Saturday Waffling (August 3rd, 2013)

(39 comments)

Yes, there will be a Sunday Pancacking going up at the appropriate time. Until then...

Jed Blue's My Little Po-Mo Kickstarter is just shy of a stretch goal as the days run out, and might be worth a few bucks.

Andrew Hickey's California Dreaming Kickstarter is also past goal but with stretch goals available, and worth checking out.

And finally, Neil Perryman is threatening to make his wife watch all of Blake's 7. You can help make that one happen over at The Adventures of the Wife and Blake - it's still a few hundred quid short of goal.

And, of course, a new Doctor tomorrow. Until then, read any good books? I've just finished Warren Ellis's Dead Pig Collector, which is pleasantly depraved. And though it's been out for ages, I did think The Ocean at the End of the Lane was absolutely marvelous, and the best book Gaiman has written since American Gods. Anything else fun and out recently?

Comments

Abigail Brady 3 years, 7 months ago

I read "Broken Homes" last weekend, the 4th in a series of urban fantasy police procedurals set in London, written by Ben Aaronovitch, who is known in this parish. Good stuff, would recommend starting with book #1 ("Rivers of London", published as "Midnight Riot" in the US) to anyone who hasn't picked one up before.

Link | Reply

Jack Graham 3 years, 7 months ago

I'm finally finishing the second volume of Ian Kershaw's biography of Hitler. That's pretty good.

Link | Reply

peeeeeeet 3 years, 7 months ago

I just finished the first one. Mixed feelings about it - fairly good plot and some nice set pieces, and the prose is as effortlessly readable as you'd expect. But given the length, the characters were a bit flat and the premise felt a bit laboured, like if he'd just said "branch of the met that covers London's supernatural population" we wouldn't have got it. I don't know about anyone else, but I didn't need hundred and odd pages to grasp that. Overall I can't say I'm in a massive hurry to read the next one.

Link | Reply

timber-munki 3 years, 7 months ago

Just finished Joe Abercrombie's Red Country. As somebody who doesn't read that much fantasy I can't get enough of his stuff - single novel stories (with the exception of his First Law trilogy, but I get the feeling that that was just used to set up the world he's telling stories in) that don't use maps (there's one in Red Country but it really isn't necessary to the story). If I was been glib I'd say he's like George R.R. Martin but a good writer - no interminable descriptions about things for example.

Link | Reply

elvwood 3 years, 7 months ago

I'm currently reading The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, which is basically a collection of evidence of the effect (in)equality has on all members of a society in which basic needs can be met. Fascinating stuff, if a bit repetitive in places (but the repetition is also part of what is important about it).

In fiction, I'm reading Lance Parkin's Trading Futures, which you probably all know about anyway, but I only just ordered it from the library. I'm currently one chapter in so can't judge it yet.

Link | Reply

Tim 3 years, 7 months ago

Be careful there. I once got vociferously dogpiled on one site for daring to mention in passing that I thought Abercrombie was better than Martin.

Link | Reply

Tim 3 years, 7 months ago

I saw World's End last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. Seemed like a fitting third in the trilogy that began with Shaun of the Dead and continued with Hot Fuzz.

I'm reading Blindness by Jose Saramagao at the moment and am about a third of the way in. I'm enjoying it, even if it does seem to all be a bit heavy handed so far

Link | Reply

storiteller 3 years, 7 months ago

The last great book I read was Dave Eggers Zeitoun - an excellent look at racism and inequality during Hurricane Katrina, completely through the lens of one Muslim family's experience. Very powerful stuff. Currently, I'm reading the Three Musketeers. While everyone knows the book, what's fascinating is the fact that almost all of the adaptations miss the author's original framing. The book is almost uniformly making fun of the musketeers. The heroes are all kind of jackasses (although some of the things they do are judged much worse now than they were then - rape by deception, for example) and the book is very clear in portraying that through its tone and style.

Link | Reply

Daibhid C 3 years, 7 months ago

Haven't picked it up yet, but from what I hear Terra by Doctor Who fan and singing comedian Mitch Benn is good. Here's the first chapter being read by his celeb friends.

http://wingedreviews.com/2013/07/trailer-premiere-terra-by-mitch-benn-part-1/

Link | Reply

Daibhid C 3 years, 7 months ago

I didnt feel the exposition was labouring the central point as much as world building - this is how magic works, this is how the Met is involved. And, of course, it's gone the classic route of the main character being a newcomer to the magical world, so all this needs to be explained to *him*.

I was going to say the second one doesn't have as much, but then I remembered the plot hinges on the *history* of the Folly, and involves Nightingale's old school. I enjoyed it, anyway.

Link | Reply

dm 3 years, 7 months ago

I found it to be one of the most irretrievably bleak films that I have ever seen.

Link | Reply

Pen Name Pending 3 years, 7 months ago

The book I'm reading I bought on my Kindle, which I generally like, although it's a bit of a problem because I keep re-reading the Pertree Eruditorum volume instead!

Link | Reply

peeeeeeet 3 years, 7 months ago

There's not that much of a world to build, though. Most of the elements come from stock. I also felt that it gave itself opt-out clauses for the procedural elements too much; the idea of the Met applying standard techniques to the supernatural could have been interesting, but once wossname is initiated the procedural stuff largely takes a back seat in favour of the more standard tropes of spooky old buildings and learning how to channel the energies and whatnot.

I mean, it's fine. Just needed to be brutally edited. "Neverwhere with a better plot" isn't the worst of sins.

Link | Reply

Kyle Maddex 3 years, 7 months ago

I just finished "John Dies at the End." It was alright, but I don't think it ever lived up to its premise.

Link | Reply

Phil 3 years, 7 months ago

"the idea of the Met applying standard techniques to the supernatural could have been interesting"

I think you'd enjoy Paul Cornell's London Falling. Like Rivers of London, it's a police procedural urban fantasy written by a former Doctor Who writer, only it completely dispenses with the mentor figure, so the characters have to use policing techniques instead. It puts a lot of focus on what being in the police is actually like, rather than just using it as an excuse for the main characters to get involved with the plot.

Link | Reply

peeeeeeet 3 years, 7 months ago

Ah, yes, I should pick that one up. Thanks for the rec!

Link | Reply

Pen Name Pending 3 years, 7 months ago

Well I'm not sure anything could live up to that title!

Link | Reply

Triturus 3 years, 7 months ago

The book I've just finished is The 100-year old man who climbed out of a window and disappeared. Which was OK, but I often get a feeling of distance when I'm reading translated books; there seems to be something missing that keeps me from being fully engaged with the characters, it's just really hard to say exactly what.

Can I go slightly off-topic and ask for some reading recommendations? My background is in science, and until reading this blog I'd never really given much thought to literary criticism / theory apart from whatever can be gleaned from reading David Lodge novels.

Reading this blog has been my introduction to the idea of thoughtful and thorough analysis of texts, and its been really fascinating. But I feel a bit like a kid with armbands standing on the edge of a pool watching everyone else swimming effortless lengths underwater.

Could anyone recommend any good beginners guides to literary criticism? Maybe not exactly "Post-modernism for dummies", but something to get me started?

Link | Reply

Josh Marsfelder 3 years, 7 months ago

While it's neither fiction nor contemporary in the slightest, I am currently reading Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe: Early Scandinavian and Celtic Religions by H.R. Ellis Davidson partially for a future project of mine that may or may not have something to do with my continuous obsessive replaying of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

At the same time, I'm re-reading The Outermost House by Henry Beston, partly because it's one of my favourite books of all time but also because I'm basing one of the main characters in my oft-delayed fiction...thing on Beston.

Also, I'm trying to track down the numerous Pocket Star Trek tie-in books I'd like to cover for the Next Generation and Deep Space Nine sections of Vaka Rangi.

Link | Reply

Kit Power 3 years, 7 months ago

The last book I finished was 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill, a collection of short stories so good that it made me want to give up writing entirely. Depressingly good. Pop Art should be tattooed on people, it's that amazing.
Currently halfway through Blood's A Rover, James Ellroy's most recent uber-nior 'history', this time of the years 68' - '72, incorporating the election of Nixon, the mob moving into the Dominican Republic, and the long slow deaths of J.E. Hoover and Howard Hughes. Impenetrable if you haven't already put away American Tabloid and The Cold Six Thousand, and pretty heavy going for the first fifty pages even if you did, but by golly it's one fierce piece of prose and a mind-melting achievement.

Link | Reply

elvwood 3 years, 7 months ago

Can I second this request? I've definitely got armbands too. I read Aristotle's Poetics, which was good, but not enough. I haven't managed to get my hands on the other two Philip mentioned a while back because they're not in Sheffield's library system so would cost money to order, and I'm not sure if I want to fork out that much yet. A pocket guide to lit crit and/or media studies would be great.

Link | Reply

Philip Sandifer 3 years, 7 months ago

I'll have to write one one of these years.

Link | Reply

Nyq Only 3 years, 7 months ago

Last four books I read:

The Drowning Girl by Caitlín R. Kiernan - very strange but enjoyable so long as you have a very high tolerance for unreliable narrators.

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy - not quite boring enough to make me not finish it. Post 9/11 politics and werewolves - should have been more fun somehow.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman - a satisfying plate of Gaiman.

Cuckoo's Calling by JK Rowling in Disguise - my Kindle made me buy it. OK I guess.

Now reading This How You Die - the sequel to Machine of Death. Hard not to recommend highly enough.

Link | Reply

HarlequiNQB 3 years, 7 months ago

Just finished Asimov's Robots and Empire, which if somehow never read before. Also watching the first part of Breaking Bad season 5, playing For a horizon and trying to set up an Eruditorum Press store (which is fiddlier than I thought it would be). Many other things on the cards, but need to get done with Heisenberg first...

Link | Reply

Triturus 3 years, 7 months ago

Hmm. So far we have a book from 335 BC and a book that has yet to be written. This is going to be harder than I thought.

Link | Reply

Cleofis 3 years, 7 months ago

Libraries are your friend in that regard; although thankfully so far as I can see a good majority are still in print or easily obtained.

Link | Reply

Cleofis 3 years, 7 months ago

Currently making my way through House of Leaves (delightfully meta) and Terry Eagleton's On Evil (delightfully edifying).

Also, on a Last War In Albion-related note, I picked up Peter Milligan's X-Statix omnibus for 25 bucks at Boston Comic Con today. TWENTY FIVE BUCKS. For a collection that runs 125 retail. Best deal I've ever gotten on anything comics related ever. Also picked up and am enjoying Miller and Sienkiwicz's Elektra: Assassin, one of the most balls out weird mainstream American comics you will ever read this side of Vertigo. Speaking of which, I also got hold of Ales Kot's Wild Children, which I cannot recommend highly enough; readers of this blog will especially enjoy it I think.

Link | Reply

coebabalifeandlove 3 years, 7 months ago

Yay on the announcement of the new Doctor. I just discovered it when I checked your blog earlier today, and then I had to check the rest of the web to make sure. They also will be airing the broadcast live in the US as well. Plus, I saw the teaser trailer for Sherlock, which is pretty sweet, it definitely reminds me of The Empty House (or was it Flat?) story, when Sherlock goes to see everybody upon his return.

Currently I am re-reading Neal Stephenson's The Confusion, the second book in his Baroque Cycle, and I'm about 466 pages into it. (Glad I have a bookmark there. I used to be able to remember page numbers, but I need a bookmark more often these days.) I think I first read it back in 2006 or 2007 (I have a faint memory about reading Jack's 'keel-hauling' scene in a hotel room). This is really the second time I'm reading it. And it's a hardback, because I bought it from the 75% pile or something like that at the bookstore all those years ago.

Although there are some other books I'm currently in the middle of as well and I need to read those...

Link | Reply

Scott 3 years, 7 months ago

I found Thomas C. Foster's "Understanding Novels" pretty easy to read and useful with regards to literary theory, and Raymond Williams' "Keywords" is a good source of definitions for a lot of critical and theoretical concepts that tend to crop up. Neither of these books are millennia-old or currently non-existent, sadly, but its the best I can do so far. :-)

Link | Reply

Scott 3 years, 7 months ago

Not recent, but I'm currently reading through the Nero Wolfe mysteries in order of original publication in an attempt to go a bit less mad due to all the Ph.D-related stress piling up on my life at the moment.

Link | Reply

BatmanAoD 3 years, 7 months ago

Recently finished Gogol's Dead Souls (wonderful and strange and beautiful and hilarious) and Tennyson's Idylls of the King (beautiful, deep, dark, and really terribly problematic, though I really hate that word). Now reading Austen's Sense and Sensibility and liking it quite a bit, as well as The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton, which is fascinating so far. (Oh, and the "Pickaxe" book on Ruby. Ruby is really cool. If you're a programmer, I recommend looking into it.)

Has anyone read Khaled Hosseini's new book? Is it good? I've been meaning to get myself a copy.

Link | Reply

Llamastrangler 3 years, 7 months ago

I could recommend Literary Theory by Terry Eagleton. It's a chronogical guide to the various currents of literary theory throughout the 20th century from F.R. Leavis through to post-structuralism. I was given it to read over the summer before my undergraduate degree in English and I found it a very useful introduction.

Link | Reply

elvwood 3 years, 7 months ago

Thanks for the suggestions - I'm going to start with Eagleton's, since it's available free under a Creative Commons license and apparently with the author's/publisher's permission. There are some PDFs of Williams' floating about as well, but I can't find anything to say that these are legal.

Oh, and Philip: if you do write one (and it doesn't mutate into a doorstop along the way), you've got a buyer here.

Link | Reply

brownstudy 3 years, 7 months ago

Just starting the new novel by Karen Joy Fowler, "We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves." Great writer -- reminds me of Kelly Link.

Link | Reply

brownstudy 3 years, 7 months ago

In one of Philip's earlier posts (can't remember which one) he mentioned 3: Aristotle's Poetics, The Implied Reader by Wolfgang Iser, and The Rhetoric of Fiction by Wayne Booth. He pretty much said that if you read those three, you'll be well equipped.

Link | Reply

Cdog Zilla 3 years, 7 months ago

Just finished Daniel Dennett's "Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking." (Results TBD.)

You'll be glad, perhaps, to know you've tipped me to my second-ever kickstarter backing, after your own Hartnell 2e; just pitched in for Adventures With the Wife and Blake.

Link | Reply

Triturus 3 years, 7 months ago

Many thanks for the recommendations everyone - that should keep me going for a good while!

Link | Reply

encyclops 3 years, 7 months ago

I just finished:

High Rise -- brilliant but on-the-nose and a bit monotonously gruesome and brutal.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane -- yes, wonderful, yes, best since American Gods (though Anansi Boys was really charming), and a tantalizing glimpse of what Doctor Who could be like with Gaiman as head writer. I listened to the audiobook and it's doubly awesome hearing Gaiman read it himself.

Under the Ivy -- an engrossing and occasionally gross unauthorized Kate Bush biography. Worth it if you're a fan, though maybe not full of too many surprises.

And I'm starting A Dance with Dragons or whatever it is, so that's pretty much my next month or two, I'd expect.

Link | Reply

Katherine Sas 2 years, 7 months ago

Way late to this post, but I agree about Ocean at the End of the Lane - my favorite Gaiman book so far (just ahead of Stardust).

Link | Reply

New Comment

required

required (not published)

optional

Recent Posts

Archive

Tags

Authors

Feeds

RSS / Atom