BOOKS: General

Anything non-Phish related.

Re: BOOKS: General

Postby Harpua » Tue Mar 29, 2016 6:36 pm

More...ascending order...

Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons by Kurt Vonnegut: A hodgepodge collection of lectures, articles, and one Playboy interview. There was a nice "F-You!" to Macomb, Illinois that made me laugh, some solid writing advice that I now carry on my person at all times, and some criticism of Americas use of its military that I always enjoy, but other than that - there is not much happening here by way of substance. (2/5)

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers: This highly stylized memoir was a surprisingly pleasant read. There is a lot of humor to be found in Eggers' tragedy. (3.5/5)

1876 by Gore Vidal: 1876 is the third book in the Narratives of Empire series. Mr. Vidal has the uncanny ability to take a time in America's history that bores me to tears, and make it utterly riveting. This novel tells the stories of the fictional Charles Schuyler's return to America after 30 years of living abroad, and the depressingly truthful story of how Rutherford Hayes and the Republican machine stole the 1876 election. (3.5/5)

Empire by Gore Vidal: In the fourth book the Narratives of Empire series, we find the fictional grandchildren of the fictional Charles Schuyler, in America at the turn of the century, fighting over their inheritances and trying to survive in the worlds of journalism, politics and American high society (albeit the three worlds were, and continue to be, far more connected than they should be.) Real historical figures include the beloved and stoic President McKinley, the boisterous President T. Roosevelt, and manically ambitious W.R. Hearst. Overall a great read. (4/5)
“True history[...] is the final fiction.” - W.R. Hearst
Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.
~4~
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Re: BOOKS: General

Postby El Bastarde » Wed Mar 30, 2016 3:04 pm

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Starting this one. Always liked Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker's Guide series) but never read this one. As expected, it's weird and quirky and he writes in such a playful, yet proper style.
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Re: BOOKS: General

Postby El Bastarde » Mon Apr 11, 2016 9:44 pm

^It was made into a TV show a few years ago... I really enjoyed it.

Wow, had no idea. Boy, Adams was pretty good at getting shows out of his books. I read the second book in the series (barely remember it) but not the first.

I did see the Hitchhiker's Guide movie not too long ago (a friend who loves the books more than me dragged me to it) and it wasn't that great as I expected (The Trillian-Arthur shipping got tiresome when she's clearly Zaphod's gal). But it was a cute attempt.
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Re: BOOKS: General

Postby goldenroad » Tue Apr 12, 2016 2:57 pm

^ I'm sure Icc is going to be quick to point this out, but the BBC Series of Hitchhikers Guide is 100x better than the hollywood version. Go check out the series instead.

I started reading:

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Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson

I read and loved Snow Crash by Stephenson, but this one is pretty different. It's not the weird cyberpunk dystopic future thing (yet anyway), but does maintain his rough around the edges, blunt, style that I really liked in Snow Crash, so it's enough to keep me going anyway.

Also, just because the Netflix series has it's hooks in me I picked up:

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Daredevil -Born Again

A Frank Miller run from the mid-80's. Read the whole thing in two sittings. It is pretty damn bleak, but I really enjoyed it. I want more.
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Re: BOOKS: General

Postby El Bastarde » Wed Apr 13, 2016 2:20 pm

^ I'm sure Icc is going to be quick to point this out, but the BBC Series of Hitchhikers Guide is 100x better than the hollywood version.

Oh, I have no doubt. Probably goes further along in the series as well.
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Re: BOOKS: General

Postby Harpua » Wed May 04, 2016 4:05 pm

A few more; one philosophy & two novels. I do not have the gall to rate or rank Nietzsche, but the other two will be in ascending order.

On the Genealogy of Morals by Friedrich Nietzsche: Truly fascinating, if you are into this sort of stuff. The more impressionable might find themselves questioning their own sense of morality or questioning the value of having values. Some of the thinking, racial superiority, anti-Semitism and whatnot, is dated.

Hollywood by Gore Vidal: Hollywood is the 5th book in the Narratives of Empire series, and Mr. Vidal's head is pretty far up his own ass at this point. Hollywood took the characters I loved from Empire, T. Roosevelt & W.R. Hearst, and replaced them with Woodrow Wilson & Warren G. Harding who seem to be the same, bland, character. In fact, all historical figures in this novel, with the exception of Jess Smith, seem to be the same character. Then Mr. Vidal took my favorite fictional character from the series, the independent and ambitious Caroline Stanford, and made her vain and uninteresting.

This novel is mostly about Woodrow Wilson's failed attempts to establish a League of Nations after World War I, the rise and fall of Warren Harding, and the early days of Hollywood. It is about as compelling as a silent movie. (2/5)

Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins: A Jew and a Muslim open a restaurant - stop me if you have heard this one before. Some of Tom Robbins' most insightful work with, probably, his most colorful cast of characters (although in my opinion Switters from Fierce Invalids still reigns supreme as best Robbins character.) Skinny Legs is an absurdist look at the conflict in Palestine & Israel, and the many veils of society. Don't be deterred by the talking Can O' Beans, this novel has real depth. (4/5)
Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.
~4~
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Re: BOOKS: General

Postby y0n » Wed May 04, 2016 11:39 pm

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Reading this book on the psychedelic culture from the 50s to the present. I've just gotten to the section on Phish. Highly recommended!
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Re: BOOKS: General

Postby Brother » Fri May 06, 2016 9:08 pm

^ Sounds interesting! I like sociology/anthropology/cultural studies quite a bit!

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Reading this one now. It's a book about an American-born Kurdish Jew whose immigrant father is a professor of Aramaic in California. While reflecting on his relationship with his father, he visits all of the places involved with his family's upbringing and immigration. One of my Jewish friends gave me this book when she found out I spoke Aramaic. Not bad so far, easy to read. Conversational tone. Humor.
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Re: BOOKS: General

Postby Harpua » Fri Jun 03, 2016 5:40 pm

Blah Blah Blah – Ascending.

Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut: This is a bittersweet farewell from one of the greatest black humorists in all of history. Kurt Vonnegut is in Heaven now. The story, should one be found, is forgettable. Due to a space/time snafu, every living thing on Earth has to repeat the last 10 years of its life exactly the way it was done previously, a suspension of freewill. He tried to write an entire novel based on this premise and failed, so he settled for half of a novel mixed with a personal journal.  Those who love Kilgore Trout might dig the parts about the fictional pulp-writer, those who love Vonnegut will love the rest.  (2.5 – 5)

Washington D.C. by Gore Vidal: This is the sixth installment, first written, in the seven part “Narratives of Empire” series. Taking place in the late 1930’s to the 1950’s, Washington D.C. follows the political career trajectories of James Burden Day, who we already know from previous installments, and Clay Overbury, who bears a striking resemblance to J.F.K. Also featured is Peter Stanford, a trust fund baby with an ax to grind.  Of the novels in the Narratives series, this is far and away the most fictional. Even though this novel lacks the iconoclastic versions of real American figures, it is still very subversive, as Vidal, in his infinite cynicism, subtly reminds the reader that there are no heroes. (3/5)

Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut: This is a wonderful late in career peak for Vonnegut. Soldier-teacher-prisoner, Eugene Debs Hartke regales the reader with the story of his life, and the complicated futility of ignorance, assuming somebody managed to find his manuscripts and assemble them in the correct order. (3.5/5)
Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.
~4~
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Re: BOOKS: General

Postby willbreathes » Sat Jun 04, 2016 3:09 pm

Acrylic Revolution.

It's about painting and stuff.

edit- but mostly painting.
1. tipsyfuddledboozygroggyelevatedprimedidedither ...
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Re: BOOKS: General

Postby Harpua » Fri Jul 15, 2016 6:50 pm

The Golden Age by Gore Vidal: This is the seventh, and last, book of Vidal’s Narratives of Empire series, and, much to my chagrin, it is in no way about 7.18.2014. Instead, it is an incredibly unevenly paced novel set in Washington D.C. through the late 30’s until (roughly) now. Historic characters include: the plotting demagogue F.D.R., the painfully inept yet enterprising Harry S. Truman, and Mr. Vidal himself.

Brass tacks: I do not recommend reading the entire series, or at very least planning to read the entire series, but I do recommend that everybody reads Burr (the first book of the series.) It is the only one that I plan on revisiting. (2/5)

Everything Matters! by Ron Currie Jr.: A scifi…ish…, satire…y…, genre defying, apocalyptic novel about a man who is born knowing when and how the world was going to end. It is beautiful, funny, and thought provoking. The characters are rich and contemptable; flawed and likeable. It is a truly great read, as contemporary novels go. (4/5)
Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.
~4~
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Re: BOOKS: General

Postby Harpua » Thu Aug 04, 2016 6:47 pm

The Time Machine Did IT by John Swartzwelder: Little known fact: your favorite Simpsons episode was written by Swartswelder. The Time Machine Did It is the first in a series of Sci-Fi, humor, mystery novels featuring Frank Burly P.I. It is very funny, but written at a third grade level, so there isn't much to it other than belly laughs. If you have a short flight, or two very short flights, I recommend reading this. Or if you like to laugh. (2.5/5)

Midnight's Children by Salmon Rushdie: 1001 children are born during the midnight hour, on the day of India's independence. This story follows the life of the first of such children, and how his life mirrored India's.
Midnight's Children is among the best books I have ever read, and certainly belongs in the highest echelon written word. I cannot recommend Midnight's Children highly enough.(5/5)
Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.
~4~
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Re: BOOKS: General

Postby Harpua » Sun Oct 02, 2016 8:37 pm

Prelude to Foundation By Isaac Asimov: Years before the fall of the Galactic Empire, mathematician Hari Seldon delivers a speech on the possibility of using mathematics to predict the future, and quickly becomes a fugitive.
Prelude was written decades after the "Orig Trig" (Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation) but Asimov's tone is unchanged. I really enjoyed it. Also... Robots! :thumbup: :ugeek:
(4/5)
Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.
~4~
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Re: BOOKS: General

Postby Harpua » Wed Oct 05, 2016 6:39 pm

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury: The Illustrated Man is a series of "soft science fiction" short stories within a story, thanks to what is quite possibly the feeblest framing device in the history of written word. The quality of stories within are uneven at best, but as I said last December when "reviewing" Welcome to the Monkey House: "Like any collection of short stories, this one has its highs and lows. "

Highlights include:
The Veldt - A macabre tale about the dangers of allowing your children to become too technology dependent.
Kaleidoscope - Astronauts are adrift in space: this is their conversation.
The Other Foot - After leaving Earth, African Martians anticipate a white traveler landing on their planet.

Honorable Mention: The Rocket Man, Zero Hour, The Concrete Mixer, and Marionettes, Inc.

(3/5)
Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.
~4~
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Re: BOOKS: General

Postby ghost » Sat Dec 10, 2016 7:07 pm

^ You are a reading machine.

These books just came out last month. I was happy to find that my library had them. I like to be the first person to read them.

This was cool. So much going on that we just don't see and/or get. A timescale that we just don't naturally comprehend. Or maybe we would get it naturally, but it's the modern way that obscures our view and leads us to foolishly dismantle the web of life that has grown on Earth for some time.
Image

I had seen that this was in the works a while ago. Very fun to read and learn about. What an interesting life.
Image
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Re: BOOKS: General

Postby El Bastarde » Mon Dec 12, 2016 3:49 pm

ghost wrote:This was cool. So much going on that we just don't see and/or get.


A cool concept. It's almost easy to forget that these are living creatures...but we can't quite comprehend their way of living so we treat them like furniture. Funny how that works.
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Re: BOOKS: General

Postby Harpua » Mon Feb 06, 2017 5:32 pm

The Cubs winning the World Series set the silicon chip inside my head to overload. I took about a two month break from reading books. During this time I read only Chicago Cubs World Series related publications such as:

Sports Illustrated Chicago Cubs 2016 World Series Champions Commemorative Issue
Won for the Ages: How the Chicago Cubs Became the 2016 World Series Champions
LIFE Chicago Cubs: Champions at Last
Chicago Cubs 2016 World Champions - Shaw Media
Chicago Cubs World Series Champions 2016 - Champs Only

Just hundreds and hundreds of pages about how great the 2016 Chicago Cubs were.


Now I am back.

The New Tsar by Steven Myers: This is a biography on Vladimir Putin, that exhaustively chronicles his rise to power. After the election in November, a report was released stating that Trump supporters greatly favor Putin over Obama. Clearly I didn't know enough about Putin. 500 + pages later I have formed an informed opinion. Putin is formidable, but is probably not a good guy. This dude imprisons his rivals, where they die, and very possibly has others just murdered. He is cunning, and truly a champion of the Russian people. He also harbors a deep resentment for the US and NATO. Also he is well known for using what the Russians refer to as "Kompromat" to manipulate politicians. People should look into this ;) .

Now I am going to put my critic hat on. The book is long and dry. It glosses over his early life, and gets very detailed in later years. The detail used is often inversely proportional to how interesting the subject is. Also, never before has a writer used the word "unwieldy" as frequently as Myers did. "Unwieldy" is a fantastic adjective that gives life to something that is unmanageable. Use it once, and it incredibly effective. Use it twice and it loses some of its power. Use it three or more times, and it feels lazy and meaningless.

Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr.: (4.5/5) Last Exit to Brooklyn is a beat generation depiction of an incredibly tumultuous Brooklyn in the mid / late 50's. It is very stylized, but still accessible which is an incredibly difficult feat. It is a series of short stories that cover such topics as: drug use, homosexuality / homophobia, domestic abuse, alcoholism, racism, prostitution, transvestitism, labor struggles and poverty. It is vivid and compelling. It might shock some readers so I would not recommend it to a vast majority of people. I found large portions of it off-putting, unsettling. Other portions literally made me nauseated. This book will affect the reader. All of this said, I will never read this book again, and kind of want to tear it up. So if anybody wants to read this book, PM me and I will send it to you.
Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.
~4~
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Re: BOOKS: General

Postby Katiemay » Sat Feb 11, 2017 3:30 pm

^Do you buy all the books you read?

I'm thinking about the book offer.
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Re: BOOKS: General

Postby Harpua » Sat Feb 11, 2017 4:43 pm

^ It's yours if you want it.

I own a little over half of the books I read. The other half are through the library, or various friends lending me their favorites. When people know you are an avid reader they want you to read the things they have read, and far more often than not I am happy to oblige.
Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.
~4~
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Re: BOOKS: General

Postby Harpua » Thu Feb 16, 2017 3:37 am

Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev: (5/5) I have always been a fan of classic Russian literature. My single favorite novel of all time is Anna Karenina, and Crime and Punishment is high on my favorites list as well. The problem with some of those old pieces of Russian literature is that they can drag on. They are generally 500 -700 pages, and 100 of those pages are superfluous. Fathers and Sons is an emotional, funny, though provoking, charming tour de force in a tight 190 page package. It leaves you wanting more.

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien: (I do not have the audacity to rate this book)
The story follows the character "Lord of the Rings" and his fight against the evil dark lord "Don Dorcha" from taking over Planet Ireland. The "Lord of the Rings" defeats the dark lord's invasion with help from a little spirit. All of this is expressed solely through dance.
Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.
~4~
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Re: BOOKS: General

Postby Harpua » Mon Feb 27, 2017 7:33 pm

Dos mas.

Revolutionary Russia, 1891 - 1991: A History, By Orlando Figes:

This was a very linear, concise look at Russian history. It was told like a story, and for the sake of brevity it did not go into very much detail. Trotsky's assassination was literally one sentence, and he did not as much as mention the fact that Trotsky was in exile in Mexico until this sentence. The murder of the Romanov family was one paragraph.The Cold War was almost completely glossed over. This book is only 300 pages.
The Great Patriotic War (Russia's involvement in WWII) alone could take up many times 300 pages, and that was four year span. Lenin's rise to power, and Stalin's succession was the only part of this history that was satisfactorily detailed.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, By J.R.R. Tolkien: Better than the movie.
Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.
~4~
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Re: BOOKS: General

Postby El Bastarde » Wed Mar 01, 2017 3:58 pm

The story follows the character "Lord of the Rings" and his fight against the evil dark lord "Don Dorcha" from taking over Planet Ireland. The "Lord of the Rings" defeats the dark lord's invasion with help from a little spirit. All of this is expressed solely through dance.

Wow, Peter Jackson sure took more liberties with that film than I realized.

Speaking of, I've seen bits and pieces of his adaptation of The Hobbit and it's plain awful. He took a light and playful adventure about a peaceful hobbit and made it into an action movie. Even uses the tired "the dwarves are in a jam so we'll have the orcs/goblins conveniently attack to provide a distraction" tactic multiple times. Doesn't even get the conversation with Smaug correct. Outside of LOTR, that dude is an awful director.
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Re: BOOKS: General

Postby Harpua » Wed Mar 08, 2017 3:42 am

^ I was stoked when I found out that they were making a live action version of The Hobbit. I was less stoked when I found out they were breaking up a 300 page children's story into three movies. I was downright discouraged when I saw the first one. I saw them all, because I am a masochist apparently. Those movies are horrible bastardizations of Tolkien's work.

That said:

Forward the Foundation, by Isaac Asimov. (2.5/5) This is the second prequel to the legendary Foundation Trilogy. It is the second novel in the greater Foundation heptalogy, though it was the last on published.

This book was supposed to be the emotional send off to one of Science Fiction's most revered characters: Hari Seldon. Despite Mr Asimov's undeniable genius, and seldom-matched imagination Forward the Foundation misses the emotional mark, it fails add to the universe, and coldly dispatches character after character. Stylistically it matches the first foundation novel "Foundation", and I very much enjoyed that, and despite decades between the novels, his prose is more or less the same, which is a feat in and of itself.


The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, by J.R.R. Tolkien: The gripping, heart stopping conclusion to one of the greatest "hero's journey" tales ever told. Mr Tolkien is in a league of his own, utterly unmatched, in the realm of literary universe building. I am glad to have read it, and I will likely read it again.
Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.
~4~
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Re: BOOKS: General

Postby El Bastarde » Wed Mar 08, 2017 4:07 pm

^ I was stoked when I found out that they were making a live action version of The Hobbit. I was less stoked when I found out they were breaking up a 300 page children's story into three movies.

I had the same horrified reaction and decided right there that I wasn't seeing them. I liked LOTR but I'm not big on Peter Jackson in general. But, yes, it's truly an awful adaptation.
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Re: BOOKS: General

Postby Harpua » Sat Mar 18, 2017 4:49 am

Foundation and Earth, by Isaac Asimov: 1.5 / 5

I have written a several thousand word criticism of books 6 and 7 of the Foundation series. I will not share that here, but this is the gist of it. 30-40 years after writing what is quite possibly the greatest science fiction trilogy ever, Asimov is coerced by his publisher into adding four additional books to the series. Before he sets a finger on a typewriter he rereads the Foundation Trilogy, and gets to work banging out two sequels: Foundation's Edge and Foundation and Earth.

Combined these two novels tell a single story and weigh in at a bloated 850 pages. These pages are packed with sci-fi mumbo-jumbo, and quasi-logical jibber-jabber.

Also, they read like a tediously long piece of Borg propaganda. A collective consciousness is the only logical terminus in humanities evolution, and individuality is always destructive. In my mind the sequels are not cannon, because they destroy his original concept.

Spaceman of Bohemia, by Jaroslav Kalfar: 4.5/5 **Published March 2017** **First Time Novelist**

Spaceman of Bohemia is to The Velvet Revolution, the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc, and the westernization of Czech Republic, as Slaughterhouse-Five is to the bombing of Dresden.

This book is heavily soft science fiction, but make no mistake, it is truly literary fiction. It is rich in symbolism. It is beautiful, sincere, imaginative, and bittersweet. Mr Kalfar imbues every page with a surreal and wonderful black humor.

I will read this book again (and again) sooner rather than later. I cannot recommend this novel enough.
Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.
~4~
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