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I'm currently reading The Times are Never so Bad by Andre Dubus.

Ryan

I checked out of the library a bunch of Andre Dubus short stories and essays and am dipping into them. I am going to choose one for my next months Men's Book Group. Everyone in the group is going to bring one short story or essay to share. Dubus is one of my favorite short story writers! Ryan, Do you have a favorite Dubus short story?

I just finished The Boy's Crusade by Paul Fussell (this month's Men's Book Group read). It is a short book focusing on the American infantry in WWII. After reading this I realized I must have slept through my history classes so picked up a book Fussell recommends for further reading: The Second World War by Martin Gilbert. It is over 850 pages but is very well written and a pleasure to read. I'm continually astounded how evil Hitler was right our of the gate and unremittingly so. It's terrifying!

For my devotional reading I have My Life with the Saints by Father James Martin. It is a spiritual autobiography about how various saints such as Therese of Lisieux, Thomas Merton, and Ignatious of Loyola have impacted his life. So you learn about Father Martin and about a bunch of saints, some I'm already familiar with but some not.

And last I have the The Brothers Karamazov, the Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky translation. I think these are great translators and it makes all the difference when reading Russian novels. I have tried the Brothers K before and have always gotten bogged down but this translation seems so easy to read. We'll see if I can make it all the way through this time.

Edited by Jim Janknegt
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I checked out of the library a bunch of Andre Dubus short stories and essays and am dipping into them. I am going to choose one for my next months Men's Book Group. Everyone in the group is going to bring one short story or essay to share. Dubus is one of my favorite short story writers! Ryan, Do you have a favorite Dubus short story?

I've only read Dancing After Hours and am nearly finished with The Times Are Never so Bad. So from that, I might choose "The Timing of Sin". Ask me another day and I might say something else. I do think overall that the stories in Dancing After Hours are a bit stronger than those in The Times Are Never so Bad, but I'm a bit of newbie when it comes to Dubus.

Ryan

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  • 4 weeks later...

I'm 100 pages into War and Decision, by Doug Feith. I don't plan on reading all of it before it's due back at the library, but honestly, I didn't think I'd get even this far. The book is a pretty easy read, very thoughtful.

Sarah and I have embarked on Don Quixote as our summer reading project. The first few chapters have been delightful!

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I know it was a bit ago (back in November) that Crow mentioned Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, but I'm reading it right now and enjoying it very much. I love the style and I'm constantly tempted to slip into that older spelling and structure of past tense that Clarke captures so well. I'm also reading James Burke's Connections and working on Erik Larson's Thunderstruck. (Has anyone read his Devil in the White City? Wonderful capture of World Fair history, if you're into that sort of thing, and maybe even if you're not.)

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(Has anyone read his Devil in the White City? Wonderful capture of World Fair history, if you're into that sort of thing, and maybe even if you're not.)

Our Men's Book Group in Austin read Devil in the White City last year and everyone liked it. A good portrait of post civil war American hubris in the construction of the worlds fair and astonishing evil in the mass murderer.

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(Has anyone read his Devil in the White City? Wonderful capture of World Fair history, if you're into that sort of thing, and maybe even if you're not.)

I really enjoyed this book! Larson's ability to weave the murderer's actions with the wonder of the World's Fair was incredible. It read like a novel, too. I bought Larson's other two books, but haven't had a chance to read 'em yet.

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I have Thunderstruck, like I said, and I'm working on it. Not very far yet (book juggling!), but enjoying what I have read. Isaac's Storm has also been highly recommended and I'll probably borrow it from a friend when I get a chance to read it. Has anyone read both, or all three? Thoughts on how they compare would be really helpful in deciding priority, versus other books.

The exploration in Thunderstruck so far of the wireless, and Marconi's discoveries in that science, contrasted with the "supernatural" craze is interesting. The fear that the new science is "magic" is evident, especially since several scientists of the day were involved in paranormal or supernatural-exploration "clubs" or groups. Larson is handling the subject well, examining the general confusion and suppositions of the events without actually leaving the reader confused. So far, I think it reads a little less like a novel than Devil in the White City did, but that might change. And even then, it doesn't mean that it's dry history.

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I've recently finished reading The Shadow and Night by Chris Walley, the first of a trilogy. An interesting attempt at blending science fiction with Postmillenial theology, in exploring the concept of the "millenium" and the rise of evil at the end, leading to a final confrontation. Typically I get scared off by the concept of "Christian" science fiction or "Christian" fantasy. But this story worked for me because it was a story first and foremost, and an intriguing one with strong characters. The author certainly owes a lot to the influence of C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy, but the book reflects more the influence of Lewis the storyteller rather than a theological polemic.

Edited by Crow
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Just finished Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

I've been reading the Harry Potter novels for the first time. I teach a college writing class, and one of the assignments to first year students is to have them illustrate their relationship with popular culture through a narrative essay using a specific event or series of events. For the first time this year, reading Harry Potter (sometimes in secret under their covers) was used in these essays, and by several students, actually. So if this is such a formative experience for them, I figured I better know them. I've read the first five, and will start six now that I finished The Road.

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Just finished Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

As a writing instructor, I'd be interested in your thoughts about McCarthy eschewing writing conventions (like quotation marks, chapters, attributing who is speaking, some punctuation, etc..). It was sometimes difficult following conversations because of this style. I completely bought this in his books with the Texas/Mexico settings because it reflected the characters and settings in the plot, who themselves didn't care much for convention but were more pragmatic in their approaches. But I"m not sure that worked so well in The Road unless perhaps in an apocalyptic setting all conventions are meaningless anyway. Thoughts?

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I have been reading the Narnia books. Until now, I had only read the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Currently on the Silver Chair.

"You know...not EVERY story has to be interesting." -Gibby

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As a writing instructor, I'd be interested in your thoughts about McCarthy eschewing writing conventions (like quotation marks, chapters, attributing who is speaking, some punctuation, etc..). It was sometimes difficult following conversations because of this style. I completely bought this in his books with the Texas/Mexico settings because it reflected the characters and settings in the plot, who themselves didn't care much for convention but were more pragmatic in their approaches. But I"m not sure that worked so well in The Road unless perhaps in an apocalyptic setting all conventions are meaningless anyway. Thoughts?

McCarthy has always written like this, and I like it. It's one of the convention-shucking moves that end up working well for the author, regardless of the work. (See James Joyce's hyphen-dialogue thing for another example.)

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  • 4 weeks later...

Everyday Theology

Vanhoozer presents a model for reading and interpreting culture (the meaning of which is not always easily defined, though I like his definition). Vanhoozer wants us to not only understand the intentions of authors, movie makers and the like, his goal for us is to also understand the text, as well as everything "in front of" and "behind" the text (context) in which the text exists. One reviewer says that Vanhoozer, "...imports too much lingusitic terminology for everyday readers (locutionary, perlocutionary, illocutionary) to communicate his framework..." However, Vanhoozer does his best to explain what these mean and does as good a job as a scholar can do to make them accessible to the general reader. The rest of the book is Vanhoozer's model applied, but I haven't gotten that far yet. :) However, Vanhoozer's first chapter is definitely worth the read in itself which has uncovered and helped me get beyond some of my own envy, jealousy and anger towards culture (seriously, I didn't know I could be like this!), which at times tends to be way too narrow. In other words, let's get past our feelings and look for truth.

Brandon

"God is so great and merciful that he does not require that we name him precisely. God is even willing to be anonymous for a time. Remember how God led the Three Wise Men from the East to Christ? The Wise Men did not know the God of Israel or Jesus. They worshipped the stars. So God used a star to lure them."--The Twelve Steps for Christians

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I've been blazing through books lately (though I haven't had a chance to update my book journal stickied above).

-Edward Conlon's Blue Blood is a fantastic police memoir. It's ridiculously dense, which works for and against the book. Conlon is an excellent writer, though, and I can see this appealing to fans of the the Wire.

-Andy and John Hillstrand's Time Bandit...it's an autobiography of two brothers who work as captains of a crabbing boat in the Bering Strait. Despite occasional interesting parts, the books sucks for the most part. I realize this was an advance copy, but John's stuff is terribly erratic; he sometimes has interesting tales, sometimes spends pages talking about his sexual conquests and how cool he is. I finished it just to get it out of the way, so I could eventually review it. (I guess they were featured a lot on the show The Deadliest Catch.)

-Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Girl's Illustrated Primer

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I'm almost done reading Jorge Luis Borges Ficciones. It's very, very good. Anyone else familiar with these stories. They are really remarkable.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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I love them. I don't really know why, though.

Maybe it's a literature grad student thing? ;)

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

Twitter.
Letterboxd.

Reviews and essays at Three Brothers Film.

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Alison Weir's The Lady Elizabeth on audiobook. I liked her first novel, Innocent Traitor, but this one's a disappointment. It started out great, but now she's portraying Elizabeth and her governess as utter morons. Between them they nearly let Thomas Seymour wreck Elizabeth's life, and even after that neither of them can stop mooning over him. I realize it's fiction, but there's such a thing as straining credulity too far -- how could Elizabeth possibly have survived to grow up in that place and those times if she'd been so reckless and irresponsible? Plus Weir is showing a tendency to repeat herself ad nauseam. I hope it'll get past this part and pick up again soon.

I think Seymour's due to be executed shortly, so maybe it will . . .

:) Honestly, I'm about ready to behead him myself!

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Started The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. Got it on the remainder shelf at B&N for $4.

I liked this one quite a bit, Darrel. Happy reading.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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  • 2 weeks later...
Started The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. Got it on the remainder shelf at B&N for $4.

I liked this one quite a bit, Darrel. Happy reading.

It was good. And very quick.

I've now moved on to Nick Hornby, A Long Way Down.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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Started The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. Got it on the remainder shelf at B&N for $4.

I liked this one quite a bit, Darrel. Happy reading.

It was good. And very quick.

I've now moved on to Nick Hornby, A Long Way Down.

Stephen King- Lisey's Story. Sai-King's taking a liiiiitle while developing the plot (still don't know exactly what happened to Lisey's hubby), but that's alright. :cool:

Long days and pleasant nights.

***

"I am Tyler Durden's raging spleen!"

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