partner. Takes place in the theater district and UES of NY.
"Bring Up the Bodies" by Hilary Mantel - great sequel to "Wolf Hall."
Is "Wolf Hall" a difficult read? A lot of reviewers are complaining about it.
Both books are written like the thought process of Thomas Cromwell and there are lots of historical references, words, and phrasings, but once you get into the rhythm of it, it's not difficult at all.
The human stories are really insightful and compelling, & the very detailed atmosphere that the author creates make both books seem really genuine and true to the 1530s.
R102, I gave up after 2 pages of Wolf Hall. I don't like novels written in the present tense and I didn't like her style. I've heard of many people who gave up halfway through and I didn't want to waste my time on it only to abandon it after 200 pages.
People with baby taste tend to not like Mantel. Anglophiles adore her.
Are you an Anglophile, BTT?
I am not, r106. I read globally and widely.
The Beautiful Cigar Girl by Daniel Stashower. It's kind of a combination of history and true crime, about a famous 19th century murder that inspired a Poe story. I'm about 1/3 of the way through it, so far it is really good.
Wolf Hall was difficult to finish as Mantel does have a idiosyncratic style but as you're plowing through it, you are aware the writing is brilliant. I was a history major with some knowledge of the Tudors and that helped a bit. I imagine if you're not at all versed in that history, it can be bewildering. I have Bringing Up the Bodies on audio and am readying myself for a long and challenging time. Like Wolf Hall, hopefully, in the end, it will prove to be worthwhile.
I am halfway through The Secret History and it's taken almost that long for me to take to the story. I think the biggest problem is that I borrowed the audiobook and it's read by Donna Tartt herself. This is one instance where the author does a disservice to her own work. I wanted to Bunny to die just as to not have to hear Tartt's Three Stooges voicing for that character (and no this is not a spoiler). None of the characters are particularly likable nor sympathetic, but I'm at the point where I want to know what happens to them even if I think they are shits.
The only thing difficult about Wolf Hall is Mantel's use of pronouns.
It's ironic how the person accusing others of "baby taste" is the most infantile poster on this thread.
"I read globally and widely."
Really? I doubt you read widely. You have a very narrow acceptance of which books you deem permissible to read, reflecting your narrow mind.
R109, I'm sure Mantel's writing is brilliant but I've read globally and widely enough in my life to bother now only with books that I want to read and enjoy. If a book really doesn't seem like it will work out for me then I see no point in carrying on with it.
R110, I didn't like Mantel's use of pronouns and I also don't like fiction written in the present tense, both rather offputting aspects of Wolf Hall for me.
None of this means I think Wolf Hall is crap, just that it's not a book for me.
I read about half of Wolf Hall and put it down (which I hate doing). I did find Mantel's writing to be vibrant on a sentence-by-sentence level, but I just couldn't maintain the level of interest necessary to make me want to keep picking it up.
Alan Hollinghurst's 'The Stranger's Child'. Started to read it recently after having it sitting on my bedside table for years.
Half way through, and Christ, it's a slog.
Count me in as another reader who gave up on Wolf Hall about 1/2 way through.
I just didn't find the storytelling very engaging and I'm a great lover of British fiction from early Victorian to today.
Death at Sea World by David Kirby
There is also a documentary on the same subject titled BLACKFISH.
Interesting and scary and true.
I'll chime in here and say that I also gave up on Wolf Hall half-way through. Initially, was very taken with the energy of her prose and the vividness and immediacy of the setting, but it started to become very tedious. I no longer force myself to finish books...
I also gave up on The Stranger's Child. Am a big fan of Hollinghurst since I read The Swimming Pool Library in 2002ish. Read all of his subsequent books. However, the changing narrator in Stranger's Child just was very offputting. Actually, it's been over a year, so I'm not sure why I got bored, but it's the first Hollinghurst I've never finished. (By the way, I am a straight female. I think Hollinghurst is just a great writer--maybe the modern incarnation of Henry James.)
Tartt's reveal of one of the main characters being gay was terrific. Simple and brilliantly captured in a couple of sentences.
Which book, R118? I'm just about to start The Goldfinch.
R119, my last post was meant to be posted earlier. Right after my post about the secret history.
R112, my post wasn't to chasten those who gave up on WH, but rather as an example of someone who found it a slog in some parts. Ultimately, I was happy I finished it and look forward to the sequel. Is it my favorite book ever? Not by a long shot.
R113, that's a very good and accurate description of the Wolf Hall experience. I guess for me it was just enough to get me to the end of the book.
I did finish the stranger's child but was very underwhelmed. Another thread rec that wasn't all that great was the dinner. Every character in that was repulsive in the end.
The most enjoyable book from the book threads was cloud atlas. Thanks to those who touted it! This is by far my favorite DL thread and keeps me checking even though I've been inexplicably banned from posting via home connection.
I've also just started Tartt's The Secret History - I reckon I'm about a third of the way through. Fascinating, even though the characters, as someone's already pointed out, are all irksome little shits. What I like most is that the narration really feels like some of the weirder Brontë stuff: all formal, but slightly off kilter.
I also hated The Dinner. Kept with it because it began well but 1/2 thru it never recovered. I don't know why it's so popular.
But I loved The Stranger's Child. True, some tedious sections but well-worth reading to the end. It was my first Hollinghurst. I think I avoided the earlier ones because of their AIDS-related subject matter which was too raw for me when originally published.
But now I've read most of them and he's a favorite author.
R124 - I totally love this thread, too. Nearly finished with Clarissa Dickson Wrights autobiography "Spilling the Beans", which I hate to see end! Also reading a book that's not Young Adult, but feels like it called "Fin & Lady"; seems to have a terrific sense of place set in 1964 Greenwich Village.
GAY NEW YORK
Loaned "Angels and Demons" to an acquaintance. He loves it, and said that I gave it to him. I did not, but if he wants to own it, okay by me.
It's by the late actor, Ray Sharkey.
Gay New York is very good.
I've been meaning to read The Secret History for a long time but haven't gotten around to it.
For the Wolf Hall-ers out there, stick with it, the second half of the book picks up. And Bring up the Bodies is a much quicker read.
I've finished Clarissa Dickson Wright's memoir "Spilling the Beans" and can definitely recommend it. I hadn't realized her co-Fat Lady, Jennifer Paterson, was twenty years older, and a reactionary, pre-Vatican II Catholic - ugh!
Just started "The Counterfeiters" by Andre Gide a few nights ago and am loving it. Anybody else read it? Any other books by Gide that are recommended?
I'm about 1/3 of the way through The Goldfinch, and it is one of the best books I've read in a long time. I stop reading every so often so I won't finish it too quickly.
I bought the Kindle version since the book is so long/heavy. And it was only $7.64.
[quote] I also don't like fiction written in the present tense
"The Wrong Mother" by Sophie Hannah, and just finished "Between You and Me" by J.H. Trumble. Didn't care for it much as s/he seems to be in a rut as far as plotting, character development, etc., not to mention the characters themselves. She (or he) really needs to branch out somehow or forever be stuck writing cookie-cutter teen gay boy romances.
Hannah's work, however, is great! If you like complex mysteries, where things get so out of hand you wonder how the hell the author will tie everything together by the end, she is the shit. Her next gig will be writing a new Hercule Poirot novel - the first original work ever authorized by Agatha Christie's estate. Looking forward to that.
"The Drive for Power" by Arnold Hutschnecker, which is supposed to help us separate deadly psychopaths from garden variety political hacks.
And fails to do so.
Brian Lapping, "End of Empire" about the countries Britain birthed after WWII, almost all of which are bloody shitholes. He understands they botched it, but he doesn't really seem to understand why.
If you are a Philip Roth fan, I highly recommend "Roth Unbound," by Claudia Roth Pierpont (no relation), a critical survey of all of his works.
Thanks, R137. I just ordered it.
I just reread Laura Ingalls Wilder's "The Long Winter" for the first time in over thirty years. Christ, what that family went through. This is easily the most nail-biting of the "Little House" books and is really a beautifully told tale of what it was like to endure the horrific winter of 1880-81 on the prairie.
"L'Immoraliste" by Gide.
I'm reading a trashy pot-boiler by Milt Machlin called "Pipeline" about the Alaska pipeline. One thing about seventies pot-boilers is that they were usually well-written.
Back then everybody had a self-written novel in their drawer (v. today, when it's a screen play).
Just finished Charles Palliser's latest, Rustication. Not as good as his last, The Unburied, but still fantastic. He's the best at writing faux-Victorian sensation novels of all the many who try at that genre.
The Story of Harold
By Terry Andrews
Hilarious, moving, disturbing...
Has anyone read The Asylum by John Harwood? I liked his other books.
141. Who got laid by 10,000 men? Alberta Pipeline.
It's been on my TBR pile for a while, R145. I was thinking of tackling it soon.
I'd second the Mapp and Lucia series, but I'd skip the first book, because it wwas only after Lucia and Georgie moved that the author was able to stock the series with lovable eccentrics--including a lesbian, "quaint' Irene!
In show-business biography, I'd recommend the new Bob Fosse story. It just came out a few days ago, and it's getting terrific reviews everywhere. The author is Sam Wasson.
And in gay fiction, I just read The Passionate Attention of an Interesting Man. I only ordered it because the guy on the cover was so hot (though you can't see his face), but it turned out to be classy porn about rough guys manhandling intellectuals, sort of witty but sexual, too.
R148 -- you sound like me urging folks to skip the first book in Trollope's Barsetshire series ("The Warden"). In the case of Mapp and Lucia though, I thought the first book actually helped establish Lucia's meddling, Alpha female character. The second one ("Lucia in London") can be skipped, although Georgie's abhorrence at a character as totally fey as he is makes the book fun.
Lucia in London is actually my favourite Benson novel.
Trying to remember a non-Mapp/Lucia novel of EF Benson's that I adored years ago, before he even came back into vogue with the TV series.
Anyone....about male and female neighbors who don't get along....?
50 pages into The Goldfinch and I'm loving it!
Please tell me it holds up.
It holds up, R153. I'm 51% in, and I'm rationing it rather than reading it at my normal pace.
For shame R154
Has anyone read the following? Your opinions?:
The Maid's Version by Daniel Woodrell
After Her by Joyce Maynard
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne DuMarier
I read "My Cousin Rachel" (listened to the audio actually) years ago, finding it suspenseful.
By John Grisham
"Lawfully Wedded Husband: How My Gay Marriage Will Save the American Family" by Joel Derfner
Can anyone recommend a good book about the Chelsea Hotel?
A book I meant to read when it came out, THE COOL PART OF HIS PILLOW. I avoid the dreck that most M/M publishers churn out but this, so far, is incredibly well-written, witty and not one gratuitous sex scene. Yet. But the publisher puts out a lot of crap. I wonder what they saw in this.
I NEVER LEARNED TO READ!
I'm reading "Into the Blue" by the British author Robert Goddard, a mystery tale of a young woman who goes missing on a Greek island and the efforts of a friend, initially accused of her disappearance, to find out what happened to her.
Goddard writes great mystery/detective books, usually, in the ones I've read so far, about some hapless individual who finds themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, and is caught in a web of intrigue. The storylines usually focus on an unsolved mystery that took place a few generations ago - someone who went missing or the disturbing appearance of someone with a mysterous identity - and are intricately plotted, drawing you in to an ever thicker plot, with multiple twists and turns.
His books are great for when you want the kind of book you curl up with, a page-turning story you can get really lost in. They're a highly intelligent version of crime and mystery novels. Goddard is a very British writer and there's a strong historical element to his novels, which adds to the charm. Highly recommended for a good yarn.
His publishers seem to have made a mess of his website, however.
What a coincidence, R163, as I read this book (listened to the audio version) not long ago. It's a great book, but rather long I thought. The "twisted" ending is really well done; I never would've suspected it.
Cool! I've still got about a third to go. Yes, perhaps a bit too long and Goddard books can be a bit "exhausting", but I'm going to try and finish it tomorrow.
r160: Netherland by Joseph O'Neill, which came out about 5 years ago, is a beautifully written, very literary novel where the main character lives at the Chelsea (O'Neill and his family actually do live there). It's been a while since I read it (liked it so much I read it twice), but there is at least one very eccentric character who walks around with angel wings, who is based on a real person who lived in the Chelsea. It's not ABOUT the Chelsea, however.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler.
Pleasant, but so far I don't get the hype. Just one of many books with a sarcastic young female narrator. The only surprising thing is how convincing the narrator is, given that Fowler is 63 years old. By comparison, Armistead Maupin's attempts at characters in the twenties has been pretty bad in his last 2 books.
"Dead Cities" by Mike Davis
Lost Girls about the prostitutes found murdered on Long Island. I'm not usually a true crime buff but this is good, with a lot of emphasis on the women's backgrounds and what led them to be in such vulnerable positions. The murders have never been solved.
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, the recent Booker Prize winner.
It takes a while to get going, but it's terrifically gripping once it does. It's in the style of a Victorian sensation novel (like Willkie Collins's novels or Dickens's later books) about a gold rush town on the New Zealand coast in the 1860s, and a complex series of events involving murder, gold and opium smuggling, theft, and prostitution. (There's al;so at least one great seance thrown in for good measure.) A really great read, though it is over 850 pages! (Though for me, the length of the book is an added plus.)
160 - Inside The Dream Palace by Sherill Tippins is a new book about the Chelsea Hotel. There's a write up in today's Daily News.
LOVE Sherill Tippins!
She also wrote February House which is the true story of a rooming house in Brooklyn Heights shared by Carson McCullers, WH Auden, Benjamin Britten, Paul and Jane Bowles, Oliver Smith and Gypsy Rose Lee, among others, in 1939 when they were all starting their illustrious careers.
Well, actually Gypsy's career was firmly established but she moved in to get help in writing The G-String Murders from George Davis, the former Harper's Bazaar editor who brought all the others together.
"Bitter Blood" by Jerry Bledsoe. Extremely well-written true crime book. I don't recall ever seeing others by him.
I just went to a public talk with Donna Tartt! She's really great, wonderfully eloquent, intelligent, fun, sweet, and comes across as a really nice person.
She also must have spent hours signing books and spending a moment or two with each member of the public, asking them how they are, listening to a couple of things they had to say, even though the queue was huge. I think I disturbed her somewhat with what I said!
It's because I feel guilty about saying it straight out so need to beat around the bush, so to speak. I told Donna that my girlfriend is in love with her but she couldn't make it so I was getting The Goldfinch signed in her name. Donna looked a little perturbed and said that it's just as well she didn't come them.
I'm female. This was in London.
Ow. What a response.
I'm about 1/4 if the way through "The Gildfinch" and am savoring it. It was easy for me to totally get immersed in it.
She said it in a good-humoured way, r178, she probably didn't know what else to say. I then asked her a perhaps stupid question about the plot of The Little Friend, so she must have thought I was a bit of an idiot, but she was pleasant about it. Everyone else was saying things like "I really love your books, they are so wonderful."
R179, someone in the audience asked her if she intentionally writes the books so the reader gets completely immersed in them, and she said "yes!".
Well, she certainly succeeded with this one r180. Interesting to know.
1/2 through The Goldfinch and also loving it though the Las Vegas section at times dragged.
My library has serious holds on all editions of the book, but you guys are REALLY making me curious!
I've been reading a lot of Agatha Christie, and Poirot is GAY, GAY, GAY! What in the hell did folks back then think? He's pining away for his "lost" Hastings now as though he were a damned widower! Lots of single men over the age of 30 in these books as well!
I don't often splurge on hardcover books but The Goldfinch is worth it.
I felt that way about "the Good House" by Ann Leary R184.
"Strangers When We Meet."
Yep. "Mad Men" vintage!
I finished The Goldfinch about a week ago. It holds up throughout, though I felt that a few sections in the last fifth of the book were a bit much, plotwise. I won't say more for risk of spoiling. But I think that's because they were quite unexpected (to me), so I plan to give it another read in a few months. It is definitely one the best new novels in some time.
LOVE the characters of Mrs. Barbour and Hobie.
This is my first experience with Donna Tartt, so I am looking forward to reading her previous two books. I also saw her speak (in Brooklyn a few weeks ago). She seemed very sweet and obviously quite brilliant. I wish it had gone on longer, especially since the interviewer took up a good 10-15 minutes with a rambling introduction. I hate when the question people at author Q&A's make it as much about them as the author.
I kept seeing a teenage Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Theo in The Goldfinch.
"I've been reading a lot of Agatha Christie, and Poirot is GAY, GAY, GAY! What in the hell did folks back then think?"
If fictional characters could ping, Poirot certainly would (Same goes for Sherlock Holmes!)
I kept seeing Michiel Huisman as adult Theo, and Liam Aiken as teen Theo.
A few years ago I read The Mysterious Mr Quin stories by Agatha Christie, where Mr Quin is definitely "gay", or whatever was "gay" in the public imagination then. In fact, Christie even describes him as "mincing". I'm sure Poirot was gay in Christie's mind, as that would resolve a number of plot and character issues. Note: I don't think that means Christie saw Poirot as having partners, identifying as homosexual or even being recognised as so by others.
I don't think Sherlock Holmes was gay, though.
R187, my Donna Tartt event was meant to be a "discussion" on The Secret History with someone who works for the Guardian newspaper and teaches in a university. He would just not shut up. Two-thirds of the discussion was taken up with his blabbing, we didn't get to hear as much from Donna as we should have. And he was guiding the discussion in tedious directions. At least when the audience was able to ask questions at the end, Donna could talk more about herself, her work, her ideas, than on the detailed plot issues that idiot was making her talk about.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brönte. People were rather fussy back then weren't they?
Am re-reading the patrick melrose novels. Breathtaking, precise prose.
R191 - you mean you don't think Christie's readers necessarily thought of him as a "gay" character. I was wondering what the other characters in his world would've made of him? Probably he got by as "eccentric" but still ... and surely Captain Hastings must've suffered from guilt by association? Yes, he was married off and went on to have four kids, but then again, Watson had kids and two wives.
A modest variation on the thread: I have batches of Agatha Christie paperbacks, not worth keeping. What to do with them?
I am currently reshelving my library, previous kept in several different locations. Should probably unload books. What to do with duplicates? (Who knew I had them?) Some of them are in new condition, including Alan Bennett, Saki, things I barely recognize....
And are my old Gore Vidal novels really worth keeping? Can't imagine going back to them. And yet I do want to hang onto two editions of some things, a nice copy and the one I fell in love with initially.
Louis Auchincloss is an embarrassment on my shelves, isn't he? What should I do with all of those? He was much too prolific, and I had much too much time on my hands before I discovered DL.
R195, I can imagine in the 1920s or 1930s there were many older gentlemen, lifelong bachelors, who were very kindly and friendly and always charming to the ladies but who were homosexual although other less "aware" people may not have noticed it and the gentlemen may never even have admitted it to their own selves. I can imagine Christie knew a few such gentlemen and may have made modelled Poirot on them.
"Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brönte. People were rather fussy back then weren't they?"
I was embarrassed to post this but I am re reading (last time high school) now also! I didn't know how sexy two people can be who practically never touch...its the definition of "wait, wait...or wait some more"
I would bang Rochester like a screen door!
Used-book stores, charities that hold book sales, the dumpster---take your pick, r196.
"I am currently reshelving my library, previous kept in several different locations. Should probably unload books. What to do with duplicates? (Who knew I had them?) Some of them are in new condition, including Alan Bennett, Saki, things I barely recognize...."
You can sell them or trade them in at amazon.com
The new, 1,000 page biography of Barbara Stanwyck. And, it's only the first half of a two part biography.
Robert Massey biography of Catherine the Great.
Good luck with that, r202. I found his biography of Peter the Great turgid.
P.S. I'm currently reading Louis Begley's biography of Franz Kafka, "The Tremendous World I Have Inside My Head: Franz Kafka: A Biographical Essay".
R203, so far the Catherine biography is quite good. I will admit that I find her to be much more interesting than her father.
Uh, Peter the Great was not the father of Catherine the Great. Or have you not gotten to that page r207?
that Sylvia Plath book was great. Do not read American Isis (also about her), it is horribly written
R208, lost my head. You are absolutely right. He was the father of Elizabeth who plays such a crucial role in Catherine's life. My apology.
But I've always got this sense that Ms Donna Tartt might be a lesbian (albeit probably a high- brow celibate non-practising one). My hunch is based on the fact that she does the first-person male perspective rather too well and too convincingly. I don't mean it in a sexist way, but she just seems to have such a 'masculine' mind, know what I mean?
I'm about 2/3 of the way through Isabel Allende's memoir "My Invented Country" and while I have little desire to try her fiction, this one is very well written and easy to get into.
And that's why I think her 'Little Friend' is such a disaster, when she tried to narrate through a female POV/perspective (and in the third person too!). I was SO relieved that she reverts back to the first-person male narrator in 'The Goldfinch'. As a result the narrative energy level swings right back to that of 'The Secret History'.
I'm about 3/4 of the way through The Goldfinch now and find it has seriously challenged my interest from time to time. Some truly brilliant writing but the plotting is often questionable.
I almost gave up on it around page 475 and then it suddenly got a lot more involved again.
R213, I'm not sure that's why The Little Friend wasn't as consistent as The Secret History. After all, Harriet was a 12-year-old girl. Doing something from a child's perspective is what made it tricky. I know that played some part for me, because I was never really sure whether Harriet had really worked out who killed Robin or whether this was some kind of childlike (not necessarily childish) fixation on this particular individual.
I also think what made The Little Friend more complicated is that Tartt was trying to deal with "social issues", namely racism and class attitudes in the south, through the everday subtleties as to how those prejudices and barriers operate. The Secret History isn't really about social issues, and neither is The Goldfinch from what I've understood. I think if Donna had managed to get The Little Friend right, succesfully weaving together the social dimension and the complexities of family life with the storytelling and the "coming of age" stuff, then it could have been an incredibly important book.
From the talk she gave that I attended it was quite clear that plotting is an incredibly important aspect of her work. I'm not sure she managed it 100% with The Little Friend: it was either too many ideas that weren't fitted together properly or two different books she tried to squeeze into one.
I don't think she's a dyke, though. It's quite easy to make men the first-person narrative - most of society is like that, we women are used to seeing things that way. That's probably why male protagonists are equated with "energy".
I'm reading The Goldfinch and about 200 pages in. It's relatively quick reading and interesting but I'm not quite getting all the "it's a masterpiece" hype just yet.
More than questioning the male first person narrator's voice in The Goldfinch, I wonder about the period it's set in which often doesn't seem contemporary to my mind.
I feel like it might have been a more believable story had it been set about 30-35 years earlier.
12 years a slave. I wanted to read it before watching the movie, but I can't get into it.
R217, at the talk I went to Tartt says she tries to write her novels so that they're not really datable, you can perhaps date them to within ten years either side but you can't really say which decade they're set in. She apparently doesn't like to include events or details by which you can date a novel.
Elsewhere, she apparently said that because she started writing The Goldfinch such a long time ago, by the time she finished it technology had developed so much that she had to go back and add mobile phones and things.
Thanks r219. I'm not too surprised.
Dear literate friends: how many books do you have going RIGHT NOW? I'm juggling four (2 audio, 1 ebook and 1 print book).
1 print book, 1 ebook. After getting an ipad and using the ibooks and kindle app, it's so much easier to read. Picking up a print book hurts my eyes so I've been sitting on my half-read print book for about six months now and reading solely on my ipad.
I used to read all the time when I was young but as m vision deteriorated, it became challenging for me to read so I stopped. I love the concept of e-reading and how you can adjust the font and lighting to suit you. It definitely turned me into a reader again....
"The Three Museketeers" by Dumas. I didn't realize he was black.
Read and loved Close to the Machine by Ellen Ullman. It's a memoir written in 1997 about technology being built to become what we experience today on a daily basis. Loved the book.
"The Good Lord Bird" by James McBride. So far it looks like its National Book Award is well-deserved. Although I would have loved to have seen "The Son" by Philipp Meyer win (it wasn't nominated).
I'm reading a seventies novel called Starring, by James Fritzhand. It has five principals who seem to be based on real people. Two are, clearly, versions of Barbra Streisand and Stephen Sondheim. The other three stump me. Can I appeal to the DataLounge team of experts to solve this puzzle? Surely someone will know. Maybe the author himself runs a google alert.
I just finished Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane audiobook. I loved it so much that I think I'll purchase the hard copy.
r225, totally agree about The Son. My favorite book of 2013.
Still struggling through the last chapters of The Goldfinch.
Now I'm finding for every boring 30 pages or so, there will be 10 riveting pages that just keep me reading.
But I'm guessing that in retrospect, the book just falls apart somewhere in Las Vegas, never to really recover the brilliance of the opening NY sections.
How sad that a brilliant editor couldn't have forced Tartt to cut about 300 pages of the book. It would have been so much better.
I'm rereading "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" after watching the TV miniseries from the 1970s featuring Alec Guinness and Ian Richardson. I first read the book in preparation for seeing the feature film with Gary Oldman ond Colin Firth, and I found it very hard to follow. I loved the film, but on its own terms, because it reworks the material in an entirely new way.
But after seeing the miniseries I wanted to reread the book to see if I had really missed all the gay themes and subtexts that were pretty manifest in the miniseries.
Such as the obnoxious guy who makes Smiley go out to dinner with him at the start of the novel being really [term that the webmaster has decided we don't use here], and Bill Haydon and Jim Prideaux being a couple. Of course the characters in "the Circus" run through more than one Lecarre novel and these characters had an established history before they came to the situations depicted in "Tinker Tailor." But I'm not interested in reading about them, only seeing fantastic actors play them.
Song of the Spider-Man: The Inside Story of the Most Controversial Musical in Broadway History by Glen Berger. Julie Taymor comes off like an entitled controlling bitch. Lots of dish in this... and funny too.
How Long Has This Been Going On? (1995) by Ethan Mordden. Entertaining if not as deep as I would like saga of several gay men and women from the late 40s to the 90s.
I got a copy of BUDDIES, but the thing is so perfume-y smelling, I don't know when I'll be able to read it.
I agree with most of what R229 said. The Golfinch dragged in a few places. I rather liked the Vegas storyline... it was shortly after he went back to NY after Vegas that it started dragging for me. I did finish it but I don't get why everyone is claiming it's a masterpiece. It's unnecessarily long.
I'm reading The German now which is great. Really creepy. About halfway through...
I'm also struggling through The Goldfinch--loved the beginning, but now it just seems to drag and I find myself skimming. If I'm skimming, something's not right.