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Empyreal
The Final Frontier

Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2006 6:58 pm
Posts: 29636
Location: Where the dead rule the night
PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2021 3:08 pm 
 

Spent the morning reading Cynan Jones "The Dig" over breakfast then at the beach. This is going to be one of those books that makes me envious of somebody else's writing skills. Dude can make scenes of a guy just farming and taking care of chores seem literary and profound. That's how you know you found an intriguing read.
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Methuen
Metalhead

Joined: Tue May 19, 2015 4:55 pm
Posts: 1857
Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2021 10:37 am 
 

Recently read -

Amor Towles - A Gentleman in Moscow (2016)
This is an excellent novel - a fictional character study & drama that starts in newly Bolshevik Moscow. A minor nobleman, living in an hotel, is the author's avatar living through the takeover of Russia by the Bolsheviks. It's lighthearted in places, laugh-out-loud funny at times, romantic in others, sharply observant and critical in others. It's one of those novels where 'nothing happens' - lots of narrative, conversations, small interactions that really show the author's research into the minutiae of all sorts of lives and how they where changed by the revolution. Politics, while omnipresent as a theme, aren't the point of the novel - there are no polemics or story-stopping harangues as with much other modern fiction - it's a human interest story, and told very, very well.


Joseph Roth - The Emperor's Tomb (1938)

Roth to me is a kind of Tolstoy analogue; this novel has more than a whiff of Evelyn Waugh's later work too. The second half of the Trotta family's lives in Austria-Hungary, this one covers the tipping point of that imperial history (and the family history) via the First World War, the deprivations that follow, and the seediness of 20th century political extremists; communists and national socialists are looked down on quite equally. The book is a pretty unsubtle meditation on the last days of Austria-Hungry; Roth had seen his country from it's last Habsburg peak to it's lowest ebb, and his characters live that decline. Roth died in Paris shortly after this book was published, not long prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. Reading 'Radetzky March' first helps with some of the context and background winks in this book, but it's not necessary.

Currently reading -

Philip Hughes: The Church in Crisis (1961)
A pre-Vatican II summary of the major ecumenical councils of the Catholic Church, from Nicea in AD 325, to Vatican I in 1869. Fascinating both for the older style of language (a pleasure to read vs. many modern historians), and for the story itself - at Nicea, Ephesus, Chalcedon, a Roman emperor presides over the early theological questions. We see the shift from East to West; we see the barbarian invasions, the fall of Rome, the long Islamic conquest of Byzantium, and the 19 century-long stalagmite of doctrine built up from the earliest doctrinal heresies to the problems of German nationalism.
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PETERG
Metal newbie

Joined: Sat Jun 20, 2015 1:48 pm
Posts: 165
Location: Greece
PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2021 12:17 pm 
 

Coastliner wrote:
PETERG wrote:
[...] The never-ending story by Michael Ende [...] The book was written in the 1950s and both Ende and Tolkien seem to have influenced each other.


That's impossible. "The Never-Ending Story" was written between 1977 and 1979 (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_unendliche_Geschichte) and was first published in 1979
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Neverending_Story), six years after Tolkien's death. "The Lord of the Rings" was written between 1937 and the late 40s and was first published in three volumes in 1954 and 1955 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lord_of_the_Rings).

Both great in their respective ways and recommended. Although it's doubtful that Tolkien would have liked Ende. He wasn't keen on 20th century literature in general. One of the few contemporary novels he accepted was David Lindsay's science fiction classic "Voyage to Arcturus" (1920) (cf. The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Letter # 26) but, on the whole, he was more into age-old stuff with cobwebs and a beard :old: .



Wow I have made a fool of myself. I never bothered to look the actual release of the book and my teacher told me that the date was around the '50s. Sorry for that.
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Coastliner
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Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2021 7:49 am
Posts: 31
Location: beyond the blue on some ancient, tattered Fates Warning cover
PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2021 2:14 pm 
 

PETERG wrote:
Wow I have made a fool of myself. I never bothered to look the actual release of the book and my teacher told me that the date was around the '50s. Sorry for that.


No problem! I think at some point I, too, had the impression it was from the 50s. Don't know why... I read it in the early 80s (when the movie was made), and the only fantasy novels I knew at that time were The Neverending Story and... The Lord of the Rings. I probably confused one with the other. :scratch:

Inspired by this thread, I dusted it off yesterday. Don't know if I'll make it through the whole book but there seem to be some interesting occult concepts that I missed the first time round, e.g. 'Ygramul, the Many.' Not exactly typical children's stuff...

@ Topic:

Now reading:

- Stephen King / Peter Straub: The Talisman: When I first read it in the 80s, I was fascinated by the mashup of the two worlds, and the same fascination returned after only a couple of pages. A real page-turner.

- Alfred Döblin: Berge Meere und Giganten (Mountains Seas and Giants): Experimental dystopian novel from 1924. Ghastly. Hideous. I've never read anything by Döblin that I liked. The problem is: It seems to be one of those novels that you shouldn't judge before you've read all of it but I'm not sure whether I can stomach another couple of hundred pages of condescending language and racist stereotypes...
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PETERG
Metal newbie

Joined: Sat Jun 20, 2015 1:48 pm
Posts: 165
Location: Greece
PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2021 11:17 am 
 

Coastliner wrote:
e.g. 'Ygramul, the Many.' Not exactly typical children's stuff...


My God was I terrified when I first read this... :ugh: :ugh:
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~Guest 58624
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Jan 29, 2006 4:33 am
Posts: 649
PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2021 4:19 pm 
 

I've had the worst luck with bookcases. I try to limit my spending to $100-150 or so (anything cheaper is asking for trouble, as I learned the hard way). Most recently I tried a six-shelf Hemnes from IKEA, and it lasted a few years, but just last night while I was sleeping, the back gave out and the shelves collapsed.

I'm not sure where to find a good one without spending a bunch. Recommendations?

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Methuen
Metalhead

Joined: Tue May 19, 2015 4:55 pm
Posts: 1857
Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2021 2:53 am 
 

megalowho wrote:
I've had the worst luck with bookcases. I try to limit my spending to $100-150 or so (anything cheaper is asking for trouble, as I learned the hard way). Most recently I tried a six-shelf Hemnes from IKEA, and it lasted a few years, but just last night while I was sleeping, the back gave out and the shelves collapsed.

I'm not sure where to find a good one without spending a bunch. Recommendations?


This is going to sound like a total cliche - but find a local business that does house clearances, tell them what you need. We bought a lot of solidly built old furniture that way, from the time before everything became cheap plastic crap. These people aren't retailers either - they're usually just binning it or selling it wholesale, so you get much better prices. You might have to wait a bit depending on your area, but it's worth it - much better than yet-another-wood-pulp-hack-job. (and I started off with Ikea stuff, too, it never lasts unfortunately).
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InnesI
The Goat Fucker

Joined: Sat Jun 01, 2013 3:19 pm
Posts: 1883
PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2021 8:55 am 
 

Methuen wrote:
This is going to sound like a total cliche - but find a local business that does house clearances, tell them what you need. We bought a lot of solidly built old furniture that way, from the time before everything became cheap plastic crap. These people aren't retailers either - they're usually just binning it or selling it wholesale, so you get much better prices. You might have to wait a bit depending on your area, but it's worth it - much better than yet-another-wood-pulp-hack-job. (and I started off with Ikea stuff, too, it never lasts unfortunately).


Yeah. I have a second hand store close-by. They sell all kinds of things, furniture being one. You can find really good, old school, properly built wood book shelves for better prices than any plastic IKEA bookshelf.
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Methuen
Metalhead

Joined: Tue May 19, 2015 4:55 pm
Posts: 1857
Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2021 12:09 pm 
 

Recently finished -

Norman Davies - The Vanished Kingdoms - A history book looking at a selection of 'vanished' European states; Burgundy, USSR (via Estonia), Byzantium, Galicia, and so on - fifteen of them all in. Each chapter covers a travelouge style view of the modern area, a discussion of historiography, and potted history of the vanished kingdom. Davies is famous as an historian of Poland (see: God's Kingdom), and the sections on Eastern Europe, on Galicia, Estonia, and so on are very good; he's obviously got a great passion for these peoples and their history - the details are brilliant, local insights abound, and the history is top notch. Where this book falls down is in both the dry death-by-list history (eg: Burgundy) and the "I'm going to rant about academica" chapter (Byzantium). Two very interesting polities are left as lists and polemics in this book, which is a great shame. The segment on Ireland (referring to post-civil war, pre-Republic 'Southern Ireland') is fascinating. I'd always thought that using 'Southern Ireland' rather than 'the Republic of' was an English bigory - no, it turns out it's just one of those hangovers from a forgotten country name, like Czechoslovakia, or the Ukraine. He does go a bit overboard on the songs, but interesting to see the Irish/Gaelic side by side with the English.

Reccommended if you want a potted history of some interesting dead states, but just beware that the quality of the essays varies enormously.
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Methuen
Metalhead

Joined: Tue May 19, 2015 4:55 pm
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Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2021 8:24 am 
 

Started after I finished the above -

Tolstoy - The Death of Ivan Ilych and Other Stories - This is the Penguin Classics edition that has seven short stories of very lengths, all of them meditations or parables on death and dying. Cheerful ! So far I've read the first group; The Raid, Three Deaths, Woodfelling, Polikuska, and The Death of Ivan Ilych. The first group look at how people die in otherwise perfectly routine circumstances, human bravery, how greed drives a lot of pain, how we're often totally ignorant of death when it doesn't impact us directly. The 'title track' however, is a complicated look at how someone percieves their world as they die; how their previous worldview is warped by their dying, how they relate to and want to be related to by, others. It's a meditation in the classical sense; Tolstoy isn't giving you a lesson, or telling you something, he's presenting a set of thoughts for you to take in and discuss. All of the stories do have a very Tolstoyan golden thread - the Russian peasant as exemplar of unsullied purity, not trodden down by war / greed / sophistication / godlessness; War and Peace has a very famous iteration of this trope. Reading these stories I can see how Tolstoy eventually arrived at the point of running off into the woods to live with the peasants and aim for a simpler life, and started his own theology of ascetiscism.

Reccommended if anyone enjoys these kinds of meditations, or if someone is a bit too cheerful at the moment and wants to read a lot of quite grim Russian storytelling :)
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Mystic_Stylez
Metal newbie

Joined: Thu May 13, 2021 2:22 pm
Posts: 30
Location: Philippines
PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2021 1:17 pm 
 

I haven’t read a lot lately but before I used to read lot when I get locked up or put to rehab and I will say that at those times I love reading good books.

Here’s some favorites of mine:

Shogun - James Clavell - A very good book about 1600s samurais. Very descriptive and informative and I love the graphic parts like the murders and battles. A must read for anybody really. Read this when I was in prison serving a 1yr sentence. Suggested to me by this drug lord looking at a federal conspiracy charge for 10years. He’s pretty cool. Love this book and it made me obsessed by the samurai code of honor and duty and the way they are as a warrior. Greatest killers of the old times I think.

Godfather - Mario Puzo - Everybody knows the movie trilogy and it was iconic and epic. But reading this book you’ll have a better idea of how Sonny was a vicious but forceful character. And Vito Corleone has some great moments specially on the Five Families meeting it was well portrayed and just give you more details. I read this so many times and still I can’t seem to remember the great lines and words. Gotta read it again.

The Family Corloenne - Edward Falco (based on a screenplay by Mario Puzo) - This book is just excellent. Honestly I read this book even before I read or watched The Godfather and it was awesome I was so amazed by the story of Vito Corleone’s rise from a poor Italian immigrant to a big mafia boss and a big oil business buff. Very well detailed of how Sonny was a kid idolizing his father and doing petty crimes with his buddies and his way into his father’s gang. And also this gives you some stories and describes how Luca Brasi was a real monster to be feared back in the day. And how Vito made him his best soldier. To all Godfather fanatics you should all read this it will give you a good idea of the times before The Godfather era of the Corleone family.

The Last Don - Mario Puzo - Another gangster novel. This one about a Casino owner/runner that made his own moves outside of the organization that owns him. It has some really nice kills and murder plots and I just love how in the story he wasn’t really a ruthless gangster but with his need to get the business done he made some seriously interesting plots of murder hits. It has a nice love story angle to it as well and it’s a pretty interesting read. This is Mario Puzo’s last novel. Omertà is also a good book and it’s more murder induced but I forgot the whole book already so I went with this one.

Dante’s Inferno - Dante Alighieri - I don’t really remember all the details or even the story of this book but I just remember reading it and I was fascinated by the details and the whole feeling of how Dante describes his journey thru hell. Some great characters like Virgil who’s like the devil himself trying to push Dante to keep going and some monsters and beast in the way. It’s a weird book for me really since I’m not really good with English but I kept reading and I must say it’s an interesting read but really weird and thought provoking specially thinking this was written way back in the 14th Century. I might read it again to better understand it I just mentioned it so I can maybe get some replies to others that read this and make me remember the book.

Thanks guys. I’ll post more if I can think of more.

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