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crazyoldcatlady
in my eldery age, i have taken to judging books by their authors. jonathan franzen reminds me of the literary world's kanye west. talented? yes. but the auto-cobnozzling and generally misplaced bravado is a turn-off to the work. i just couldn't do the corrections.


and i so. so. so. wanted to like faulkner. how cool of a book title is "as i lay dying"? how can i not finish it??
Persiflager
Ooh ooh Syb, I read Fashion in Shrouds a couple of months ago! Margery Allingham popped up in a list the Times did last year (50 Greatest Crime Writers), along with quite a few other out-of-print but very cool-sounding authors.

Do you like Dorothy L Sayers too? I heart Lord Peter Wimsey in a very big way smile.gif
raisingirl
OMG, I almost spat out my coffee with that "auto-cobnozzling" bit, COCL! *snort*
lananans
Has anyone here read Edith Wharton? I just started reading Summer - and I like it so far. It kind of reminds me of The Awakening by Kate Chopin. I got it out of the library because it takes place in the summer, which I am longing for, I heard Edith Wharton was good, and it says that when it was published in 1917 it scandalized the public.. I was intrigued.
girlygirlgag
Has anyone read Laurie Notaro?

I have read most of her short stories, which carry the intellectual clout of a Bazooka Joe wrapper comic, but are fun nonetheless.

HOWEVER, she wrote a novel, There's a Slight Chance I Might Be Going to Hell, and it is the scriptural equivalent of a bad, Ben Stiller movie. It's such a disappointment. I just want to scream, "WE GET IT, YOU'RE CLEVER! NOW STOP ACTING LIKE A JACK ASS."

Her other books were so much fun, and great for the beach.
anna k
I tried reading The Buccaneers, but never really got into it. I also read a short story of hers in The Penguin Book of Erotic Stories For Women, that was meant to be part of a novel but she died before finishing it. It was a story of a little girl being sexually abused by her father, and it was really well-written, but disturbing to read.
raisingirl
Lananas, I just recently mentioned Wharton here.

GGG, I haven't heard of her.

Anna, did you ever read Kathryn Harrison's The Kiss?
anna k
No, but I've heard of it, and had read short pieces of hers. She's a good writer, I just didn't feel interested in reading The Kiss, even if she didn't grow up with her father.
raisingirl
Yeah, for me it falls into the category of "well-written, but disturbing to read."
vixen_within
QUOTE(lananans @ Mar 24 2009, 12:45 PM) *
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!


Oh lananans, you read the book so as far as I'm concerned, you're the expert here!

sybarite
I read something by Kathryn Harrison years ago.. can't remember the title (and am too lazy to look it up on amazon...) but it was about her addiction to booze as well as flashbacks to an abusive relationship. I don't think it was The Kiss, I think it came before. It was seriously disturbing though, not least because it drew me in and I couldn't initially see how damaged the character was. So yes, I'd call her a good writer who can be hard to take.

Wharton is awesome, great social critique and wit but very affecting as well. The House of Mirth is her best I think, although it's quite dark. She's more realist in style than Chopin but I can see reading the two together.

I read such crap these days; it's only when someone here mentions a book that I remember that, yes, once upon a time I devoured books more than I do now...
crazyoldcatlady
ggg- laurie notaro. yep, i read her: i love everybody (and other atrocious lies). she wasn't so much witty as she was "LOOK AT ME, AREN'T I WITTY??" which is decidedly, not.

lananans- wharton is awesome. i read Ethan Frome and loved it. quick read, lots of symbolism but not misused...
lananans
vixen - I just found it a bit convenient that no matter where she ended up in the world, she was always found by/reconnected with her lost family members... other than that I didn't have a problem with it at all.

girlygirlgag
QUOTE(crazyoldcatlady @ Mar 26 2009, 09:42 PM) *
ggg- laurie notaro. yep, i read her: i love everybody (and other atrocious lies). she wasn't so much witty as she was "LOOK AT ME, AREN'T I WITTY??" which is decidedly, not.


Yeah, I guess I really didn't notice it until she was writing the novel.... It all became so contrived and a tad obnoxious.. Though I did like, "I Love Everybody...", I guess it's just easier for me to take when she is talking about herself, rather than a character?

Anyhoodle, just read the Skinny Bitch, and I feel like driving to New York City to smack around some snooty, vegan, meanies.
roseviolet
GGG, my best friend loves Laurie Notaro. I think she sees a lot of herself in Laurie - kinda clumsy and wacky, unhappy with her body but able to joke about it. They're acquaintances & have met a number of times, so I wonder if that adds to the appeal. Personally, I've only read a couple of Laurie's stories. They're amusing, but I tire quickly of the jokes about her body. I'm sure that's part of the appeal for most people, but I've always had a low tolerance for that sort of thing (I hated Bridget Jones because of the constant bitching about her weight).
girlygirlgag
QUOTE(roseviolet @ Mar 27 2009, 01:43 PM) *
GGG, my best friend loves Laurie Notaro. I think she sees a lot of herself in Laurie - kinda clumsy and wacky, unhappy with her body but able to joke about it. They're acquaintances & have met a number of times, so I wonder if that adds to the appeal. Personally, I've only read a couple of Laurie's stories. They're amusing, but I tire quickly of the jokes about her body. I'm sure that's part of the appeal for most people, but I've always had a low tolerance for that sort of thing (I hated Bridget Jones because of the constant bitching about her weight).



I think that is why Notaro appealed to me, too. I still like her, I just prefer her short stories over the novel. The weight complaining is a tad annoying. If you hate it so much, either do something about it, or get to therapy so you can just get the fuck over it, damn.

I never read Bridget Jones. I saw the movie and I cannot say whether it is my intense dislike for Renee Zellweger doing an English accent, or something else, but I thought it was pretty stupid............ Except the part where she drinks a bottle of wine by herself and sings, because I can relate to that.

I need some recommendations for summer reading. I will read anything... From Romance, to Mysteries, to Kant and Keirkegaard.... Pile em on, ladies.
roseviolet
GGG, are you trying to say that you prefer heavier topics in the warmer months?

If you'd like something lighter, I have a suggestion for you. Have you read anything by Jasper Fforde? I've read most of his Thursday Next series (the first book is called The Eyre Affair) & really enjoyed it. I think Bunny is a fan, too. The genre is hard to nail down - sort of mystery, satire, fantasy, sci-fi, humor, something-or-other. Normally I'm not a huge fan of mysteries because I inevitably figure them out long before the book is over. However, these books take place in an odd sort of alternate universe which kept me interested. I really enjoy subtle, silly English humor, so this is right up my street. There are a number of nods (and digs) at famous works of British lit like Jayne Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Sense & Sensibility. Plus, the protagonist is an interesting woman - flawed, but NOT a whiner. It's the perfect sort of summer reading for me.
Persiflager
I like Laurie R King's 'Mary Russell' series of books - a clever, cheeky take on the Sherlock Holmes canon.

Ooh, I like Jasper Fforde too! Very silly, but good holiday reading.
Persiflager
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Genius or lunacy?

I now really really want the zombie survival guide as this is one of the things I like to plan for in idle moments, and I want to see if I've missed anything out.
lananans
Persiflager -- a little bit of both???


GGG -- for reading recommendations - have you read any of the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris? They're good for a light, fun read.

If you're looking for something darker -- The Lovely Bones or The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold. They can be very disturbing at parts, the first is about the murder of a girl from her perspective post-death, and the second is about a woman who kills her mother, but focuses on the relationship between them and the mental illness in both of their lives. She also wrote Lucky, which is a memoir about her rape, and doesn't sound like much fun, and can also be hard to stomach at times, but was excellent.

Has anyone here read or heard of The Heretic's Daughter? I'm reading it right now - it's about Puritans and Salem - they haven't started burning witches or anything yet, but I have a feeling I'm getting to that part soon...
Persiflager
Oh god, Lucky... I thought it was well-written but just too upsetting for me. The amount of detail she puts in and the matter-of-fact way she describes everything make it all seem very personal and real.
stargazer
Has anyone read Heather Mcelhatton's Pretty Little Mistakes? I think I might buy her new book Jennifer Johnson Is Sick of Being Single when it comes out in May. An article I read about her new book made it sound like a good summertime read.
lananans
Oooo star - that book looks really good. Now I want to find her books at the library! I am a fan of chick lit, I'll admit - but lately I've found myself wanting something more from it, and this might be good!

Persiflager -- I had to put Lucky down a few times... especially at the beginning, I didn't know if I would make it through it. It is all very personal and very very real, but reading it made me realize that you can survive even the worst of situations and thrive.

stargazer
lananans, yeah, i liked that the author called it anti-chick lit. it seemed like a good summertime read. i might get her first book also.

so, i'm TRYING to read gabriel garcia marquez's 100 years of solitude. i know busties really love this book. marquez is nobel winner for his writing...but, i am only 4 pages into his book and i don't want to read anymore. his writing does not appeal to me. i want to finish this book and try to be patient; however, i find his writing too scattered right now. maybe it is because it is early. i feel like a dumbass. i've read alot of dense literature in my lifetime. but, i just don't feel pulled into the story.

blah.

did anyone else have this problem with his writing? mama said she had a hard time getting into his books too and she's a more avid reader than i am. and for those of you who are fans of his work...what do you like about his writing? i'm curious.

i guess i'm trying to not be hard on myself if i don't read his works. you can't like everyone's writing. i'm gonna try again though.
lananans
star -- don't be too hard on yourself. I picked up Love in the Time of Cholera a few months ago, expecting to be immediately absorbed.... I was not. I found it really really hard to get into, and ultimately put it down. I just haven't had the energy to try again.
zoya
Stargazer -

The whole Latin American / magical realism genre isn't for everyone. I, for one, love it. But I have friends I've recommended books / authors in that genre to, that it's just not 'clicked' with them. It can be pretty all over the place and you kinda have to be in a certain frame of mind to get into it, I think. I can't even deal with it all the time, and I think I've read just about every author who's writing is considered to be in the genre.

as far as 100 Years of Solitude, I remember the first probably 50 ish pages or so being really hard to get through, and I almost put the book down, but once I was into it, it kinda took off for me.

I loved Love in the Time of Cholera - it's been a long time since I read it, but I remember really loving it.

I find that Garcia-Marquez can be a bit 'dry' compared to some of the other authors in the genre - try reading "House of the Spirits" by Isabel Allende (IMO that book is her only truly magical realism book, she's gone more literal as of late), the collection "Blowup and Other Stories" by Julio Cortazar (which features my favourite short story, Axolotl) is really good. And if you can find it, there's a great anthology called "A Hammock Beneath the Mangoes" that is one of the only anthologies to feature both Latin American and South American writers in one book, so it's fairly comprehensive, not to mention just awesome stories in it. That's a great introduction that can lead into reading some of the more 'challenging' stuff. ("A Hammock Beneath the Mangoes" used to be out of print, but it may have been re-printed... I know you can find it on Amazon)




ChingusKhan
I've "100 Years of Solitude" and found it, frankly, tough...

I like Isabelle Allende better. She's fantastic. In my opinion, though, the best writer in the whole "magical realism" genre isn't Latino, rather he's Indian: Salom (I probably misspelled that.) Rushdie is absolutely brilliant. I've read "Midnight's Children" and "Fury" and both were brilliant.

I really like John Irving, too. He presents a sort of New England, Southern Ontario version of the whole magical realism gig.
zoya
...I really need to read Salman Rushdie. So many people I know have told me the same thing about the Magical Realism aspect of his writing.

I agree about John Irving, I've not read many of his new books, but "A Prayer for Owen Meany" is one of my faves. I don't know if I'd go quite a far as Magical Realism, but he definitely has a flair for highlighting the absurd in situations, and characters.
stargazer
Thanks Zoya and Chingus! I guess it is my first time picking up a book that I've found so difficult to follow. It's a challenge, but I am up for it. I will be more patient with reading this book. Definitely not a breeze through book.

Zoya, that's so funny, yesterday, when I was talking about this book, my yoga instructor suggested Isabel Allende to try as an introduction to magic realism.

I'm not an avid fiction reader so I'm trying to delve into that area.
prophecy_grrl
star! 100 yrs is one of my all-time fav books ever!

Since you asked - what I like about it: I love that it is a sweeping, epic tale about something as (seemingly) mundane a family living a small town. How us humans can endure untold tragedy and still find joy and even humor in life. Thematically, I really like the ideas of time and history - it's all circular (see characteristics of of same-named people over generations) - even given all the pain and suffering we put ourselves through, we (humans) continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. Just like Battlestar Gallactica! tongue.gif

I also love magical realism in general, so I think you do need to go in with an appreciation of the genre. Garcia Marquez, though a genre essential, is maybe not the best starting point? I would agree that Allende is fantastic and possibly more accessible. You may also want to check Ana Castillo's "So Far From God" or any Laura Esquivel (Like Water for Chocolate).

I would suggest you try to stick it out - once you get used to the prose style and all the characters, I'm sure you'll be enthralled! It is a very ambitious choice for a not-avid fiction reader. wink.gif
lananans
prophecy -- that's funny that you mentioned Like Water for Chocolate. After reading everyone's responses it was the first thing that came to mind for me. It was required reading for me in high school and I LOVED it. I've also read some Isabel Allende that I really liked. I think maybe I should give Garcia Marquez another try, after what everyone here is saying.
bunnyb
I cannot resist the lure of a book discussion.

star/lananans, I read 100 Years of Solitude a decade ago and adored it but read Love in the Time of Cholera a couple of months ago and did find it more difficult to engage with and even dry in parts; I did persevere and overall enjoyed it but I don't think it is as good as his other work. I would recommend Chronicle of a Death Foretold as a good starting point/reintroduction, which is truly beautiful or to ease yourself in even gentler than that the exceptional short story "The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Erendira and Her Heartless Grandmother", which is almost a novella and by far one of the best short stories I have ever read. Immersing yourself in great Garcia Marquez, wordiness and enchanting passages of beauty, is like taking flight with butterflies: awe inspiring.

Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children is magnificent, the language is rich and the imagery lush.

I think perhaps that I try to force Angela Carter upon people and most people aren't interested because they have never heard of her but she was an exceptional British novelist who I wrote my Master's dissertation on and who ranks up there with Rushdie (a friend) and Garcia Marquez. Her work isn't all magical realism but Nights at the Circus definitely is and is immense, and I think that everybody should read her short story collection, The Bloody Chamber, which are feminist reworkings of fairy tales.

I enjoyed Isabel Allende's earlier work, especially The House of the Spirits and Of Love and Shadows.
I also loved Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate.

I have Alice Sebold's The Almost Moon on the shelf waiting to be read; I really enjoyed The Loving Bones and Lucky was harrowing but powerfully evoked the subject matter.

I am currently enjoying The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim; waiting impatiently for the arrival of the Virago reprint of Stella Gibbons' Nightingale Wood; admiring the Penguin boxset of Great Loves (twenty beautiful books on love) that I received from the boy for my birthday; desperately wanting to purchase Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's collection of short stories, The Thing Around Your Neck as her novels have been particularly good.

eta: rose is correct: I am a Jasper Fforde fan; I enjoy the silliness, the wit and the intertextuality.
sybarite
Okay, clearly I am showing my age but I remember when you couldn't move for tripping over Angela Carter. Her books were everywhere and it seemed everyone I knew was talking about them. *wrenches self from nostalgic literary navel gazing* I agree her work has aspects of magical realism but really I think she invented/evolved her own style. Her stuff is very visceral and I would even say surreal at times.

I am actually re-reading 100 Years, part inspired by this thread and partly because now my draft is submitted my mind can focus on more developed books. For me the thing about reading magical realism is that you have to succumb--surrender even--to its whims. In a magical realist book, strange or odd things happen with a kind of ordinary regularity; they're not framed as extraordinary. Once you take that on board it's easier to enjoy the story/ies and characters. IMO.

I need to decide what books to bring on vacay with me. So far I've settled on the new Philippa Gregory about Mary, Queen of Scots, and I may try and pick up the book described below as anti-chick lit.
bunnyb
QUOTE(sybarite @ Apr 5 2009, 01:17 PM) *
Okay, clearly I am showing my age but I remember when you couldn't move for tripping over Angela Carter. Her books were everywhere and it seemed everyone I knew was talking about them. *wrenches self from nostalgic literary navel gazing* I agree her work has aspects of magical realism but really I think she invented/evolved her own style. Her stuff is very visceral and I would even say surreal at times.


Certainly in the UK but not so much in North America IMO unless they are readers who love/study literature or have happened upon her by chance. Upon her death in '92 people probably were probably tripping over her work everywhere . She did evolve her own style and plays with language like no other writer I have ever come across.
I urge people to read her work to see if you enjoy it, whether you have heard of her or not.
stargazer
QUOTE(sybarite @ Apr 5 2009, 07:17 AM) *
I am actually re-reading 100 Years, part inspired by this thread and partly because now my draft is submitted my mind can focus on more developed books. For me the thing about reading magical realism is that you have to succumb--surrender even--to its whims. In a magical realist book, strange or odd things happen with a kind of ordinary regularity; they're not framed as extraordinary. Once you take that on board it's easier to enjoy the story/ies and characters. IMO.


Syb, what are we? Muthf@$#in' overachievers? We finished work on our thesis/dissertation and go, "Let's go read some challenging literature!" laugh.gif Your description about Marquez's work has really helped me. I can understand his approach now.

Btw, why didn't you say you turned in your first draft?!? CONGRATS!

I went to the bookstore yesterday and had to turn myself away from books (I went to pick up some mags). I have enough books I need to finish.
raisingirl
*pokes head in*

I'm showing my age as well, Syb: I first heard about Angela Carter from Sassy magazine. EVERYTHING comes back to Sassy. Before there was Bust, there was Sassy. Don't ever forget it. wink.gif

Star, I do hope you don't give up on Marquez! I brought the book on TWO vacations before I read it. It definitely doesn't strike me as a vacation/beach read. I was so jealous of one of my friends when she said (bragged?) that she read the book in A FEW DAYS, like somehow she squeezed it in between brushing her teeth and putting her shoes on each morning before work (I couldn't figure it out, maybe she didn't sleep from Mon-Thurs that week). I love my copy of 100 Years with the hippie cover, but the huuuuuuuge paragraphs were so daunting to me.

Isabel Allende ROCKS. Her writing has changed SO MUCH since HOTS. Like her recent memoir? Sooooo different from Paula (which made me cry buckets).

I swear there's bibliosex going on when I'm not at home. I don't know how I ended up with so many. There's a local used bookstore that has a rainy day discount. What's not to love?
bunnyb
deleted
girl_logic
QUOTE(stargazer @ Apr 5 2009, 06:48 PM) *
...I went to the bookstore yesterday and had to turn myself away from books (I went to pick up some mags). I have enough books I need to finish.

pssst, don't underestimate the wonders of television to the educated mind. My mom is a PHd candidate and I catch her with her Judge Judy and LA Law and CSI reruns all the time. Sorry if this is blasphemy in this thread or something tongue.gif
girl_logic
I've been reading jose saramego, but I don't know if he falls into the same magical realism category as allende or garcia marquez (i haven't read either of those). I read The Double, about a man who recognizes a man playing an extra on a video he's watching as his own doppelganger and becomes obsessed with him, and am in the middle of Death With Interruptions, which starts on a day in an anonymous city when people simply stop dying. Another South American writer I like who ventures into the supernatural, and who's hilarious, is Jorge Amado, particularly Dona Flor and her Two Husbands. I don't really know if those would count as "high" magical realism.
sassygrrl
Weird. I finally pulled 100 years off my shelf after the discussion in here. I bought it about a year ago, and never read it. I remember reading a few great short stories by the author in college. I did like Like Water for Chocolate.Anyways, I'm only on page 50, but I'm beginning to used to the prose style and magic realism.

RG, Sassy was where it was at! I used to steal my sister's copies. I wish we still had them.

I'm heading away to the mountains tomorrow, are there any good light summer/spring reads anyone would suggest??
Thanks.
anna k
I'm reading the Best American Travel Writing of 2007, plenty of good stuff in there.

I got bored with Love in the Time of Cholera. I read it for school, and thought it was written well, but I couldn't stay engaged in the story.

I remembering reading part of Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands in school, and the class watched a 70's TV movie version of it starring Sonia Braga. It was fun and interesting.

I liked Isabel Allende's Daughter of Fortune and Portrait in Sepia. They were pretty easy to read, but taught me a lot about life in Chile and San Francisco in the 19th century, and had a good mix of characters.

I think I first heard of Angela Carter through an anthology of other writers, and thought she was fascinating, mixing feminism and fairy tales and coming up with new interpretations. I'm sorry she's gone now.

I'd like to read Nam Le's The Boat. He's a Vietnamese-Australian writer who wrote a short story I read in an anthology of the best fiction workshop writers, and I really liked his voice. It got mixed reviews on Amazon.com, but I'd like to read it.
lananans
I just finished reading All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris. It's the seventh (i'm pretty sure) book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. Pure escapist fun. I loved it.

Next I plan on finishing A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. I am looking at it as if it's fiction, since I know he made most of it up anyways.
girl_logic
I'm looking for personal recommendations on good books for girls. What were your favourites when you were 11, 12 and 13? What drew you in immediately? What inspired you?

edit: i'm not necessarily looking for the noble educational reads - I think I was 13 when I discovered Flowers in the Attic
kari
Girl logic...I used to love Flowers in the Attic!

What about something like Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood? I always liked that type of book when I was younger.

For the 13 year olds (not sure if it's good for younger?) what about Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone?
auralpoison
Whoa! I don't think I'd rec She's Come Undone for a thirteen year old. That book is pretty heavy for somebody so young, precocious reader or not.

I don't know if this helps, but when I was buying gifts last week, I consulted this Teen Reads list to buy books for the kiddies.




kari
oof, sorry. It's been years since I read it, I might be remembering it incorrectly.
doxy
Greetings, friends.
I'm hosting bookclub next month and am wondering if yous had any thoughts on the three books I need my lot to choose from at our meeting?
The last three books we've read are: Shadow Catcher, Birds of America, Like you'd Understand Anyway.
I'm hoping to stray from the collections of short stories, and to find books with great dialogue containing people in their early 30's, showing place, any date range would do, but a place...like Forever, by Pete Hamill.
Many thanks, and I hope this doesn't buck the thread and stuff.
crazyoldcatlady
lorrie moore, we must talk. i am dumping you. i found another writer who is my soulmate. she kept my attention with her sweet and quirky prose, something that no book has done for me in a while. twin studies was amazing. i think you should know that i'm moving in with stacey richter.

love, catlady
HotRodLibrarian
Hey Ladies,
Have any of you ever read any of Linda Jaivin's books? not sure if they are available in the U.S. (she's a fellow Aussie)
I just finished her latest a most immoral woman which was kind of historical fiction but I would recomend Eat me which has to be the sexiest novel ive ever read, and her Rock and roll babes from outer space is just a good bit of silly fun. SHe also writes some non-fiction which is also worth a look.
gogosgirl
girl logic! if it's not too late for a suggestion, get her The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman. A kick-ass story with a girl protagonist! So damn good...

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