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The Critique Crypt => General writing chat => Topic started by: Ed on February 21, 2007, 04:59:48 PM



Title: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on February 21, 2007, 04:59:48 PM
I did my usual thing while at the airport - I went into WHSmith and bought about a dozen books to 'read on holiday' (which would equate to more than one a day) :grin:

Anyhoo, one of the books I bought was The Liar, by Stephen Fry.  I bought it without knowing anything about it, and I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't have read it if I'd known what it was about.  Thing is, I'm really enjoying it - more than anything else I've read for a while now.  I'll post an excerpt below that really struck a chord with me, because it's something I've felt myself, since living in the countryside again, getting involved with country pursuits, village fetes, etc.  I've found myself standing back at times and just soaking up the atmosphere, allowing myself to sink into this kind of dreamlike utopia, knowing deep down that it's fake and fragile, ethereal, harking back in time to a place that was never really there.  I thought this excerpt put it very well:

(excerpt from The Liar, by Stephen Fry)

The ground was in a kind of valley, with the looming Gothic of Narborough Hall on one rise and the church and village of Narborough on another. The pavilion was whitewashed and thatched, the weather perfect with only the faintest of breezes luffing the fielders' shirtsleeves. The grim seriousness of the children preparing to play, the detached amusement of Hugo at square leg, the church clock chiming mid-day, the round circles of fine gang-mown cuttings in the outfield, the sun winking off the roller by the sight-screen, the distant clatter of spiked shoes on the pavilion concrete, the open blue of the wide Norfolk sky, the six pebbles in the hand of Adrian's outstretched arm, this whole monstrous illusion froze, while to Adrian the world seemed to hold its breath as if uncertain that such a picture could last. This fantasy of England that old men took with them to their death-beds, this England without factories and sewers or council houses, this England of leather and wood and flannel, this England circumscribed by a white boundary and laws that said that each team shall field eleven men and each man shall bat, this England of shooting-sticks, weather-vanes and rectory teas, it was like Cartwright's beauty, he thought, a momentary vision glimpsed for a second in an adolescent dream, then dispersed like steam into the real atmosphere of traffic-jams, serial murderers, prime ministers and Soho rent. But its spectral haze was sharper and clearer than the glare of the everyday and, against all evidence, was taken to be the only reality, its vapour trapped and distilled in the mind, its image, scents and textures bottled and laid down against the long, lonely melancholy of adulthood.
Adrian brought down his arm.
'Play!'
Rudder bowled a ball of full length and the batsman swept his bat elegantly forward in defence. But the ball had already gone 'through him and Rice the wicket-keeper was leaping in glee. The batsman looked round in disbelief to see his off-stump lying on the ground. He returned' to the pavilion shaking his head, as if Rudder had been guilty of some appalling social blunder. There was a liquid spatter of applause from the boundary. The school were in lessons and wouldn't be watching until after lunch.

***

Anyway... what are you reading at the moment? (apart from this) :smiley:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: neilmarr on February 22, 2007, 02:39:49 AM
*The Liar* is a superb piece of work, Ed.

I read Dan Brown's *Angels and Demons* at the weekend. Not everyone's into Brown's formula-fiction thrillers and many felt let down after all the brouhaha to find that *Da Vinci Code* is little more than competent (I liked it, but wouldn't recommend it to my book circle). *Angels and Demons* on the other hand, is a superbly handled job of work.

It came before *Da Vinci Code*, of course, but the basic formula's in place: hunky Harvard professor teams up with beautiful daughter of murdered scholar to uncover a secret society's plot to rock Christianity to its foundations. Lots of obscure symbols and signs dropped as clues. What's different is that in this first of his planned series, Brown spins a red hot action tale that drives the reader at breakneck speed through its six hundred pages ... so quickly that the nitpickers won't have time to poke holes in his (perfectly adequate) backdrop research.

As far as I'm concerned, a ripping yarn makes up for a multitude of perceived research and linguistic sins. Brown's a sound operator in my book and there's not many a thriller writer whose work hurtles along at such a pace.

Never quite understood why commercially successful novelists, from PJ Wodehouse and Agatha Christie to Stephen King and JK Rowling, come in for such a rollocking -- not only from pro critics, but a *reading public* ... that mostly doesn't read at all.

Hoots. Neil


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on February 22, 2007, 03:25:32 AM
Yep, I agree that a strong story makes up for a multitude of sins - I like a lot of pace in my fiction, and I found the subject matter of DVC fascinating, because I hadn't heard of most of it before. It makes me laugh that all the literary types pour scorn on authors like King and Brown, who sell millions of books to a mass market, while the heavy lit books sit mouldering on the shelves (if they're lucky) :afro:

I think there appears to be more of a rollocking from the public than there is/should be, because a lot of people don't seem to be able to form an opinion of their own, so they side with the loudest voice. Many of the people I've seen giving Dan Brown a hard time had never actually read any of his work. That's not only unfair to the author, but frankly stupid on the part of the individual.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: neilmarr on February 23, 2007, 02:43:25 AM
Right with you, Ed. This kind of snobbery's particularly apparent when folks turn their noses up at Stephen King. Ask the same folks what they think about his dialogue and sense of scene and they wouldn't have a clue. For my money, he's up there with Dickens and Twain in terms of natural and convincing dialogue and tuning into the times and attitudes of his characters. 'Course, he sells far too many copies to be any use. Unless you land a Booker and go out of print within six months, you're not to be taken seriously in this game. At least not in your own lifetime. With very few *literary* exceptions, only dead authors can be both successful and valuable. Neil


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Geoff_N on February 23, 2007, 04:21:28 AM
While on my rainy holiday break I took some books to read that were on the top of my list for different reasons. In brief:

The Snow by Adam Roberts. sci fi - the premise intrigued me: snow wouldn't stop falling forcing people to abandon their jobs and normal life. Eventually society and industry breaks down and it becomes a kinda survival of the smartest story. I enjoyed the first 50 pages or so but then it fell apart as if Roberts didn't have a credible reason for the snow or the reactions of the military and governments. I couldn't finish it.

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett. (seen the film but never read the 1929 book) A Sam Spade detective - advised as essential reading by a member of the Orbiters SF critique group. He said it was the best show not tell book he'd read and where no adverb was unnecessary etc. I can't agree - loads of tell, and many pleonasms - but it might well have been the most show noir story of its generation.

A Piano in the Pyranees by Tony Hawks. My son wanted me to read this cos he likes the humour and self deprecating manner of Tony Hawks. I liked his Round Ireland with a fridge and often burst out laughing reading that. But I could hardly raise a titter with this one. I've read better blogs, which this reads rather like. The funniest para is one in which he describes a form from the local French Mayor which is an application for permission not to need permission to build a swimming pool - <smirk> I like Hawks as a racantoer and personality but if this was his first book I doubt it would have got anywhere.

Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds is a sci fi that disappointed me. I liked the premise - a moon of Saturn starts moving out of the ecliptic on its own volition. It's chased by a comet mining ship to find what they can about it. But it is so pedestrian - I am shocked cos Reynolds is well known. But the writing is lack-lustre - I found no phrase I wish I'd written, which is something I always look for. I found the crew behaved like a badly behaved bunch of egotistical spoilt kids - the leadership swapping so unbelievable. I suppose the fact that it was published at all should give the rest of us hope that we will be too one day!

Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee is a Nobel prize for literature and Booker winner - I like to get one of these literary books read now and then. I see why it won - excellently written and yet unforced, in spite of odd words like uxorious. He seems to have a literary formula for many sentences. eg
Soon, daintily, maliciously, he will be shuddered over.
He lives within his income, within his temperament, within his emotional means.
...he steels himself for angry words, a scene.

See how he uses commas to kinda list ideas within the sentence. Only read a third of that so far - I take longer to read literary novels. Sometimes I don’t pass that third of the way in – eg Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity Rainbow (but I am enjoying it in a masochistic kinda way  - hah).

I agree that Dan Brown is a masterful story teller and can teach us a thing or two about pace, and how to get away with both show and tell in the same sentences. But I have to say that my notebook, in which I write those phrases I wish I’d written, remained empty after DVC. Maybe I should give Angels & Demons a try.

It’s more difficult for me to enjoy reading these days as a wannabe writer, compared to my teen years. I grab those top-sellers and read in the hope of finding their secret formulae. But it doesn’t work like that, does it? I go on courses where I’m told to have nothing but conflict and active voice in the first 5 pages, paragraphs, sentence, and yet what do I see in the top sellers? Languorous passive voice, clichés and multiple adverbs. OK, not in all of them – Waugh and Amis knock out textbook phrasing. In my own sci fi genre, most of the contemporary writers like in Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon, and anything by Jon C Grimwood are tightly crafted.

The last book I read that came over as pure pleasure was Howard Waldman’s Back There. Not only evocative of France, but of observational skills, self-deprecating humour, the joy of the reading.

Geoff


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Dan on February 23, 2007, 05:03:02 AM
Am sadly on a novel hiatus as i don't want any other writer's 'voice' to affect what i'm doing. Finding it surprisingly hard work - i never knew i was such a book-addict!

Between churning out words i'm enjoying Dorothea Brande's book about writing, and am also reading and analysing some George Bernard Shaw plays - if you want to know about rising conflict, he's your man  :afro:

Re Dan Brown - started Da Vinci Code on holiday last year (thought it was a 'holiday' book) - put it down after 100 pages. Not for me. Enjoyed the 'factual' side of it, but thought the characters were just too caricature.

Geoff - that's a whole list of books not to enjoy! Have you read any Jasper Fforde? His Thursday Next series (kind of comedy/literary/sci-fi mix) is excellent and you'd probably get a real kick out of them.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Geoff_N on February 23, 2007, 05:19:24 AM
Geoff - that's a whole list of books not to enjoy! Have you read any Jasper Fforde? His Thursday Next series (kind of comedy/literary/sci-fi mix) is excellent and you'd probably get a real kick out of them.
I'll put Fforde on my list, but I'm a bit like you in that I hesitate to read my own genre. When I was writing my humour thriller, Escaping Reality, an editor told me I wrote like Michael Dibdin, so I stopped reading more of his! I then realised they might have been commenting in the way that you tell someone that as a cook they are a good writer, and as a writer they are a good cook! But at last year's Writers' Con in Winchester we were told by agents, publishers and established authors to read the top sellers in our genre - and make sure they are the contemporary rather than the classics.

Dan, you say Fforde is a mix of comedy, literary and sci fi. That's tricky to pull off, so I will read some. Some editors say I had too much comedy in my Left Luggage leading to some characters lacking the credibility they needed. I accept that criticism because the original premise is serious enough to warrant a more credible feel to the story. I cannot help but have humour - maybe I should return to writing sit com scripts as I did a few years ago - but I've cut the comedy to just one character. I think it's more believable to have one joker out of 5 crew on a Nasa shuttle rather than 4!

Cheers

Geoff


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: neilmarr on February 23, 2007, 11:42:47 AM
Interesting, Geoff that you should mention *Snow* and that you didn't get along with because it lacked a reasonable explanation for the main plot element -- and then *Maltese Falcon* in the next paragraph.

The Maltese Falcon statue itself is a perfect example of the 'McGuffin' ... the unexplained wotnot everything hangs on but which could just as effectively be a magic sword or a frozen mince pie. More recently, we've had the ark in Raiders of the same and the brilliant use of the mysterious suitcase in *Rodin*. I love this last. About the last line of dialogue is one character asking another *what was in that case anyway?* and getting no answer.

McGuffins are finest kind. They're there as symbolic goals like the worthless laurel leaves in a Roman chariot race and are innumerable examples. The Pink Panther Diamond in *Pink Panther*, the rings in the *Lord of the Rings*, etc. etc. etc ...

All three of these were cracking yarns. Wonder if snow was a McGuffin in *Snow* (which I admit to not having read) and that it should simply be accepted as a device to motivate its characters -- a little like the world's impending demise in Sam Smith's outstanding *The End of Science Fiction*. (If you've not read that one, Geoff, just holler and I'll send you the ebook version. I think you'd appreciate it).

I'm stuck for this weekend's bedtimes with a book my wife just brought back from Italy; Neil Gaiman's *Anansi Boys*. Anyone read this one yet and have any views?

Hoots. Neil

PS: She also brought back Dan Brown's *Deception Point* because she knows I'm intrigued by the sheer simplicity of his formula and want to pare it right down to the bone. But Dan Brown's become an intriguing working assignment now and not for bedtimes any more. N


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Missy on February 23, 2007, 12:03:05 PM
I
Anyway... what are you reading at the moment? (apart from this) :smiley:

Re-reading Mothers and Daughters by Evan Hunter, a book I read about 30 years ago and had to track down on Amazon.
The Boy in the Light Blue Striped Pyjamas. (or whatever it's called) Don't like it.
All The Lights In The House Burning'- Andrea Levy- Not bad.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Dan on February 23, 2007, 01:42:58 PM
Anansi Boys is an excellent read. Won the BFS award for best novel and deservedly so.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Walker on February 23, 2007, 06:47:43 PM
I'm alternating between 2 books right now.

The Sirius Mystery by Robert Temple
                       and
Fingerprints of the Gods by Graham Hancock.

Both pretty intense reading, best digested chapter at a time.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on February 23, 2007, 07:59:23 PM
"McGuffins" - interesting concept.  That's life in a nutshell, right there, isn't it? :grin:


It’s more difficult for me to enjoy reading these days as a wannabe writer, compared to my teen years. I grab those top-sellers and read in the hope of finding their secret formulae. But it doesn’t work like that, does it? I go on courses where I’m told to have nothing but conflict and active voice in the first 5 pages, paragraphs, sentence, and yet what do I see in the top sellers? Languorous passive voice, clichés and multiple adverbs.

I think it must be to do with that vorsprung durch thing. Same with an omlette. In its simplest form it's just eggs, a dash of milk, a little butter and salt, but there are still good ones and bad ones, so I assume the only difference lies in the skill with which the ingredients are put together. But then there's the issue of how you like your omlette, too.  :scratch:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on February 25, 2007, 04:56:04 PM
Finished The Liar tonight - not sure what to read next.  I've got The Cell by King, as well as Lisey's Story, both waiting for me.  In addition I've got Barcelona Plates, by Alexi Sayle, and James Herbert's The Secret of Crickley Hall.  Choices, choices :scratch:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on February 27, 2007, 04:57:00 PM
Well, I started into Barcelona Plates. Yeesh - I don't see what all the fuss is about. :scratch:  I'm quite prepared to accept the fault may lie with my brain not being up to the task of decoding some kind of clever hidden meaning, but the title story left me bemused by its crapness - it just seemed like a very long build-up to an irrelevant punchline, to me.

Anybody else read it? If so, what did you think of it?


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Dan on February 28, 2007, 03:29:08 AM
I read it years ago before i knew my theme from my arsehole. I liked the first story (BP), but it's a testament to the rest of them that i don't remember any others! (Though i do remember being disappointed by them in general)


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on February 28, 2007, 03:49:00 AM
Yeah - I started out by liking the BP story - particularly liked the sicko girfriend finding the holidaymakers' deaths funny. The theme revolves around 'people don't give a toss about anything when they're on holiday', or maybe 'anonymity leads to people doing things they otherwise wouldn't', but I really didn't find the end of the story satisfying - thought it was a cheap shock, too.  As for the bit about the hotel made up of ten houses, I don't see the relevance of that at all.  Maybe I should read it again, but I found it quite a pointless story, especially as it had been hyped as something wonderful. :/


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on February 28, 2007, 01:27:26 PM
Re-read Barcelona Plates today, and I liked it better the second time around.  Also read the last story in the book, called The Last Woman to Die in the War - absolute classic, that one.  Laughed out loud at the end :grin:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: deathsparamour on March 05, 2007, 03:23:27 PM
It’s more difficult for me to enjoy reading these days as a wannabe writer, compared to my teen years. I grab those top-sellers and read in the hope of finding their secret formulae. But it doesn’t work like that, does it? I go on courses where I’m told to have nothing but conflict and active voice in the first 5 pages, paragraphs, sentence, and yet what do I see in the top sellers? Languorous passive voice, clichés and multiple adverbs.

This is sadly true. While working in the bookstore, I was one of the few diligent employees who would take time to read those books that came "highly recommended" by publishers in order to understand what I was attempting to sell. I was always disappointed. Books by authors like Dan Brown and Laurell K. Hamilton fly off shelves, but I never understand what the public sees in such works. Mr. Brown, at least, has some history behind his Best Sellers. Ms. Hamilton has nothing but smut and misinterpreted mythology to hers. Perhaps I am simply disappointed by modern horror...


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on March 05, 2007, 03:51:05 PM
I seriously wonder what goes through the minds of those in charge of some of the big publishing houses - I'm not sure whether they're doing their market research wrong, or whether they just don't do any, but there seems to be a serious lack of good books. Let's face it, whatever book they choose to put on a flashy stand with a great cover will sell to some extent, but I get the impression they're less concerned with building 'brand confidence' than the smaller independent publishers, who live and die by their reputations.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: deathsparamour on March 05, 2007, 04:03:49 PM
A good friend of mine was once an assistant editor over at Hyperion. While the pay was worthwhile and the hours reasonable, she quit a few months in because of the material she was told to read through. She found it all dull and unoriginal, as well as poorly written and researched.

Unfortunately, I also know many people that happen to enjoy the cookie-cutter novels. Anything too 'new' seems challenging and unwelcome. Perhaps there's something appealing to a select audience when they can predict the outcome without even reading halfway through a book?


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on March 05, 2007, 04:13:25 PM
Yep - a lot of people seem to find the cookie cutter novels comforting. They know what's going to happen next and their enjoyment comes from seeing it all fold out as expected. Go figure :scratch:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: neilmarr on March 06, 2007, 03:09:45 AM
'Fraid I don't share your enthusiasm for *Anansi Boys*, Dan. The piece, I felt, was so turgid that reading became a chore. I think I might have gone for it forty years ago. Or, maybe, I just wasn't in the mood for that kind of book last week: sometimes a novel can create a feeling, other times it can enhance one, often it lacks the power to be acceptable unless it co-incidentally fits the prevailing mood of the reader.

Glad you enjoyed it, though. It would be a sad old world if we all liked and disliked the same things.

On the other hand, I was impressed by my working read of Dan Brown's *Deception Point*. He seems to be economic with research, but he puts his findings to the very best use. In fact, I get the impression that accidental discovery of odd facts (or rumours) might be the triggter to his work rather than backup to a story. Say what you like about his prose (I have no problem with it), but Brown can certainly motor a piece.

My bedtime reading right now is Ian McEwan's *Amsterdam*. It's none too generous in page count at just 178, so it won't last until the end of the week, but it's a superb read so far. McEwan's characters and dialogue can't be faulted.

Cheers. Neil


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Andrew D. Perez on October 17, 2007, 12:12:50 AM
Finished reading George Orwell's Nineteen-eighty-four. Great book but the ending pissed me off a bit.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on October 17, 2007, 04:20:20 AM
Finished reading George Orwell's Nineteen-eighty-four. Great book but the ending pissed me off a bit.

That's one of the books I've decided that I should read sometime. What pissed you off? Was it the fate of the characters, or did it seem to just fizzle out? I want to read all the classics, and had been working my way steadily through them, but I decided to take a break after Catcher In The Rye, because it frankly pissed me off and I wanted to get back to reading something more engaging. The whole damn book is about a spoilt rich kid making his own way home after getting expelled from his third or fourth school. Talk about dull. ::)

The last book I read was The Taking by Dean Koontz, which I thought was good and would happily recommend. :smiley:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Walker on October 17, 2007, 07:40:15 AM
At the moment I'm wading through Fingerprints of the Gods by Graham Hancock. It's a pretty big book, non-fiction and absolutely fascinating. It deals with the case for advanced civilizations on the earth far previous to what the mainstream tells us. Not everyones cup of tea, but certainly mine. Love it, so far.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on October 17, 2007, 03:11:38 PM
Sounds good, Walker - I think I'd find it fascinating, too. I've heard of a theory before that links all the pyramid builders together as one advanced race spread across the continents, and the theory also said that the legendary continent of Atlantis is actually Antarctica. Apparently there are ancient maps that show it as it used to be before a huge meteorite hit the Earth and spun the surface crust of the planet around the core, thus placing Atlantis at the South Pole instead of where it used to be. Dunno how feasible that is, but it sounds good to me. :scratch:

I'm currently reading The Time Traveler's Wife. Didn't really think it'd be my kind of thing, because my wife read it and thought it was good and we don't generally share the same taste in literature. She ended up reading it twice and now says it's her favourite book of all time - and she has read more books than you can shake a stick at, so I thought I'd give it a bash. So far I'm really enjoying it. There's a gentleness to the narrative that I like, plus the situation is intriguing, dangerous and funny. I think I'm going to like it a lot, too :afro:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Andrew D. Perez on October 17, 2007, 05:10:23 PM
The fate of the characters and the way they do thier confusion tortours.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: PaulH on October 17, 2007, 07:04:22 PM
Dan Brown -oh dear. Sorry, not a good word to say. Didn't particularly enjoy Da Vinci Code for a multitude of reasons, not least the fact that I'd read a book called the Holy Blood and the Holy Grail about ten years before. That was the one Dan Brown ended up in court about and got off, despite me recognising huge swathes of the plot. I think Holy Blood and Holy Grail was partly responsible for me not enjoying DVC as there were very few surprises in it for me. So I tried Angels and Demons. And wish I hadn't. Thought the major mistake in that was the ending when you discover that the bad guy is the son of a certain person (sorry, trying not to spoil for anyone who hasn't read it). It just made the entire book ludicrous to me.

I quite like Laurell K Hamilton. Wait, let me think... I LOVE LKH's early Anita Blake books. The last half dozen have been tantamount to porn and not what I bought them to read for. Utterly boring sadly and an author who I'm beginning to think I'll not be bothering with much more.

Currently reading From Asgard to Valhalla. It's a non-fic about Norse myth and the way it has been translated, redefined and used by various people down the years. It covers everything from academic rewrites, to Wagner's Ring Cycle, the Nazis and Marvel Comics Mighty Thor. Fairly comprehensive and surprisingly entertaining so far.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Andrew D. Perez on October 17, 2007, 08:36:12 PM
Anyone ever read Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane? Great mystery book and you'll never see the end coming.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: PaulH on October 17, 2007, 09:37:12 PM
you'll never see the end coming.

It's not about a blind hooker is it?

... anyone know someone from the CIA? I could do with getting my brain washed...


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Andrew D. Perez on October 17, 2007, 10:18:51 PM
Nope no hooker.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on October 18, 2007, 03:20:12 AM
Paul - somebody else told me that The Da Vinci Code was Dan Brown's third or fourth novel on the same subject and said much the same as you. I liked the subject matter of the story and the plot line made the book a compelling read - a page turner - but I thought the writing itself was dumbed down too much and, as Dan says earlier in the thread, the characters were too cliched for my liking.

BTW, earlier in the thread I mentioned The Secret of Crickley Hall, by James Herbert. I read it and thought it was awful. It annoyed me so much that I wrote a review of it and posted it on Amazon, where I found I was not alone in loathing it. :grin:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: delboy on October 18, 2007, 03:59:30 AM
Currently reading Pompeii by Robert Harris. I had high hopes for this, as I absolutely loved Enigma, but so far it hasn't captured my imagination. Maybe it's the subject matter rather than the writing. So far there's little sign of there being a good car chase in the book.

I gave up reading James Herbert about twenty years ago when I realised that his endings always disappointed. I read The Dark or Lair or whatever, thoroughly enjoyed the build up, and wondered how the hell he was going to bring it all to an appropriate conclusion and every time it seemed (to me) to be dealt with by some kind of silly afterthought (play a high pitched sound and lure all the rat sto their death; turn a light on to get rid of the dark, etc).

Dan Brown's book was, IMHO, awful. Just like many of James Patterson's. And Jeffrey Deaver's. And the thing with all of them is that you just can't put them down! There's a lesson there that I really wish I could learn. I read all these "awful" books in about a tenth of the time it takes me to read the good ones. Maybe it's time to recalibrate my judgement monitor.

Jealous DEl


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: PaulH on October 18, 2007, 06:35:48 AM
I too was a big James Herbert fan in my younger days. Hadn't read one of his for ages though, so I picked up Secret of Crickley Hall too. And I totally agree. It was cack. Felt very sad to discover that.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Sallyq on October 18, 2007, 06:38:37 AM
I've just received the Best American Short Stories, edited by Stephen King. I haven't read any of them yet, but will get back to you. I'm hoping that with King at the helm, they're going to be cracking stories.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: delboy on October 18, 2007, 11:04:58 AM
I still recall reading King's Nightshift collection way back in the... must have been early eighties. It was the first thing of his I read and it had a massive impact and influence on me. In many ways I prefer his short stuff and non-fiction  to the novels (especially the later novels). I'd include the Novellas in the good stuff, too. I think The Mist and The Body are right up there.

Been interesting to see what type of story he's picked for the collection.

Del


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Sallyq on October 18, 2007, 12:46:30 PM
I only really discovered King a couple of years ago, after reading On Writing. Since then I've been an avid fun. Funnily enough I do like his later novels, whereas his earlier novels, whilst good ideas, don't grab me as much. I've got Night Shift and have been working my way through it gradually. I've also got a couple of other of his short story collections. He tells a good tale!


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: delph_ambi on October 18, 2007, 01:27:18 PM
I enjoyed The Da Vinci Code. I hate to think what that says about me, but I thought it was great fun, and highly readable.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on October 18, 2007, 02:38:24 PM
I gave up reading James Herbert about twenty years ago when I realised that his endings always disappointed. I read The Dark or Lair or whatever, thoroughly enjoyed the build up, and wondered how the hell he was going to bring it all to an appropriate conclusion and every time it seemed (to me) to be dealt with by some kind of silly afterthought (play a high pitched sound and lure all the rat sto their death; turn a light on to get rid of the dark, etc).

The big problem with Crickley Hall was he took way too long on the build up and the events unfolded predictably at every step. It's a weighty tome, as well - five or six hundred pages. Come the end, when things should be hotting up and reaching a conclusion, he plants the mother of all back story info dumps bang smack in the middle of what should be an exciting climax. This kills the pace completely, and it's done in such an awkward way that the fictive bubble bursts and you become very author aware. At least I did, anyway. *SPOILER COMING UP* There's a big revelation that this friendly ghost hunter/expert in the paranormal that turns up is actually a baddie and is one of the early characters who has grown up and come back, when everybody thought he was dead. Thing is, it was so damn obvious that when it was finally comes out you just feel like saying, "Well, duh!" :idiot: If old Herb had been sat next to me at the time, I think I would have slapped him upside the head with that stupid book of his :bangh:

Quote
Dan Brown's book was, IMHO, awful. Just like many of James Patterson's. And Jeffrey Deaver's. And the thing with all of them is that you just can't put them down! There's a lesson there that I really wish I could learn. I read all these "awful" books in about a tenth of the time it takes me to read the good ones. Maybe it's time to recalibrate my judgement monitor.

Jealous DEl

Yep - you've got to hand it to him - he knows how to set a hook and keep it set :afro:


I enjoyed The Da Vinci Code. I hate to think what that says about me, but I thought it was great fun, and highly readable.

You and umpteen million other people, Delph. I certainly wouldn't worry :smiley:
I've just received the Best American Short Stories, edited by Stephen King. I haven't read any of them yet, but will get back to you. I'm hoping that with King at the helm, they're going to be cracking stories.

I've heard mixed reviews, but a poor reception is to be expected from the lit snobs, isn't it? I get the feeling the stories he chooses will be ones I will like, and probably the type of story I aspire to write. I'm going to order a copy for myself. :afro:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Sallyq on October 18, 2007, 03:51:39 PM
I just started reading the first story and got stuck on a 70 word sentence! It does get better after that, but hubby wants to chat (men, huh?  ::)) so I'll have to wait till I'm tucked up in bed with my horlicks before finishing it.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on October 18, 2007, 04:28:26 PM
That doesn't sound right at all :grin: I don't get a second's peace until everybody's asleep. Seems like I'm the only person in this house with nothing much to say for themself :scratch: Even the dog talks back and manages to get the last word when I tell him to shaddup ::)


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Andrew D. Perez on October 19, 2007, 12:38:44 AM
Anyone here read any of Kurt Vonnegut's books? Any pointers on which are best?


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: SamLeeFreak on October 19, 2007, 01:53:43 AM
Lately I've been reading my own short stories. Over and over over until I want to curl up behind the couch and never come out.  :hidin:

On the plus side, I am almost done editing them all and by Saturday (ideally) they will have all been sent out. Then I can start collecting rejection slips.  :cheers:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on October 19, 2007, 03:45:51 AM

On the plus side, I am almost done editing them all and by Saturday (ideally) they will have all been sent out. Then I can start collecting rejection slips.  :cheers:

 :grin: That's a good attitude to take. Can't remember who it was, but I remember somebody saying they wallpapered their writing room with rejection slips. Thinking about it, that would be enough to make one of those motivational gurus top himself, wouldn't it? The exact opposite of 'surrounding yourself with success' :grin:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: neilmarr on October 19, 2007, 04:07:11 AM
I liked Da Vinci Code, too, Cath. In fact, I was intrigued as to how he put the novel together, so I read all the earlier Dan Brown books back to back. There's a definite formula to his structure and, I think, it works well (though the formula is so obvious, he's going to have to make a change soon or bore readers to death). His writing style is laboured at times, but he can certainly spin a yarn. Neil


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: SamLeeFreak on October 19, 2007, 04:15:05 PM

On the plus side, I am almost done editing them all and by Saturday (ideally) they will have all been sent out. Then I can start collecting rejection slips.  :cheers:

 :grin: That's a good attitude to take. Can't remember who it was, but I remember somebody saying they wallpapered their writing room with rejection slips. Thinking about it, that would be enough to make one of those motivational gurus top himself, wouldn't it? The exact opposite of 'surrounding yourself with success' :grin:

As long as I still have ideas to write about, I'm happy!  :dance:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Geoff_N on October 19, 2007, 05:53:47 PM
Everybody says they can paper their walls with rejection slips. These days the rejections are more likely to be electronic so unless you print them out, your walls are safer. Robert Blevins and I have had to send many rejections to hopeful authors after their submissions to our Escape Velocity sci fi magazine. This is mainly because they didn't read the submission guidelines. You'd be amazed how many submit pieces 2000 words too long; romance lit stories when we ask for hard sci fi; work that is published elsewhere without copyright transferral; prologues or first chapters of a novel where it couldn't be a stand-alone story; and the odd (very) sexist, rascist, illegal content that wasn't justified by the context ;) And those are subs that were legible and written mainly with correct punctuation, grammar and only a few pleonasms. Nevertheless, it is a privilege to read them and if you want to make me happy submit a sci fi story for issue #2 with <5000 words (better still around 2,500).

I'm about to read Geoff Ryman's Air, and thanks to Neil, I'm looking for 'God: The Failed Hypothesis' by Victor Stenger.

Geoff


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: SharonBell on October 19, 2007, 10:38:42 PM
I have several books in play--I keep one in the car, one in my briefcase & one in the loo.

So, the most pressing one at the mo' is the one my dog ate. No, not a typo. The beast was very quiet...and I looked around after working for hours on a report...and he ate my BOOK!

As my students would say: the dog ate my homework!


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Sallyq on October 20, 2007, 03:08:24 AM
Ooh, Geoff, I wrote a piece on my Ask Sally feature on my blog yesterday about submitting to anthologies, and touched on people not adhering to guidelines. I wonder if I could copy and paste what you've just said (properly attributed of course with a link to your site and adventurebooks) and add it to the answer. You've explained everything I wanted to say about why stuff gets turned down.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on October 20, 2007, 04:26:56 AM
My dog has a brain fart every so often and shreds a bunch of books. I found a couple of Dean Koontz novels and To Kill A Mockingbird at the top of the garden, in pieces :pissed: I wouldn't mind so much if he was discerning, but he always targets my books, and not my wife's >:(


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Geoff_N on October 20, 2007, 04:29:42 AM
Ooh, Geoff, I wrote a piece on my Ask Sally feature on my blog yesterday about submitting to anthologies, and touched on people not adhering to guidelines. I wonder if I could copy and paste what you've just said (properly attributed of course with a link to your site and adventurebooks) and add it to the answer. You've explained everything I wanted to say about why stuff gets turned down.
It would be an honour to be quoted in Ask Sally, Sally.

My wife is pulling at my elbow as we should have been in the car now en route to John Lennon airport.

see yaaaaaaa


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Sallyq on October 20, 2007, 04:44:20 AM
Cheers, Geoff! :afro:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Sallyq on October 20, 2007, 04:58:49 AM
When you get back, you can read it here, Geoff.

http://quillersplace.blogspot.com/2007/10/ask-sally-17-getting-into-anthology.html

As I said, it's actually a feature about how to get into an anthology, but I think your problem is one that's shared by the anthologisers.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on October 23, 2007, 05:13:12 PM
Funny - Best American Short Stories 2007 edited by Steven King, not available at Amazon.co.uk - I know it's an American publication, but I'd have thought it was important enough to be an item in serious book sellers' catalogues worldwide. I ordered it from Amazon.com easily enough, though. Odd they have different merchandise, huh? Looking forward to reading it.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Sallyq on October 24, 2007, 03:13:38 AM
That's very odd, Ed, because I ordered it from Amazon.co.uk and even have an affiliates link to it at amazon.co.uk on my blog. It took about a fortnight to get here though.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Sallyq on October 24, 2007, 03:14:54 AM
Here you go, this is the link via my affiliates thingy. It says it takes 1-4 weeks to arrive.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0618713484?tag=sallyquilford-21&camp=1406&creative=6394&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=0618713484&adid=14698FRKS9V5N77Q1Q77&


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on October 24, 2007, 03:41:55 AM
Cuh! Thanks for that, Sally. I used their search facility on the site and it never showed up as a result - it showed Best American Mysteries or something like that, but no BASS. That's when I ended up buying the hardback version from the US site. Might see if I can cancel the order and get the paperback from the UK site instead :afro:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: rootofevil on October 24, 2007, 08:22:25 AM
Lack of reading over the last 10 days or so, but the three weeks before that...


Clive Barkers Hellbound Heart, Books of Blood 1 & 2, along with In the Flesh
John Skipp's Long Last Call
Undead: Flesh Feast (Zombie Anthology put out by Permuted Press)
An Advanced Reading Copy of Robert Newcombs Rise of the Blood Royal
Along with the Dummies Guide to the Universe  :cool:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: delboy on October 24, 2007, 08:36:30 AM
The Books of Blood! Cool. I have those tucked away at the bottom of a box somewhere. Some of those tales were brilliant, and a couple of them haunt me in a kind of good way. The Hellbound Heart, too. I've kind of lost touch with Clive Barker's work. Some of the novels - such as Weaveworld, and another one that I've forgotten the title of (but that started in a lost mail room somwhere in the States and ended up in New Mexico with atom bombs being tested... or something!) were great. Massive vision.

Alas, I'm still fighting my way through Pompeii.

I have, though, bought a whole bunch of books this week from the cheap bookstore just across the road. I'm like a kid at Christmas. What shall I read next: Crusader's Cross by James Lee Burke, Beneath The Underdog by Charlie Mingus, The Godfather, Sudden Mischief by Robert Parker, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, Helen Keller's autobiography, or a collection of Tom Wait's interviews?

Ain't books great?  ;)

Del


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: SamLeeFreak on October 24, 2007, 12:12:45 PM
I'm thinking of reading Freakshow today. My brains still a little too beaten down from the massive editing weekend to even think about working on the second half of my novel yet  :'(


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: rootofevil on October 24, 2007, 03:49:05 PM
Freakshow was awesome, Sam.



Very blunt with lots of gore to sweeten the pot...my kind of read  :afro:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on October 24, 2007, 05:47:35 PM


I have, though, bought a whole bunch of books this week from the cheap bookstore just across the road. I'm like a kid at Christmas. What shall I read next: Crusader's Cross by James Lee Burke, Beneath The Underdog by Charlie Mingus, The Godfather, Sudden Mischief by Robert Parker, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, Helen Keller's autobiography, or a collection of Tom Wait's interviews?

Ain't books great?  ;)

Del


Oh, I love second hand book shops - I always buy far more books than I can ever read. Can't help myself. Before I went on my hols, in August, I picked up a two pack of Dean Koontz novels for a fiver. Read one, lost the other ::) Just found it again now.

I keep thinking about getting some audio books, because I don't get as much time to read as I would like, but I generally spend all day listening to music on either an mp3 player or a CD player, so there's nothing stopping me listening to a book instead. Might help the day go faster, too. :smiley:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: PaulH on October 24, 2007, 06:18:51 PM
Del - I'd go for the Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, but then I like her stuff. I've read Anthem and Atlas Shrugged as well.

I'm currently reading Essential Iron Man vol 1 (I always have a graphic novel in front of the computer that I read while I'm waiting for it to do things), just finished from Asgard to Valhalla, a non fic about the Norse myths and their resonance through the ages and I'm into Club Dead, the third book of Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse vampire mysteries.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: delph_ambi on October 25, 2007, 03:31:38 AM
'Asgard to Valhalla' sounds interesting. Will have to look out for that one.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on October 25, 2007, 03:56:07 AM
Del - I'd go for the Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, but then I like her stuff. I've read Anthem and Atlas Shrugged as well.

I'm currently reading Essential Iron Man vol 1 (I always have a graphic novel in front of the computer that I read while I'm waiting for it to do things), just finished from Asgard to Valhalla, a non fic about the Norse myths and their resonance through the ages and I'm into Club Dead, the third book of Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse vampire mysteries.

Where did you get that, Paul? Online, or in a bricks and mortar book store?


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: PaulH on October 25, 2007, 05:43:18 PM
I guess it's the Asgard book you're asking about Ed. I got it from my book club, but here's a link to it on Amazon, where it's a darn sight cheaper!  :hot:

http://amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_ss_w_h_/026-3398377-1489251?initialSearch=1&url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=from+asgard+to+valhalla

PS there's an interesting review on there as well  ;)


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on October 25, 2007, 05:59:45 PM
Thanks for the tip. My parents' experience with a book club put me off ever joining one - it became a bit of a pain in the arse when they were obliged to buy something, but didn't want anything that was on offer.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: PaulH on October 26, 2007, 03:40:19 PM
I've actually been with the book club about 5 years and found it pretty good. A lot of the books are cheaper, you can get some lovely special editions and it's also good for picking up books that I wouldn't have found otherwise, like the Asgard to Valhalla book.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on November 04, 2007, 06:07:38 PM
BASS 2007, edited by Steven King, turned up from Amazon yesterday. Now I'm having to use a bit of will power to refrain from reading it until I've finished The Time Traveller's Wife, which I'm enjoying a lot more than I expected to. :smiley:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: delboy on November 05, 2007, 05:02:15 AM
I finally finished Pompeii, which turned out to be better than the first third suggested, but still not a patch on Enigma. It was one of those books that, for a while, I found hard to pick up once I'd put it down and I ended up reading some non-fiction (and also the competiton entries from here!) inbetween times. But the second half picked up and I finished it in a couple of sittings.

Tonight I shall start another book. Always a wonderful experience.

Del


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Sallyq on November 05, 2007, 05:52:43 AM
I read Pompeii a while back and was a bit disappointed really.

Ed, I've read a few in BASS and to be perfectly honest, if it doesn't pick up from the well-fed, middle-aged, middle America, middle-class angst I've read so far I may not read many more. In particular, in The Toga Party, I found it hard to sympathise with a well-off couple who owned two homes worrying that the tax man would get too much of their estate when they died and going to quite drastic measures to ensure he didn't. I wish I had that 'problem'!


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on November 06, 2007, 05:44:24 PM
Sounds a bit dull. I keep thinking about reading the first story, because that's usually the editor's favourite. The first and the last, usually, and maybe one or two in the middle. Most short story collections I've read seem to be like that, anyway.

When I first heard about Steven King being guest editor, my first thought was he would be a strange choice for the role, being that he's all about popular fiction, and he's widely considered to be a genre writer, whereas BASS tends towards the literary end of the spectrum (unpopular fiction, I like to call it :afro: ). So, yeah, I was wondering how it would turn out. I suspect there's some kind of angle that encompasses the whole book, and knowing what it is will put things in perspective and add to the reader's enjoyment of the book. Could be wrong, though :smiley:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on December 30, 2007, 04:14:11 PM
I've just finished reading The Time Traveler's Wife - today, this morning in fact. I thoroughly enjoyed it for most of the book, but I didn't find the end satisfying. I think it went on a little too long, and would have been better shortened to around three hundred and something pages. Still one of the best books I've read, though. It's beautifully written, and the characters and plot are unique. Well, perhaps not unique, but very original. I would recommend it.

Not sure what to start next. I wanted to read something by F Paul Wilson, because I'm going to be meeting him later in the month, and it would be nice to have something in mind to measure his advice against. But I haven't managed to get hold of anything by him, yet, even though he's written loads of novels. I ordered two of his books from Amazon, but I saw they had their stock of the books down as one apiece, which actually means they haven't got any but don't want to lose your order by telling the truth. This was borne out (IMO) by their confirmation e-mail, which said the order will probably reach me sometime in February, which is after I have returned from the boot camp ::)

I'm probably going to start BASS 2007 next, I think. How did you get on with it in the end, Sally? Did you finish it, or put it down, never to be picked up again? :huh:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: PaulH on December 30, 2007, 08:17:45 PM
Read the Time Traveller's Wife a while back now. Seem to remember some of the descriptions of what she did felt like the author had done all this research and was determined to put it in the book. Also thought the ending was a bit blindingly obvious and not terribly well done. Those two things aside, it was a cracking read.

Currently reading Cold Mountain as I'm tutoring someone who's doing it for English A level. God, it's a dull book. To entertain myself, I'm breaking it up with graphic novel reading!

Ed, I know I've got a copy of The Keep by F Paul Wilson somewhere, just not sure where. If I turn it up soon, I'll PM you to get your address and bung it in the post.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on December 30, 2007, 08:37:00 PM
Oh, that sounds like my idea of hell, reading Cold Mountain. The film made me cringe so much that I couldn't watch it to the end. The book could only be worse, I'm sure.

Very kind of you to offer me The Keep, Paul - that was one of the ones I ordered from Amazon. I'm guessing it was good, because it was made into a film. Don't go to too much trouble trying to find it, though. I'm going to see if my local library's got it, tomorrow, and if that doesn't prove fruitful I'll probably order it from a local book shop. Chances are they can get it a fair bit quicker than Amazon, anyway.

What did you think of the book? Is his writing style similar to anybody else's?


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Sallyq on December 31, 2007, 03:29:21 AM
I love The Keep, and F Paul Wilson's adversary series though I've only read about three or four of the sextet. I keep promising myself I'll get the full set soon. I don't have any of his books on my shelves at the moment so it's time to start collecting again.

I'm reading the third Lee Child 'Jack Reacher' novel that my dad bought me, called The Persuader. I've thoroughly enjoyed the first two, The Enemy and Echo Burning. They're pretty much writing-by-numbers novels, but good cracking reads despite that.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: PaulH on January 01, 2008, 05:46:57 PM
What did you think of the book? Is his writing style similar to anybody else's?

Ooh, now you'e asking! Must be nigh on twenty years since I read it. I remember enjoying it a lot (though I was less critical back then) and thought it was a fairly novel take on vampires. Writing style I would say was straightforward in a good way - think early James Herbert. Now it's been mentioned, I want to find it to read again myself. Haven't read anything else he's done though which surprises me considering how much affection I've retained for the Keep.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on January 01, 2008, 06:47:55 PM
Thanks for the insights, both. I've ordered The Keep from Waterstones, now. They say it should be in within a week, which is more like it. It's a bit lazy of me to order from Amazon. We should all really be supporting our local bricks and mortar book sellers, I suppose, otherwise there won't be any in twenty years. :huh:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Porphyry on January 04, 2008, 12:24:08 PM
Ed-- Speaking of F. Paul Wilson, if you get a chance to read any of his Repairman Jack series, very good stuff. (I also liked The Keep, but not as much as his Repairman Jack stuff)

Me? I just finished reading "The Pillars Of the Earth" by Ken Follett, and I am currently reading "The Peaceable Kingdom" by Jack Ketchum (horror, short story collection) & "Winter Of the Wolf Moon" by Steve Hamilton (Murder mystery. Hamilton writes about a small town near my folks, so I know the are and enjoy his books all the more.)

Peace,
Po


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on January 04, 2008, 02:22:26 PM
I ordered one of the repairman Jack series, but I can't remember the name of it - might be 'The Cave' or something like that. Thanks for the recommendation, Po.

BTW, how do you get on with reading two books at the same time? I think that would confuse me :scratch:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Sallyq on January 04, 2008, 02:43:39 PM
I've got several books on the go. Persuader by Lee Child, Time Enough For Love by Robert A Heinlein and a few short story anthologies I keep dipping in and out of.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: delph_ambi on January 04, 2008, 06:01:27 PM
Oooh... Time Enough For Love. I keep re-reading that one. Classic book. Full of flaws, but you can't help forgiving him every one of them. Would that more writers were like that. Well, Jane Austen is. In an odd sort of way.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Porphyry on January 06, 2008, 02:45:44 AM
Well actually, Ketchum is catching more of my attention at present, but it is short stories. Started the other book before and will likely finish The Peaceable Kingdom first. Not much different than school/college I guess-- read history, Lit, whatever and then still have the for the love of reading books on the side. That doesn't really take in account what I read online.

I always like these threads, as it gives me an idea what is out there (though I just bought two more books, so I am set for a bit. "The Long Last Call" by John Skipp & "Fears Unnamed" by Tim Lebbon, if you were wondering.)

Peace,
Po


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: JonP on January 07, 2008, 04:17:32 AM
I've just had a couple of disappointing reads: Homunculus, by James Blaylock, and Keepers of the House, by Lisa St Aubin de Terain. I really wanted to like both of these. The Blaylock (which was lent to me by a mate who has his own really good bok coming out later on this year - more here (http://www.spacecaptainsmith.com/)) annoyed me because of the vast array of barely distinguishable characters that it throws at you right from the off, with POV that keeps switching for no discernible purpose. And the LSAdT (one of a trawl at Hay-on-Wye a few weeks back) one was a remarkably half-baked attempt to do One Hundred Years of Solitude, with some truly horrible writing in places, and quite a few typos. I remember her being seriously hyped when it first came out, and I was surprised at how weak it all was. One really ace read, though, even if it is a bit of a "stocking-filler" type book: Whatever Happened to Tanginyika? (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Whatever-Happened-Tanganyika-History-Behind/dp/190603205X). Surprisingly thoughtful and informative for that type of thing.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on January 07, 2008, 04:39:50 AM
I'm just about to start BASS 2007 edited by Steven King. Should have my first look at it today, at lunchtime ::)

First day back to work, today, and I feel like a kid at the end of the summer holidays - going back to hell after taking forever off. I've decided that I like staying home. It's much nicer than working. Trouble is it doesn't pay well :/


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: canadian on January 07, 2008, 10:44:01 AM
I'm more than halfway through the stories in BASS 2007. They've all been very satisfying reads so far.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: delboy on January 07, 2008, 11:49:09 AM
Quote
I've decided that I like staying home. It's much nicer than working.

I couldn't agree more. Though I was back last week it was quite a relaxed three days. This week it's all started again in earnest and I've already noticed the difference - started at 7.30 this morning and won't get chance to even think about writing until 9.00 this evening by which time I fear I'll just be ready for bed - my right eye is already twitching through tiredness. Scarily, the diary is already starting to be filled with evening appointments that will cut the reading and writing time down further. Today it's suddenly become very noticble how little spare time there is in a "standard" week.

Derek


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on January 07, 2008, 08:20:58 PM
I know what you mean, Del. I'm absolutely snowed under with stuff I should be doing. Still haven't got around to doing all twenty crits for Borderlands, yet. I've got several long and complicated invoices I should be writing out. Plus I've just bought a load of new office equipment, desks, chairs, etc., in preparation for moving all my office stuff into another room. Trouble is, that room needs sorting out with internet access, which has a knock on effect with me having to get up in the roof space and run new cables. Not to mention moving all the files and sorting everything out. Writing time? What's that? ::)

I'm more than halfway through the stories in BASS 2007. They've all been very satisfying reads so far.

Glad to hear it - I read the foreword and the introduction, and got two pages into the first story, today. I liked what Steven King had to say about the short story as a form, etc. It'll be interesting to see his choices, and to see if I get the same wow factor out of them as he says he did. Looking forward to it. :smiley:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on January 10, 2008, 02:08:54 PM
 :scratch: Well, sorry to say, the only wow factor I got from the first story was a, "Wow, that was crap." :scratch:

Must be literary fiction, I guess. I'm disappointed - I expected more from a story that Steven King thought was great :/


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Sallyq on January 10, 2008, 04:46:20 PM
I was pretty disappointed with the few I read in BASS, Ed. I think I mentioned on here that there's a lot of well-fed, middle-age, middle-class angst that was completely lost on me.  One that really got me was The Toga Party. Maybe Stephen King can relate to someone with two comfortable homes and a very good lifestyle worrying what will happen to it all when they've dead, and wanting to make sure the taxman didn't take it, I can't!


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on January 10, 2008, 05:04:38 PM
No, me neither. But then I suppose Steven King is a well fed, rich old fart these days. He was once a teacher of English Lit, too, so I suppose he must have a nose for lit over genre. I was really hoping that his choices would be thinly veiled genre stories. That's quite obviously not the case, sadly :/


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Sallyq on January 10, 2008, 05:12:58 PM
I thought the same as you. I think I've read four so far and on all of them I thought 'So?'

I'm sure a more literary person would tell me I'm missing the all important subtext ( ::)) but I'm usually quite good at getting the meaning out of stories.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: aexombie on January 15, 2008, 07:32:09 AM
'key of knowledge' by nora roberts. just had to borrow it after reading 'key of light' (sigh) it's like brainlessly eating M&Ms in the middle of the night...want some?


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on February 22, 2008, 03:48:33 AM
I'm currently reading The Keep by F Paul Wilson, and I'm enjoying it more than any book I've read lately. Probably because it combines horror with events in WW2. In my teens I read all the Sven Hassel books I could lay my hands on, so this is reminding me of that, a bit, I suppose.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on May 23, 2008, 04:56:38 PM
Just finished reading The Rising by Brian Keene. I'd like to ask him if it took a long time to write, because the second half of the novel is noticably better written than the first half. This was part of the reason for me throwing away a couple of novels I was writing, even as much as twenty-five to thirty thousand words into it, because I felt like my writing technique was changing and improving as I wrote it. I finally decided to write short stories until I felt my writing had stabalised.

*spoiler* (ish)
BTW, the ending of The Rising really pissed me off - it was all coming together nicely - the pacing was good, the writing was good, the MC finally makes it to his son's house (this is the plot engine of the story - the MC's need to find his son before the zombies do) and the end is left hanging. You never find out whether Jim manages to save his son. Most unsatisfactory.

Next, I'm taking a break from horror novels and I'm going to read a couple of the best new horror volumes of short stories, edited by Steve Jones. After that, who knows...


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: PaulH on May 23, 2008, 05:16:35 PM
In my usual way of things, I'm reading a bizarre mix - George Orwell's 1984 (stuff horror, this is bloody petrifying), working my way through the Asterix the Gaul books and reading back issues of 2000AD (UK comic) from 1985! They smell of nostalgia...


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: starktheground on May 23, 2008, 08:55:13 PM
Haha, Ed, you know there's a sequel, right? I'm a big fan of Brian Keene's work. The Rising was the first novel I ever read by him, and I was hooked from that point on. Too bad you didn't like it; you might try Terminal out. It's my personal favorite!


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on May 24, 2008, 12:19:27 AM
Yeah, I know there's a sequel - I get the impresssion there's quite a few of them built on the rising. I bought Dead Sea at the same time as I bought The Rising, so I might get around to reading that one day, but I doubt I'll bother with any more from the series because I've had enough of maggot dripping zombies for a while, plus there is still a whole bunch of other stuff I'd like to read.

Might try a bit or Orwell myself - 1984 is one of the classics of modern literature, and all I know about it is what I've gleaned from watching the film. Is it much different, Paul? I know from reading both Frankenstein and Dracula that fims can be less than faithful to the book.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: delboy on May 24, 2008, 05:13:40 AM
Caldo Largo by Earl Thompson, for me. He's one of the forgotten men of literature. Only wrote 4 novels before he died (and none after), but they're all great, if a little rough around the edges and explicit in the centre here and there.

Derek


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: joneastwood on May 24, 2008, 04:46:37 PM
1984 is one of my absolute favourites and I've read it most years since I was about fourteen, but his other stuff is also worth having a look at if you've never indulged. One of his I found recently was The Road to Wigan Pier. It's not fiction at all - just an account of his own journey through some of the poor coal mining areas northern England. There's some great social commentary stuff!
 


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: JonP on May 24, 2008, 06:12:43 PM
The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters are worth a look, too.

(EDITED TO ADD: Although I am currently being much less high-brow, as I am thoroughly enjoying my mate Toby Frost's Space Captain Smith - as previously advertised in this very forum. Every bit as good as I was expecting.)


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: PaulH on May 24, 2008, 08:25:34 PM
I'd love to tell you Ed, but I've never seen a movie of 1984! I'd guess that there's a lot more explanation of Newspeak and the reasoning of the language and how it links into the political system than a movie would want to use. Actually, as a writer, the idea that they would rewrite the entire language to deny freedom of expression and even thought is bloody petrifying!!!


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: bintarab on May 24, 2008, 08:33:25 PM
Have you seen the commercial? Well, I think they only aired it in 1984, but someone's re-done it so it's Hilary's face on the screen -- I think you can catch both on youtube.

Personally, in terms of "grabbing me by the gut," I think Fahrenheit 451 was better. In terms of cerebral reaction (as opposed to a visceral one), I thought Brave New World was better. In terms of movies, "Brazil" tops them all!

~bint


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on May 25, 2008, 05:24:34 AM
Thanks for the further reading tips, all. Personally, I find that kind of concept far more terrifying than any supernatural horrors, because it's infinitely possible and even with these warnings it seems to be coming to pass.

Paul - can't believe you've never seen the film. It's one of my all time favourites. That scene from the advert with the hammer thrower gives me chills. It's a bit like the image of the Chinese guy standing in front of the tank in T Square, standing his ground and stepping into its path whenever the driver changed direction. Once seen, never forgotten. Course, they dragged the poor sod into a sidestreet and shot him in the face straight afterwards, but as far as acts of defiance go he's still #1 on my list.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: PaulH on May 27, 2008, 07:07:40 PM
I really don't watch a lot of flims or TV at all. TV is currently 3 hours a week (Heroes, NCIS, Doctor Who) and I have to be in the mood for a movie. I'd rather be in front of this screen doing something interactive.

Is the movie of 1984 the one with John Hurt?


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on May 27, 2008, 07:22:41 PM
I really don't watch a lot of flims or TV at all. TV is currently 3 hours a week (Heroes, NCIS, Doctor Who) and I have to be in the mood for a movie. I'd rather be in front of this screen doing something interactive.

Same here. It's very rare that I sit down and watch TV. I'd much rather be talking to friends on forums or writing something for the flash challenge, or whatever else.

Quote
Is the movie of 1984 the one with John Hurt?

Yes - and Richard Burton was in it, too. Come to think of it, I probably haven't watched it in twenty years :o


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: joneastwood on May 28, 2008, 06:35:32 AM
I have literally not watched TV in months. Occasionally myself and the mrs will watch an episode of some old sitcom via the magic of the interweb, but I'm seriously considering cancelling my TV licence. Anyone know how those BBC fascists will take it? I don't want to be fined or harassed.   


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: delboy on May 28, 2008, 06:52:45 AM
I'm a non TV person, too. But I do watch a few things each week - motorcycle racing, the news now and again, music documentaries, rugby highlights (if Gloucester are playing and if they've won), and the occasional film. I'll probably watch what little coverage of the Tour de France is shown in July, too. Hmmm, the more I think about the more I do actually watch.

Couch Potato Del


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: bintarab on May 28, 2008, 08:17:08 AM
I haven't had a TV set in a decade and my computer doesn't have a dvd player. Why do you think I spend so much time online?

~bint


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: JonP on May 28, 2008, 08:53:51 AM
Well, my regular viewing clocks in at around 2.5 hours (Dr Who, Heroes, Peep Show and Have I Got News For You). The end of this season's run of Waking the Dead (a sort of demented CSI if you haven't come across it in the States) has trimmed a couple of hours off, although last night's Supersizers Go Restoration was fun, although not good on a full stomach. I also have a vast pile of unwatched DVDs which I bought 'cos they were going cheap, some of which by now are probably even cheaper. Me and MrsP watched Dr Zhivago over the weekend, which I'd never seen before and which was wonderful. You just don't see that sort of spectacle these days outside of Chinese cinema.

And wasn't there an earlier version of 1984 starring Peter Cushing? To my shame, I haven't seen either of them.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on May 28, 2008, 02:30:15 PM
Anyone know how those BBC fascists will take it? I don't want to be fined or harassed.   

I get the impression it's not worth the hassle you get for non payment. AFAIK, you've got to either get rid of your TV altogether or cut the plug off and put it in storage. I'm not 100% sure, but I think even if it's not hitched up to an aerial and you're only using it to watch DVDs, you're still expected to have a license.

A friend of mine is the sort of person who fights the system at every turn, and he's the only person I know who has got away with not having a TV license. He's about 6'4" and built like the proverbial brick shithouse. I'm not sure whether he intimidated the clipboard who knocked his door, or whether he bored him into submission with his rant about how much extras get paid by the BBC on location. I've heard that one, and it takes stamina to sit through, and that's if you haven't got a vested interest, so... :scratch:  But he's also the kind of person whose flat is furnished with only the things that bailiffs aren't allowed to take. You wipe your shoes on the way out, too. It's not pretty. :/


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: joneastwood on May 28, 2008, 05:33:53 PM
From what I've seen, being an extra can be the most hideous job ever. It really is exactly like the Ricky Gervais show. I've never done extra work, but I've done a fair amount of TV stuff that has used extras and they really are weird. Some people make their living from being an extra and they all live in hope of getting a line and getting spotted.
Last year, the mrs and myself were in a MFI ad (that never got aired - goodbye £9000 buyout) and before we started shooting, all the extras assumed we were extras as well. They were friendly as anything, but when lunchtime came and we were sent to eat before them, they all realised we were featured cast and the whole atmosphere turned decidedly cold. I think if I had to sit and watch people do a job that I wanted, then I would be filled with bitter hatred as well. Standard walk-on rates tend to hover around £100-£200 a day, and I think some of that wage is to compensate for having such a soul destroying job.



Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on May 28, 2008, 06:09:22 PM
Another friend of his is an extra, and he was getting £200 a day plus decent meals, snacks and refreshments throughout the day. The guy treats it as a fun day out, which is the best way to look at it, I think. Sounds like a pretty cool hobby to me. I can imagine what you're saying is true about 'professional' extras, though. It must be a pretty desperate situation to put yourself in if you want something like that so badly.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: mchankwilliams on July 13, 2008, 01:30:33 PM
I see a lot of talk about TV and movies here right now, but unfortunately I only have a couple of book recommendations. Oh well!

I'm currently reading The M.D. by the recently departed Thomas M. Disch. Not my favorite book in the world, but definitely worth a read. But if anyone is looking for an absolutely stunning book, check out The Open Curtain by Brian Evenson. Stunning. You'll want to read it again the second you finish it. As a matter of fact, I think I'll read that again as my next book!

http://www.coffeehousepress.org/theopencurtain.asp



Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Craig Herbertson on September 24, 2008, 05:12:12 PM
Kenneth Morris Book of The Three Dragons - utterly brilliant if you liked Eddison.
Third Black Book again and on number 27 of EC Tubb's Dumarest series which I have always thought the most underrated thing in the world. I've also been doing a bit o borig research on witchcraft


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: SamLeeFreak on September 24, 2008, 05:44:19 PM
Off Season, by Jack Ketchum (the uncut version).


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Craig Herbertson on December 23, 2008, 09:23:32 AM
Got three of the Wordsworth Mystery and supernatural books for xmas. (bought them for me....)


 
http://www.wordsworth-editions.com/
 
 They are about £2 each. Normally I shy away from a new book but this lot are really worth the money -  Erudite intros -  Howard, Lovecraft all the big names and many missed authors and forgotten works in the genre. Great artwork on the covers - I probably sound like an advert but these guys deserve every possible accolade for a truly brilliant set of books.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: desertwomble on December 23, 2008, 11:12:09 AM
Got three of the Wordsworth Mystery and supernatural books for xmas. (bought them for me....)


 
http://www.wordsworth-editions.com/
 
 They are about £2 each. Normally I shy away from a new book but this lot are really worth the money -  Erudite intros -  Howard, Lovecraft all the big names and many missed authors and forgotten works in the genre. Great artwork on the covers - I probably sound like an advert but these guys deserve every possible accolade for a truly brilliant set of books.

Funnily enough, Craig, I'm featured in this one (plug, plug!) on page  97.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Crime-Scenes-Wordsworth-Mystery-Supernatural/dp/1840220937

An excellent last minute X-mas present I might add!

DW :santa_cheesy:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Morbid Misery on January 20, 2009, 11:04:42 AM
Jeffery Deaver - all of his stuff is awesome.

H.P. Lovecraft - another genius of the Macabre

and Dean R. Koontz - the warped master of the bizzare and unpredictable

But if you want to scare yourself senseless watch Event Horizon with the windows open blowing the curtains open with the lights off and the sound up high then afterwards read any of H.P Lovecrafts works or Some of Stephen King's earlier novels.

Or go full out go to a friend who owns a PS3 (if you don't) wait till its late say after 12:00 am and like the above suggestion play F.E.A.R, then Dead Space, then watch the Exorcist (the remastered version with the spiderwalk scene)

Or if you are like me then hell why not watch (not the american re-makes) the original Ring, The Grudge and Grudge 2 then the re-make of the Amityville Horror back to back in one night - 


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Craig Herbertson on October 29, 2010, 04:42:01 PM
Got three of the Wordsworth Mystery and supernatural books for xmas. (bought them for me....)


 
http://www.wordsworth-editions.com/
 
 They are about £2 each. Normally I shy away from a new book but this lot are really worth the money -  Erudite intros -  Howard, Lovecraft all the big names and many missed authors and forgotten works in the genre. Great artwork on the covers - I probably sound like an advert but these guys deserve every possible accolade for a truly brilliant set of books.

Funnily enough, Craig, I'm featured in this one (plug, plug!) on page  97.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Crime-Scenes-Wordsworth-Mystery-Supernatural/dp/1840220937

An excellent last minute X-mas present I might add!

DW :santa_cheesy:

Good plug though ;) Must be a great feeling to see Wordsworth and your name linked - sort of established with panache


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: jsorensen on December 21, 2010, 10:31:30 AM
My wife got me Joe Hill's 2oth Century Ghosts for the holiday (a bit early).  Read through the first two shorts and am finding it a good read.  Horror?  To a degree, but its the subtle absurdity in the stories and a mild sense of humor that is keeping me reading.  Can't vouch for the rest of it, but so far excellent...

Reminds me a bit of Mark Richards' collection of shorts or even his novel Fishboy.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: delph_ambi on December 21, 2010, 10:56:09 AM
I've started reading David Brin's "Sundiver". About seventy pages in, and I'm seriously unimpressed. Only reading it because a pal at my writing group raved about it and lent me her copy. I wish she hadn't. I feel duty bound to finish it. I lent her the Strugatsky brothers' "Roadside Picnic". She'll probably hate it if her preferred style of sci-fi is David Brin. Oh well.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: desertwomble on December 21, 2010, 12:06:34 PM
I'm reading 'A Christmas Carol' - again.

It's interesting how the author intrudes on the story - something that would be a definite no-no these days, but which makes the story the classic that it is.

Also interesting is some of the turns of phrase that I thought were modern but are anything but, i.e. a character 'cracks a joke'.

A magic read.

DW :cheesy:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Rook on December 21, 2010, 01:28:11 PM
I love 'A Christmas Carol'.  :smiley:

I'm a hundred pages into Gabriel García Márquez's 'One Hundred Years of Solitude'. It has some wonderful ideas so far, and lovely prose.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Grillmeat on December 21, 2010, 03:03:27 PM
Just finished Duma Key by Stephen King. Moving on to From a Buick 8 by him as well.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Rook on December 21, 2010, 06:14:50 PM
I really enjoyed Duma Key; it isn't The Stand, but it was a good read. King has some cool things going on inside his head... Haven't read From a Buick 8, though.

I read Salem's Lot a few months ago, and in the foreword he mentions how it's a little dated, and I could tell it was written in the '70's, but it was still pretty good. Now, Cujo, though... I don't know... :idiot:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Grillmeat on December 21, 2010, 08:18:56 PM
'Salem's lot was a cool book. I enjoyed Duma Key as well. He did some nice work. I'm hoping From a Buick 8 is good. I wasn't that impressed with Christine when I read it years ago but hey, I guess you can't hit a home run every time.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: starktheground on December 21, 2010, 11:33:06 PM
Oh, I love A Christmas Carol too. Didn't he sell that story for only a penny so that more people could have access to it?

Duma Key was one of my favorite recent ones by King.

Right now I'm on a poetry kick. Trying to talk my husband into naming the baby Tennyson.  :afro:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Pharosian on December 22, 2010, 01:51:10 AM
I just finished an audiobook called Blood and Smoke by Stephen King. It was only 4 discs, which contained three short stories. All of the stories involved men who had quit smoking and were tempted to start again due to the events in the stories. They were pretty good, but not as captivating, somehow, as the stories his son writes as Joe Hill.

One thing I notice about King's style (at least in these short stories) is to stop the action with observations or similes that go on for a while. It's not badly done, and the observations are interesting... but I find myself getting a little impatient with him sometimes: Never mind that, what happens next?!


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on December 22, 2010, 02:24:36 AM


One thing I notice about King's style (at least in these short stories) is to stop the action with observations or similes that go on for a while. It's not badly done, and the observations are interesting... but I find myself getting a little impatient with him sometimes: Never mind that, what happens next?!

I've noticed that, too. I think the idea is to create more suspense, but it backfires on him with me, because I tend to skim until I get to what I want. :afro:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Caz on December 22, 2010, 05:09:36 AM
I read From a Buick 8 a few years back and thought it good, same for 'Salem's Lot and Christine. Didn't go a bundle on Duma Key though.
I guess I should have a go at some of Dickens's stuff but I can't seem to get my head around these old tales. It was hard work to read Frankenstein and The Ghost Pirates And I gave up half way through on The Great God Pan. I'm pretty much okay with anything from the 1950s onward but any earlier than that and the story seems not to flow, not for me anyway.

Nearly finished Lee Child's Bad Luck and Trouble, a cracking read it is too, so I went to the library to pick up a couple of books to read over Christmas. Thought I'd pick up another of the Jack Reacher novels, I really did start in the wrong place with them, and what should fall off the shelf whilst I rummaged...The Big Sleep. Published in 1939 so I could be in dangerous waters with this one, still got the graphic novel The Crow as a back up.       


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: JonP on December 22, 2010, 08:01:57 AM
The Big Sleep is fab, as is anything by Chandler. The first film of it is one of the best ever. The Michael Winner one, however, is utter pants.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: jsorensen on December 22, 2010, 01:33:03 PM
I guess I should have a go at some of Dickens's stuff but I can't seem to get my head around these old tales. It was hard work to read Frankenstein and The Ghost Pirates And I gave up half way through on The Great God Pan.        

Sorry about all that--I'm not much of a fan with Dickens (no reason, just one of those things).  Shelly's Frakenstein is one of those great "in theory" books I think.  I love the novel, but often I just read a section or a two nowadays and call it even.  Too bad on The Great God Pan--one of my favorites, but then again its one that I would only recomend to horrror buffs interested in the development of the genre.  I suppose its a bit of snore by today's standards. 

Noticed a lot of interest in King on the board--I tried to read The Girl Wo loved Tom Gordon over the summer but switched back to rereading Lovecraft (please don't groan--Lovecraft I think is a terrible "writer" but great in ideas).

Lee Child seems pretty good from what I read--although Still Life With Crows became a bit of a disappointment.  However, if you like Child, have you tried any of Caleeb Carr's stuff?


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Rook on December 22, 2010, 02:06:19 PM
Even though I went into it with skepticism, I loved Frankenstein-- though I found it more sad than 'horror'.

I read 'The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon'-- god, what a snorefest! It was dead dull, at least for me. I'd have given up on it, but it was short enough I figured I'd finish it in the hopes it would get better... it didn't.

King has some great stuff; he has some utter trash, too. Guess that's the great thing about being a best seller; you get published no matter what.

I read the first of the 'Dark Tower' series, and it was genius. (I think I already said that about 'The Stand') I don't have the funds right now to buy the rest at full price, but I look for them at the secondhand store. I hope the rest are as good.

I haven't read any from Child, or Caleeb Carr, though. Or 'The Great God Pan'; I'll have to look at it.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: delboy on December 22, 2010, 04:07:46 PM
King, Dickens, Chandler - some fine choices indeed. Well done everyone!

I'm a huge Stephen King fan. Totally agree that he's not always on the money, but when he is he is right up there with my favourite authors. The early books tend to be the best (IMHO) - imagine starting one's career with Carrie, Salem's Lot, The Stand, Night Shift, and The Shining! You could put your feet up and never write another thing and still be one of the greatest horror writers ever. But instead you go on and produce Different Seasons (which includes King's best ever piece - again IMHO - The Body. This remains one of my all time favourite stories), The Mist, The Dead Zone, The Talisman, The Green Mile, Pet Sematary, and probably a bunch more that I don't recall at the moment. On top of all that his non-fiction is also stunning - Danse Macabre, On Writing, and all the scores of forwards and afterwards in his own and other's book have done more to inspire me to actually put bum on seat and write than anyone else has. Everything King writes is infused with the sheer joy of being a writer. Now clearly anyone who writes the sheer number of novels and stories that King does is going to produce a few that don't reach the heights of all the aforementioned books, but even when writing something like Cell he still knows exactly what to do, exactly where to put his characters, exactly how to produce tension and must-read-on moments.

Derek


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Pharosian on December 22, 2010, 07:27:31 PM
I haven't read any from Child, or Caleeb Carr, though. Or 'The Great God Pan'; I'll have to look at it.

Um, I think that was supposed to be "Caleb Carr," who wrote The Alienist. I read that a long time ago, but remember enjoying it at the time. The term alienist was coined in the 19th Century to refer to what we now call a psychiatrist.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Rook on December 22, 2010, 07:36:31 PM
I haven't read any from Child, or Caleeb Carr, though. Or 'The Great God Pan'; I'll have to look at it.

Um, I think that was supposed to be "Caleb Carr," who wrote The Alienist. I read that a long time ago, but remember enjoying it at the time. The term alienist was coined in the 19th Century to refer to what we now call a psychiatrist.

Thanks! Would have caused me some great consternation when I went looking for it...  :grin:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: JonP on December 22, 2010, 08:08:50 PM
Speaking of The Big Sleep (which we were a while back), I see it's being re-released in UK cinemas on New Year's Eve (http://www.bfi.org.uk/bulletins/bfi/20101213bigsleep/20101213bigsleep_v2.html). Shame that the BFI got the director's name wrong, though ... (it's Hawks, not Hawk)


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: jsorensen on December 22, 2010, 08:23:03 PM

Um, I think that was supposed to be "Caleb Carr," who wrote The Alienist. I read that a long time ago, but remember enjoying it at the time. The term alienist was coined in the 19th Century to refer to what we now call a psychiatrist.

So right you are---sorry about the mishap in the name, wasn't looking I guess.  The Alienist was very good and I have two more of his on the shelf waiting for some time to come up for me to start reading again...


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: starktheground on December 22, 2010, 08:32:11 PM
King, Dickens, Chandler - some fine choices indeed. Well done everyone!

I'm a huge Stephen King fan. Totally agree that he's not always on the money, but when he is he is right up there with my favourite authors. The early books tend to be the best (IMHO) - imagine starting one's career with Carrie, Salem's Lot, The Stand, Night Shift, and The Shining! You could put your feet up and never write another thing and still be one of the greatest horror writers ever. But instead you go on and produce Different Seasons (which includes King's best ever piece - again IMHO - The Body. This remains one of my all time favourite stories), The Mist, The Dead Zone, The Talisman, The Green Mile, Pet Sematary, and probably a bunch more that I don't recall at the moment. On top of all that his non-fiction is also stunning - Danse Macabre, On Writing, and all the scores of forwards and afterwards in his own and other's book have done more to inspire me to actually put bum on seat and write than anyone else has. Everything King writes is infused with the sheer joy of being a writer. Now clearly anyone who writes the sheer number of novels and stories that King does is going to produce a few that don't reach the heights of all the aforementioned books, but even when writing something like Cell he still knows exactly what to do, exactly where to put his characters, exactly how to produce tension and must-read-on moments.

Derek

I'm with you on King. Every single one of his books is that escape I'm always looking for, and he rarely disappoints. Even his bad books have great aspects.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Grillmeat on December 23, 2010, 09:19:31 AM
The Alienist was a great book, as was the follow up to it. Carr is a good writer.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Pharosian on December 23, 2010, 09:46:32 AM

Um, I think that was supposed to be "Caleb Carr," who wrote The Alienist. I read that a long time ago, but remember enjoying it at the time. The term alienist was coined in the 19th Century to refer to what we now call a psychiatrist.

So right you are---sorry about the mishap in the name, wasn't looking I guess.  The Alienist was very good and I have two more of his on the shelf waiting for some time to come up for me to start reading again...

I wonder if there are any dyslexic people out there who sometimes write his name as "Cable Carr"...   :scratch:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: jsorensen on December 23, 2010, 09:58:22 AM
I wonder if there are any dyslexic people out there who sometimes write his name as "Cable Carr"...   :scratch:

hahaha---wonder 'bout other names that could be messed up:
HP Lovecrap
Stiffin King
William  Peter Batty
 :cheesy:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Caz on December 23, 2010, 01:30:56 PM

HP Lovecrap


 :2funny: That's often what I thought he must do. :2funny:

 I'll have to check out this Caleb Carr guy, sounds interesting. :afro:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Rev. Austin on December 28, 2010, 02:36:47 PM
A really good friend of mine bought me How To Drive A Tank... by Frank Coles for Christmas.  It's part self-help book, part instruction manual, as it details how to do the aforementioned tank-driving, to how best to handle your finances, and even how to dispose of a dead body.  I don't know where my friend got it from because I'm certain the legality of some chapters is questionable (how to fake your death, for instance) but it's all done seriously (in that these are facts, not someone saying how they'd do it) with some humour (like the reason you might need to get hold of a gun within 24 hours, for instance).  A very interesting book.

I also got Tales Designed To Thrizzle issues 5 and 6 off my folks.  They're by Michael Kupperman, and they're comics, but very very goofy and very very funny, with a 50's art style mixed with daft versions of superheroes, horror stories, and all sorts.

I've also recently started to find out about some really cool looking art books featuring abandoned/neglected parts of America, that I quite fancy collecting (although one, Winogrand: 1964, is going for around $250!!!).


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: delboy on December 28, 2010, 03:39:32 PM
The only book I had for Crimbo was Derren Brown's latest. Can't wait to read it. I'm a huge Derren Brown fan and have loved all his books, shows, TV programmes to date.

Derek


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: delph_ambi on December 29, 2010, 05:27:00 AM
My daughter's given me a French cookery book which includes interesting dishes like starling paté. ASDA doesn't sell starling, so I doubt if I'll be making that one.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Ed on December 29, 2010, 06:01:12 AM
I think I'm right in saying starlings are protected in this country, so you'd need to take your shotgun over to France in order to bag a few, Delph :afro:

Rev -- that sounds like a really entertaining book. :grin:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Rook on December 29, 2010, 07:36:49 AM
I have returned to Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, after a hiatus to read King's Full Dark, No Stars (I love the title.), a collection of four longish stories. (Early, by a few days, Christmas gift from my mom)

I thoroughly enjoyed it. :afro: King in excellent form, and two actually disturbed me... books don't do that to me; movies might, but not books. The second and the last were the disturbing ones, and the other two were well crafted and entertaining. Grim, too. I don't want to give anything away, but a few twists were terribly entertaining-- and very King.

One Hundred Years of Solitude is really interesting, complete opposite of King, and I am loving the prose, and most of the plot; it isn’t easy to follow, and I’ve mixed up names a couple of times, but so far it is worth reading. My problem with it is, I am halfway through, and at least two of the characters are pedophiles, even if they aren’t painted that way. Márquez talks about one character like a hero, and his, and his family’s, love for the child he marries (nine years old) is presented like it is a noble devotion. I am not happy with that… but nothing is realistic, so perhaps it is forgivable. Perhaps by the end, it will give me a complete turn around. He’s one hell of writer if he can, though. :/

A really good friend of mine bought me How To Drive A Tank... by Frank Coles for Christmas.  It's part self-help book, part instruction manual, as it details how to do the aforementioned tank-driving, to how best to handle your finances, and even how to dispose of a dead body.  I don't know where my friend got it from because I'm certain the legality of some chapters is questionable (how to fake your death, for instance) but it's all done seriously (in that these are facts, not someone saying how they'd do it) with some humour (like the reason you might need to get hold of a gun within 24 hours, for instance).  A very interesting book.

Isn't this rather like giving a lighter to a pyro?  :grin:

My daughter's given me a French cookery book which includes interesting dishes like starling paté. ASDA doesn't sell starling, so I doubt if I'll be making that one.

You are more than welcome to those here in the states, Delph. Damn things are a menace...

Which isn't their fault, and they are pretty and intelligent. It isn't their fault they are successful. I don't know what they're like in europe, but here (US, east coast) they're worse than pigeons. They push out the natives, too.-- ooh, look I managed to weaken my argument, then come full circle and talk myself into disliking the things again! That's talent!  :dance:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: desertwomble on December 29, 2010, 08:22:30 AM
I've just started on 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'.

Pretty darned good, thus far. I'd forgotten how good a well-written crime novel can be.

DW :cheesy:


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Craig Herbertson on February 25, 2011, 07:04:07 AM
I'm on Jack Vance 'Sail 25'. Excellent stuff.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: carcharor6 on February 25, 2011, 07:31:29 AM
I just finished Heart-shaped Box by Joe Hill. Loved it! Now I'm reading Pillar's Fall, by Ben Larken.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: ozmosis7 on February 25, 2011, 08:03:18 AM
I loved both Heart-Shaped Box and Horns. Apple didn't fall too far from the tree in Joe Hill for sure.


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: fnord33 on February 26, 2011, 06:22:36 AM
I just gave up on "House of Leaves." I read about half and couldn't get into it. Now I'm reading "Not Quite One of the Boys" and the Bacchus graphic novels. I'm liking both, but haven't gotten very far in either. My wife just tore through "Elephants on Acid" which is a great collection of the most bizarre scientific experiments in history. She told me about half of the experiments and there's some crazy shit. Reanimated kittens, head transplants, brainwashing, etc... It's an endless supply of story ideas.     


Title: Re: What are you reading? (apart from this)
Post by: Robert Essig on February 26, 2011, 08:38:06 PM
Elephants on Acid!  Holy shit I have to get that.  My wife and I love that kind of stuff.


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