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Andrew

What we're reading

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The only bad thing is that I have to read the whole thing in a week. And read a bunch of other stuff and grade lots of papers too.

A week? Really? That's kind of ridiculous. It's a giant book and not even remotely a quick read.

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THE DEFENSE by Vladimir Nabokov.

Splendid. But nobody beats Nabokov.

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I'm reading Perdido Street Station by China Mieville for a class. It's a Dickensian future alien society noir with conspiracies and lots of thaumaturgy.

The only bad thing is that I have to read the whole thing in a week. And read a bunch of other stuff and grade lots of papers too.

I read that. I kept thinking, "Well, this is amazing writing and imagination, but all these characters are so disgusting/depressing/deplorable. Who's side am I on? Maybe the unappreciated bug-mistress and her hive?" Or not. I forget. When I read for diversion, I wish to be diverted. But at least it was well-written.

YMMV.

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Currently reading:

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, by Rob Hanson. It took me a while to finally get around to reading this, and I'm hitting myself for not reading it sooner. I'm about a quarter of the way through and I love it.

Heart of Midnight (Ravenloft #4), by J. Robert King. Cheesy gothic fantasy/horror based on a D&D setting. Like the first three, surprisingly good.

Nightmares & Dreamscapes, by Stephen King. I'm not read much of King's earlier (as in, pre-late '90s) work, and I'm really liking some of the short stories in the collection. There's only been one major stinker so far, thankfully.

Lectures on Calvinism, by Abraham Kuyper. So far, so good. My theology has drifted more toward the Dutch side of the Reformation in the past couple of years, so I've been excited to read this for a bit.

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I celebrated Fall Break this past weekend by reading a book I didn't have to read. I picked The Death Cure by James Dashner, which is the conclusion of his Maze Runner trilogy. (I read the first two books this summer.) The first book, The Maze Runner, was like The Prisoner for teens, but the series keeps getting darker from there. The last book ends with a remnant of humanity (200 people) hiding out in the woods while everyone else on the planet dies from an engineered virus.

Edited by Tyler

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I was disappointed by the recent releases from two of my favorite crime writers. One seemed like a guy going through the motions to churn out a book and the other was too over-the-top with sex and gore for this prude.

However, I did recently enjoy the latest crime novels from Don Winslow, James Sallis and Ken Bruen. The Don Winslow book is the standout of the bunch. He has been on an absolute roll since Power of the Dog in 2005.

On the literary front, Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding is a pretty fun read. I can't count how many academic novels I've read over the years, but this is a worthy addition to the canon. The baseball stuff is nice too and the book has at least five characters who will always remain memorable.

I have on deck a book called The Gospel According to Bob Dylan and new fiction from Dean Bakopoulos.

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Most of my fiction reading, if not all, consists of reading at night with my boys. Here is where we're at.

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss (nighttime reading with my boys)

Harry Potter, volume 4: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

To be honest, the Harry Potter series has been incredibly disappointing and I am not certain of the fuss. I see so many other children's novels and stories in this series that it feels stolen and poorly written. Most of the time the most worthwhile dialogue or message is in the last 10 pages when Dumbledore shares (usually one sentence) of "wisdom."

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I was disappointed by the recent releases from two of my favorite crime writers. One seemed like a guy going through the motions to churn out a book and the other was too over-the-top with sex and gore for this prude.

Why the hesitancy to name these books?

I'm still plugging away with Murakami's The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, about which I have some misgivings, although since posted those misgivings in the "Fiction for Men" thread, the novel has shifted its shape enough that I'm not sure those misgivings deserve the prominence I gave them.

About two-thirds of the way through Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, and surprised to be loving it.

160 pages into my Thelonious Monk biography. I like it but wonder if I have a prayer of completing it before a batch of books arrives for my birthday (I hope) in a couple of weeks. If it's not finished by then, I fear it never will be.

With so much on my plate, why did I start into David Mamet's The Secret Knowledge earlier today?

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Just finished the play The Language Archive by Julia Cho.

I then followed up with the last chapter of Eldredge's Beautiful Outlaw--and now I shall read it again.

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BORTZ?

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URNGH?!?

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URNGH?!?

Haven't seen you 'round these parts in a while. Glad to see you!

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Currently reading aloud with Anne at dinnertimes and bedtimes :

The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything - James Martin

Come, Thief - by Jane Hirshfield

The Sacredness of Questioning Everything - David Dark (my second time through it)

On-deck:

How to Save a Life - Sara Zarr

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Currently reading:

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, by Rob Hanson. It took me a while to finally get around to reading this, and I'm hitting myself for not reading it sooner. I'm about a quarter of the way through and I love it.

Heart of Midnight (Ravenloft #4), by J. Robert King. Cheesy gothic fantasy/horror based on a D&D setting. Like the first three, surprisingly good.

Nightmares & Dreamscapes, by Stephen King. I'm not read much of King's earlier (as in, pre-late '90s) work, and I'm really liking some of the short stories in the collection. There's only been one major stinker so far, thankfully.

Lectures on Calvinism, by Abraham Kuyper. So far, so good. My theology has drifted more toward the Dutch side of the Reformation in the past couple of years, so I've been excited to read this for a bit.

Finished all of these. I liked The Assassination more than almost any other novel I've read over the past decade. I'm already excited to read it again. The King short story collection was really good, overall, though there were a few clunkers in there. I was surprised at how much I struggled through Kuyper's lectures...maybe I was just too out of sorts when I read it? And while I've generally enjoyed the pulpiness of the other Ravenloft fantasy novels, this one just had completely unlikable characters.

I'm currently reading the following:

The Longest Winter: The Battle of the Bulge and the Epic Story of WWII's Most Decorated Platoon, by Alex Kershaw.

The Habit of Being: The Letters of Flannery O'Connor, by Flannery O'Connor

Android: Free Fall, by William H. Keith. (A hardboiled sci-fi novel based on a favorite board game that's actually getting good review? Yes please.)

A Small Town in Germany, by John Le Carre.

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I'm finally reading (well listening) to The Help. If you're looking for a great audiobook, this one fits the bill. Also recently finished Tobias Wolff's This Boy's Life with our book group.

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I'm currently re-reading Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Although I love the novel, I find myself, for whatever reasons, supremely irritated by Angel Clare, husband of the aforementioned Tess. I realize that I'm reading through the lens of 21st-century sensibilities, but most of my reactions can be neatly summarized by the pointed question, "What the hell is wrong with you?" Your wife gets raped, and you storm off in a huff because of her indiscretions? Suck it up, Angel, and don't be a turd. And while you're at it, ditch the name.

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I'm currently re-reading Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Although I love the novel, I find myself, for whatever reasons, supremely irritated by Angel Clare, husband of the aforementioned Tess. I realize that I'm reading through the lens of 21st-century sensibilities, but most of my reactions can be neatly summarized by the pointed question, "What the hell is wrong with you?" Your wife gets raped, and you storm off in a huff because of her indiscretions? Suck it up, Angel, and don't be a turd. And while you're at it, ditch the name.

Among the many reasons I prefer Far from the Madding Crowd: better character names, and not unrelentingly depressing.

Oh--what am I reading?

For course on post-colonial lit I'm teaching, just finished re-read of The Secret River, by Kate Grenville (2005); recommend this, which is now the first in a trilogy of novels about the early years of colonial Australia & New Zealand.

For entertainment: listening to the final installment of Garth Nix's "Keys of the Kingdom" series, Lord Sunday. For a sort of Gnostic fantasy, at least it's more fun than Pullman.

Edited by BethR

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Walter Benjamin - The Arcades Project (When you read about it being an unfinished work; believe it. It's more an ENORMOUS notebook of fragments, parts of essays and impressions of philosophical thought--one I belive that he would never have finished no matter how long he lived. With that in mind, I am enjoying it immensely.)

Haruki Murakami - IQ84

Umberto Eco - The Prague Cemetery

Just finished Peter Matthiesen's much revised Florida trilogy (Killing Mr. Watson, Lost Man's River, Bone By Bone) into one, Shadow Country. Having read them all, I believe it was right to cut the three volumes in the trilogy into one much more manageable and ultimately poignant book.

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G.K. Chesterton - The Everlasting Man

Ian Kerr - G.K. Chesterton: A Biography

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Walter Benjamin - The Arcades Project (When you read about it being an unfinished work; believe it. It's more an ENORMOUS notebook of fragments, parts of essays and impressions of philosophical thought--one I belive that he would never have finished no matter how long he lived. With that in mind, I am enjoying it immensely.)

We've talked about this in my postcolonial lit class several times. Hasn't made me want to read it, though.

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Umberto Eco - The Prague Cemetery

I'll be interested to read your thoughts on this one.

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Walter Benjamin - The Arcades Project (When you read about it being an unfinished work; believe it. It's more an ENORMOUS notebook of fragments, parts of essays and impressions of philosophical thought--one I belive that he would never have finished no matter how long he lived. With that in mind, I am enjoying it immensely.)

We've talked about this in my postcolonial lit class several times. Hasn't made me want to read it, though.

All I can say about the Arcades Project is that it is pretty much solely for Benjamin freaks--of which I am one. That said, it is trying, not because it isn't full of fascinating stuff because it is, almost obsessively so--some of the stuff in here rivals C.L.R. James' "Beyond A Boundary" in the way that it looks through the artifices of popular culture and why it "needs" to exist. To b me that's saying a lot since James is one of my favorite thinkers and that book and John Berger's Ways Of Seeing are the best two books on pop culture out there--the former read through cricket and colonialism, the second read through visual art and class. The Arcades Project is maddening because you can see a realized project is possible, but you know, because of the way he thinks, he'd never have gotten there.

Umberto Eco - The Prague Cemetery

I'll be interested to read your thoughts on this one.

This first half is difficult going, not because it isn't interesting and even compelling as a plot-driven novel, but because history itself regarding the fictional Protocols of the Elders of Zion is perhaps more so. Combine this with all the hate being spewed (though that is a fictional construct as well) and it can be a rough slog no matter how beautifully written. Thankfully the book is of manageable length.

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Right Ho, Jeeves, P.G. Wodehouse. My first Wodehouse. Really enjoying it so far.

North Toward Home, Willie Morris. Morris' memoirs for the first half of his life from his boyhood in Mississippi, education in Texas and England, to working at Harper's (and eventually becoming their youngest-ever editor) in NYC. So far, so good. This is the book that convinced ESPN senior writer, Wright Thompson (don't be fooled by the fact that he writes mostly about sports, he's a good writer; read his column about food and drink at Grantland, "Whiskey and Grease") to become a writer when he read it as a teenager.

The Walking Dead, Compendium 1 (issues 1-48). Better than the show.

Recently finished:

The Road, Cormac McCarthy. Read the first third two years ago then randomly picked it up off the bookshelf the other day and finished it in a couple hours. For whatever reason, it didn't grip me two years ago (which is why I put it down for so long) but it did immediately when I picked it back up. What more can be said about this novel? As much as I enjoy McCarthy's writing, I don't think he would be a ton of fun to hang out with. He comes across as having a pretty bleak/hopeless view of the world.

The Sisters Brothers, Patrick DeWitt. Probably the best novel I've read in a while. It's a dark and violent Western (1851, Oregon Territory) about two brothers who work as hired guns for the mysterious Commodore. We observe them as they are on the trail of Hermann Kermit Warm, a man they've been hired to kill but they don't know why. Charlie's alcoholism and Eli's bad luck slow them down at every turn. It made me laugh out loud, cringe at its brutality, and feel compassion for a one-eyed horse named Tub. It's a bewildering novel that doesn't feel like any Western I've read before and it's strangely moving at times.

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Walter Benjamin - The Arcades Project (When you read about it being an unfinished work; believe it. It's more an ENORMOUS notebook of fragments, parts of essays and impressions of philosophical thought--one I belive that he would never have finished no matter how long he lived. With that in mind, I am enjoying it immensely.)

We've talked about this in my postcolonial lit class several times. Hasn't made me want to read it, though.

All I can say about the Arcades Project is that it is pretty much solely for Benjamin freaks--of which I am one. That said, it is trying, not because it isn't full of fascinating stuff because it is, almost obsessively so--some of the stuff in here rivals C.L.R. James' "Beyond A Boundary" in the way that it looks through the artifices of popular culture and why it "needs" to exist. To b me that's saying a lot since James is one of my favorite thinkers and that book and John Berger's Ways Of Seeing are the best two books on pop culture out there--the former read through cricket and colonialism, the second read through visual art and class. The Arcades Project is maddening because you can see a realized project is possible, but you know, because of the way he thinks, he'd never have gotten there.

This badboy is a great companion.

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Walter Benjamin - The Arcades Project (When you read about it being an unfinished work; believe it. It's more an ENORMOUS notebook of fragments, parts of essays and impressions of philosophical thought--one I belive that he would never have finished no matter how long he lived. With that in mind, I am enjoying it immensely.)

We've talked about this in my postcolonial lit class several times. Hasn't made me want to read it, though.

All I can say about the Arcades Project is that it is pretty much solely for Benjamin freaks--of which I am one. That said, it is trying, not because it isn't full of fascinating stuff because it is, almost obsessively so--some of the stuff in here rivals C.L.R. James' "Beyond A Boundary" in the way that it looks through the artifices of popular culture and why it "needs" to exist. To b me that's saying a lot since James is one of my favorite thinkers and that book and John Berger's Ways Of Seeing are the best two books on pop culture out there--the former read through cricket and colonialism, the second read through visual art and class. The Arcades Project is maddening because you can see a realized project is possible, but you know, because of the way he thinks, he'd never have gotten there.

This badboy is a great companion.

I think it is, and I have it and have used it as sort of lexicon to the Arcades Project. That said--and she admits this--it's more a vision of how what already exists could be ordered into a project. While some critics have had real problems with this approach, I find it enlightening and, well, brave. (And for a good while it was all we had, since it precedes the release of the Arcades Project itself in English anyway.)

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