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> Books 2nd Edition, Foreword by m0r1arty
maian
post Apr 4 2008, 10:19 PM
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Finished The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith today and what a wonderful read it was. Tom Ripley is one of the great literary creations of the twentieth century; a complex, sophisticated and studiously amoral man whose thought processes are thrilling to observe. I spent a bit too much time thinking about how it compared to the film version, which I also love, but that didn't really impact upon my enjoyment of it, particularly since it took only 10 or 20 pages for me to realise how hugely different the two were.
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maian
post Apr 7 2008, 11:53 PM
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Since I can't sleep and don't have work tomorrow I stayed up and finished Black Swan Green by David Mitchell which, although I was initially unsure of, I wound up liking very much. It's a bildungsroman of sorts about Mitchell's own childhood in the early 80's and covers a year and a month in the life of Jason Taylor, stammerer and secret poet of Black Swan Green in Worcestershire. It very nicely captures what it is like to be 13 years old and conveys the odd mix of naivety, fear and filthy-mindedness that that age tends to involve and I found myself identifying a lot with Jason. I particularly liked how Mitchell used Jason's naivety to hide the darker aspects of the story but while still allowing them to creep in, giving the reader ample clues as to what was going on in the background. The stuff about The Falklands War was also very interesting since, due to my age and education, it's one of those aspects of recent British history that I know next to nothing about, so getting a perspective on it from a contemporary standpoint was very interesting to me.

I did find that some parts of it were over-written and unnecessarily flowery, especially considering the fact that the book was meant to be the first-person narrative of a 12/13-year old, albeit an erudite one, but these moments didn't distract from what was a really enjoyable read.

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mcraigclark
post Apr 8 2008, 12:00 AM
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I love David Mitchell, and felt pretty much the same as you about Black Swan Green. Have you read any of his other books? Ghostwritten is fantastic, Cloud Atlas is challenging, but worth it, and I think I've said this before but Number9Dream will make you want to chain-smoke.
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maian
post Apr 8 2008, 12:02 AM
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I read Cloud Atlas last year (and was very pleased to spot the references to it in Black Swan Green) but haven't investigated the others yet. If they've got either in the local library tomorrow I'll pick them up since I really like his stuff.
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mcraigclark
post Apr 8 2008, 12:10 AM
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QUOTE (maian @ Apr 7 2008, 08:02 PM)
I read Cloud Atlas last year (and was very pleased to spot the references to it in Black Swan Green) but haven't investigated the others yet. If they've got either in the local library tomorrow I'll pick them up since I really like his stuff.
*

I stopped and started Cloud Atlas three or four times before I finally finished it.
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maian
post Apr 8 2008, 12:26 AM
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I managed to get through it all in one go but I did have a week's break at the halfway point. The far future chapters were really tough going.

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ipse dixit
post Apr 8 2008, 09:39 AM
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QUOTE (maian @ Apr 8 2008, 12:26 AM)
The far future chapters were really tough going.
*

Agreed, that was a bit of a slog. Great stuff, though, and ditto for Ghostwritten. Not got round to others yet.
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rebelstar
post Apr 8 2008, 09:45 AM
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QUOTE (mcraigclark @ Apr 8 2008, 01:00 AM)
and I think I've said this before but Number9Dream will make you want to chain-smoke.
*


You did - and you were right.

Finished The Steep Approach to Garbadale yesterday - very, very good indeed. Now starting a science fiction classic - Stranger In A Strange Land.
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Jubei
post Apr 8 2008, 09:54 AM
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The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling- Imagine a 1850s where Charles Babbage had perfected his Difference Engine and then his Analytical Engine, making 'computers' commonplace. Central Police and State databases, credit systems, and intrigue. It's well written and for the first 350 pages. Sadly in the last 30-40 pages, it sort of runs out of steam, if you'll pardon the pun. The storyline that runs through the whole book doesn't really go anywhere, eclipsed by the second storyline of Edward Mallory, and is either not explained, or too obscure for me to work out what it was supposed to be about. And the final few chapters are made up of intercepted letters, observations and after the event facts, many of which leave you thinking, what was the point of telling me that. And the final page makes no sense at all. I think there's some suggestions of an AI evolving out of the gears and cogs of londons massive computers in 1996 (although this is the first time 1996 is ever mentioned, the rest of the book is entirely focussed on pre 1900s, largely 1855) and seems to be completely irrelevant. A shame, as up to that point it's quite an engaging read.

A book that ends

The Eye at last must see itself
Myself...
I see:
I see,
I see
I
!

When the 'I' in question hasn't previously been involved in the story, or even hinted at except as the paranoia of a man with advanced Syphilis 150 years before it actually manifests.


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Chapman Baxter
post Apr 8 2008, 10:26 AM
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It's been many years since I read The Difference Engine, but like many Gibson books it seemed to be more about the setting than the 'plot', which in the end is pretty irrelevant. I remember quite enjoying it but very little else.

I read Charles Stross's Halting State over the weekend, and heartily recommend it to anyone who's a bit of a technology or gaming geek. It's a near-future thriller that deals with D&D, MMORPGs, ARGs, LARPing, distributing processing, quantum computing, cryptography and espionage in a very enjoyable, tightly plotted fashion.
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Jubei
post Apr 8 2008, 10:42 AM
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QUOTE (Chapman Baxter @ Apr 8 2008, 11:26 AM)
I read Charles Stross's Halting State over the weekend, and heartily recommend it to anyone who's a bit of a technology or gaming geek. It's a near-future thriller that deals with D&D, MMORPGs, ARGs, LARPing, distributing processing, quantum computing, cryptography and espionage in a very enjoyable, tightly plotted fashion.
*

I might have to give that a go then.
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rabbit57i
post Apr 8 2008, 03:12 PM
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The Keep by Jennifer Egan

This is one of the best fiction books I have read in a long time. The story concerns a sorta loser who goes to some eastern European country to help his cousin restore an old castle into a hotel. There is also a sub-story concerning the narrator who is a convict in a prison writing class. The book is creepy, scary, full of tension, and sad. The only negative comment I have is the epilogue. It ruins the end of the book & totally drains the emotion of the climax.
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rabbit57i
post Apr 8 2008, 08:02 PM
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And now I've just finished After Dark by Haruki Murakami

I've got to remember not to read two fiction books at the same time again. It gets very confusing. And these two book that I just read were very, very similar.

This story takes place from just before midnight to dawn the next day. The main character is a young girl whose out all night reading at a Denny's. She crossed paths with some interesting characters. And like the other book, there is another thread of a story that pops up from time to time concerning her sister in a state of super-deep sleep.
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maian
post Apr 16 2008, 08:00 AM
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Finished A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh last night. Bloody brilliant but bloody bleak.
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maian
post Apr 17 2008, 07:58 AM
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Woo, double post! Maybe I read too much...

Anyway, I started and finished I Am America (And So Can You) by Stephen Colbert last night. It was kind of like an extended version of The Word section of The Colbert Report and that did kind of drag after a while and the whole thing felt like a script for a Report episode. However, it was still very funny and had the same satirical tone that I love in The Report with Colbert's self-aggrandising nature very apparent (to the extent that he gets companies to sponsor chapters). I'd have preferred it to have more of the fictional biography sections that divide up the book but otherwise it's a funny read. It was also cool to see the complete transcript of Colbert's infamous White House Correspondents' Dinner, even if it loses something compared to the footage of the event.
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