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Cafe Doom  |  General Discussions  |  General Discussion  |  What's top of your reading list?
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Author Topic: What's top of your reading list?  (Read 125103 times)

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Offline delboy

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Re: What's top of your reading list?
« Reply #75 on: July 02, 2009, 02:52:30 AM »
Last night I kicked off reading Cinnimon Skin by John D MacDonald.

I've just finished several Robert Parker novels, one a western called Appoloosa in which he takes brevity of language to new extreme. His earlier Spenser novels tended to have much more description, but as he's aged so his use of style has become leaner and leaner, probably too lean, though it does make for a quick, easy and fun reading experience.

Not sure I'll revisit James Herbert anytime soon. I just had too many bad experiences. I did pick up Stephen King's Different Seasons last night and considered re-reading The Body for the umpteenth time. That's by far my favourite piece of King. But I plumped for the JDM instead.

Can't beat a good book on a summer's evening; though it doesn't do the word-count on WiPs much good!

Derek

"If you want to write, write it. That's the first rule. And send it in, and send it in to someone who can publish it or get it published. Don't send it to me. Don't show it to your spouse, or your significant other, or your parents, or somebody. They're not going to publish it."
 
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Offline Ed

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Re: What's top of your reading list?
« Reply #76 on: July 02, 2009, 07:40:17 AM »
Have you read Sepulchre, Del? I hear it's good :smiley:
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Offline delboy

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Re: What's top of your reading list?
« Reply #77 on: July 02, 2009, 01:03:50 PM »
I read Sepulchre in my James Herbert period back at school - and though I can't remember it per se, I do know that I came away from that period with a determination not to read any more. A determination I broke just the once...
"If you want to write, write it. That's the first rule. And send it in, and send it in to someone who can publish it or get it published. Don't send it to me. Don't show it to your spouse, or your significant other, or your parents, or somebody. They're not going to publish it."
 
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Offline Ed

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Re: What's top of your reading list?
« Reply #78 on: July 02, 2009, 04:22:46 PM »
Funny how tastes vary, isn't it? :grin:

Woody - maybe you'll read it this time and end up thinking 'wtf did I see in this shit before?' :scratch:
Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]

Offline Woody

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Re: What's top of your reading list?
« Reply #79 on: July 03, 2009, 02:19:24 PM »
 :grin:

Who knows? But I'm hoping not.
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Offline Ed

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Re: What's top of your reading list?
« Reply #80 on: July 03, 2009, 02:41:08 PM »
I've done that a few times with films I liked in the eighties. I'd say to the missus, "Oh, you've got to watch that film - one of the best I've ever seen." Then we watch it and I wonder just how stupid I was back then - how could I not see how hammy the acting was, how implausible the story, how crap the special effects?

I'm not saying that's how it was with you. Just that it's happened to me a few times - enough to make me wary of recommending anything I read/watched or otherwise appreciated in my teenage years :grin:
Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]

Offline delboy

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Re: What's top of your reading list?
« Reply #81 on: July 04, 2009, 03:57:41 AM »
This happens to me all the time with books, TV shows, movies, music, and even my own writing ("Did I write this shit?"). I guess it's simply part of one's natural growth. It would be wrong if it were any other way. Sometimes there's a feeling of disappointment, or even loss, with the realisation that something that was a huge and important part of a period of one's life no longer has the power to move you anymore. But, as I say, how could it be any other way?

Imagine the impact of reading James Herbert's The Rats or The Fog as an eleven year old, brought up on a diet of Enid Blyton, Willard Price, Stig Of the Dump, Warlord, and Magpie. Here  are books full of blood and gore and sex and extreme violence and they're  fast moving and terrifying and the characters are cool and there are sexy women and great set pieces.  How could you not love it? I remember being shocked (and delighted) that people actually put such words and scenes on paper. I remember me and the boys in my English class suddenly using such stuff in our own stories - putting words and ideas into our character's mouths and minds that would have got us into big trouble back home! We loved the rebeliousness of it all. It was great. But imagine the impact of reading that same book after experiencing Hemingway's For Whom The Bell Tolls and King's The Stand and Blatty's The Exorcist. When you've seen The Marathon Man and Jaws and The Postman Always Rings Twice and have experienced the coolness of Clint Eastwood as The Man With No Name or Dirty Harry and have furtively read Harold Robbins and Earl Thompson and when you've read Chandler and Cain and... etc etc.. Suddenly the impact of The Rats is going to be very different.

And that difference in base material is going to be apparant at any age - or rather, between any two ages. The music I've listened to in the last five years creates a massive shadow over the music I listened to thirty years ago. I still enjoy some of the early stuff, but most of it seems dated and simplistic and, sometimes, even fraudulent. Yet, as a fifteen year old I'd have died for those bands.

The interesting question for me is how to take all this experience and create something that has the same effect on others that any one of these pieces of work had on me at any given age.  Just to manage that one fleeting moment of inspiration to someone would be wonderful and make it all worthwhile.

Derek
« Last Edit: July 04, 2009, 03:59:25 AM by delboy »
"If you want to write, write it. That's the first rule. And send it in, and send it in to someone who can publish it or get it published. Don't send it to me. Don't show it to your spouse, or your significant other, or your parents, or somebody. They're not going to publish it."
 
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delph_ambi

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Re: What's top of your reading list?
« Reply #82 on: July 04, 2009, 05:04:03 AM »
Yes, exactly. Thank you Derek for articulating precisely what I hadn't got round to saying.

Offline Rev. Austin

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Re: What's top of your reading list?
« Reply #83 on: July 04, 2009, 06:32:17 AM »
I remember reading The Rats for the first time and thought it was the shiznit.  That was when I used to get up early on Sundays to go to car boot sales and rummage around for cheap books about giant animals attacking people.  I still love that stuff though; just recently I read Guy N Smith's Night of the Crabs, which is absolutely amazing.  I just don't think you get books nowadays with lines like "Fuckng hell, it's another one of those bastard crabs!" in it  :grin:

In other news, I'm now reading Pronto, by Elmore Leonard.  Very enjoyable.
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Offline delboy

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Re: What's top of your reading list?
« Reply #84 on: July 06, 2009, 10:00:06 AM »
There's an interesting thing happening with some of my reading at the moment. I think it's because I've been reading a half dozen or so crime novels on the trot and thus am getting clued into how these things really work. Suddenly I'm seeing the nuts and bolts, picking up the framework, spotting what the author is doing. I used to sit down with the absolute intention of doing just this but tended to get caught up in the story - become a reader rather than a writer, if you like. But recently, the writer's view is coming to the fore.

I'm not sure I like it, but I think it's invaluable as a writer, if a tad annoying for the reader in me.

Derek
"If you want to write, write it. That's the first rule. And send it in, and send it in to someone who can publish it or get it published. Don't send it to me. Don't show it to your spouse, or your significant other, or your parents, or somebody. They're not going to publish it."
 
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Offline Pharosian

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Re: What's top of your reading list?
« Reply #85 on: July 06, 2009, 11:00:12 PM »
There's an interesting thing happening with some of my reading at the moment. I think it's because I've been reading a half dozen or so crime novels on the trot and thus am getting clued into how these things really work. Suddenly I'm seeing the nuts and bolts, picking up the framework, spotting what the author is doing. I used to sit down with the absolute intention of doing just this but tended to get caught up in the story - become a reader rather than a writer, if you like. But recently, the writer's view is coming to the fore.

I'm not sure I like it, but I think it's invaluable as a writer, if a tad annoying for the reader in me.

Derek

That happened for me when I read three Dan Brown novels back-to-back: Angels & Demons, Deception Point, and Digital Fortress. (I seem to be one of the few people who never got around to reading The Da Vinci Code...) Anyway, if I'd only read one of them, or read the three of them months or years apart, I probably wouldn't have had the same experience, because, as you say, one gets caught up in the story. But by reading them in such close proximity to one another, by the time I finished the third one, I had the eerie sense that they were all basically the same book! From the surface, they are wildly different stories--and despite the snipes I kept hearing about Dan Brown's writing skills, I remained impressed with the amount of research he put into each book--but "under the hood" they all shared the same chassis, engine, and geartrain, so to speak. Instead of being annoyed, though, I was thrilled with the revelation. It was one of those "aha!" moments where I finally started to understand the "structure" of a book.

Since then, I've been fortunate enough to have taken a workshop that discussed story arc and novel structure, so it's not quite so much of a mystery anymore. It's still a daunting prospect to build the structure myself, but at least I can often glimpse the one someone else has built.

Offline Ed

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Re: What's top of your reading list?
« Reply #86 on: July 07, 2009, 01:55:20 AM »
I was very aware of Dan Brown's fishlipping strategy when reading DVC. Apart from that I thought it was much the same in structure as any other mystery/quest story. It starts with a murder and a mystery, the protagonist finds allies, our expert hero is called in, follows a trail of clues while shadowed by the villains, then they all converge at the end for a finale and a twist. Does that sound about right, or would you put it in different terms?

I'm interested because I really want to start (and preferably finish) a novel this year, and the one I have in mind is a kind of murder mystery, but with sci fi and horror elements.
Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]

Offline delboy

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Re: What's top of your reading list?
« Reply #87 on: July 07, 2009, 02:27:06 AM »
Yeah, that sounds about right, Ed. Almost the universal plot.

But it wasn't so much that framework that I was thinking about, more the way the flesh is attached to the framework. You know... an engaging conversation between two people that in itself is fun and readable and is shedding light on characters... but now I'm reading between the lines and spotting how throwaway comments are actually fore-shadowing ebemts and clues to come; how the frission between characters - not necessarily the villains - is designed to add a little more tension to the plot and makes teh reader just a little bit more anxious, how a simple plot is complicated by the introduction of (apparantly) unrelated incidents, how the tension of the love interest is introduced and maintained and kept simmering. How the villain, offstage in a lot of crime, is slowly built up into a character capable of threatening even our super-hero MC. How the arc of the story in many of these crime tales is essentially the same, and how, stripped of the mystery the plot itself is usually simple and everything is really about character. All this stuff. I've always had a tendancy to back off when creating my characters - bring them a little closer into the real world, if you like. But reading all these books on the trot I realise that real people aren't what's required. We want apparantly real characters but ones that are actually extremely heroic.

There's nothing new in any of this. It's suddenly just becoming very easy to spot all of this stuff. Like fishing for years and working hard on rivercraft to understand where the big fish are most likely to be, and then suddenly being given a pair of polaroids and being able to see them.

Derek
"If you want to write, write it. That's the first rule. And send it in, and send it in to someone who can publish it or get it published. Don't send it to me. Don't show it to your spouse, or your significant other, or your parents, or somebody. They're not going to publish it."
 
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Offline Caz

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Re: What's top of your reading list?
« Reply #88 on: July 07, 2009, 01:40:39 PM »
  Just finished a book called, ‘Let The Right One In.’ It’s by a guy called John Ajvide Lindqvist, he’s Swedish. I only mention that in case anyone thinks I can’t spell.
  Anyways, I bought this book because I liked the cover, it’s great to be shallow, and it’s turned out to be a good read.
  The story is a run of the mill vampire tale, with an assortment of weirdoes and freaks thrown in. But what stands out about it is the setting and characters. It’s set on what seems like a very bleak housing estate and all involved in the tale have got problems, be they drugs, booze, family troubles or too much interest from the local blood sucker.

  I liked this one for its originality, humour and writing style.   
  The only real niggle I've got with it are some of the character and place names. They're Swedish so I had to settle for a best guess on some of them. Not much of a problem in reality though.
 Well worth the money this one. :afro:       
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Offline Rev. Austin

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Re: What's top of your reading list?
« Reply #89 on: July 07, 2009, 01:50:30 PM »
In a similar sense, I love Raymond Chandler, and after reading two of his novels in a row, and then a collection of short stories, I discovered that even when he's not writing Marlowe, he's writing Marlowe.  Which I should be disappointed about, but since Marlowe's such a wonderful creation I don't mind.  

Plus, in the introduction of the book of short stories Chandler actually outlines what sort of qualities a main (hero) character should possess, to make him appear real, but actually properly heroic.  And after that little build-up, I haven't got the book to hand to quote  ;) but it involved 'honour' and 'strong morals' even if they 'bend the rules', that sort of stuff.

In other news: I've finally got round to reading an actual Clive Barker novel, The Great And Secret Show, it seems alright so far.

edit: whoops that top bit doesn't quite make sense following Caz's post haha

I was hoping to see the film of Let The Right One in when it came to my local cinema recently - except they had it for 5 days only arrghhh I've heard it called a 'modern fairy tale', would that be accurate, Caz?
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