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Everything posted by KEV67

  1. Plot holes

    I think I found a plot hole in the Jack Reacher I am reading. It is a plot hole in the subplot, not the major plot. It does not invalidate the whole story, but I will dock it a star on Goodreads. Plot holes in detective fiction are probably the most serious. Saying that, some plots are so complicated, I never guess who did it, so I doubt I would have detected the plot hole. I never guessed who the guilty person was when an Agatha Christie was on the telly.
  2. The Last Film You Saw - 2021

    I saw Titane at the cinema. It was a French film by a female director, Julia Ducournau. There are quite a few of them these days. It was rather David Cronenbergesque. It was very violent, and very arty. I am rather squeamish and found it unpleasant. However, I heard Mark Kermode, the film critic, say it was superb.
  3. I am thinking of buying Bonjour Tristress. I keep seeing a copy of it in a branch of W H Smith next to the railway. Judging by the picture on the cover of a young woman sunbathing, I am guessing it's a chick's book.
  4. Bonjour Tristess

    Not enjoying it especially, but it struck me as a good book if you wanted to have a go at reading it in French. It is not very long. The chapters are short. The language is not very difficult. I thought The Stranger/The Outsider by Albert Camus was another good option if you wanted to read something in French. It is not very long and the language is straightforward. I expect people would be dead impressed if you told them you had read Albert Camus in the original French.
  5. I saw an interesting YouTube video about this (which I will post later). Margaret Atwood did not like her books described as science fiction, because to her that meant robots and spaceships. Some sci-fi readers think she was being a bit snobby. A Handmaid's Tale hardly seemed any science fiction to me, but then neither does a lot of so-called science fiction. For some unspecified reason female fertility has crashed, but otherwise it is an alternative reality. 1984 was similar. The only bit of technology that was not already in existence when it was written was two way surveillance. Both these books seem more like literary fiction than science fiction to me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAvH9j7Tjbg
  6. Framley Parsonage

    This is the 4th book in the Barsetshire series by Anthony Trollope. Trollope was interested in the clergy more than most Victorian writers. A lot of the Barsetshire series revolves around characters who are paid too much or too little for their clerical/pastoral duties. Marc Roberts, who is the main protagonist in this book, is different in that he is difficult to admire. He is weak. No doubt he will win out in the end, because it is a Trollope book
  7. Framley Parsonage

    Spoilers so don't read on if you have not already read it. It's odd, I feel such relief now Marc Robarts has confessed everything to his wife. I don't know how this story arc will end. I wonder whether he will give his curate a pay rise. So Dr Thorne is going to marry Miss Dunstable. He is 55 and she is 42, and neither have been married before. I wonder how they will take to married life. The other curate, the one who does not like to receive help although he is poor. I think I read he gets £125 a year. It is not a lot. I think the average for a vicar was about £300, maybe a bit more. I think the a average for a curate was about half that, but it could take many years before a curate was promoted to vicar (beneficed I think the term is). Nevertheless, most working class people earned by a lot less than £125 a year. I am often perplexed by Victorian economics.
  8. The Brontë bad boys

    Not the most original idea for discussion in the history of literary criticism. Nevertheless, a YouTube video by conservative social scientist, Jordan Peterson, on the subject of women preferring bad, or at least disagreeable, men over nice guys (who don't stand a chance) got me thinking. Branwell Brontë was a bad lad. Emily Brontë wrote Heathcliff as bad. Nearly everyone was bad in Wuthering Heights. John Sutherland, who wrote: Is Heathcliff a Murderer? Great Puzzles in Nineteenth Century Literature, wrote a chapter in which he explained why he thought Rochester bumped off a certain person who had been causing him stress and unhappiness. When Jane asked the landlord of the pub near Thornfield about it, the explanation sounded rehearsed, and since the pub landlord was financially dependent on Rochester, he is not going to accuse him of anything. Other than that, Rochester was obviously bad in matters of sexual morality (I hope that is not a spoiler). Anne Brontë wrote the Tenant of Wildfell Hall. It described a lot of bad, male behaviour by Arthur Huntingdon, mostly in the form of debauchery rather than evil. It is so vividly described I wondered where Anne witnessed it. Branwell could not have been that bad. However, it was the behaviour of Gilbert Markham that shocked me the most. He was a good guy, but he did something shocking. There were mitigating circumstances, and what he did does not compare with what Heathcliff, Rochester or Huntingdon did, but for some reason it made more of an impression on me. It definitely lowered him in my estimation, although I can imagine doing something similar myself in the circumstances.I thought it was a good bit of writing because I thought both Markham and his victim behaved very realistically,
  9. Framley Parsonage

    I find it very odd that politicians in the Houses of Parliament had so much power over appointments in the church. Mind you, I also find it odd that the clergy was considered so important. Back in the early nineteenth century the clergy was one of very few gentlemanly professions. There was the clergy, the law (although whether that included solicitors or only barristers, I am not sure), medicine (although there were surgeons, physicians and apothecaries and I am not sure whether they were all fit professions for a gentleman). Then there was the army and navy, but you had to enlist young for the navy. There must have been other jobs. Could you be a merchant, or is that trade? Could you work in banking and finance?
  10. Westerns

    Why are there so few westerns in bookshops these days? The only ones I generally see are True Grit by Charles Portis, the Lonesome Dove series by Larry McMurtry, and Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. It is odd, because it used to be such a popular genre. I think maybe Hollywood killed it. My theory is that when anyone wrote a good western it was immediately turned into a film, so everyone remembers the film but not the book.
  11. Westerns

    I have got myself a copy and am looking forward to reading it.
  12. How brainy do you have to be to write a good book? I have often wondered. Can you make up by steady application what you lack in spontaneous creativity? I posted about Umberto Eco earlier. He was definitely very clever. In Focault's Pendulum he had two or three characters discuss the history of Freemasonry, the Rosicrucians and the Knights Templar for about 700 pages . They hardly drew breath. I was frustrated waiting for the action to start. I am looking at a poster of We Need to Talk About Kevin. by Lionel Shriver. When I read that book, I thought this woman is having deeper thoughts than I have ever had during my entire life. Motives and memories are explored at great length. I am reading a biography of Winston Churchill, who did a bit of writing himself, although non-fiction. Despite his school results and officer entry exam results not being outstanding, he was a pretty clever guy with an incredible memory. He wrote a four volume history on the first Duke of Marlborough. He was not a minister at the time, but he was an MP and he was pretty busy with other stuff. I am reading a Jack Reacher. Lee Child can think up some ingenious plots. My favourite booktuber has just had a book published (or accepted for publishing). I do not know how she managed to write a book while holding down a job, reading as many books as she did, and generating so many YouTube videos. She talks quick and she reads quick. I suspect she is pretty clever. J.R.R. Tolkein was a professor of English at Oxford. He must be the king of world building. In Silmarillion he wrote something like an Old Testament for the Lord of the Rings, and he invented at least one new language and parts of others. Still, maybe not every successful author needs to be as clever.
  13. How clever are book authors?

    I am sure many productive people do not do much chilling. Regarding Shakespeare, he did not write too many plots. He mostly re-wrote existing stories (maybe I am wrong there). On the other hand, I have never tried to write in iambic pentameter, but it sounds difficult.
  14. Does anyone have a problem keeping their TBR list under control? Books are so much easier to buy than read. I currently have seven books on my bookshelves waiting to be read. One of them is 1700 pages long. Another looks about 1000 pages long. I am trying to restrict myself to one new book for every two I read. It's a bit like paying off the national debt.
  15. Bonjour Tristess

    I have started reading this. Francoise Sagan wrote it when she was eighteen. If the 17-year-old in the book was based on herself, I am impressed by how much she matured in one year.
  16. Keeping your TBR under control

  17. Keeping your TBR under control

    I enjoy buying books, but when I buy them I intend to read them. I may as well leave my anti-library in the bookshop where I have not paid any money for them. Umberto Eco was definitely a clever fellow. Reading Focault's Pendulum convinced me of that, although I found it exasperating. Not as exasperating as The Island of the Day Before, after which I stopped reading him. The Name of the Rose was good. I am reminded of the bit in The Great Gatsby in which Gatsby shows his bookshelf full of great books which he has not read. I took it as a criticism: that he was trying to pretend he was more learned and cultured than he was. Not that I am accusing you of any of that.
  18. For me it is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but like an Olympic sprinter who starts to celebrate too soon, it was nearly caught by Moby Dick.
  19. One thing about the Great American Novel is that it is a bit early 20th century, notwithstanding Moby Dick, Huck Finn, and Little Women. I mean there's Catch 22, but that's 1960s. After that, I am not sure who is worth reading. I started reading one Rabbit book by John Updike, but gave up. Portney's Complaint sounds unpleasant. David Foster Wallace sounds difficult. I read one Saul Bellow, which was good, but I was not tempted to read him again. Perhaps the concept has expired.
  20. Keeping your TBR under control

    Also, I have splurged and I have not finished yet. Apart from Clarissa, which is truly humongous, I have three Osprey duel series books, one Jack Reacher, Bonjour Tristess & Wide Sargasso Sea, two science fiction, one western, one book on WW2 aircraft engine development, and another teach yourself Latin book. Also A Midsummer Night's Dream.
  21. Keeping your TBR under control

    I feel relatively virtuous compared to most of you. My TBR list was relatively under control. One thing that helps is I don't read ebooks. Also, I don't have any shelf space left. I have long wanted to get another bookcase, but the only way I could do that is to get a shorter sofa. Also, while I Oxfam most my read books, any book with some sentimental attachment I keep. Sentiment can be a strange thing as I have a bunch of economics books, engineering books, renewable energy books and foreign language dictionaries which I will probably never use again. However I have invested so much time in them I am reluctant to get shot of them. Perhaps I should put them in cardboard boxes and shift them somewhere.
  22. I think Magical Realism refers to books like One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I read The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie, which I think is also an example. I disliked them both. I cannot think of too many other books like this that I have read. Either a book is realistic, or at least not supernatural; or the book is clearly fantasy, science fiction or whatever. I read a book by Bernard Cornwell about one of King Arthur's lesser known knights (Warlord Chronicles). I quite liked the magic in that, because it might not have been magic, just coincidence. I thought that was very skilfully done. I cannot say why the magical elements of One Hundred Years of Solitude irritated me. It might be that if I were Columbian I would have understood the historical allegories.
  23. No I have not read either. Isabel Allende came up when I did a google search on magic realism. I think it is overt instances of magic that bother me in literary fiction. If a character grows horns out his head, or is levitating off the floor, or is 200 years old, that is difficult to ignore. Imagine you are reading a bit of literary fiction by someone like Anthony Powell or Anne Tyler and suddenly a dog starts speaking, without the character being mentally ill or on drugs. It breaks the mood. If a character sees a ghost or has a tarot card reading that seems to come true at least in part, I could handle that.
  24. Come to think of it, I wonder if Thomas Hardy's books may have some magic realism. In Test of the d'Urbervilles there were a number of bad omens. In The Woodlanders, Giles Winterbourne has an almost magic touch with the saplings. I cannot think of anything magical or superstitious in Far From the Madding Crowd, but there is some witchcraft in Return of the Native.
  25. I was wondering whether the reason I find magical realism jarring is that you usually find it in literary fiction. and literary fiction is supposed to be realistic. You're reading how realistic, although perhaps unusual characters think and react in realistic, although perhaps extreme circumstances. When something impossible happens, you know you are not reading that. Worse, you may wonder what is going on. Is this some symbolism to unpack, or is it just there for the heck of it? Having said that, my favourite book I have read as an adult was Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I suppose you could class most of his books as literary fiction, give or take the odd instance of spontaneous combustion. Nevertheless, some parts of Great Expectations seemed rather magical and fairy-tale-like. Miss Haversham could not really have worn the same wedding dress for fifteen years non-stop, nor would her wedding cake have lasted that long. When I was reading it I thought her death seemed rather magical too, although I cannot remember it very well.