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Poll
Question: Which book should the club read next?  (Voting closed: September 21, 2009, 06:31:40 PM)
Contagious by Scott Sigler - 1 (20%)
Darko Descending by Greg F Gifune - 1 (20%)
The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner By James Hogg - 0 (0%)
Death Without Interruptions by José Saramago - 3 (60%)
Total Voters: 5

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Author Topic: Book Club's #2 Book  (Read 7157 times)
Ed
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« on: September 15, 2009, 02:55:12 AM »

Choosing the second book seems to have fallen onto the back burner without us realising, so let's get moving again with the choice of another book. If you have any suggestions to make, please voice them, and then we'll take a vote on the weekend.

So far we've had the following suggestions -

Dragoro:

Could I make a suggestion of maybe Contagious by Scott Sigler, or Darko Descending by Greg F Gifune, or if ya havent heard of either of them, maybe Serial by Jack Kilborn? If none of those, thats still great, Id like to participate and find more authors and books! (I havent read any of the suggested but am familiar with Scott Siglers and Greg Gifune's works)


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Woody:

Heard Iain Banks talking on Radio 4's "Open Book" the other day and he really rates "The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner" By James Hogg - another oldie and also said to be a hard read.

It's available to read online, via Google books - but this is only a suggestion. Possibly something more contemporary would be better.


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Ed:

I've seen  José Saramago and Jorge Luis Borges named as two of the greatest horror writers of the past hundred years, and yet they don't seem to get much press compared to Koontz and King, so my interest is piqued. I'd like to read something by them.

The author of this article speaks passionately about Saramango's writing:

http://poetrydispatch.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/jose-saramago-death-without-interruptions/

And posts the opening of DEATH WITHOUT INTERRUPTIONS - quote:

THE FOLLOWING DAY, NO ONE DIED. THIS FACT, BEING absolutely contrary to life’s rules, provoked enormous and, in the circumstances, perfectly justifiable anxiety in people’s minds, for we have only to consider that in the entire forty volumes of universal history there is no mention, not even one exemplary case, of such a phenomenon ever having occurred, for a whole day to go by, with its generous allowance of twenty-four hours, diurnal and nocturnal, matutinal and vespertine, without one death from an illness, a fatal fall, or a successful suicide, not one, not a single one. Not even from a car accident, so frequent on festive occasions, when blithe irresponsibility and an excess of alcohol jockey for position on the roads to decide who will reach death first. New year’s eve had failed to leave behind it the usual calamitous trail of fatalities, as if old atropos with her great bared teeth had decided to put aside her shears for a day. There was, however, no shortage of blood. Bewildered, confused, distraught, struggling to control their feelings of nausea, the firemen extracted from the mangled remains wretched human bodies that, according to the mathematical logic of the collisions, should have been well and truly dead, but which, despite the seriousness of the injuries and lesions suffered, remained alive and were carried off to hospital, accompanied by the shrill sound of the ambulance sirens. None of these people would die along the way and all would disprove the most pessimistic of medical prognoses, There’s nothing to be done for the poor man, it’s not even worth operating, a complete waste of time, said the surgeon to the nurse as she was adjusting his mask. And the day before, there would probably have been no salvation for this particular patient, but one thing was clear, today, the victim refused to die. And what was happening here was happening throughout the country. Up until the very dot of midnight on the last day of the year there were people who died in full compliance with the rules, both those relating to the nub of the matter, i.e. the termination of life, and those relating to the many ways in which the aforementioned nub, with varying degrees of pomp and solemnity, chooses to mark the fatal moment…



So, there’s a little of the author in his own words– translated by Margaret Jull Costa. Here’s how the publisher describes the book:

ON THE FIRST DAY OF the new year, no one dies. This, of course, causes consternation among politicians, religious leaders, morticians, and doctors. Among the general public, on the other hand, there is celebration—flags are hung out on balconies, people dance in the streets. They have achieved the great goal of humanity: eternal life. Then reality hits home—families are left to care for the permanently dying, life-insurance policies become meaningless, and funeral parlors are reduced to arranging burials for pet dogs, cats, hamsters, and parrots. Death sits in her chilly apartment, where she lives alone with her scythe and filing cabinets, and contemplates her experiment: What if no one ever died again? What if she, death with a small ‘d’, became human and were to fall in love?



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« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2009, 03:56:39 AM »

You know, not suggesting this for one minute as a book for you lot to read, but in the original book of Gulliver's Travels one of the places he travels to never makes it into any of the films of the book, as it's too horrific. It's the place where nobody dies. He thinks at first, ah! Fantastic! Eternal youth! But of course it's nothing of the sort. It's eternal aging. Getting older and older and more and more sick and decrepit, without the chance of any sort of release. That's horror.
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« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2009, 01:32:20 PM »

I'm a little soured on The Ghost Pirates. Guess I'm a lazy reader (although I did do a lot of other reading during the past month). Ghost Pirates never got a hold of me. I made it about halfway through, but that's only because I felt an obligation to the group. Anyone ever read any books by Richard Matheson. Just got finished re-watching A Stir of Echoes, which is a film based on one of his books. He's got a ton of stuff out there. I wouldn't mind trying one of his. I've been reading Midnight Grinding, a collection of short stories by Ronald Kelly. He seems to be able to craft a tale pretty well, and he's got a few books out there. Wouldn't mind giving one of his a try. Just a couple suggestions. I'll be happy to take a shot at whatever we all agree on.
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« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2009, 03:18:46 PM »

I read Serial a few weeks ago. It's very short--3 chapters totaling about 40 pages--and also free. You can download a .pdf version here: http://www.blakecrouch.com/assets/docs/serial.pdf

We could all probably read that while we were trying to decide on a "real book" to read next.  bleh
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« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2009, 06:11:10 PM »

For me the only criteria I want to follow are a) anything I haven't read before, but especially authors I haven't read before and b) something I can read offline - my day job means I'm working/reading from a computer screen for at least 9 hour stretches everyday; a book in hand is my preferred option.
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« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2009, 06:21:26 PM »

I've seen  José Saramago and Jorge Luis Borges named as two of the greatest horror writers of the past hundred years, and yet they don't seem to get much press compared to Koontz and King, so my interest is piqued. I'd like to read something by them.

The opening of "Death Without Interruptions" has definitely sold this proposition to me, especially as my only experience in reading is that of writers who write in English.
Caz has, in conversations, enthused about translations he's read - I would like to take this step with the next book if it's agreeable.
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« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2009, 12:36:27 AM »

That's a second for Death With Interruptions. I'd be willing to give it a go, but a few of the reviews on Amazon make me a bit nervous. Here's a few excerpts from people that gave it five stars:


"The following day, no one died." Thus begins Jose Saramago's latest masterpiece, a quirky, whimsical, and utterly enthralling tale called DEATH WITH INTERRUPTIONS. Written in Saramago's characteristic style - dense, run-on sentences filled with multiple digressive asides and dialog unseparated by line breaks or quotation marks - the book stands as an offbeat meditation on death and the manner in which humanity copes (or fails to cope) with it.
---

For those new to Saramago's unique and trademark writing style, it takes some getting used to. His prose is dense - he uses very little punctuation - he slides from one person speaking or thinking immediately to the next person within the same sentence broken up only with a comma. So your steady focus and attention is a requirement to follow the narrative - or you find that you will lose your way as to who is saying what. Yet, you will find yourself falling into a rhythm - not unlike the back and forth of normal conversation and thinking that we all experience - which places you squarely at the scene or at the center of the story.

---

Dense, run-on sentences filled with multiple digressive asides and dialog unseparated by line breaks or quotation marks.

and

His prose is dense - he uses very little punctuation - he slides from one person speaking or thinking immediately to the next person within the same sentence broken up only with a comma.

 hiding I'd give it a go, but can't promise I'll finish it. Did I mention I'm a lazy reader? Another reviewer on Amazon who claimed to be a fan of Saramago's said that they'd recommend the book on merit, but only to those who can wade through a difficult or dry read without losing interest and tossing it on the shelves.
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« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2009, 01:12:46 AM »

Ive already read it, but id sure read it again, if you guys would want to.

Check out Scars on the Face of God: The devils bible by CG Bauer. Its a great book and pretty original with the ideas that Bauer uses. And a percentage of  every book sold goes to a children's orphanage, which aint a bad thing.
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« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2009, 03:42:49 PM »

I couldn't finish the first page of DEATH WITHOUT INTERUPTIONS. Great premise - even if done (to death) before - but the authorial intrusion and asides drove me mad.

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« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2009, 06:01:17 PM »

 scratch  Hmmm... doesn't sound like much fun to read. Perhaps an interesting one to discuss, though? I wonder if we should be reading books that stimulate conversation about the way they are written, structured, plotted, narrated, or whether we should just stick with easier fare. The interesting stuff is often at the extremes, isn't it? Like The DVC - opinion is split right down the middle between those who hate it and those who love it. It seems to provoke endless discussion.
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« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2009, 04:00:00 PM »

I wonder if we should be reading books that stimulate conversation about the way they are written, structured, plotted, narrated, or whether we should just stick with easier fare.

IMO I thought that is what a book club is about; the discussion.

Also let's not forget, it's not compulsory and another book will come up, it is about our personal view of the text not someone else's, and we'll never agree about what should and should not be read.

I think it's time to stick the stake in the vampire and go for "Death With Interruptions" by Jose Saramago 1922-  afro
He did win a Nobel prize for literature and you don't get something like that very easily.
For me this choice is very good on a number of levels.
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« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2009, 06:32:09 PM »

The poll's up afro
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« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2009, 06:55:27 PM »

Ah ha! Decision has been made. Voting for the next book starts now and will be concluded on Monday 21st September, by 23:30 BST.
This sets the precedent that voting for a book to be read by all those that wish to partake is only available for 3 days after the poll has been posted.

Book club rule #1 has been defined.   afro
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« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2009, 12:36:35 AM »

OK, I just voted, but before I did, I went to Amazon to check out each of the four choices. Here are some things I found out:

* Contagious got an overwhelming number of 5-star reviews (101), followed by (15) 4-star, (1) 3-star, (0) 2-star, and (4) 1-star. Of the 4 1-star reviews, 3 were for things that had absolutely nothing to do with the story, but rather with delivery issues, pricing, or text-to-speech not enabled on the Kindle edition. In addition, the author provides free copies of the audio and .pdf versions on his website! Now, on the downside for the book club, Contagious is the sequel to Infected, and several reviews said that it didn't make sense to read Contagious before reading Infected. For that reason, I couldn't vote for it this time around, despite the glowing reviews.

* Drago Descending (not Darko) looks interesting. I read the blurb and the sample online. It got (4) 5-stars and (1) 4-star review. Here's what the "official" review had to say:

Quote
DRAGO DESCENDING is neither horror nor dark fantasy, crime noir nor erotica. It is, in fact, the rarest breed of narrative--a story unaware of genre. Gifune's themes are universal, his approach fluid, and his ideas honest. Combining the earthy, grimy resonance of urban terror with a spiraling mythical-biblical premise, Gifune's exploration of madness, spiritual warfare, pornography, and the paradoxical beauty and devastation of human relationships is a perfect marriage of form and subject. Interweaving the sinister grace of shadows with the shocking animalism of passion, Gifune's themes are equally inspiring and depressing.

Drago, a man walking the tightrope between decency and depravity, is a fascinating study of internal conflict. A private detective scarred by his experiences on the police force, the Gulf War, and a stint in the psychotic ward of a Veterans' hospital, Drago's biggest emotional scar is his lingering love for Jesse, a deliciously rendered femme fatale. Once Drago is contacted by a mysterious man to find her, he's drawn into a world hiding within the seemingly normal world--the exterior of society which parallels his fragile balance between savagery and sacrifice. Drago's world isn't simply haunted by demons and angels; it's haunted by flawed good intentions. Perception itself is the trap.

Breathing with the greatness of classic tragedy, Gifune keeps his action furious, and his atmosphere an integral component of meaning. Elements of setting and weather foreshadow emotionally significant action without seeming trite, and the ending, while initially appearing a convenient ploy, actually lends greater ambiguity to a story concerned with the shadowy borderlands between appearance and truth. A first rate thriller!

--William Simmons, Reviewed for Cemetery Dance Magazine


* The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner also sounded interesting, and I read the sample provided by Amazon. Although it's another book whose style would take a little getting used to (it was written in 1824), I found that I was immediately drawn into the situation and sympathetic to one of the characters while taking a strong dislike to the other. Apparently the version on Amazon is the original, but a "corrected" version was put out some time after initial publication to placate Calvinists, as the main character is a Calvinist boy who is corrupted by a mysterious stranger.

* Death with Interruptions (not without) does seem to be the love-it or hate-it type of book Ed talked about. I read the longer sample on Amazon, and while I see everyone's point about the unorthodox structure of the writing, I was able to follow it for all that. While it may get tedious after a few dozen pages, I want to know how this author sees the church and state dealing with such an unprecedented event. I'm not sure why Saramago chose to break the rules, but I doubt it's because he doesn't know them. As in other art forms, there is a difference in outcome between someone who paints or plays or writes badly and someone who deliberately uses clashing colors or plays discordant notes or uses run-on sentences to some effect.

I voted for Death with Interruptions this time around, but I downloaded the Kindle version of Drago Descending (it was only $3.96) and the other two have free downloads available, so I'm ready for whichever option we decide.
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« Reply #14 on: September 20, 2009, 07:19:17 AM »

I read Serial a few weeks ago. It's very short--3 chapters totaling about 40 pages--and also free. You can download a .pdf version here: http://www.blakecrouch.com/assets/docs/serial.pdf

We could all probably read that while we were trying to decide on a "real book" to read next.  bleh

That was a wicked short story!

DW Cheesy
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