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raisingirl
No thoughts on my Henry Miller inquiry...?
bunnyb
Sorry, raisin, I haven't read any Miller yet.

Maybe PM (or facebook) mouse? she's up on her literature. Sybarite too. One of them may have read it.
sybarite
You rang?

Actually I can't be of any help Raisin--I tried reading Tropic of Cancer ('cause I'm so original...) years ago and couldn't get anywhere with it, sorry. I think Erica Jong has a lengthy interview with him somewhere from back in the day which may be of interest (if you like her that is, I go back and forth).

Sassy, I was enthralled by Revolutionary Road, although it can be quite bleak. I re-read it recently(after only reading it in Dec) and suspect I will do so again. I veered between sympathy, empathy and horror: good stuff.
Anne_Ecdote
wetlands erotic novel
kittenb
I got One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding from the library yesterday. It is a really good read and I am really having to question things that I thought I wanted to have should I ever get married.

I went on an Internet seach to find a book that I loved when I was a teenager. It is called The President's Daughter about the daughter of the first female president. I did not know that there is now a whole series based on the books. I am going to buy them all when I get my tax return I think.
raisingirl
Oh well. Thanks anyway, Syb. I had to read Cancer for a class and that was my introduction to him.

Literary confession: I have never read Jong! Not sure how that happened (or not).
bunnyb
QUOTE(raisingirl @ Jan 20 2009, 02:20 AM) *
Highly recommended recent read: Giovanni's Room. Excellent. It's short, but I alternated between reading a lot in one sitting and reading only a couple of pages and then putting it down for several hours because I wanted to savor it. I especially recommend it for any of you interested in writing -- reading as a writer and all that. It's rich.


I'm panning the above as a lovely way to spend part of this weekend smile.gif.
sybarite
I think Jong is quite zeitgeisty. Each of the novels/thinly veiled autobiographies she wrote are as much about the time and place (and her own subject position as a privileged, bright, lustful Manhattanite) as whatever the plot purports to be. She has/had the knack of universality, where I felt at age 19, or 25, that she was truly speaking to me... only to realise on re-reading that I couldn't really relate to her or her life at all. I personally think I've outgrown her, but she provides some fascinating insights from the 70s and 80s about how women were represented. She can be funny, too.

On a different note, but not really, I found Updike's novels described an America utterly unfamiliar to me, which alone made them worth reading. A later novel, Seek My Face, charts the life of an artist and hence the US art scene from NYC in the 1940s onward. It's a great book.
auralpoison
QUOTE(bunnyb @ Jan 29 2009, 11:48 AM) *
I'm panning the above as a lovely way to spend part of this weekend smile.gif.


Wow. Baldwin. That was one of the first real pieces of queer lit-rah-chah I ever read fifteen years ago & it was a good one. That's another one to go on my list of things I need to re-read.

Plexus . . . only read if you are in a Miller state of mind: loosey-goosey, scattershot, & willing to take a bit of a mystical tramp. It rambles here & there (Some of the dream bits are a fun trip, some are purely tiresome.), but there are some really great passages. There's a glaring lack of filth & smut, it's more writerly theory & evolution. I enjoyed it.
bunnyb
I read Giovanni's Room last weekend and adored it; it is a great piece of queer lit, rich and tragic.

I fell into a bit of a book slump afterwards. I started to read Rebecca West's The Fountain Overflows but threw it aside after 50 pages (and those were a struggle) as I was so desperately bored. High hopes were dashed. I reverted to some satirical Pratchett as my concentration was lost. This weekend I need something semi-light and absorbing: I'm considering Saplings by Noel Streatfield or They Were Sisters by Dorothy Whipple (both Persephones). After that I need something to sink my teeth into, I'm thinking Revolutionary Road or Nabokov's Ada or Ador (a longstanding feature on the to-be-read list after mouse highly recommended it eons ago).
bunnyb
I killed the thread sad.gif. Or, it died through lack of interest in discussion or of the demise of reading itself...

Anyway, I'm reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera and enjoying it; I love the beauty of his writing. It's been a while since I read any of his work and I missed it.
Persiflager
I've been lurking but not posting as I've not read most of the books y'all are talking about.

I've just finished 'Black Swan Green' by David Mitchell and (eventually) loved it. I was surprised how long it took me to get into it compared to his previous books - this one was different as it only followed one story rather than several inter-linking ones. I've read 'Cloud Atlas' and 'Ghostwritten' before and really enjoyed both (especially CA - I spent at least the first third of the book confused but it was fantastic when it came together).

Anyone else into David Mitchell at the moment?

I've also got Stephen Fry's 'Paperweight' in my bag for commuting - yummy snacklets of reading biggrin.gif .
bunnyb
I heart Stephen Fry.

persi, I managed to get 2/3 of the way through Cloud Atlas before giving up; I didn't hate it and liked how things were coming together (although I also found it contrived) but in the end I had enough because it was taking me too long to read and I knew there were far better books out there. It was actually for a book group and nobody finished it in the long run.
Persiflager
Oh, that's such a shame bunny! After I'd made it through the confusing first third I found the middle bit quite interesting, but then the last third is a joy - the different stories all wrap up and tie into each other much more thoroughly than I expected.. I found it so satisfying when the recurring themes (which also pop up in his other books, for interconnected fun) slyly inveigled themselves in as throwaway comments.

Oh well - If you didn't feel the urge to continue after 2/3, then it probably wasn't going to knock your socks off. If you didn't like CA then I wouldn't bother with his other books, as it's probably his best so far.

Anyone read any good fantasy lately? I've been nostalgic for the series I loved when I was a teenager, but can't seem to find any satisfying 'grown-up' authors that live up to my expectations.
bunnyb
I can be brutal with books; if I'm not feeling it then I'll wrangle with the decision sometimes but more often than not I'll discard it especially if I spend most of time wanting to read something else instead. I was disappointed I didn't like CA though.

As for fantasty, I've started to read Terry Pratchett's Discworld from the beginning as I've only read the Guards arc and some other random ones. Which series did you love as a teenager?
Persiflager
It took me ages to be able to abandon a book part-way through. The turning point was when I was halfway through The Commitments (after quite a few hours of reading) and realised that no ending in the universe could possibly make up for self-involved drudgery of the first few hundred pages. I think I came close to hurling it out of the window in disgust laugh.gif

Ah, Discworld is great! My favourites are the guards and witches books, especially 'Night Watch' which was a total return to form (and unusually dark for Pratchett).

I really loved fantasy trash - Tamora Pierce, Diane Duane, Anne McCaffrey etc. I've just always hoped that somewhere in the world might be an author who can write sophisticated, complex, satisfying novels with magic, dragons, quests and destinies. There are so many similar books on shelves that have millions of devoted fans that it's hard to tell which might actually be good (and I have to be careful about starting new series because I often feel compelled to continue and find out what happens even if I didn't think the book was that great).
bunnyb
Night Watch is one of my favourites too.

What about one of Trudi Canavan's series? I haven't read her myself but the boy really liked reading them and, I think, mornington did too. Or there's Marion Zimmer Bradley or Ursula Le Guin (not trashy in the slightest but I couldn't stick The Earthsea Quartet). Octavia Butler's Kindred is also supposed to be very good (and a very old BUSTie recommendation) and there's always Marge Piercey and I'm off on a tangent from what you are looking for.... Anyway, maybe have a look at the first couple of suggestions as they probably are closer to what you want (oh, perhaps some Laurell K. Hamilton?)
Persiflager
Ta bunny! Le Guin is great, and I've put some of the others on my Amazon wishlist. Trudi Canavan was a bit too depressing for me - too much strife for the heroine without sufficient payoff.

Ooh, as I've mentioned trash, had anyone else read Sandra Hill? Time-travelling Viking soft porn stories - spectacular! tongue.gif
raisingirl
Bunny, you didn't kill the thread. Some of us have had our noses buried in a book! I'm so happy you liked Giovanni and are now reading Cholera!

I still haven't read the Henry Miller, but I am currently reading Edith Wharton (Summer)....... *SWOON*... it is to die for.

::vroom::
rubberdollz
I've recently decided to get myself back into reading books. I actually take my hour lunchhour to sit at my desk, eat lunch and bury my nose in a book. It sucks at times because people think that I'm at my desk to work but it beats sitting in the kitchen with gabby chickens.

So I just finished Wicked and I'm started on Son of a Witch which is the second series in his books. I'm really enjoying them and am totally fascinated by this whole different world that was going on before and after Dorothy. Really sick, but a good sick!

I must admit that I do have this thing for autobiographies and have read Slash's book. I am a reality show junkie and I think this feeds into it. I'm not right and I know it!
anna k
rubberdollz, I liked Slash's book. It was varied and interesting and kind of broke down his rock star veneer by the end, making him sound more normal and just lucky to be that famous.

I haven't been reading anything interesting, just short stories in the Best American series. I've re-read some of them, and would like to check out some of the books by the authors, check them out more.
rubberdollz
Really, you liked Slash's book? I was really bored with it and forced myself to finish it, I kept hoping it would become more interesting or something but nothing was entertaining about it. I really kept hoping they would delve more into Axl's life but man, that guy is weird and it seems no one wants to talk about him. I think the only part I laughed at was when Axl had told off Slash's grandma and when Slash confronted Axl about it, he jumped out of the car! Man I couldn't stop laughing about that because I could totally picture it. I read Nikki Sixx's book as well but preferred The Dirt.

Has anyone read any Ayn Rand? I read those books a long time ago and really miss them. My ex was the one that owned them, I should have stolen them before the divorce! hahaha
crazyoldcatlady
QUOTE
Has anyone read any Ayn Rand? I read those books a long time ago and really miss them. My ex was the one that owned them, I should have stolen them before the divorce!


i was just talking to someone about those books this weekend. somewhere along the line i never picked 'em up. it was suggested that i started with atlas shrugged.
rubberdollz
Loved loved loved Atlas Shrugged, something about that book just makes you want to make a difference. Fountainhead was amazing as well. Ayn Rand just has this way of writing that makes you feel inspired. I read a couple other books by her as well, I think We The Living was one of them. I really can't say that any of her books were not worth the time.

I will say that I did read Atlas Shrugged first and then the Fountainhead but I couldn't say that you should read one before the other.
raisingirl
A friend has been pushing Bitter is the New Black on me... apparently the author is a blogger (and that must be how she got the book deal)... said friend and I have fairly opposite tastes in books. I've read almost 30 pages of it and the tone and style of it are absolutely turning me off, probably because it was a blog before it was a book. It is irritating the hell out of me, just very self-centered and whiny, not funny despite her attempts at humor, and I feel no empathy towards her. Wondering if any of you trusted readers think it's worth continuing? Does it get better? My friend seems to think so, but this is the same friend who is into Augusten Burroughs (and I'm not). I'm so ready to give it back to her and chalk it up to the fact that we have different taste, apples and oranges and all that. But at the same time, I do want to read something she likes, even though I couldn't get past the first few pages of a Burroughs book, either.
lananans
raisin - I haven't heard of Bitter is the New Black - but if you're not enjoying it, just put it down - no sense in suffering through it.

Has anyone read the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris? I'm mostly through it, and it's just good fluff to keep me distracted during a busy work-week. Some of the books are much better than others, but overall I love them.

I don't know if this book has gotten press in the US - The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill? I'm reading it right now and it's amazing. About a girl abducted from her village in Africa, and her journey to the US, and how she learns to read and write by luck, and become part of the abolition movement. Maybe far-fetched, but really moving.

vixen_within
Yay Lananans's back! I haven't read the Sookie Stackhouse series, I've only been watching the show online (and enjoying it)

Likewise, The Book Of Negroes. I've heard everything the CBC has to say about it, but I've got too much on my plate already. I still haven't finished The Hanging of Angelique: The Untold Story of Slavery in Canada by Afua Cooper, and I started that last year! I think it's because it's such a painful topic, and Cooper doesn't hold back.

I've read that The Book of Negroes was very well researched though fictional, perhaps it isn't as far-feteched as it might appear.
lananans
Vixen - perhaps I should do more research before commenting... oops...

If you like True Blood, you'll probably like the books - at first they follow the same plot - but by the end of Season One of True Blood there were huge differences - apparently the director and Charlaine Harris agreed that creatively she would not have input to the show, so he's free to take it in his own creative direction. Both excellent though!

And yes, I'm back!
girlygirlgag
QUOTE(crazyoldcatlady @ Feb 24 2009, 01:37 AM) *
i was just talking to someone about those books this weekend. somewhere along the line i never picked 'em up. it was suggested that i started with atlas shrugged.



Ugh. I would suggest Rand only because you should read her work, just to know why you should avoid it. She is making a comeback in the talking points of conservative pundits, devastated by their loss in November.

This sums her work up pretty accurately:
QUOTE
First of all, let us never overlook the fact that Rand’s novels are atrocious as literature. Boring, repetitive, unconscionably long-winded, and written at approximately a 10th Grade level. Her wooden characters, the dialogue that makes you feel like you’re being lectured by your uncle, and the idiotic plot all read as if written by a 17 year-old shut-in who spends a lot of time touching himself under a life-sized poster of Hayek. Atlas Shrugged is to literature what Battlefield: Earth is to film - it’s five times too long and leaves readers wondering if Rand ever met another human being let alone successfully interacted with one.


From Gin and Tacos.

On other words: Rand= SNORE.

It's only intellectually stimulating to someone cobnozzling the Libertarian dong of self righteousness.
auralpoison
Anything Rand is a chore. A LONG BORING CHORE. I'd rather eat lead paint chips.

QUOTE(raisingirl @ Mar 16 2009, 07:47 AM) *
A friend has been pushing Bitter is the New Black on me... apparently the author is a blogger (and that must be how she got the book deal)... said friend and I have fairly opposite tastes in books. I've read almost 30 pages of it and the tone and style of it are absolutely turning me off, probably because it was a blog before it was a book. It is irritating the hell out of me, just very self-centered and whiny, not funny despite her attempts at humor, and I feel no empathy towards her. Wondering if any of you trusted readers think it's worth continuing? Does it get better? My friend seems to think so, but this is the same friend who is into Augusten Burroughs (and I'm not). I'm so ready to give it back to her and chalk it up to the fact that we have different taste, apples and oranges and all that. But at the same time, I do want to read something she likes, even though I couldn't get past the first few pages of a Burroughs book, either.


Gosh, the exchanging of books can be such a pain! I always feel compelled to read the entirety of things (As I have explained before; still have not finished that tiresome Pessl.) especially when loaned by a good friend. A friend once loaned me (Please don't stone me for hating this!) Marilyn French's The Women's Room. I found it so overwrought I wanted to gouge my eyes out, but dutifully read it to be polite & to hopefully discuss. I loaned her Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men. It takes a bit for the book to gain momentum, but once it does it's fantastic. She read a few pages & abandoned it. It did break my heart a little that she wasn't willing to even try, especially after I read her shite (trite?) offering.

But if you don't like it, you don't like it. You tried. Hell, I read a few pages at the bookstore of said Lancaster book & promptly put it down & backed slowly away.

And Augusten Burroughs is a dick. A very raunchy, sometimes funny dick, but a dick nonetheless. I think that's why I didn't like the Lancaster. She's really an unpleasant human being.
rubberdollz
I never understood why some people feel compelled to finish a book they don't like? I've been loaned and then was given a book and I just could not get into it. My friend was very moved by the book and I guess she thought everyone she knew would be too but I ended up putting it in a cabinet somewhere and forgetting about it. It's somewhere???

I find amazing in these blogs that when someone gives an opinion on something they like or dislike people tend to put a person down for it. Ok whether you liked it or not is totally your OPINION but seriously... making remarks like "It's only intellectually stimulating to someone cobnozzling the Libertarian dong of self righteousness" is pretty fucking rude. I enjoyed Ayn Rand and don't feel I'm self righteous just because I read and liked her stuff. Couldn't you just say you didn't like her shit and then move on?

Persiflager
I liked that remark, but that's because I think 'dong' and 'cobnozzling' are really funny words. They tickle my ear in a good way! laugh.gif

I like discussing the aspects of books that I did or didn't like. I loved 'The Women's Room' - some of the characters and relationships resonated with me stongly, and I thought the change of perspective across the decades lent depth to some of the naval-gazing - but I'd be hard pushed to defend it against an accusation of overwoughtness. Did you find Rand intellectually stimulating as well as enjoyable? I think girlygirlgag was picking on an aspect of the author's writing rather than insulting everyone who liked it.

On persevering with books.... for years I found it impossible not to finish a book, just in case it suddenly became good at the end. Then I read The Commitments, and realised there was no possible ending good enough to justify the preceding pages of awfulness. Now I feel fine about abandoning them early on, though I will try harder if I've been warned that a book takes a while to get into.
lananans
My friend loaned me a book about a month ago - How to Make Love Like a Pornstar by Jenna Jameson - I was afraid I wasn't going to like it, but I actually really liked it. Otherwise I would have just put it aside I think.

I finished The Book of Negroes last night, it was really good.

Now I just have to decide what to read next...
auralpoison
QUOTE(rubberdollz @ Mar 24 2009, 07:15 PM) *
I never understood why some people feel compelled to finish a book they don't like? I've been loaned and then was given a book and I just could not get into it. My friend was very moved by the book and I guess she thought everyone she knew would be too but I ended up putting it in a cabinet somewhere and forgetting about it. It's somewhere???


I have OCD. I have a great difficulty not finishing things once I've started. In my entire thirty years of reading, I've only ever not finished two books.

And if you didn't like the book, you should probably locate it & return it to her that she may pass it on to somebody else that might. I hate it when somebody loses one of my books/never returns them & I will hound them until it is returned.

QUOTE(rubberdollz @ Mar 24 2009, 07:15 PM) *
I find amazing in these blogs that when someone gives an opinion on something they like or dislike people tend to put a person down for it. Ok whether you liked it or not is totally your OPINION but seriously... making remarks like "It's only intellectually stimulating to someone cobnozzling the Libertarian dong of self righteousness" is pretty fucking rude. I enjoyed Ayn Rand and don't feel I'm self righteous just because I read and liked her stuff. Couldn't you just say you didn't like her shit and then move on?


Amazing? Really? I'd be more surprised if somebody didn't get ripped a new asshole every day for sharing their thoughts on the net. If you put it out there, somebody is bound to toss it back. It's the beauty of the intarwebs. They *could* just say they didn't like it, but it's more *fun* to say they don't like it in a clever, "I really, really, REALLY didn't like it & here's why" way. And the relative anonymity/wealth of time of it all lets people come up with wickedly clever bon mots.

And Bust is a messageboard, not a blog.*

*edit* I misunderstood that she meant "messageboard" & not "blog", I felt the need to revisit it.
rubberdollz
Actually she doesn't want the book back, she bought it for me as she bought it for other friends so we all have our own copies. I told her I wasn't into it but she told me that I should keep it and maybe read it at a later time.

I read the Jenna book a few years back, it was hilarious! Jenna has lived quite the life and it's pretty interesting.

Honestly I read Rand quite a few years ago and I just enjoyed her book. I thought it was inspiring to read and I enjoyed it. I think sometimes we read books to remove ourselves from reality or we can read just to read. I read Rand when I was younger and searching so her book inspired me at the moment in my life that I was lost.

Ok AP I'll give you 2 snaps and an "mmmm hhmmm girl" for that explanation, thanks. I need to remember NOT to take things personal on this damn thing.

PF, I've ran into that once with a book where I was worried that it might get good at the end. It was a Stephen King book. I kept skimming and skimming and finally I just flipped to the end and realized that even the ending was drab and boring. I think after that is when I learned to say f* it, if the book sucks don't finish it!
sybarite
Doris Lessing argued passionately that we should all feel free to just put down a book halfway through if it wasn't working for us. I believe she said something like, if the book isn't grabbing you, it's the fault of the book rather than the reader.

I have to say, I really didn't like The Fountainhead, not only because I felt it was badly written but also because I felt preached at. D.H. Lawrence does this too (amongst others), and I don't like it any more from him fwiw.
raisingirl
Yeah, I've already returned that book to my friend. wink.gif I don't care if it supposedly "gets better," if it doesn't capture me from the beginning (or very soon afterwards), there's no sense in my continuing it. I have read poorly-written books to learn about writing, but said book seems to be a blog in book form. Really not interested.

I fucking hate Rand. She writes propaganda, not literature. Harrumph! I don't even want to talk about her.

I'm reading a couple of books right now, namely The Prophet. WHY did I not read this sooner, like a decade ago? Asking myself the same question about The Last Temptation of Christ, which I've been meaning to read since high school (my teenage self was very taken by Willem Dafoe playing Jesus in the movie). ETA: I still consider myself athiest, but I am really taken by this book, and I've only started it.
bunnyb
persi and I had the same discussion last month (only one page back): there are too many books that I want to read that I won't waste time reading something that doesn't grab me, I will make a good attempt at it though and I won't discard it after only a page or two.

I've never read any Rand; for some reason I've never even considered doing so.

Lawrence does preach; I am not a fan of his work and I have HAD to read his work when studying it.

persi, I enjoyed The Commitments (although not as much as the film!) It'sa short novel and I whizzed though it for a postcolonialism class.
auralpoison
Syb, that makes sense. But my lizard brain is still griping at me for not finishing those two books no matter how tiresome.

Faulkner. I can't do Faulkner. I love a lot of your typical Southern authors, but I slogged through The Sound and the Fury for school only. I know it's supposed to be one of the Great American novels, but I was bored to tears by it.

I only enjoyed reading The Commitments after having lunch with Roddy Doyle.

I'm feeling like lighthearted, fun reads, so I picked up some more Moore. I read Bloodsucking Fiends last week & started You Suck on Monday. All I can say is "teehee".
raisingirl
Oh gosh, to this day I am still filled with shame because I couldn't get through As I Lay Dying one summer between college semesters...
bunnyb
Back up ... (yes, damn you, I *will* continue to use ellipses incorrectly to convey pause and suspense as well as ommission) you had lunch with Roddy Doyle?!
raisingirl
Yeah, what's with that, AP? *passes a bucket of popcorn around*
Persiflager
Ah, hang on a minute... it appears that I meant 'The Corrections'! Probably a bit different.

I third the anti-Lawrence motion - small-minded, misogynist prig.

*quiet now as I want to hear the story*
bunnyb
Hah, I feel so relieved! You had mentioned it before in person then talk deviated and I forgot to return to it but I was a little confused. We all have different tastes and disliking The Commitments would certainly be valid but I was still bemused as it is relatively inoffensive. Phew.

Anyway, legs in a basket, lips pressed together and prepare for story time.
auralpoison
/derail

I was an exchange student a few years after the film came out. At my school, the majority of exchange students were looking to either improve their English speaking skills or in the case of most of the American kids, to get hammered underage & fuck some foreigners.

My Irish Lit teacher had been a student of Doyle's. Only abour four of us were genuinely interested in learning anything/were active participants in her class, so she arranged for us to have lunch with him. We wound up talking with him for about three hours. He was very nice & impossibly patient with us.

Not to mention we ran into Glen Hansard & Robert Arkins & other musicians/actors from the film constantly. It kind of made it more "real" to us.

Huh. It's been some time, but I think I recall liking The Corrections. I didn't think it was the be all end all, but I liked the portrait of the fractured, delusional family it presented.
raisingirl
That's SO COOL! I was so into that movie and now I think I need to read the book, AP.

Oh hey, I got Ma Raisin (a self-confessed "nonreader," which I think is BOLLOCKS) hooked on Terry McMillan. laugh.gif Those are fun books.
girlygirlgag
TBH, I didn't even read what you had said about liking Rand until after I posted. I saw the "someone recommended that I read Ayn Rand" and I went all tourettes, mainly because the pundits on Fixed news keep bellyaching and idly threatening to "GO GAULT!", without truly understanding what that means.

Plus, AP likes it when I scream, "COBNOZZLE", so I just try to keep her on my goodside.

So, I do apologize for making that insult.
auralpoison
Oh, GGG, you do know me too well. wink.gif
rubberdollz
GGG... very cool girl. I appreciate that!

Enough said.

I read this book called Stupid and Contagious by Caprice Crane, it was hilarious! The main character Heaven just has these crazy things happen to her. I've read it a few times and still laugh. Kind of one of those mindless reads to make you laugh.

I am in the middle of Red Dragon. I've never seen the movie and I think that's a good thing, the book is pretty interesting and leaves me on edge.
sybarite
I dunno, I found the novel The Commitments to be quite irritating, conscious use of hiberno-english notwithstanding. I loved the following two books of Doyle's trilogy though, The Snapper and The Van; I think they get at Irish gender and class issues while telling a good story and are incidentally very funny. He's writing about what he sees/knows, so the dialogue in particular is fairly authentic. I've heard he's a good guy AP, good to have it confirmed. (Also Robert Arkins is quite cute, if a little slight IRL, no?) /shameless attempt to ride AP's lit fame moment coattails.

I liked The Corrections, but it is unfortunate that it begins with the (very arguably) most obnoxious family member. I preferred Franzen's Strong Motion, although it is looser and more speculative.

I got an English murder mystery set in the 1930s for Christmas and only recently got around to reading it: The Fashion in Shrouds by Margery Allingham. It's sharper than it looks; I enjoyed it.
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