What Are You Reading Now.

Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Writing Forums Staff, Feb 22, 2008.

  1. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Staff Supporter Contributor

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    And so begins my new year of reading, which will be highly focused on gothic literature but not completely as there is a lit of other things to study as well. But this first month is a bit of fun with some more modern gothic literature.

    I'm taking on Paul Tremblay's novel A Head full of Ghosts today. I'm looking forward to the deceptive unreliability of the narrator I've heard is present. It's a hallmark of the genre that I've always enjoyed. I'll let you know how it is when I finish it later today. Short read at only around 300 pages.
     
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  2. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Staff Supporter Contributor

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    As a follow-up, A Head Full of Ghosts was a pretty incredible novel for a lot of technical reasons, Though it will leave you quite irritated and a little off-put at the end until you start formulating what really happened.

    The unreliable narrator is spot-on. Multi-layered in depth yet seated in an uncomfortable answer of perception of a child to a abnormal reality. The narrator tells a reporting author about her story fifteen years prior when she was a child, but there are persistent exaggerations and inconsistencies that don't follow a liar, but instead someone who doesn't fully understand or accept what they perceived at the time. Oh, and by the way, the narrator isn't the only person not the trust. The whole book is like a reality show and if you want to get what's going on you need to treat it as such.

    I've also never seen a novel so self-aware. It frames itself on multiple levels with contemporary horror literature and film, but that framing is built into the inconsistencies and exaggerations of the narrator. It's rather brilliant.

    Also, at the end of the day, it's quite intense as well. Pages 70 through 120 are fantastic and pretty damn scary. The latter half lays out the devolving situation and truth to an ultimate end that makes you not entirely satisfied. But if you think about that end, that lack of satisfaction masks the purpose well.

    Overall, I loved it. On to Final Girls by Riley Sager next week.
     
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  3. dbesim

    dbesim Contributor Contributor

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    I finished reading Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield.

    This was an awesome interesting tale with a nice positive end. It’s about a little drowned girl found on the banks of the Thames and brought to an inn. Her eyes open and no pulse she is certified dead. To the astonishment of the locals she comes back to life. Then three different families come to claim ownership of her as their daughter but who is she and to which family does she belong? It’s quite mysterious and the girl herself also a little peculiar. No spoilers in case you choose to pick it up.

    476075CE-C740-4E50-8EF7-FA4F837AD868.jpeg
     
  4. Maggie May

    Maggie May Active Member

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    The Girl Who Lived Twice: David Lagercrantz and I am the Weapon: Allen Zadoff.
    I'll let you know!
     
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  5. Krispee

    Krispee Contributor Contributor

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    So, David Lagercrantz has written as many books as Steig Larson now. There are more and more writers taking on other writers series.
     
  6. MilesTro

    MilesTro Senior Member

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    I will be reading Halo Master Chief Story: Shadows of Reach. I want to catch up on the lore after I beat Halo 5.
     
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  7. ruskaya

    ruskaya Active Member

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    I am reading Elfriede Jelinek's The Piano Teacher. I definitely recommend reading it because there are no "she said/he said/they said", it capitalizes "SHE" when talking about the MC, it switches POVs effortlessly. I find it quite "experimental" compared to the standard formatting of novels. It may be, at first, a little difficult to read but after a few pages you are caught into its rhythm and want to read more. It is anguishing because the topic is anguishing, and I find it amazing how the author has found a way of writing that matches the content--it is not the description alone that makes it anguishing, but how it is expressed. However, after I thoroughly enjoyed the first third of the book, I suddenly find myself so anguished whenever I pick it up again that I will need at least a few days to recover. I know it is the way the author's describes the MC's pain and resolution to life than the content itself which is to a certain degree detached. But I do want to go on, it is an amazing book I think, the kind that as a writer you can learn so much from.
     
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  8. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Just finished Final Girls by Riley Sager tonight. In short, well-constructed and thematically rounded, with ample tension to keep it moving. But it has some plot-holes and the characterization wanes here and there in the confusion. Worth the read.

    It's a sort of 'whodunnit,' and that aspect is played quite well. The concept rests on the narrator being one of the 'final girls' from a massacre, playing the tropes of slasher horror films. Sager comes right out with the intention to use these film tropes of the male fantasy in torture and sexually explicit cinematography that fulfills the male gaze concept in film. He applies them to his novel and uses the stigmas of tropes to turn and cover his own intentions with the plot. Most of the time, especially through the main climax, this works fairly well. But it does become rather convoluted at times.

    Where it does shine is in its use of theme. The survivor concept is deceptively intertwined with the thematic core of the novel, coming to a head in directions the reader should have been looking all along. The narrator is unreliable as a diversion, but tells the truth consistently. The lies we tell ourselves are the ones we believe so adamantly that we can't give them up for anything.

    It's an interesting one and worth the time, though it looks like a typical slice and dice slasher film. It has a bit more depth behind it than that.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2021 at 3:49 PM
  9. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Get off my Balzac... Staff Contributor

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    You're definitely riding that MFA train, bruh. Good for you. Been a looong time since I applied that aspect of my brain to reading. History was my academic jam, but the same level of analysis applied.
     
  10. Dogberry's Watch

    Dogberry's Watch Swaggin like a Baggins Contributor

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    Finished Scythe, and trying to plod my way through the Invention of Murder. I only have about a hundred pages of it left, but it's like trying to pull an elephant out of a watermelon, and all I have is twine.
     
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  11. ruskaya

    ruskaya Active Member

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    while waiting to recover from The Piano Teacher to continue its reading, I started reading Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. I love Murakami's writing style, it is so easy to become completely absorbed in it, especially in his descriptions. There are no frills, all the descriptions just hit the right spots: they speak of the one thing in the scene that makes you see/imagine all the rest in it (this is a rare quality). He just seems to use the right words, there is so much to learn from him. I feel the desire of the MC to be on his own and his loneliness, to the point that I can recognized it as if they were my own. He is an amazing writer and his writings are rather entertaining too. I understand why he is such a popular and praised author. The only thing that perplexes me are his characters, though. They seem a bit stereotypical, but this is the only book of his I read (well, I am reading), and the characters are mostly young people, so in a sense they are still discovering the world and in between play parts of who they think they should be. In that way, the conception of his characters is rather original, and his characters are authentic. But there is a core that seem to be taken out of a TV drama with a few added twists along the way making easy to sympathize with them. That makes the reading easier, but also a bit superficial. His characters seem cool and some seem like it would be fun to meet to have stories about them to tell others. There is something that is so fictional in them that they don't seem real. I feel a lot closer to the characters described by Alice Munro, whom I mention because she snatched the Nobel Prize from him back in 2004 I think. The fact that I feel her characters at an emotional level make them seem more human to me.

    This is of course just my impression, I can see what a great writer Murakami is, so I think I must be missing something there, about his characters.
     
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  12. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Staff Supporter Contributor

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    So, I finished my next week's book a little early. It was Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon. It's good. I hate it.

    The pacing is a bit slow, but I didn't mind that. The atmospheric settings and perfect movement between scene and summary is incredible. Even the characterization is excellent.

    But the plot will just leave an awful taste in your mouth. It's well constructed, if not a little cliché nowadays, but my God, it is hard to get through just because of how morally depraved it gets. Tryon's novel is all about a family trying to get away from the city life of New York who happen to find a quiet and isolated farming community. But, naturally, the little corn-farming community is not what it seems. Idyllic becomes corrupted, as with all of the characters including the fairly awful narrator. You'll probably hate him. Basically no one in this novel has redeeming qualities by the end.

    But there are some tension points and scenes that are just fantastic. It's very very Gothic in structure and formulation, with its isolation and characters and tone, but once it finally starts moving toward some real evil it just gets kind of icky. Nothing any horror fan hasn't seen before, I'm sure, but it seems like where some of the ideas came from. Not my happiest time reading. I'm quite ready to move on to something not this.

    My next in line is Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix, which I've been excited to read for quite some time.
     
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  13. Krispee

    Krispee Contributor Contributor

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    I heard good things about 1Q84 but never got around to it.
     
  14. love to read

    love to read Active Member

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    Devouring a YA werewolf novel which I like far more than I should (The Wolves Of Forest Grove by Elena Lawson). Why do some books just suck you in while others you really wanted to read just leave you with a small “Yeah, thanks but no thanks” (if you finish them, though I’m usually quite good at reading on, even if I don’t really like a book)?
     
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  15. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber oike despatio Contributor

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    I'm still riding that Trollope train. Seven down, forty to go :) I'm reading Barchester Towers. I loved the Palliser novels so much, and The Warden was pretty good, but I think this is my favorite so far. It's very funny and the characters are so well-drawn. His later novels (that I've read) are far less comical in nature and have a gentler style of humor, so I was a little surprised to find this one so overtly hilarious.
     
  16. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Get off my Balzac... Staff Contributor

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    The Seventh Secret by Irving Wallace. It is... well, not good, but not exactly bad. I mean, it's bad, but not because of anything I can point to specifically.

    I've never heard of Wallace before, but he has 200 million books in over 30 languages in print. Okay. Hard to argue with that. He's a WWII vet who got his start in Hollywood in the 50s. Kind of a poor man's (very poor) La Carre who's into the espionage/thriller thing, though I would not call this book thrilling in any way. It's about a historian investigating the possibility of Hitler and Eva Braun faking their suicides and escaping Berlin. Emphasis on Eva Braun. There is a character who is purported to be Braun, now in her seventies, though that may turn out to just be a mistake/misdirection thing. That part is very cool, and the book is very well researched and accurate, but the execution and characterization? Dear Lord, help me.

    And the plot? It couldn't be any more by-the-numbers if it were written by a Fisher Price calculator. Like, I'm reading on page one that a historian has uncovered a piece of evidence that Hitler might be alive and immediately think, "This dude is going to be dead by page five." Then the character goes to a restaurant, excited for his find, then decides to go for a walk, all heady in the clouds about how IMPORTANT this all is, and I'm like, "He's going to get hit by a fucking car." Sure enough, page five: splat!

    But, hey, at least the second chapter has his adult daughter examining herself naked in mirror for two or three paragraphs, weighing the pros and cons of her body, wondering why she can't find a good man. Fortunately for her, later on she is attacked in a hotel shower by a knife wielding assassin dressed as a waiter, but luckily the hero arrives just in time to scare the would-be-assassin off. Do they pursue the attacker? Do they alert the authorities? Of course not. They drink scotch and make love... just like in real life. The sex scene tried hard to be steamy, but Wallace used the words "penis" and "vagina" a few dozen times too much. Could have used a euphemism or two. Maybe not the "sacred shaft" or "jade gate" of James Clavell fame, but whatever. At least her orgasms were alternatively "explosive" and "convulsive." Good for her. And for the hero! Any man who can thwart an assassin with judo, down a bottle of scotch, and make a woman come six times is a-okay in my book.

    Jesus. I'm going to finish this one, whether it kills me or not. Can't be more than 75k words or so. Thank the lord for small favors!

    (anybody else ever read Wallace? I never heard of him or anything he'd written, but when I saw how popular he was, I was excited that I'd found something new and exciting, but so far I'm feeling neither explosive or convulsive)
     
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  17. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    I've been debating reading something by Paul Tremblay. Have you read any of his other works? Is this a good place to start?
     
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  18. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I havent and this was a pretty wild start. Its almost outlandish in its daring for layered plot, but i think he pulls it off really well. The narrative arc is all over the place though, so if you come in expecting a normal horror ending or general growing climactic tension, then you are reading it wrong. Better to think whats going on behind as much as whatthe narrator tells you.

    It may not be the greatest place to start as it looks like an experiment on his part, but if youre a gothic and horror fan the self-referential nature of the novel may be a treat though.
     
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  19. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    Sounds like something I would enjoy. Thanks for the information--I'm going to check it out.
     
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  20. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Contributor Contributor

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    I loved "A Head Full of Ghosts" by Tremblay. It's like "The Exorcist" as told by Scout from "To Kill a Mockingbird."

    I hated "Disappearance at Devil's Rock," also by Tremblay. Stay away from that one. yuck. It was so bad that I haven't read anything else by him since. I could so tell that he was making it up as he went along. And the teen-speak was laughable.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2021 at 6:24 PM
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