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One disc into the 16-disc Arthur and George. Fascinating so far, full of religion and skepticism. I fear the story will take a turn against Christianity -- we all know of Arthur Conan Doyle's proclivity for spiritism -- but how that might happen, and why it happens, might be instructive.

Anyway, there's something to the "proper British" language. It reads well, but it also sounds lovely in audio form, especially given such nice treatment by the narrator, Nigel Anthony. I hadn't expected much when I picked up the title, but for now I'm hooked.

Has anyone read the book?

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I am reading Margaret Atwood - Oryx and Crake. Is Margaret Atwood still alive? If so, then she is easily the best writer alive, in my book. If not, then she's, well, one of the really good dead writers. And still in my book.

and she's canadian! she's also a very good poet (The Animals In That Country still rocks - but she has done some great recent work too...) as well as literary critic and theorist.

just so ya knows...

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I just finished Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which was very enjoyable - though without the wry humor, it would have fallen flat. I'm not much of a "fantasy" fan, but this book resists easy characterization. The only thing that did bother me was that some of the juxtapositions of fantasy and reality seemed a bit labored. But not all - Clarke's at her best when she plunks a "practical" magician in the middle of Wellington's army, for example.

I'm hard put to be able to compare the book to anything else I've read, unless it's some of the writers Clarke obviously loves: Austen and Dickens. (With a bit of Patrick O'Brian thrown in.)

Thanks for the rec, Buckeye!

I'm in the early stages of this novel now. It's been slow going so far, partly because I don't have much time to devote to it. I'm encouraged by promises that it gets better, and the comparisons to Austen and Dickens certainly seem apt. However, since I haven't yet been bitten by the O'Brian bug, that comparison doesn't thrill so much.

I can't resist a novel with footnotes, though.

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I am reading through Updike's Rabbit novels right now, and it is utterly confusing. His character "Rabbit" is somewhere between the flawed-character-that-teaches-us-something of Salinger, Amis, or basically most contemporary writers and the black and white characters of O'Connor or Twain (no pun intended). Instead Rabbit is almost a giant "zero" in the middle of the story that only serves to move the narrative forward in pathetic little acts of resignation. I don't think I have encountered anyone quite like him in a book.

Updike's novels are frustrating to me. He's a great writer -- no doubt about that -- and the sort of wreckage of Christianity that hangs about the neck of various ones of them makes for further intrigue. But when I read "Couples" (ooo, naughty bits!) as well as the Rabbit novels, I was left with sort of a cold empty feeling in my guts. Not much redemption there. More like a 20th Century version of damnation by degree. Like you say... Rabbit seems a giant zero who only becomes moreso as the action (novel by novel) progresses.

I blogged on Updike vs. (of all people) D. H. Lawrence. Not sure how valuable you'll find it, but here it is (moved from my highromance.blogspot.com, which is down now and becoming a book):

http://www.cornerstonemag.com/pages/show_page.asp?685

Edited by jon_trott

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I am leaning your direction on Updike, Jon (your piece on Updike is extremely provocative and very well written. I recently quoted that poem in another piece) . I am still puzzled by his affection for Barth, however, and am waiting for those gears to start turning more smoothly when I read his fiction.

As far as recent books: Humboldt's Gift by Saul Bellows. Now I understand why Chicago is both happy and hesitant to claim him, as he so accurately gets the doldrums of the third coast.

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I am leaning your direction on Updike, Jon (your piece on Updike is extremely provocative and very well written. I recently quoted that poem in another piece) . I am still puzzled by his affection for Barth, however, and am waiting for those gears to start turning more smoothly when I read his fiction.

As far as recent books: Humboldt's Gift by Saul Bellows. Now I understand why Chicago is both happy and hesitant to claim him, as he so accurately gets the doldrums of the third coast.

Thank you. Barth is a guy I don't know a lot about, though one of my dear friends is slam-out crazy over him. I wonder if he, like Kierkegaard, got a roughing up by fundamentalist / evangelical writers (the latter for F. Schaeffer, for instance) that was undeserved. Kierkegaard did for sure; that I know from both reading SK and from reading others' research into SK. Barth I'm guardedly positive about having read/heard little. Let me know if you had some leads / comments there.

And Humboldt's Gift is a really good book--so is Sammler's Planet, for that matter, though not quite as good as HG. I also liked Augie March, but can't for the life of me recall it right now to explain just why. Bellow is one of those moral fiction writers that one wishes would have (??) become a believer...

Never mentioned what I've been reading lately...

A biography Richard Wright: The Life and Times by Hazel Rowley is a fair knock-out. Wright's Native Son is one of those novels that didn't do much for me when I read it. But since then, I've had to rethink a lot about Wright, and am about to start the Library of America restored text version of his Black Boy (a novel that's thinly disguised autobiography). Though Wright won't displace Ralph Ellison in my book as the best African-American novelist ever, he probably almost single-handedly both made space for and defined black literature in America...

Blessings,

Jon

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The other day I went to update my reading journal for 06 and accidently did a morefield and deleted it ::doh:: , so I'll guess I'll have to post something here.

Just finished the audio version of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I sometimes get a kick out of early 50s futuristic stuff and kind of marvel at it's quaintness. For example in Asimov's Foundation Trilogy atomic power is used for everyday things that if we were to write it now would use lasers. It all makes me admire Brave New World all the more for how believable that world is. I'll need to watch the Truffaut version of 451 sometime.

On the serious front, I'm reading The Power of Movies by Colin McGill -- a bit pedantic and way too much time dealing with what he calls the metaphysics of movies. It probably would have been an interesting lecture series, but reading it is a bit sluggish.

Edited by Darrel Manson

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I recently began reading a pre-release copy of Pascal's Wager by James A. Connor. I'm close to half way through and, Wow - what a fabulously interesting, entertaining and insightful view of history. It is a serious treatment of one of history's giants, but as he goes along Connor digs into theology, science, history, Catholicism & Protestantism and more, with equal parts respect and breezy irreverence. I'm going to start a thread on this book when I get some time to write something worthy, but I'll just draw your attention to this one. It's due out in October -- don't miss it if you can find it.

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I'm currently reading Sherman Alexie's the Lone Ranger & Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, as well as the Coffee Book by Nina Lullinger and Greg Dicum. The former is a great collection of short stories (and the first bit of Alexie I've read), the latter a great (and short) overview of all things coffee, from history to production to random facts.

Edited by Jason Panella

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After watching William Wyler's adaption, Carrie (1952), this weekend, I've just started Dreiser's Sister Carrie. The only other time I read it was fifteen years ago in the American lit survey that inspired me to change my major to English. I'm not sure if I'll make it all the way through, though. Dreiser's language, even at its best, doesn't do much for me anymore.

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Ken wrote: Man, I remember this as being good, but not this good.

Lily both elicits my sympathy and my exasperation in a way that few 20th century protagonists do (they usually get one or the other).

And the woman can flat out write

Lily Bart is one of the last great, living, naturalist characters in literature. I like her as much as Tess or Anna Karenina.

Did you see the Terence Davies film of the novel, Ken? I highly recommend it.

Darren:

Dreiser's style is very dry in certain novels. He's shooting for a very distant, olympian but scientific tone which makes people think he is tone deaf to the music of language. But this really is a style that he chose for an effect -- anti-melodrama, anti-tragic, mechanistic. The weight of capitalist facts crushing human beings. No Hugoesque outrage for him.

But Dreiser can get very lyrical in his shorter pieces -- like A Gallery of Women or 12 Men or Dawn....

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Just finished Joseph Ellis's His Excellency: George Washington.

The Holy Way by Paula Huston

The Innocence and Wisdom of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton

Out on the Deep Blue: Women, Men, and the Oceans They Fish edited by Leslie Leyland Fields

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"American Gods" by Neil Gaiman

Excellent choice. I'm a big fan of Gaiman's work in general (Stardust is one of those books that I can pick up at almost any time and thoroughly enjoy). Overall I prefer his more purely fantastical works, but American Gods doesn't disappoint.

This reminds me, I need to get around to picking up Anansi Boys.

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"American Gods" by Neil Gaiman

Excellent choice. I'm a big fan of Gaiman's work in general (Stardust is one of those books that I can pick up at almost any time and thoroughly enjoy). Overall I prefer his more purely fantastical works, but American Gods doesn't disappoint.

Yeah, I agree with opus. It's a great book. I also give you a big thumbs up for the Mieville book. It's not perfect, by any means, but he's an amazing good writer, and the world he creates is stunning.

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Right in the middle of Cry, The Beloved Country, by Alan Paton. Loving it so far.

So how is Cry, The Beloved Country? I just saw the movie last week and gave it 5 stars on NetFlix. How's the book by comparison.

Silly question, I know, but I've actually seen several movies that have done their book justice. Wonder if thisis one.

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Annelise wrote:

: I just saw the movie last week and gave it 5 stars on NetFlix.

Which version? FWIW, I read the book shortly before reading the 1990s remake, which I thought was good but had its flaws, but I have never seen the 1950s original version.

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The Elegant Universe, Brian Greene

I've always been fascinated by theoretical physics and whatnot, so decided to give this one a whirl. His illustrations of concepts such as relativity are well-done, though no less mindboggling.

Oh cool! Another Brian Greene fan out there. I read about a third of Fabric of the Cosmos, and got The Elegant Universe for my last birthday. A few books down my list, but I'm really looking forward to it.

Yes, I shall be a 3rd Brian Greene fan. I very much appreciate how accessible he is when he writes on these usually jargonish and high-faluting topics. I read Elegant Universe in high school (I think?) and went on to study some of the topics he covers in college. He has taught me a lot about communicating math and science to people who are less familiar it.

Ken wrote: Man, I remember this as being good, but not this good.

Lily both elicits my sympathy and my exasperation in a way that few 20th century protagonists do (they usually get one or the other).

And the woman can flat out write

Lily Bart is one of the last great, living, naturalist characters in literature. I like her as much as Tess or Anna Karenina.

Whoa, those are all such wonderfully cheerful books ;) ; tales full of premonitions of less-happy endings. I have not yet read Anna Karenina, but your comparisons with Tess and Lily are reminding me that I would like to...and maybe give those a purusal again, too.

Edited by ruthie

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I haven't (yet) read any of Winner's books, but I saw her last speak at last year's Jubilee conference. VERY worthwhile. She's blessed with a great sense of humor.

BUT-- I'm currently reading Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. This is my first time reading it. I love it! After that, I'm going to re-read James Ellroy's the Black Dahlia so I can complain about how much the upcoming film version will deviate from the book.

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I know i know that this is my first *ever* post, etc., but, because I cannot post my own topic, I must ask my question here:

I am a 21 year old Creative Writing undergrad from Southern Louisiana (it's really two states). I need a good book reccomendation. Here are my relative parameters: Preferably something written by a Christian other than Flannery O'Connor or Walker Percy, something set in the South, something intelligent, something that will help me as a writer.

Thanks in advance for any help that you guys can give me and I look forward to being an actual part of this excellent board.

Marty

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I started Lauren Winner's Girl Meets God earlier today, and am finding myself having to keep from rushing through it. I love her sense of humor, and appreciate her ruminations on a lot of things that we (or I, anyway) tend to take for granted. This book is so refreshing to me, in ways that I find hard to articulate and/or don't want to discuss right here, for fear of spoiling the book for someone else.

I really liked her article for the Christian Vision Project. My wife got to hear her speak at a journalist convention in Tulsa not too long ago.

I'm in the middle of two books right now (and, yes, still in the middle of about 5 papers, and still haven't finished Alcorn's Heaven either . . . yeesh!) that I just started this month!

Blue Like Jazz

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I am a 21 year old Creative Writing undergrad from Southern Louisiana (it's really two states). I need a good book reccomendation. Here are my relative parameters: Preferably something written by a Christian other than Flannery O'Connor or Walker Percy, something set in the South, something intelligent, something that will help me as a writer.

Marty

A couple of recommendations (how fortuitous that I was just talking about these types of books with a student this afternoon!) I hope it's all right if some of these books are humorous:

Handling Sin, by Michael Malone

Raney, by Clyde Edgerton

Fair and Tender Ladies, by Lee Smith (I don't know anything about Smith's religion)

All the King's Men, by Robert Penn Warren (was he a Christian? I don't know, but AtKM will stir your soul and make you want to be a better writer)--you've probably already read it if you're from any part of Louisiana :)

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All the King's Men, by Robert Penn Warren (was he a Christian? I don't know, but AtKM will stir your soul and make you want to be a better writer)--you've probably already read it if you're from any part of Louisiana :)

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