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Last Book You Read and Rate It (Part II)

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Old
04-05-2012, 07:35 AM
  #176
kihei
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Raylan, by Elmore James: James is just about the surest bet in crime fiction. He is the master of low-life scum-of-the-earth bad guys and funny, laconic quick-on-the-draw good guys. Raylan is a federal marshall who has popped up before in Leonard's work, and this time he is chasing down some really dumb peckerwood hillbillies along with a trio of females who are anything but law abiding. His books rely heavily on dialogue and his ability to create vivid characters and plausible situations closely correlated to the intelligence (or lack thereof) of whatever character that he is dealing with at the moment. Here's a typical example of the sort of exchanges that occur with great frequency in his books:
Quote:
Another coal lover in his sport shirt and M-T company hat said to Raylan, "I'll meet you out here after, you want. Teach you respect for the company."
"You don't see my right away," Raylan said, "practice fallling down till I get here."
He's written about 40 books and while I wouldn't say this one is top-of-the-line stuff, it's still pretty damn good. He's a very fast read, and I confess that I'm thoroughly hooked on him. He may well be my favourite living US author.


Last edited by kihei: 04-05-2012 at 03:03 PM.
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04-08-2012, 11:25 AM
  #177
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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce: when I first read this decades ago, it was a real plod; I was just too young to get it. It is an amazing work, Joyce, through his alter ego Stephen Dedalus, wrestling with the issues that shaped him as a youth in Ireland: family, religion and politics. In most Western countries those are fairly separate entities, but in Ireland, everything comes back to religion sooner or later. There are monumentally brilliant set pieces in this book, a long, angry Christmas dinner in which different family members nearly go to war over the reputation of Parnell, a blessed historical figure to some, a villain to others, and, then, there is a mind blowing 14 page description of the agonies of Hell that has got to be among the most wildly imaginative pieces of writing in the history of the language. Stephen eventually comes out the other side of all this to study at Trinity College, concerned with aesthetics, art and missed romantic opportunities, and mortally certain that his future must eventually take him away from Ireland. The command of language throughout the novel, and the images and impressions and half-feelings that such command allows Joyce to express, is exceptionally impressive. There are novels I like more, but none that I think are superior to this one.

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Old
04-09-2012, 08:07 AM
  #178
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I won't pretend this is a light read, but Kimball's Us is heartbreakingly lovely. It's a story of death, loss, and loneliness - but the writing's a pleasure, and sometimes you just need to read something with weight.

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04-09-2012, 10:46 AM
  #179
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Deus Ex: Icarus Effect - 9/10

That's right, I'm a nerd and read a book about a video game. It was a really good story that was a nice prequel to the entire game series. The writing was really well and once the story started to really get going, I couldn't put the book down. There were some awesome twists towards the end that I never saw coming. It all played out really well and came together in the end. My only complaint is that (at least for me), the ending was kind of disappointing. Still a really good read though and if you like the video games, you should give this one a read.

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04-09-2012, 04:48 PM
  #180
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Doctor Faustus, written by Christopher Marlowe: Somehow, I haven't read this play before and have never seen it performed. Faustus is a Medieval scholar who thinks he has gone as far as he can in the acquisition of worldly knowledge and now calls upon the devil for assistance. In return for 24 years in which Lucifer agrees to satisfy Faustus wishes, Faustus sells his immortal soul. I never realized how much humour there was in the play, parts of which could be played for comedy. I thought the play itself was clunkier and more disjointed than the Shakespeare plays with which I am familiar. But it must make great theatre when performed by a company that could do it justice. It is a thematically rich work, and, in Mephistopheles, the devil most often appointed to see that Faustus wishes and whims are satisfied, Marlowe has created one of the most fascinating characters in literature: funny, honest, companionable, but capable of tearing Faustus limb from limb, too.


Last edited by kihei: 04-09-2012 at 06:01 PM.
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Old
04-13-2012, 03:08 PM
  #181
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Old Man's War by John Scalzi 4.5/5
As it says in the review snippet on the cover: "it reads like Heinlein" and perfect for fans of Starship Troopers and The Forever War. Great fun, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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04-14-2012, 12:35 PM
  #182
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Rooney's Gold, by John Sweeney, Premier League superstar Wayne Rooney spent a lot of money trying to get this book suppressed but to no avail. It is definitely a largely unflattering portrait of the Manchester United striker. Sweeney, a respected BBC investigative reporter, decries the cesspool that is English tabloid journalism, but uses some of its methods anyway. So we get a lot of personal stuff about a "Crocky" boy (Croxteth is an ultra-tough neighbourhood in Liverpool) under a constant microscope. Rooney can be hot-tempered on and off the pitch, had a taste in his mid teens for prostitutes, has an unsavory agent and dishonest lawyer, and is more than a little thick. How thick? When one of the prostitutes can't believe that she just had sex with Rooney and asks for his autograph, he politely complies, “To Charlotte, I shagged u on 28 Dec. Loads of Love. Wayne Rooney.” Like that wasn't going to make headlines someday. However, the material meant to suggest that he is somehow linked to Liverpool crime figures is thoroughly unconvincing. This is completely guilt-by-association stuff. On the whole, if it does anything concrete, this book gives evidence of the British tendency to eat its young if they are seen to somehow rise above their station. Rooney may be rough goods in some ways, but, with the complete absence of drugs, alcoholism, spousal abuse, and megalomania in his history, he falls far short of being anything close to a villain.


Last edited by kihei: 04-14-2012 at 01:14 PM.
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Old
04-14-2012, 02:22 PM
  #183
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Walking Dead: Book 3

can't wait to get the rest on Monday.

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04-14-2012, 02:40 PM
  #184
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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. 10/10. Perfect in every way. Grand and sweeping. Moving. Incredible.

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04-14-2012, 04:19 PM
  #185
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kihei View Post


Raylan, by Elmore James: James is just about the surest bet in crime fiction. He is the master of low-life scum-of-the-earth bad guys and funny, laconic quick-on-the-draw good guys. Raylan is a federal marshall who has popped up before in Leonard's work, and this time he is chasing down some really dumb peckerwood hillbillies along with a trio of females who are anything but law abiding. His books rely heavily on dialogue and his ability to create vivid characters and plausible situations closely correlated to the intelligence (or lack thereof) of whatever character that he is dealing with at the moment. Here's a typical example of the sort of exchanges that occur with great frequency in his books:

He's written about 40 books and while I wouldn't say this one is top-of-the-line stuff, it's still pretty damn good. He's a very fast read, and I confess that I'm thoroughly hooked on him. He may well be my favourite living US author.
He's had some outstanding work. I'd compare his prose technique to Lawrence Block, very quite, pointed narrative that doesn't bog down the novel as you see so often. Sharp, quirky dialogue that reads well and enables you to envision the speech.

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04-17-2012, 04:38 PM
  #186
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East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Absolutely beautiful, one of the best books I've ever read.

10/10

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04-17-2012, 04:44 PM
  #187
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East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Absolutely beautiful, one of the best books I've ever read.

10/10
Nice timing. I read it once like ten years ago, and I'm right back in the middle of it right now. I had forgotten a lot of the story. It really is great.

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04-18-2012, 06:56 AM
  #188
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Steinbeck was such a genius, man. I know different, but I really loved Of Mice And Men.

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04-18-2012, 04:22 PM
  #189
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The Stranger
, by Albert Camus: Mersault, an aimless kind of man, shoots an Arab on a beach because of the heat of the sun. From that point on, Camus delivers a spare, carefully crafted examination of a man who must reconcile himself to his destiny. One of the great existential works of the 20th century, it holds up far better than much of the literature from the same period. It is a short work that can be easily read in a single day, but, even in translation, I enjoyed taking my time and savouring the carefully constructed thoughts. A brilliant psychological and philosophical study that influenced legions of subsequent novelists.

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04-18-2012, 07:45 PM
  #190
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My preferred Copeland book. Never really liked Gen X.

I'm going through The Game and a biography of Conn Smythe. Good stuff.

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04-19-2012, 01:58 AM
  #191
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I Am Legend by Robert Matheson.

No, not the novelization of the piece of **** Will Smith movie, but book upon which it was based. Also inspired The Omega Man with Charelton Heston back in the day.

Why the hell couldn't they have made that into a movie? It'd have been a hell of a lot better than what they wound up with.

The book also came with a compendium of short stories at the end. Really like this author. Very dark. Don't let the crappy movie dissuade you from reading the book; the whole tenor of the narrative and ending is completely different.

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04-20-2012, 07:33 AM
  #192
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The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan 5/5
Violent, philosophical, erotic, chatty, aggressive, funny. The main character is a treat.

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04-20-2012, 02:43 PM
  #193
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Just finished up Bill O'Reilly's Killing Lincoln

Really great read...it reads like a fictional story picking up the plot in the last day's of the Civil War and all the way to the end of the chase that brought John Wilkes Booth to justice. Told through the eyes of both Booth and Lincoln, it really goes more in-depth than any other history book I've seen on the subject and reads like a mystery/crime thriller.

Recommended to all interested in that piece of American History. 9/10

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04-23-2012, 02:34 PM
  #194
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The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi 3.5/5
Not quite as immediately engrossing as the first but still a fun, straight-up sci-fi military adventure. Interesting enough universe that I'll continue with the series.

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04-23-2012, 06:10 PM
  #195
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The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood, written by Jane Leavy: There is an irony here. The first "real" book I remember reading as a kid was a biography of Mickey Mantle. Times change. That bio was basically a very sanitized version about a hero for the ages in pinstripes; this present bio is really more about how very far that hero fell from grace outside of the ballpark. It is well researched and convincing, and it is the best cautionary tale that I have read in a long time about the dangers of alcoholism. Mantle managed to regain some modest portion of his reputation near the very end of his life, but it doesn't even out the damage that he did to family, friends and strangers alike along the way. Still, he remains a person that it is hard to completely condemn. In 1995, late in life, Mantle and Willie Mays and Duke Snider, the other two demi-god centre fielders of their time, were (still) being feted for their Hall of Fame careers. Mantle, a fiercely competitive athlete, was asked to speak: "I am often asked who was the best of us." He pauses and looks at Snider...."We don't mind being second, do we, Duke?" Every now and then he had a moment of grace.

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04-23-2012, 10:33 PM
  #196
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B]A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man[/B], James Joyce
I've always loved this passage:

"The artist, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails."

By the way, have you read much about Joyce and Beckett? A truly fascinating friendship.

Samuel Beckett: "I realized that Joyce had gone as far as one could in the direction of knowing more, [being] in control of one’s material. He was always adding to it; you only have to look at his proofs to see that. I realized that my own way was in impoverishment, in lack of knowledge and in taking away, in subtracting rather than in adding."

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Originally Posted by Toblerone View Post
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
I would also suggest reading Gaskell's first novel Mary Barton. She gave voice to powerless 19th century Industrial Revolution workers. Also, her ability to create sympathetic characters/situations are remarkable. If you don't have have much time, just read Chapter 6.


Last edited by SB164: 04-23-2012 at 10:55 PM.
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04-24-2012, 12:06 PM
  #197
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The Wire Primers: A Guide to Modern Music, ed. Rob Young: 9.5/10
If you read The Wire you pretty much know what you're in for here - a collection of some of their most popular primers, along with a couple of new ones. Genres featured here include grime, post-90's noise, musique concrete, Tropicalia, turntablism and more. Artists include Sun Ra, John Cage, The Fall, Fela Kuti, James Brown, Captain Beefheart, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and more. Obviously your mileage from the book depends on how thoroughly you've already investigated the music detailed within, but even so there are surely more gems to check out that you weren't privy to. And for some of the genres you're new to, it's impossible not to come away with a list an arm's length of records to check out. A pretty invaluable resource, hopefully there's a volume two on the way.


The Gardener's Son, Cormac McCarthy: 6/10
An early work by McCarthy (his only screenplay, in fact), it's actually pretty thin all around - on style and on substance. I don't know if it was the limitations of the project (the screenplay was to be turned into a 2-hour PBS movie) but it's probably the weakest McCarthy work - not overly bad in any aspect, just uninteresting and dealing with themes he would touch on ten times better in later works.


The Stonemason, Cormac McCarthy: 7/10
A play by McCarthy, it features an African-American family as a relatively eclectic cast of characters, central to them Ben Telfair, a stonemason in a lineage of stonemasons. I liked it well enough, it was actually a pretty touching story, and thought-provoking too.


Absalom, Absalom!, William Faulkner: 8.5/10
Definitely the hardest book I've ever read, in terms of the prose - usually I adjust within the first few pages and get into a rhythm from there. I never adjusted to Faulkner's prose, and I constantly had to re-read sentences or pages altogether (especially since a sentence can take up an entire page). But his sentences are so brilliantly constructed it rarely felt like a chore. When I finished I still wasn't sure I had the entire Sutpen history straight in my head, so seeing there was a geneology and chronology at the very end was a major lifesaver. And I had got most of it correct anyway, so that was nice. I found the book always entertaining but it's certainly the wordiest thing I've ever come across, and it definitely tries your patience at times. Quite rewarding though. I'll re-read it at some point but not for a long time.

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04-30-2012, 12:33 PM
  #198
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Open by Andre Agassi 4/5
While you come to an understanding of it, it's still hard to believe Agassi could stay with tennis for as long as he does while professing to hate it as much as he does. Regardless, his story is fascinating.

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05-01-2012, 09:13 AM
  #199
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Just finished up Bill O'Reilly's Killing Lincoln

Really great read...it reads like a fictional story picking up the plot in the last day's of the Civil War and all the way to the end of the chase that brought John Wilkes Booth to justice. Told through the eyes of both Booth and Lincoln, it really goes more in-depth than any other history book I've seen on the subject and reads like a mystery/crime thriller.

Recommended to all interested in that piece of American History. 9/10

I've been reading Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and it's a surprisingly fun read. I recommend it as an alt history escape.

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05-03-2012, 12:36 AM
  #200
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Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham

One of the best books I have ever read. Its ridiculously long (something like 800 pages), but man is it worth it. Mildred has to be one of the coldest, emotionless characters I have ever come across. A really really good read.

Interested if anyone else has read it?

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