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> Books 2nd Edition, Foreword by m0r1arty
maian
post Sep 16 2009, 06:27 PM
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Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut

A collection of Vonnegut's short fiction, all of which was written in the 60s and 70s and which was published in a variety of magazines. There are some stories that are in keeping with the moralistic sci-fi that Vonnegut is most often associated with - such as the story Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow which details what would happen to humanity if people stopped dying of old age - but for the most part the stories are not science fiction based, instead being concerned with more realistic (though no less heartwarming/breaking) stories about ordinary people, be they a soldier returned from Korea who berates a beautiful woman or conecentration survivor awaiting the birth of his first child. Each of the stories is a beautiful, self-contained gem that can make you laugh, make you thing and tugs at the heartstrings in just the right way. Some of them do all three.
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maian
post Sep 20 2009, 01:49 PM
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Dubliners by James Joyce

A collection of short stories about the lives of middle-class Irish people at the turn of the 20th century. Each of the individual stories is a sombre, heartbreaking dissection of everyday desperation, but the collection as a whole is greater than its constituent parts. There are a number of different themes that run throughout that colour all the stories, themes of national identity, the loss of Irish culture and a general disillusionment with society as it existed at the time (with the notable exception of the final story, The Dead, which has a more romantic notion of Ireland). Joyce has a very straightforward, neutral style that seems more concerned with documenting minutiae than great themes, but it is through the tiny details that the themes are illuminated and characters are drawn.

This post has been edited by maian: Sep 20 2009, 01:49 PM
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sleeping_pirate
post Sep 20 2009, 05:47 PM
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Having a bit of a nightmare at the moment, so thought I'd try my luck here!

Basically I'm trying to find a book I read about 5 or 6 years ago- but I don't know the title or the author! It was a collection of short stories, I think all of which were based in the UK. One of the stories was about a girl who falls in love with a man with mental health problems, and he eventually kills himself and they find him on his knees in shallow water either by the sea or some kind of harbour.

The front cover I remember vividly, it was sunlight shining through yellow curtains onto a bed.

If this happens to ring any bells with anyone- let me know!
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melzilla
post Sep 21 2009, 12:01 AM
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QUOTE (maian @ Sep 20 2009, 02:49 PM) *
Dubliners by James Joyce

A collection of short stories about the lives of middle-class Irish people at the turn of the 20th century. Each of the individual stories is a sombre, heartbreaking dissection of everyday desperation, but the collection as a whole is greater than its constituent parts. There are a number of different themes that run throughout that colour all the stories, themes of national identity, the loss of Irish culture and a general disillusionment with society as it existed at the time (with the notable exception of the final story, The Dead, which has a more romantic notion of Ireland). Joyce has a very straightforward, neutral style that seems more concerned with documenting minutiae than great themes, but it is through the tiny details that the themes are illuminated and characters are drawn.


I read this years ago, beautifully written and absorbing, but definitely a little depressing. Although The Dead was a little different from the other stories, I seem to remember it encompassing many of the themes explored in the rest of the stories and being a very melancholic and definite 'ending' to the tales. Might have to dig this out again, actually.
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maian
post Sep 21 2009, 12:21 AM
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QUOTE (melzilla @ Sep 21 2009, 01:01 AM) *
Although The Dead was a little different from the other stories, I seem to remember it encompassing many of the themes explored in the rest of the stories and being a very melancholic and definite 'ending' to the tales.


Absolutely. I've read that Joyce assembled the collection in such a way that, as you progressed through them, the stories became about the concerns of increasingly older characters; the first few are about children, the next about adolescents, then adults, then the elderly. The culmination of the collection with The Dead ends up being both poetic, in that it rounds out the stories emotionally, but also logical since it is the obvious endpoint for the progression of the collection.
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widowspider
post Sep 21 2009, 04:04 PM
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QUOTE (sleeping_pirate @ Sep 20 2009, 05:47 PM) *
Having a bit of a nightmare at the moment, so thought I'd try my luck here!

Basically I'm trying to find a book I read about 5 or 6 years ago- but I don't know the title or the author! It was a collection of short stories, I think all of which were based in the UK. One of the stories was about a girl who falls in love with a man with mental health problems, and he eventually kills himself and they find him on his knees in shallow water either by the sea or some kind of harbour.

The front cover I remember vividly, it was sunlight shining through yellow curtains onto a bed.

If this happens to ring any bells with anyone- let me know!

That sounds like it could be 'First Love, Last Rites' by Ian McEwan. There are a bunch of really weird fucked up stories in that and there have been a few different covers.
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angle
post Sep 26 2009, 03:08 PM
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Handling The Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist (him what done Let The Right One In)

Not a book about necrophilia as the title might suggest but a rather surprisingly sweet yet chilling take on the Zombie genre.
Rather than the newly risen dead being being flesh hungry ghouls, they are echo's of their former selves wanting nothing more than to go home.

This causes all types of horror and angst for the people of Stockholm when dead relatives start turning up on doorsteps and scaring the bejesus out of folk.
This is a story about how people might react if their loved ones really did start returning from the grave, the feelings of hope mixed with horror mixed with the practicalities of how to handle such a situation.

A national emergency is declared and the dead are rounded up by the military and eventually housed in a specially emptied and prepared ghetto where their loved ones can visit them.
People soon start to realise that in close proximity to the dead there is some strange kind of psychic link meaning the living can read each other's mind's which becomes pretty disturbing given all the conflicting emotions flying around and not only that but the dead seem to be animated by the will of their former loved ones which at first is quite positive, born of the hope that the dead can return to some state of living and one or two even show signs of improvement and even speech.

Human nature being what it is though soon see's certain members of the community turning against the dead and being as the dead borrow their will and animation from the emotion's of the living, when the living turn nasty well, it becomes more of a classical 'Zombie' situation.

The ending seems a bit abrupt and personally i think it could have been a much longer book but i guess that would have turned it into the type of 'Zombie' story the author was trying to avoid, this is more of a human story.
Fantastically written, well translated and a book i couldn't put down, so i read it in two sittings, highly recommended
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maian
post Oct 5 2009, 04:22 PM
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The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave

Nick Cave writes songs in a decidedly eloquent and lurid way, and he applies the same ethic to his second (or third, not sure which) novel, The Death of Bunny Munro, a book that details the last days in the life of his anti-hero, Bunny Munro, a philandering beauty products salesman who, after the suicide of his wife, goes on a hellish roadtrip with his son, Bunny Junior.

A leery and sleazy tale, it's also great fun. Bunny Munro is a repellent character who is also quite tragic and sympathetic, or at least pathetic, qualities that suit him well as a traveling salesman. Cave's observations are lyrical and grotesque (I'll certainly never view eating a Big Mac in quite the same way again) and the story zips along to its obvious (given the title) conclusion. The ending would probably be my only problem with the story since it feels a little rushed and undercooked, though certainly not dissatisfying.

I wonder if Cave has ever met Avril Lavigne? If not, I doubt she'll be all that eager to meet him now.


I've also been reading through some Joseph Conrad short stories, most notably Heart of Darkness, which was every bit as good as I hoped (and interestingly different in its message when compared to Apocalypse, Now, the version of the story with which I am most familiar) and An Outpost Of Progress, which is one of the darkest farces I've ever read.
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melzilla
post Oct 7 2009, 01:28 AM
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QUOTE (maian @ Oct 5 2009, 05:22 PM) *
I've also been reading through some Joseph Conrad short stories, most notably Heart of Darkness,


Really quite powerful stuff. I studied this at uni and really liked it although, unfortunately, I've never got round to reading any other Conrad. May have to remedy this.
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maian
post Oct 7 2009, 03:36 PM
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QUOTE (melzilla @ Oct 7 2009, 02:28 AM) *
Really quite powerful stuff. I studied this at uni and really liked it although, unfortunately, I've never got round to reading any other Conrad. May have to remedy this.


The stories that came with my edition of Heart of Darkness are similarly themed and very good. Karain: A Memory is kind of like a dry run for Heart of Darkness since it is also about a man singlemindedly pursuing a goal to his detriment, and An Outpost of Progress is very dark and funny, being a scathing dissection of how companies will place in charge of territories the people who are the most ill-suited to do so. I've not read any other of Conrad's work, but those two stories (which are probably online somewhere) are very strong.

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melzilla
post Oct 7 2009, 03:54 PM
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Ooh, thanks Ed! Will look into it.
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Sostie
post Oct 8 2009, 08:44 AM
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Finished The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave. Like everything the man does, top notch. Certainly a much lighter read than And the Ass Saw the Angel.
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widowspider
post Oct 8 2009, 07:23 PM
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A friend of mine now works in the Book Review department at the New York Times, which means free books for me! He gave me a book called 'Hidden Oasis' by Paul Sussman, which is a fun romp so far but FULL of typos. Really really bad ones as well. Apparently all my free books are coming from the 'discard' pile of books they won't review. Figures.
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sleeping_pirate
post Oct 10 2009, 04:02 PM
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I bought Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier as I haven't read it since I was at high school.
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Serafina_Pekkala
post Oct 10 2009, 04:08 PM
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QUOTE (sleeping_pirate @ Oct 10 2009, 05:02 PM) *
I bought Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier as I haven't read it since I was at high school.


Great choice.
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