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 The Literature Thread 
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crumbsroom wrote:
After reading Wind Up Bird Chronicles, I felt I had to read everything this guy ever wrote.

Then I read Kafka on the Shore and promptly stopped.
Aw. I don't blame you. But he really has written a lot of good stuff. Maybe try A Wild Sheep Chase? It's relatively short, and seriously one of the best things I've ever read.

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Sun Sep 23, 2018 2:53 am
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1Q84 didn't do much for me, personally. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is much better, though it's an uneven ride. Those are the only two I've read, aside from a few shorter pieces. ("On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning" might be my favorite thing I've read by him.)

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Sun Sep 23, 2018 3:00 am
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Macrology wrote:
1Q84 didn't do much for me, personally. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is much better, though it's an uneven ride. Those are the only two I've read, aside from a few shorter pieces. ("On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning" might be my favorite thing I've read by him.)

One of his best stories:

https://www.acschools.org/cms/lib07/PA01916405/Centricity/Domain/399/Seventh%20Man.pdf

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Sun Sep 23, 2018 3:08 am
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Thanks! I'll give it a read soon.

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Sun Sep 23, 2018 3:18 am
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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle was very good, although I thought it could have used some (further) editing.

I'm thinking I should tackle Hard-Boiled Wonderland next, since that one sounds the most intriguing to me.


Mon Sep 24, 2018 2:37 am
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Ubik (1969) - 8/10
I found this to be an effective horror novel which works largely due to your inability to make sense of the scenario and differentiate what's actually happening from what's occurring in half-life. The ending shows that the idea of half-life is far beyond the range of understanding of anyone in the novel. As for what Ubik means, Dick's former wife Tessa called it a metaphor for God, and while that interpretation makes sense, I feel like it goes deeper than that. While it seems like the only thing in the book which can be trusted as legit, the introductions to each chapter where it's advertised as a different product hint that there's more to it than anything the characters think they understand about it. Or, in other words, it's sort of like a reflection of the ending in the way that it's difficult to make sense of it. Although it takes a while to get going, it's worth the wait.

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Mon Sep 24, 2018 3:48 am
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crumbsroom wrote:
After reading Wind Up Bird Chronicles, I felt I had to read everything this guy ever wrote.

Then I read Kafka on the Shore and promptly stopped.

hahaha fascinating

I did read WindUp a few after Kafka which was when I really fell for him, so maybe their crossover you struggled with was the same for me in opposite direction

HardBoiled is probably the one I'd recommend everyone start with (tho I started with South of the Border)


Mon Sep 24, 2018 5:39 am
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Ubik is PKD at his best. Despite the sloppy prose, the ideas and the setpieces are what counts in the end. The ending in particular stays with you for a long time.


Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:52 pm
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Stoner | John Williams | 1965 | 278 pages

This is the finest book I've read all year, and among the best of the NYRB publications I've read (along with The Peregrine, The Invention of Morel, and The Pilgrim Hawk).

I don't have much to say about it, because simply reading it is such a consummate experience that discussing it feels unnecessary. You only need to compel other people to read it, so I'll keep it brief.

It's about a man who grows up on a farm, goes to college for agricultural science, and discovers an interest in literature and teaching. Williams writes some of the most lucid and revelatory prose I've ever read; he navigates huge swaths of thorny emotional terrain with a precise clarity that constantly startles you in the quietest way possible. The story seems uneventful, but no other novel -- or artwork of any kind -- has captured with such balanced authority the measure of a man's life. Underlying all of this is a passion carefully concealed by the book's patient pace: a hard-earned love for its characters, a stoic resignation to the travails of life, and a rigorous admiration for academia and teaching on par with Byatt's Possession. I read most of it on the brink of tears.

An excerpt:

John Williams wrote:
Sometimes they would lift their eyes from their studies, smile at each other, and return to their reading; sometimes Stoner would look up from his book and let his gaze rest upon the graceful curve of Katherine's back and upon the slender neck where a tendril of hair always fell. Then a slow, easy desire would come over him like a calm, and he would rise and stand behind her and let his arms rest lightly on her shoulders. She would straighten and let her head go back against his chest, and his hands would go forward into the loose robe and gently touch her breasts. Then they would make love, and lie quietly for a while, and return to their studies, as if their love and learning were one process.

That was one of the oddities of what they called 'given opinion' that they learned that summer. They had been brought up in a tradition that told them in one way or another that the life of the mind and the life of the senses were separate and, indeed, inimical; they had believed, without ever having really thought about it, that one had to be chosen at some expense of the other. That the one could intensify the other had never occurred to them; and since the embodiment came before the recognition of the truth, it seemed a discovery that belonged to them alone.

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Tue Oct 30, 2018 12:58 pm
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Stoner is amazing


Wed Oct 31, 2018 4:11 am
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I've read Zola's Germinal. Misery and poverty abound in a French coal-mining settlement when the miners decide to go on a strike during the Industrial Crisis in the mid-19th century. Strikingly realistic, with Zola obviously doing extensive research in the mining business itself, with characters on all sides of the argument who free themselves of archetype depiction once Zola starts to unravel their hypocrisies, oversimplified philosophies, ignorance or plain stubborness and pride. Once the consequences of the strike escalate, Zola holds no punches in showing just how much shame and damage injustice with the distribution of wealth and capital can bring to impoverished communities. Not an easy read, but an extremely memorable one and a novel that deserves its reputation as one of the masterpieces of French naturalism.


Wed Oct 31, 2018 5:16 pm
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