What are you currently reading? (part 2)

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Yasna
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Yasna » 2018-08-28, 16:29

linguoboy wrote:I am never going to stop being dismayed by how long it takes me to finish a damn novel these days. I even set aside almost all of last weekend for reading and hardly made any progress.

Why does it take longer now?

I'm kind of surprised by how difficult I'm finding the Müller. Her writing doesn't seem that dense but somehow it still takes me longer to read a page of her than a page of Klaus Mann, despite the fact that the print is much smaller in Mephisto.

Reading Müller was a drag for me because what little I read of her writing felt soul-draining (or maybe it's just her depressing base material).
Ein Buch muß die Axt sein für das gefrorene Meer in uns. - Kafka

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby linguoboy » 2018-08-28, 16:43

Yasna wrote:
linguoboy wrote:I am never going to stop being dismayed by how long it takes me to finish a damn novel these days. I even set aside almost all of last weekend for reading and hardly made any progress.

Why does it take longer now?

Intarnetz

Yasna wrote:Reading Müller was a drag for me because what little I read of her writing felt soul-draining (or maybe it's just her depressing base material).

A lot of what I read is depressing. I mean, Mephisto is hardly a life-affirming tale of a struggling young actor who finally makes it big. I think it's more the ellipticalness of her style. Like early on in this book she introduces a character without clarifying her relationship to the protagonist--daughter? lover? mother? friend?--and only gradually gives you enough details to suss it out. (I was a quarter through the book before I knew with certainty it was a deceased coworker.) The sentences are chunky sometimes, and even after reading through them a couple times, I may not be sure what exactly is being referenced. (For instance, she uses "Fenstertag" with apparently the nonce meaning of "day view through a window" rather than its dictionary definition of "day between two days off of work".)
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Yasna » 2018-08-28, 17:20

linguoboy wrote:I think it's more the ellipticalness of her style.

Ah, yes, that will do it. I made another go at Faulkner earlier this year and that's one of the factors that drove me up the wall about his writing. Between the ellipticalness and hardcore streams of consciousness, it's a total mystery to me what critics see in his work.
Ein Buch muß die Axt sein für das gefrorene Meer in uns. - Kafka

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby linguoboy » 2018-08-28, 17:25

Yasna wrote:Ah, yes, that will do it. I made another go at Faulkner earlier this year and that's one of the factors that drove me up the wall about his writing. Between the ellipticalness and hardcore streams of consciousness, it's a total mystery to me what critics see in his work.

I'm not opposed to ellipticalness in writing, it just makes you work harder as a reader. That alters the cost-benefit analysis for whether I continue with a work, but it's not an automatic disqualification. Döblin didn't make the cut, but maybe it's because I started with one of his lesser works (Die drei Sprünge des Wang-lun). Which Faulkner did you have a go at?
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Yasna » 2018-08-28, 19:06

linguoboy wrote:I'm not opposed to ellipticalness in writing, it just makes you work harder as a reader. That alters the cost-benefit analysis for whether I continue with a work, but it's not an automatic disqualification. Döblin didn't make the cut, but maybe it's because I started with one of his lesser works (Die drei Sprünge des Wang-lun).

I'm not opposed to sophisticated literary devices when they serve a clear purpose that justifies the extra effort demanded of the reader, but I failed to that in the Faulkner work.

Which Faulkner did you have a go at?

The Sound and the Fury. I made it about 100 pages in before throwing it across the room.
Ein Buch muß die Axt sein für das gefrorene Meer in uns. - Kafka

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby linguoboy » 2018-08-28, 19:16

Yasna wrote:
Which Faulkner did you have a go at?

The Sound and the Fury. I made it about 100 pages in before throwing it across the room.

Do you always start climbing above the treeline?

I've been reading Faulkner for thirty years and even I haven't attempted that or As I lay dying yet.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Car » 2018-08-28, 20:14

linguoboy wrote:I can't say much yet about Sansal's style. He uses some argot, but not so much that it makes reading a struggle.


I read 2084: La fin du monde by him and I thought it was ok. Not easy, but not too difficult either.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Yasna » 2018-08-28, 20:43

linguoboy wrote:Do you always start climbing above the treeline?

I've been reading Faulkner for thirty years and even I haven't attempted that or As I lay dying yet.

I'm an experienced reader, and am not usually phased by literature that demands something of the reader. My first Thomas Mann was Der Zauberberg and I enjoyed (most of) it. I want to experience the best work an author has produced. If I don't enjoy even their best work, it's unlikely I'm going to enjoy one of their lesser works except in cases where the subject matter aligns with some interest of mine.

I do have limits though. I'm not going to put as much effort into reading a work of fiction as I would into reading a physics textbook. In fact I cannot even conceive of a work of fiction that could possibly be worth that effort. I guess my level of dedication to reading fiction just doesn't cut it for Faulkner.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Yasna » 2018-09-03, 20:06

I recently read The City & the City by China Miéville. What a premise, what execution. There are shades of the old Mitteleuropa as well as the modern circumstances of Jerusalem. I was reminded of The Yiddish Policemen's Union at times, which is also great.

I'm currently reading 日露戦争史 (History of the Russo–Japanese War) by Shinji Yokote.
Ein Buch muß die Axt sein für das gefrorene Meer in uns. - Kafka

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-09-04, 3:53

Read a lot of things and never got around to mentioning any of them until now (thank you, language study groups!), up to (and including):

Chapter 22 in Practical Chinese Reader and Chapter 16 in both Basic Chinese: A Grammar and Workbook and Teach Yourself Business French. This is the end of Part One in TY Business French! Part Two is almost entirely in French. Each chapter in Part Two begins with an essay and ends with a dialogue, usually interviews (some of these reading passages are taken from French media).

I also read a tiny bit of La Princesse de Clèves by Madame de Lafayette and considered starting on Ourika by Claire de Duras but stopped myself because it's pretty short and I'm afraid I might polish it off too quickly. I've already read a lot of French and Spanish literature, and I suppose German to some extent, but this sort of concern wouldn't exist at all for me with Chinese or Portuguese literature.

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby subquadam » 2018-09-19, 4:53

I'm happy to be reading my first 15 pages of Arabic on a treatise of Averroes, of 30 pages total, "Discours Decisif", bilingual in french.

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Yasna » 2018-09-25, 4:31

I finished reading 日露戦争史, which was fantastic. It was the first history book about a war I'd ever read, and far from being a dry list of battle dates, troop numbers, and feats of heroism, it was more akin to a psychological thriller. The stakes were incredibly high for Japan, which might have been colonized by Russia if it had lost. And most people were expecting Japan to lose, as no Asian or African country had ever taken on a major European colonial power in a full-scale war by itself and won. Despite the human tragedy, there's no denying the thrill of vicariously watching on as the Japanese fleet and Russian fleet clash with the fate of nations in the balance.

As if all that wasn't significant enough, the Russian defeat turned out to be a major contributing factor leading to the Russian Revolution.

I'm currently reading The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han by Mark Edward Lewis.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby linguoboy » 2018-09-25, 17:24

Finished the Müller, still plugging away at the Williams and Sansal.

I found the ending of the first confusing so I read some criticism. Reviews at the time complained that her work was stagnating because Heute... rehashed too much from previous works, but I hadn't read those so I didn't notice. But the critics take on the denouement not only cleared up my confusion but helped me understand better her stylistic choices throughout the work.

I'm sticking with the Williams even though it's bugging me somewhat. I don't grok why he's chosen an Islamic scholar as a major protagonist and I don't find the depiction very convincing. His misadventures are quixotic, comic, and verging on cliché. But I'm not yet to page 100 so I'm giving it a bit more time. Hopefully by then the author will have developed the narrative line of the Welsh village to the point where I'll become fully invested.

I'm curious where the Sansal is going after its first big reveal. The prose is enjoyable to read and about the right level of challenge; every now and then I need to look up a specific word to make sense of a passage, but generally I can suss out the meaning from context and only need to look up unfamiliar terms if I'm explicitly interested in adding them to my vocabulary.

With Müller out of the way, I decided I needed something in English for when I'm too tired for French. I ended up choosing the book Cake time by Siel Ju, a "novel in stories" that I picked up in Seattle. She grabbed me in the first chapter, "How not to have an abortion" and I suspect it'll be a quick read. For after that I'm considering some classic modern Japanese fiction, like Mishima or Endō.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Yasna » 2018-09-25, 19:01

linguoboy wrote:still plugging away at the Williams

The Williams?
Ein Buch muß die Axt sein für das gefrorene Meer in uns. - Kafka

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby linguoboy » 2018-09-25, 19:04

Yasna wrote:
linguoboy wrote:still plugging away at the Williams

The Williams?

Mae'n ddrwg 'da fi, the Roberts. Wiliam [sic] is his given name. Maybe if I call him "WOR" I'll stop making that error.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Luís » 2018-09-25, 19:09

I'm going to spend a few days in Terceira this week, so I started reading Mau Tempo no Canal by Vitorino Nemésio, one of the most well-known Azorean authors. It tells the story of two rival upper class families living in Horta (Faial Island) between 1917 and 1920. Not the kind of book I usually read, but I'll give it a try.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby france-eesti » 2018-10-20, 15:55

Oh I finished Anna Karenine last Monday!
It's a big surprise for me that I finally read the whole 850 pages! :shock: I had taken it off the library just to see "what it looked like" and ended up reading everything and loving it! I'm so glad of it!
It's not very much like Madame Bovary - Because Emma is still shown as a "victim", whereas I believe Anna isn't finally a very good character - as she abandons her husband, and both her children (and it is hinted that she doesn't love her daughter very much).
I also loved the background characters - and I believe they had stronger roles than Anna, sometimes - they were more moral and represented a "quiet" and honest life.
Anyway... I'm very glad of this first encounter with Tolstoy!

Right, I took an Amélie Nothomb book out of my company's library and read it within 2 hours (that's always the case with Amélie Nothomb's books) and now am starting another huge monument of literature..

Stephen King's IT :mrgreen:
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby ceid donn » 2018-10-20, 18:04

Anna Karenina is quite an adventure. I haven't read it since...decades ago now, when I was in my own Russian lit phase in college. :lol: (It didn't help my thesis director was a Russian-American who had done some English-from-Russian translations himself and had connections through the Russian literary world to Solzhenitsyn, of all people. His wife was a direct descendant of Gogol and sometimes he'd spend our meetings talking about her intimidatingly talented family--apparently, the Gogol descendants are an obscenely talented group.)

I have needed to take some time away from my TAC stuff to just read something in my native language. I haven't been too ambitious, so I've been reading Hugh Howey's short story collection, Machine Learning, at work this week. I still need to finish his Silo series--I've only read the first 3. Only 6 more to go! (Thankfully they are short, fast reading--we're not talking Proust here. :whistle: )

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby france-eesti » 2018-10-20, 18:16

ceid donn wrote:(Thankfully they are short, fast reading--we're not talking Proust here. :whistle: )

Hey what's the matter with Proust?
Anyway has anyone ever read Proust in French or in any other language? I'm kinda curious 8-)
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby IpseDixit » 2018-10-22, 7:30

france-eesti wrote:
ceid donn wrote:(Thankfully they are short, fast reading--we're not talking Proust here. :whistle: )

Hey what's the matter with Proust?


That his La Recherche is 3724 pages long.

---

I've started reading A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick.


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