Random Literature Thread

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Yasna
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Random Literature Thread

Postby Yasna » 2015-10-13, 21:27

In the grand tradition of the "random" threads...

Does anyone else feel overwhelmed by the huge numbers of new fiction releases? For other genres like science fiction or history, I try to take at least a glance at each new release. But when I look at the new fiction shelves at Barnes and Noble, I don't even know where to start. So I mostly ignore them and just take a look at fiction that catches my eye on Goodreads or in the media.
Ein Buch muß die Axt sein für das gefrorene Meer in uns. - Kafka

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby ceid donn » 2015-10-17, 14:27

I don't have the desire, time nor money to keep up with new releases. I pretty much abhor contemporary fiction, avoid YA lit, and focus almost exclusively on sci fi, poetry and classic lit. And even then, I have so many books in my to-read pile already I don't bother looking out for new releases unless someone recommends something to me. I read what interests me, and if I'm looking for something new, the first thing I usually do is browse the self-published/singles authors on Amazon.

I'm a writer, too, so sometimes I feel to the need to read for artistic "nourishment", which is why lately I've been reading a lot of Beat literature and other poetry, as well as some non-fiction.

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2015-10-17, 16:17

I mostly don't bother with new releases. One of the reasons is incredibly superficial: I don't like reading hardcover books. I don't even buy them second-hand unless I can't find a reasonably-priced softcover. Moreover, I don't see the point of paying full price for fiction with such a huge second-hand market around.

But more than that, I know there's more new fiction released every year than I could ever read in a lifetime. So I wait to see what rises to the top before I dip into it. There's no shortage of opinions on what's worth reading, and some of them are actually worth listening to. I'm unimpressed with most literature prizes (especially the Nobel), but I've seldom been led astray by the Man Booker award, so I pay attention to their shortlists.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-10-19, 16:18

I never bother with new releases. Whenever I go to a bookstore, I have a one-track mind and head straight for the foreign languages section (provided I already know where it is, of course). If that bookstore is Half Price Books, it's not unlikely that I'd try to clean it out as well. :P I also just don't go to bookstores often because I have so many books lying around unread already and don't see a compelling reason why I'd need even more.

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby Johanna » 2015-10-20, 16:21

I also seldom buy new releases, usually only if it's the next book in a series. Or if it's the latest book by an author like Neil Gaiman, who I have read before and like and who also keeps a consistent high quality.

On the other hand, I don't want to be stuck only reading books by the same few authors, so I usually go for books that were first published a year or more ago and that I've heard good things about from people whose taste I trust. I don't buy that much second hand though, mostly because it's not that easy to find good fantasy that I haven't already read in used bookshops here, while new books are easily obtained by a visit to the Gothenburg branch of this very small chain that sells science fiction, fantasy and horror only; I'm down there visiting friends a few times a year anyway.

And until recently I could ask my friend who (technically still) works in said bookshop to bring some with him when he was up here visiting me, but since he's the one who's got terminal cancer that's out of the question these days.

I would never ever buy a book by someone like Orson Scott Card that isn't used however, considering what he does with the money he gets from his sales.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2015-10-20, 16:34

Johanna wrote:I would never ever buy a book by someone like Orson Scott Card that isn't used however, considering what he does with the money he gets from his sales.

Same here. I also have a friend who loves occult conspiracy theory but only buys his Satanists used for similar reasons.

It makes me wish there were an easy way to see to it that a living author I actually like got royalties when I read their work. Like if I could just click online to send them the dollar they would've gotten if I hadn't bought their work used.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby md0 » 2015-10-28, 20:02

Does anyone else find Huxley's Brave New World uninteresting to say the least?
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-10-28, 20:06

meidei wrote:Does anyone else find Huxley's Brave New World uninteresting to say the least?

I don't think I've ever heard anyone say they did find it interesting. :lol:

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby md0 » 2015-10-28, 20:16

Well, my opinion being halfway through is far more colourful but I tried to tone it down for the sake of a discussion. Still:
Not to come across as too arrogant, but Brave New World reads like a cheap porn-y scifi novel you can find for 4 euro in the bookstands of convenience stores in seaside resort towns.


I suppose it's part of the school-taught lit canon in many parts of the Anglosphere; we have to read it for ENG101 at uni now. And god, I find it actively shitty, not just uninteresting.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby Yasna » 2015-10-28, 20:18

meidei wrote:Well, my opinion being halfway through is far more colourful but I tried to tone it down for the sake of a discussion. Still:
Not to come across as too arrogant, but Brave New World reads like a cheap porn-y scifi novel you can find for 4 euro in the bookstands of convenience stores in seaside resort towns.


I suppose it's part of the school-taught lit canon in many parts of the Anglosphere; we have to read it for ENG101 at uni now. And god, I find it actively shitty, not just uninteresting.

I think it's one of those books that is a classic because it did a concept first, not because it did it best.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-10-28, 20:23

meidei wrote:And god, I find it actively shitty, not just uninteresting.

I've never actually read it myself, only vaguely heard about it from other people who I think hated it, too. But now I'm wondering how many books I found shitty we had to read in school. I can definitely think of at least one right off the top of my head.

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2015-10-28, 20:32

meidei wrote:Does anyone else find Huxley's Brave New World uninteresting to say the least?

Some parts of it really stuck in my head; I remember them distinctly more than twenty years later. But reading a summary of the plot recently I realised I'd forgotten like two-thirds of the novel.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby mōdgethanc » 2015-10-28, 20:52

I hated Brave New World when we read it in grade 9 and I still hate it.

So many more better dystopian novels we could have read. And it's not even the first one.

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-10-28, 20:56

Okay, now I can think of four books in English I read in school (one of them was not required, though all the others were) and hated, plus at least one poem in Latin...and probably something in each of French, Spanish, and German. (Well, maybe not German. Idr).
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby md0 » 2015-10-28, 20:57

I suppose a huge part of it is that it's really difficult to write scifi that withstands the test of time. A lot of the commentary/predictions he makes are no longer plausible to me reading the book almost a century after its time. I couldn't suspend my disbelief even if I was drugged with a kilo of Soma.

Scienctific dystopias of the 80s resonate better with me.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2015-10-28, 21:09

meidei wrote:I suppose a huge part of it is that it's really difficult to write scifi that withstands the test of time.

Was it Ursula LeGuin who said something like scifi is always about the time in which it was written? Maybe there's something more visceral about scifi which seems particularly prescient, but there's also something fascinating about seeing what people in the past did and didn't see coming.

The most interesting dystopian novel I've read in ages is We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, and it's on the strength of the writing as much as the author's singular vision.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2015-11-20, 17:55

So, codeswitching in fiction: I understand it when it reflects how the characters actually speak. But I find it mystifying when certain phrases are simply left untranslated from the language which they are supposedly speaking.

Right now I'm reading The humingbird's daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea. It's set in Mexico, though he wrote it in English. A couple of the more educated characters slip some French into their speech and these bits are left untranslated. Often things and concepts are mentioned which are specific to Mexican culture and for which there are no close English equivalents, so Urrea uses the Spanish words. Both these practices seem perfectly natural to me.

But sometimes--often, in fact--Urrea leaves words and phrases untranslated for what seems like no reason at all. Except for the few times where he explicitly mentions that his characters are speaking a Native American language, it's assumed everyone is using Spanish. So what's the point of dropping in bits like "Gracias" or "Muy bien" or "Qué pendeja eres!"? I find it distracting because I start from the asusmption there must be some motivation for it (as with the French or the culturally-bound lexical borrowings), but apparently it's only there to add "colour". I expect as much from mediocre gringo authors (looking at you, Cormac McCarthy), but not an accomplished bilingual.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-11-20, 21:09

While I've never read The God of Small Things in its entirety, I believe Arundhati Roy does the same thing in that novel as well. Most of the time, presumably everybody is speaking Malayalam, yet at times she makes them use certain Malayalam expressions or even put on a distinctly Malayalee accent (the accent part might have something to do with how she wants to portray specific characters, though). It makes it look weird that most of the dialog is written in perfect English especially since I'm pretty sure the two main characters are kids. :lol:

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2015-11-20, 21:19

It's been so long since I read that book, I can't remember whether I had the impression that the characters were defaulting to English or to Malayalam.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-11-20, 22:37

I looked through it again, and yeah, it's almost all in English, which probably makes it even weirder when she suddenly uses Malayalee-accented English or (even more rarely) actual Malayalam. :? Like everyone has these lines in perfect English, then all of a sudden "eda cherukka!" "orkunnille?" or "oower" (I can't get over how funny that particular spelling for that last word looks to me :lol:).


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