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What'cha Reading?

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
I haven't read his last two(?) novels, but Kafka was the last good book I read of his and the next several went downhill fast. You might still like Murakami, but not his later stuff.

I have yet to go back and revisit his earlier stuff that I loved in college. I'm honestly a little scared to.
 
I think he wrote three in a row where he's doing the best version of the thing he's trying to do: Windup Bird Chronicles, Sputnick Sweetheart, and Kafka on the Shore. Everything before that feels like a rough draft for those three, and everything after feels like diminishing returns on it.

(rough drafts era>diminishing returns era, of course)
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I think he wrote three in a row where he's doing the best version of the thing he's trying to do: Windup Bird Chronicles, Sputnick Sweetheart, and Kafka on the Shore. Everything before that feels like a rough draft for those three, and everything after feels like diminishing returns on it.

(rough drafts era>diminishing returns era, of course)
This is exactly how I feel about Murakami. I've read all of his fiction, and he definitely peaks at Kafka on the Shore. I'm not sure I really liked any of the novels he's written since! (I hear you asking: why keep reading them, then? Because every time, I think "Maybe this is the one where he recaptures the magic." For some reason, I'm still holding out hope.)
 
I oddly got introduced to him through What I Talk About When I Talk About Running and I loved it, still my favourite thing of his. Wind Up Bird Chronicle was good, I hated Kakfa on the Shore. To me Norweigian Wood was better than Kafka on the Shore but not as good as Wind Up Bird. I do really highly recommend his recent short story collection: First Person Singular: Stories. Really, really loved that book.

why keep reading them, then? Because every time, I think "Maybe this is the one where he recaptures the magic." For some reason, I'm still holding out hope.
I also have to say that even if I don't like one of his books I still appreciate having read it. They're all fascinating and challenging and always worth a shot to me.
 
Highly recommend the book VJ. Made me miss the early days of MTV. Moving on to Alone in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert by Roger Ebert
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I also have to say that even if I don't like one of his books I still appreciate having read it. They're all fascinating and challenging and always worth a shot to me.
Yeah, he's pretty much the only author where I'll still finish the book even if I don't like it.
 

zonetrope

(he/him)
My introduction to Murakami was Underground, his nonfiction book of interviews with the survivors and perpetrators of the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin gas attacks. It's as intense as that sounds, but from what I remember (it's been almost two decades since I read it), he did a really good job.
 

Falselogic

Techno-Threadcromancer
(they/them)
I finished Carrying the Fire by Michael Collins, one of the three members of the Apollo 11 Space Mission (the one that landed on the moon) While Armstrong and Aldrin were on the moon, Collins was in Columbia (the Command Module) that orbited the moon.

He wrote the book in the 1970s and its a fascinating and mostly frank retelling of his time as a NASA astronaut. Collins died earlier this year (in April). If you have any interest in the early NASA years I recommend it.
 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
I think he wrote three in a row where he's doing the best version of the thing he's trying to do: Windup Bird Chronicles, Sputnick Sweetheart, and Kafka on the Shore. Everything before that feels like a rough draft for those three, and everything after feels like diminishing returns on it.

(rough drafts era>diminishing returns era, of course)

I oddly got introduced to him through What I Talk About When I Talk About Running and I loved it, still my favourite thing of his. Wind Up Bird Chronicle was good, I hated Kakfa on the Shore. To me Norweigian Wood was better than Kafka on the Shore but not as good as Wind Up Bird. I do really highly recommend his recent short story collection: First Person Singular: Stories. Really, really loved that book.


I also have to say that even if I don't like one of his books I still appreciate having read it. They're all fascinating and challenging and always worth a shot to me.

My introduction to Murakami was Underground, his nonfiction book of interviews with the survivors and perpetrators of the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin gas attacks. It's as intense as that sounds, but from what I remember (it's been almost two decades since I read it), he did a really good job.

Highly seconding the recommendation for Underground; It's really powerful and an excellent read.

Also I do have to jump in and go to bat for Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. It's probably the biggest departure from his norm, where the magical realism reaches almost sci-fi/fantasy levels, but I loved the tone, the setting, and the structure. Probably still my favorite. Norwegian Wood is his biggest departure in the other direction, with pretty much no surreal or magical-realist elements at all, but is (or was for a long time) his most popular/best-selling book, iirc.

Maybe I really should check out his more recent ones at some point, or at least the shorts... but ehhhhhn.
 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
Yeah. I thought After Dark was terrible, and "big time investment for little reward" is exactly how I felt about 1Q84. Which was, not coincidentally, the last Murakami book I read.
 
The Iliad (Caroline Alexander translation) is a much easier read and more entertaining than I expected. I had always heard it was the boring one compared to The Odyssey, and I'd read a lot of later Greek tragedies before but never any of the epics, so I had no idea what it might be like formally. I thought it might be more narrative with long lists of lineages that I'd have to trudge through. That stuff is in there to an extent, but a large proportion of it is people (and gods) proclaiming dramatic monologues at each other, which honestly makes it a real page turner as far as texts from thousands of years ago are concerned. (In retrospect, I guess it's not super surprising that something rooted in an oral tradition would be very monologue focused...)

A few belated additional thoughts on The Iliad:

(1) The amount of lineage stuff increased as the story went on, but it was almost all in the context of explaining how badass a central character is for killing someone who had has not been mentioned yet in the story. A lot of it goes like this:

But Achilles, his heart clad in valor, sprang for the Trojans,
shouting his terrifying cry. And first he killed Iphition,
the brave son of Otrynteus, leader of many men,
whom a nymph of the river bore to Otrynteus, sacker of cities,
below snowy Mount Tmolos, in the rich land of Hyde;
this man godlike Achilles smote with his spear across the middle of the head
as he charged straight at him; and the whole of the head was split in two,
and he fell with a thud. And over him godlike Achilles vaunted:
"Lie dead, son of Otrynteus, most terrifying of all men.
Your death is here, but your people are by Lake
Gygaia, where the land of your fathers is,
by the fish-breeding river Hyllos and the eddies of Hermos."
So he spoke vaunting, and darkness closed the others' eyes.

In other words, Achilles didn't kill just some nobody, he killed the son of a river nymph, who will now die far away from his homeland and with no proper burial.

(2) The story really does what it says in the opening lines! I thought it might give more resolution to the siege of Troy or Achilles' life, but it really is basically an account of a certain period of time when Achilles was really pissed off, and it ends when he is persuaded to stop being so pissed off.

(3) This is obvious, but seeing the gods' behavior really emphasized the degree to which modern gender norms get written onto them in modern popular culture depictions. For example, because Ares is a god of war, he frequently is presented in modern popular culture as tough and stoic, but in this he's a whiny little two-faced brat who runs to Zeus to complain when Athena fights back. (This isn't to say that there are not of lot of gender norms going on in The Iliad! One of the instigating incidents is a conflict over which warlord gets to keep a certain captured woman as his bride. That being said, certain gods often seem free to operate outside the gender norms for mortals, especially Athena.)

(4) A lot of the battles are more or less grounded in reality with gods basically casting buffs and debuffs, but there's a climax where Achilles quits moping to come back to the battle and the gods have a free for all that's really wild. One of the highlights is Achilles fighting a god that is a personified river. It's a great scene.

(5) I think people who want maximum accessibility might want to wait for the Wilson translation or try the existing Fagles translation, but having finished it now I do think that once you get used to its rhythms this translation is very readable, although there may be a bit of learning curve to adjust.
 
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Falselogic

Techno-Threadcromancer
(they/them)
@estragon Now you can read Virgil's Aeneid if you are looking for a continuation of the Troy story. The Odyssey will only deal with it tangentially. I don't know if there are any "new" translations of Virgil's work though.
 
I think I want to do The Odyssey first, because my surface level understanding is that The Aeneid was written with Homer's works as a model of sorts and also because I think I'm generally more interested in the work of Homer than the narrative of Troy. I am interested in it, though!

Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be starting either anytime soon, currently in a mode of finishing up larger scale books/games and not starting new ones... But someday...
 
So, yesterday and today, I continued knocking out some of my Stephen King backlist with Cycle of the Werewolf and The Colorado Kid. Both I found completely lackluster. Now, trying some horror with The Conqueror Worms by Brian Keene
 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
Finished up The Arm of the Sphinx and dived straight into The Hod King. Here I thought it was a trilogy but apparently there's a 4th book too, at least? God dammit I thought the series was finished
 
After having recently watched Broadway the Golden Age and its sequel, I'd thought I'd read some history about it with Beautiful Mornin': The Broadway Musicals in the 1940's by Ethan Mordden
 

Positronic Brain

Out Of Warranty
(He/him)
I'm reading Andy Weir's Project Hail Mary and it's been great fun so far. It's full of his quirky sense of humor... For example, there's this part where he addresses one of my most loathed tropes - the item vendor that charges full price for his wares even though he know the party needs his gear to save the world - by having the whole copyright industry sue the project that is going to save the world for not paying full royalties for uploading a copy of every book ever printed into the spaceship that is humanity's titular last hope and now I understand that, yeah, that trope would totally take place in real life.

Anyway, still have to finish it but so far it's way better than Artemis.
 
I'm reading Andy Weir's Project Hail Mary and it's been great fun so far. It's full of his quirky sense of humor... For example, there's this part where he addresses one of my most loathed tropes - the item vendor that charges full price for his wares even though he know the party needs his gear to save the world - by having the whole copyright industry sue the project that is going to save the world for not paying full royalties for uploading a copy of every book ever printed into the spaceship that is humanity's titular last hope and now I understand that, yeah, that trope would totally take place in real life.

Anyway, still have to finish it but so far it's way better than Artemis.

There are so many moments in this book I loved, and that one was just so perfect and depressingly accurate.
 
The Perfect Nine by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o. I've never read anything quite like this and loved it. It made me miss Kenya, while I know most of this book is a retelling/reimagining a lot of it reminded me of the Kikuyu fables I heard when I was little.

Also reminded me that I used to know Swahili (I was about six so not a ton but would have been enough to understand stories) and if I'd had the resources to keep learning or even retain it I probably would be able to read more or listen to more things like this as so little gets translated into English and the majority is oral tradition anyway.
 
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