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This is the hardest f***in' book I have ever read. The man was a genius.
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Halcyon days are not a thing
Nostalgia is no excuse for stupidity
I don't believe in golden ages
Or presidents that put kids in cages
America awaits on bended knee
Bad Religion



"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."



Love that. so far I haven't gotten into any others of eco's novels besides Name of the Rose. I started reading Island of the Day Before twice and put it down after 50 pages, but still plan to get back to it someday.



Just finished The M.D. by Thomas M. Disch.

First and foremost I recommend the book on Disch's writing alone, which is witty and perceptive and pretty consistently avoids cliched descriptions or the homogeneous, baldly expository dialog that infects most genre literature. I especially recommend it to fans of horror, dark fantasy, apocalyptic sci fi, and allegorical satire. But while the book has pretty satisfying elements of all of those, while also leaving some provocative contradictions and ambiguities in, it remains more heavily committed to exposing the weaknesses and evils of humanity than wrapping everything up with a conventional tag and bow.

At the heart of the story is a Faustian bargain between a six year old, nominally-Catholic Midwestern boy and Hermes, the Greek god. For swearing allegiance to Hermes (who appears in several other guises as well, including Santa Claus, Samhain, and an interactive, computer-animated televangelist), Billy Michaels gets to use the god's magical caduceus, a staff with the power to heal in proportion to the amount of harm it does. I don't want to give to much away, but what starts with Billy's (accidentally) paralyzing his step-brother for life, and curing the neighborhood trees of Dutch Elms disease, eventually becomes an apocalyptic farce. There's an interesting allegory in there about the confusion between the rod of Asclepius -- an actual symbol of medicine and healing -- and the similar-looking caduceus of Hermes, god of thieves and commerce. Disch never states the difference or mentions the rod of Asclepius outright, but there's some relevant history behind this confusion, which provides one of the many bleak ironies of the book since it should be apparent that a) rather than a healing device, the caduceus is basically a mystical credit card where anything good has to be payed off with interest by doing evil, and b) the staff can be used very easily for personal gain. Being a Thomas Disch novel almost everybody is pretty unsympathetic, but Catholics and doomsday-prophesying evangelists come in for especial scorn in this one. Those two factors will probably turn off tons of people (Christian and nonCrhistian alike), but it's a very thoughtful and entertaining read.

I also finished Clive Barker's fantasy novel, Weaveworld. It's quite good, and I'll eventually read some more of his stuff, but nowhere near as creepy and original as The M.D.



I have several other books going right now that I'll write up as I finish them.



i'm SUPER GOOD at Jewel karaoke
Blind Woman, Sleeping Willow by Haruki Murakami


The Diaries of Adam and Eve
by Mark Twain


Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later
by Francine Pascal (don't hate)


The Phantom Tollbooth
by Norton Juster


The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins


Catching Fire (the second book of the Hunger Games)
by Suzanne Collins


Mockingjay (the final book of the Hunger Games)
by Suzanne Collins


1984 by George Orwell
reading now



Haunted Heart, Beautiful Dead Soul
I am so loving this book right now. I look forward to seeing the movie and seeing if it will stack up with the book. I am sure I will be let down.




I finished a couple books recently, and there are a others from several months ago that I forgot to post last time. I'm not all that up to saying that much about these right now, so as usual I'll add more thoughts as/if I feel the need.

Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon. Slightly more accessible novel than The Crying of Lot 49, about 1960's L.A., though still featuring Pynchon's familiar predilection for semi-obscure pop culture references and tongue-in-cheek conspiracy theories. Not a super-deep book or anything but it has a lot of humor.

Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata. Famous novel about a doomed romance, where the setting and nostalgic fondness for western Japan takes precedence over plot and character. I have to say it didn't do a whole lot for me, but it's a short, easy read.

The Obscene Bird of Night by Jose Donoso. Extremely perverse and involuted Latin American novel from Donoso, a Chilean author. There's a very good description of the nonsensical-plot of the book here. It's my favorite of the books in this set, though I actually finished it a while ago.

All She Was Worth by Miyuki Miyabe. Hard-boiled mystery about identity theft. Compelling mix of information-heavy polemic (about Japan's Credit system) and gossipy intrigue.

Out by Natsuo Kirino. Another decent hard-boiled novel by a Japanese woman. Much darker and more pessimistic than All She Was Worth. It's about a group of women who basically conspire to cover up up the murder of one of their husbands by his wife.

Several short stories by Banana Yoshimoto. Pretty good, I want to read more.

And a couple of months ago I dug up an old article from (the November 16, 1992 issue of) the New Yorker by Fredric Dannen: Revenge of the Green Dragons. It's a 50 page expose of a murderous youth gang that operated in Flushing, Queens (the lesser known, but possibly bigger Chinatown of New York). I'm still in the middle of Dannen's Hong Kong Babylon (a guide to Hong Kong cinema with a really great essay about the links between organized crime and the industry as its centerpiece) which is what turned me onto this. I just read that apparently Andrew Lau is directing a film adaptation of the 1992 New Yorker article, possibly to be produced by Martin Scorsese.

Next I'm probably going to finish several non-fiction books that I've been reading for a couple months.



Way behind. Not sure if this is everything, since I haven't updated my tab here in maybe 8-9 months. But so far this year:
  • The Old Man and the Sea
  • The Sandman (10 volumes)
  • Button, Button
  • An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge
  • Scorecasting
  • The Adjustment Team
I'm something like 10% of the way done with Dostoevsky's The Gambler, and about a third of the way done with Asimov's first Foundation novel. My break with the former is largely because I'm trying to find (unsuccessfully, so far) a list of characters. There was a similar list at the front of my copy of Crime and Punishment and I find it invaluable with these Russian novels, and kind of daunting without them.

The latter I'm enjoying very much. I read I, Robot last year and enjoyed it very, very much, so I've decided to delve into his stuff a bit more. I had assumed that most of the writing would be relatively inartful and that it was, like many classics, probably a bit more influential than good, if you get my meaning, but I find it extremely clever, fun, and puzzle-like. And pretty well-written, too. Foundation is less so on all three fronts so far, but I find the premise so inherently interesting that I don't much care.

I try to tabulate how many books I read these days, though I've no idea how to count The Sandman, which is comprised of 10 volumes, each containing something like 6-12 issues. Is that one book? Doesn't seem like it. But it hardly seems like 10, either.
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Asimov is pretty good. I read like 5 or 6 of the Foundation Novels. For that sort of epic, broadly historical/sociological sci-fi I would highly recommend Dune, though as a series I think it held up a little better. I, Robot is a short story collection? I think I liked that, the first Foundation novel, and the first Robot novel (forget the title - it's basically a police procedural) the best when I was reading a lot of canonical sci-fi. His autobiographical stuff is pretty enjoyable too, if you aren't turned off by the unrepentant narcissism; I found him to be a pretty charming writer.

For what it's worth I keep my book tabs separate from my comics tabs, partly because reading a comic just feels different enough to me, and partly because comics seem to be a lot more irregular in how they're published. I tend to count them by volume number instead of individual issue number (unless they were never collected into trade paperbacks). I think the Sandman volumes that I read covered fairly self-contained story-arcs too, so it would make sense to list them separately the way you might with the Harry Potters or comparable series of books.



Asimov is pretty good. I read like 5 or 6 of the Foundation Novels. For that sort of epic, broadly historical/sociological sci-fi I would highly recommend Dune, though as a series I think it held up a little better. I, Robot is a short story collection? I think I liked that, the first Foundation novel, and the first Robot novel (forget the title - it's basically a police procedural) the best when I was reading a lot of canonical sci-fi. His autobiographical stuff is pretty enjoyable too, if you aren't turned off by the unrepentant narcissism; I found him to be a pretty charming writer.
I think there are something like seven Foundation novels -- any reason you'd read most of them, but not all? Just haven't gotten around to it yet.

I'll consider Dune, though it sounds extremely dense, from what I hear. One thing I enjoy about Asimov's writing is that it's intelligent, but surprisingly readable.

And yeah, I, Robot is sort of a short story collection, but there are recurring characters and themes and something resembling a narrative. And I do detect some narcissism. I think the fact that he has his characters exclaim "Space!" instead of "God!" is tremendously silly, too.

For what it's worth I keep my book tabs separate from my comics tabs, partly because reading a comic just feels different enough to me, and partly because comics seem to be a lot more irregular in how they're published. I tend to count them by volume number instead of individual issue number (unless they were never collected into trade paperbacks). I think the Sandman volumes that I read covered fairly self-contained story-arcs too, so it would make sense to list them separately the way you might with the Harry Potters or comparable series of books.
Yeah, I suppose it depends on how and why I'm listing them. For describing them to others, it might make sense to keep them separate. Though in this case I'm thinking primarily about how best to measure my reading output compared to last year, for example, which makes it tricky.



I think there are something like seven Foundation novels -- any reason you'd read most of them, but not all? Just haven't gotten around to it yet.
Basically just a case of Sci-fi/space epic burnout. I was reading not just the Foundation and Dune books but also the entire 2001-3001 series by Arthur C. Clarke (I went through those in a matter of days), stuff by Heinlein, Poul Anderson, Ursula Leguin, and a bunch of others that I've forgotten, and at a certain point they all started to feel a little monotonous. I'd still stand by a few (other than Dune and Foundation I really liked The Left Hand of Darkness and the first couple 2001 books ('01 and 2010)) but overall I think I'm done with the genre. After a couple years hiatus I got back into some science fiction with Philip K. Dick and other of the more experimental authors, and I'm still exploring some of the non-space sub-genres.

I'll consider Dune, though it sounds extremely dense, from what I hear. One thing I enjoy about Asimov's writing is that it's intelligent, but surprisingly readable.
I don't remember the styles very well, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's less breezy than Asimov. Dune has a pretty long glossary for instance. I still found it pretty readable though. If you get into the story and the world-building aspect of it I don't think it would be too much of a chore.

Yeah, I suppose it depends on how and why I'm listing them. For describing them to others, it might make sense to keep them separate. Though in this case I'm thinking primarily about how best to measure my reading output compared to last year, for example, which makes it tricky.
Could always list them separately, and include an overall cumulative number. I guess it's somewhat tricky with comics in that there's a broad spectrum from wordiness to wordless. How are you liking Sandman, by the way?



Sit Ubu Sit.... Good Dog
I just recently got addicted to anything written by Robert A. Heinlein, just finished the Moon is a Harsh Mistress and currently reading Glory Road.



The Adventure Starts Here!
My daughter recommended Moon is a Harsh Mistress to me, which I bought but haven't started. Maybe I'll move it up my reading list with this reminder.... It's sitting right upstairs.



The Adventure Starts Here!
Just finished reading this a half-hour ago:


... and I just adored it. I'll be reading more McCullough very soon.

And I am now reading both this:



... and this:



... which looks REALLY interesting to me!



Well then. I was cruising through the first Foundation novel. Easy to read, interesting, and more. Then it started jumping around and it became much more cumbersome. It's already feeling a tiny bit like work. D'oh. I'm two-thirds of the way through, though, so I'll be done soon enough.



there's a frog in my snake oil
Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman

A collection of anecdotes from the eccentric New Yorker physicist, collated by his bongo drumming buddy. Lots of historical colour comes through thanks to the seminal times he lived through (& affected), from his radio-fixing whizz-kiddery during the Depression (his love of those melty diodes and home-made current-detectors shines through) to his flash decision to view the first nuke test through the 'depolarising' windscreen of a truck rather than the blackout goggles, and his fascination with the sand being fused into green-glass.

He's not actually that likeable a guy at times, and like many a sci-brain, seems to live somewhere in a slightly aspergers realm, with people he meets forming experiments in his daily life. (Altho to be fair, some of the love letters to his young ailing wife I've read elsewhere do show a far more 'human' side to him). That said, his obsessions are so wide ranging he's still very easy to admire, even marvel at. From cracking safes at Los Alamo, to 'air lifting' ants onto new routes that bypass his fridge, to playing live percussion for experimental ballet and forcing himself to learn to draw (& selling his stuff anonymously), he's a voracious, life-embracing character in many ways.

+(+)
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Chicks dig Lord of the Rings, Randal
Well then. I was cruising through the first Foundation novel. Easy to read, interesting, and more. Then it started jumping around and it became much more cumbersome. It's already feeling a tiny bit like work. D'oh. I'm two-thirds of the way through, though, so I'll be done soon enough.
I looked for this at my local library last week to no avail, let me know how it is. It's a series I've been meaning to read for a long time.
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"I know, honey. Look at the map. We go your way, that's about four inches. We go my way, it's an inch and a half. You wanna pay for the extra gas?"



Will do. I was so tickled by the concept (and how much I enjoyed I, Robot) that I couldn't help myself. The first 15% or so was as good as I'd hoped, but it feels stranger and less interesting as it moves further along in time. I think I see what it's going for, but the execution of it leaves something to be desired. I feel like we either need sigificantly more time spent in each period, or less.