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Hux

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About Hux

  • Rank
    Settling In

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  • Reading now?
    The Book of Disquiet
  • Gender
    Male
  • Interests
    Books, Writing, Dachshunds, Star Trek, Football.
  1. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

    I'll give this a bump rather than starting a new thread. Despite the book's title, this book is actually about two people, Anna Karenina, and Konstantin Levin, following the two of them in separate chapters, their lives unconnected but for some occasional acquaintances. I once read a review of the book which suggested that when young people read the novel, they are predominantly concerned with Anna's story, but when they read the novel again years later, with mature, world weary eyes, it is Levin's story that begins to resonate with them. To me, this is a rather self-congratulatory simplification. The truth is, I think the complete opposite is true. When I was young, Levin's journey was far more interesting to me, full of profound questions about life, and meaning, and philosophy, and purpose. Meanwhile, Anna was just some silly girl who fell in love then offed herself because... boo hoo. I frankly had little interest in her and considered Levin, and his search for a place in the world, to be a significantly more powerful narrative. Now, with those aforementioned mature eyes, I have changed my mind. If anything, Levin is a spoiled child, privileged by his gender to pursue various self-indulgent interests and distractions, his freedom being the very thing that permits him to explore such meandering concerns while the world, struggling to continue beside him, plods along as normal. Anna, on the other hand, is caged by social circumstances, she cannot be who she wants to be, nor love who she wants to love. Life is designed by others and portioned off to those willing to commit to the expectations of class, gender and education. Anna must await, with baited breath, the permission of others before she can take any ownership of her existence. And, ultimately, she concludes that death is the only escape. Both stories have their compelling moments, and I was slightly disappointed that they met (or that their meeting was so... underwhelming), but I suppose Tolstoy was making a point there too, one which pivoted on the very different journeys these two people were making. It is a truly spectacular novel, one which requires, deserves, several readings. A masterpiece.
  2. That makes sense. Certain books can be intimidating after all.
  3. It's been a slow year for me. I've only read 463 books so far.
  4. 100 Books Bucket List

    This is supposed to be a bucket list of must-reads. Noughts and Crosses is no must-read. If it's a diversity thing (which I suspect it is), I would recommend literally anything by James Baldwin as an alternative. The whole list is pretty poor if you ask me, muddled and sloppy.
  5. 100 Books Bucket List

    Noughts and Crosses? Really?
  6. Hux Book Blog

    The Posthumous Memoirs of Bràs Cubas (1881) Machado de Assis Really hard to believe this was published in 1881. It really does feel like it could have been written today (in terms of tone and humour at least). I guess because so many of us associate 19th century literature with the British and Russian epics. Their bombastic style kind of sets a tone for what you begin to expect of literature from that particular era but the Brazilian style presumably kicked against that without being very familiar to us. Books like this were so hard to find in the pre-internet days. They've found a new audience in the modern world. The story is told by a Bras Cubas after he dies. He begins by describing his funeral before telling us his life story. It's not an especially epic story. He just lives, loves, works, and often fails. There's not much more to him. Because that's what life is for most of us. It's more the humour and darkness of the book that make his story interesting. He rejects his marriage match then, once she marries someone else, begins an affair with her. But that's about as interesting as his life gets. Then, as promised, he dies. He takes comfort in having no children, specifically in the idea of not forcing the misery of life onto another. The chapters are very short, some only a paragraph long. Some chapters are blank. Some are merely an opportunity to speak directly to the reader (or to the critic as he does in one short chapter). I was always of the opinion that people like Joyce invented the modern novel, but again, it seems clear that isn't the case. This book certainly qualifies. As much as I enjoyed it, the truth is it didn't live long in the memory once I'd finished. Ultimately, I'd describe the book as a curious and worthwhile read but one which is perhaps a little frivolous and lacking in impact. 7/10
  7. Hux Book Blog

    The Book of Ebenezer Le Page (1981) G.B. Edwards This was an exquisite piece of work. A proper good-old yarn.It felt so real that about halfway through I googled G.B. Edwards to see if this was literally just his life. But no, he left Guernsey, lived in London, had a very different existence. Ebenezer feels too real to be fictional though; too cantankerous and funny and opinionated. Most novels are narrated by personality-lacking robots who gaze into the middle distance and say nothing remotely human. Yawn. This was sweeping and epic and full of life. A real life.I so desperately wanted him to get together with Liza Quéripel but it just doesn't happen. Because that's just not how life works. I felt for him when his best friend Jim died in the First World war. When Tabitha lost her husband. When Raymond lost his faith. When the sisters Prissy and Hettie fell out and made up again and again. When Neville Falla vandalised his property. When he killed a Nazi. When he befriended another. And when he told us about the book he was writing.This book was an absolute joy. And to learn it was yet another book which publishers rejected reminds me how incompetent most publishers are."The older I get and the more I learn, the more I know I don't know nothing, me." 8/10
  8. Hux Book Blog

    The Man Who Was Thursday (1908) G.K Chesterton Thoroughly enjoyed this mad nonsense (especially after the disappointment of The Great Gatsby). I'm tempted to categorise it as magical realism but, well... no, not quite. It's definitely a little bonkers and a very fun romp through the secret world of anarchy and religion. I won't pretend to have grasped the finer details of the religious analogies made throughout the book but I got the general gist of the main themes and even though a lot of it was too intricate to properly analyse, it was still very enjoyable and thought provoking. A nightmare indeed. 7/10
  9. Hux Book Blog

    Blood Meridian (1985) Cormack McCarthy This is the first Cormac McCarthy book I've ever read. Will probably be my last. I'd heard bad things about him, specifically that he's rather contrived and tries a little too hard, has a tendency to throw in a ton of alliteration and rhyming schemes and assonance and whatever else he can find. This was sadly true and meant the book was an appalling reading experience as a result. I really don't intend to make the same mistake again (especially give that this is considered his greatest work). The story about a young lad joining a gang and riding out west is fairly interesting though the 'kid' never really feels fleshed out as a character. It's the other characters that are more interesting especially Glanton and the judge. I got definite Kurtz vibes from the judge and rather enjoyed the chapter where he stalks the kid like Yul Brynner from Westworld (another possible influence). He is the most intriguing character by far and possibly represents death itself. But those sporadic chapters aside, I sincerely hated reading this book. It was such an unpleasant chore. Sadly, I'm one of those people who generally keeps going once I've started. It wasn't worth it. The writing style felt so deliberate. Like McCarthy sits down and thinks about how every word, sentence, and paragraph should be constructed, framed, and presented. It's frankly awful and feels like you're reading a film script that's far too descriptive. Imagine reading this paragraph on every page: And breathe... Imagine that on virtually every page. Just terrible. Sometimes I genuinely wonder what people are reading. This was such an awful experience. Hated it. 3/10
  10. Hux Book Blog

    The Story of The Eye (1928) Georges Bataille This is a very famous erotic novella. Written in 1928 and detailing the narrator (a young male) and his sexual escapades with a girl called Simone. They begin having a sexual relationship but don't engage in full intercourse, only masturbation and exhibitionism. Eventually, they manipulate a local girl, Marcelle, into joining them in their games. This leads to an orgy which in turn leads to Marcelle having a mental breakdown resulting in her going to a sanitorium. Eventually, she commits suicide and the narrator and Simone go on the run to Spain with the help of an Englishman called Sir Edmund (another like-minded pervert). In Seville, Simone seduces a priest and with the two men helping her, she rapes and murders him, taking a unique pleasure from removing his eye. As you might expect, this book has a lot of gratuitous language and sexual imagery. There's milk and eggs and bull's testicles and, of course, the titular eye ball. When I first read it, I assumed it was supposed to be a true story. As the story goes on, however, you quickly understand that it's too fantastical to be true, a classic male fantasy which outs the power in the hands of the female protagonist. Bataille himself confirms that it was indeed 'a mostly' manufactured story, a kind of wish fantasy about women being as dirty, as sexual, and as aggressive as the men. Women, After all, have all that sexual capital yet never seem to exploit it. Hence Simone is always the instigator in the sexual acts, always the leader in their games. There was a moment when Bataille seemed to be equating semen with urine because, in his interpretation, that's what orgasm is to a man -- it's not something we build up to like women, but something we relieve ourselves of. Like so many other bodily functions it is primitive, basic, nothing more meaningful than eating, defecating, breathing, sleeping. They all exist on a spectrum of pleasure. I actually laughed out loud at the final chapter with the priest. It was so utterly unreal, so visually crisp, that it developed a distinct comedic element. I loved this book. The prose was quite sincerely beautiful at times. Highly recommended. 8/10
  11. What Are You Watching Now? - 2021

    SoulmatesSix self contained episodes each with new characters and stories. In the year 2023, the soul particle is found which proves the existence of the soul and, in turn, allows a dating company to tell you who your soulmate is. All you have to do is take a test to find your match.Some interesting ideas and themes explored, mostly concerning people who are already married or in relationships. The existence of the test obviously puts a strain on these relationships. Then there's an episode where people find out that their soulmate is dead which makes their lives meaningless. Then an episode where the soulmate is a very bad person etc.Nothing that ground breaking but it was interesting.It's an American show but virtually every actor in it is a Brit.
  12. Hux Book Blog

    The Leopard (1958) Guiseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa This might be the saddest book I've ever read. It's kinda heart breaking.It begins in 1860 and introduces us to Don Fabrizio, the Prince of Salina. We follow his life and that of his children and his nephew Tancredi during the period of the reunification of Italy under Garibaldi. The language is so rich and fluid and provides a sumptuous picture of Sicily until you can almost feel the sun on your back and hear the waves crashing below. Occasionally, the writing is a little dense and meandering and lost my interest a little but when it worked, it really was quite beautiful and lyrical.Don Fabrizio is an aristocrat with ties to the past but equally embraces the changes taking place at the time (especially encouraged by his progressive nephew Tancredi). Concetta, his daughter, is in love with Tancredi and for a moment it seems as though he's interested in her but then we are then introduced to the beautiful Angelica, daughter of an up and coming member of Sicilian society (new money). She is described as being quite exquisitely beautiful, mesmerising everyone.Tancredi is also impressed by her beauty and the two soon begin a relationship to the delight of Don Fabrizio.The novel then jumps ahead. We see more of their lives. Garibaldi is successful. Tancredi and Angelica marry. Then we jump ahead further. And again and again. Then Don Fabrizio dies. Then comes the final chapter set in 1910 when Concetta is in her 70s and Tancredi is dead. Then we discover something. And it's heart breaking. Despite some of the writing being a little dense, this is one of the most amazing explorations of death, mortality, the loss of traditions, the passage of time, the inevitability of mortality, the dying of passion, and the blindness of youth, I've ever read. The major theme is that of wasting our lives, losing them to time, to mistakes. It reminded me of Atwood's Blind Assassin in many ways (she owes a lot to this book) though her book hits you over the head with its themes and doesn't come close to this level of genius. Lampedusa takes a far more subtle approach when looking at the fragility of human existence. This book doesn't tell you that it's a question of living for the moment or that you shouldn't waste your life; it tells you that living for the moment is impossible. That we will all, in some way, waste our lives. Poor Concetta. 9/10
  13. Andrea in 2021

    David Copperfield was my favourite. Like eating a big Sunday lunch by an open fire.
  14. Hux Book Blog

    The Gathering (2007) Anne Enright I bought and read this because it was a Booker prize winner even though I've made that mistake before. It's about the death of an Irish woman's brother and the memories associated with him, and while it's mostly very readable, with nice short chapters and a compelling narrator, it always felt just a little... I dunno... a little obvious. Modern books all seem to be like this in my opinion. Narrated by slightly dazed (and somewhat robotic) narrators who 'gaze at the begonias and think about Richard and the summer when we held hands that one time.' Yawn. It's all a bit by-the-numbers and predictable with an author who talks about the world as though they have a unique perspective that other people just couldn't have (they're always bored by sex while their partners are very keen and they're tediously middle-class and seem to resent most aspects of their lives). It just felt like I'd read so many books this before (I strongly suspect 'Normal People' will be very similar). EDIT - it was (see above review). The twist, if you can call it that, was another banal cliche. Not entirely awful, and reasonably readable, but the idea that this is Booker Prize winning stuff is worrying. 5/10
  15. Hux Book Blog

    Confessions of a Mask (1949) Mishima Yukio I'm always trying to expand my reading beyond the European tradition and this writer was recommended. The book is short and sweet and covers the period of a character's life (which feels extremely autobiographical) that would generally be described as bildungsroman (early years to adulthood). The main character is a gay man in Tokyo coming to terms with his homosexuality and obsession with death just prior to the war. He's in love with another boy called Omi (though sometimes it's seems more like admiration than attraction) and in his late teens he develops a relationship with a woman called Sonoko which might lead to marriage. Eventually, he calls it off knowing that he can never really give her the love she wants and yet, despite this and her later marriage to someone else, the two begin to meet again on a regular basis but in a purely platonic way. The book ends with them at a dance where he gazes lovingly at a half naked man knowing that he can never truly be happy because he is gay This is pretty groundbreaking stuff for 1949. I'm frankly amazed he was willing to publish given that the character is so clearly the author. I enjoyed the style of writing, it being concise but fluid, though it's always hard to judge such things when it's a translation. I was certainly impressed enough to look into reading more of his work. 7/10
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