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Everything posted by Paul

  1. Frankie reads 2017

    Just sticking my nose in after a long time to say that it is a pleasure to hear a semblance of the native language that my mother spoke long ago. I'm now sorry I never responded well to her determined efforts to teach it to me. It sounded so funny to my 6r old American ears that I refused to repeat anything in Finnish after her. Now I am trying to self-learn it from the printed page (no audio available). But I think I can still say correctly (and bravely), even if I can't spell it very correctly: Ona liista yta vuataa! Happy New Year to everyone here. Paul
  2. Ker-runch!! What a good question and what great lists of authors! But at the moment I am caught entirely off guard, standing completely on the wrong foot, without a single author who comes to mind. I am just plain authored out. I would just be happy to conquer the twin peaks of TBR books on my end-table, even though I haven't the faintest ideas of who their authors are. But when I scrunch my brain, some almost forgotten pending names do fall out: Jules Romains John Dos Passos H. Rider Haggard Louis Lamour Larry McMurtry Taylor Caldwell Graham Greene Nathaniel Hawthorne Peter Matthiessen Marilynne Robinson Anita Shreve That's ten anyway, actually eleven; but those TBR's are still staring at me.
  3. I hope this isn't off-topic, since you ask about gender specifically. But, I like to think it is quality of story-telling and style of writing that attract me to books, and that these important considerations somehow get lost in these discussions. I like Virginia Woolf, George Eliot, Marguerite Duras, William Faulkner, James Salter, John Banville. and J.D. Salinger. On the other hand, Celia Ahern and Paulo Coelho both drive me up the absolute wall and make me gag. In science fiction, I have liked Day of the Triffids, Ender's Game and Canticle for Leibowitz. Among authors unknown to me, I gladly pick up books by women writers, e.g. Stella Rimington and Clarice Lispector. If men are indeed ignoring high quality books by women, then that is truly a sad day and I share your unhappiness. Paul
  4. Thanks for the compliment. Re reading the books: you could do worse.
  5. Yes, well, Athena, Watchman is a different kind of book. If Mockingbird was the collision between Scout's youthful exuberance and the staid cultural standards of the town, then Watchman is more like the collision between Jean Louise's fully formed liberal outlook and the transitional racial culture of a town still coming to terms with, and resisting, racial integration. Watchman is definitely a racial novel, and not just a picture of Atticus' racial views which attract most of the comment about the book. As a moderate picture of the times it is not badly drawn. Your choice, Paul
  6. Have now finished reading both Mockingbird and Watchman end-to-end. In my opinions: 1. Mockingbird is everything that all its admirers say it is. Excellent, and congratulations to Harper Lee! 2. Watchman is clearly a serious and complete literary work by an established author, even if somewhat uneven and on a less appealing theme. It deserves to be in the author's public canon, and to suppress or trash it would have been a literary crime. As with any other books, one can make up one's own mind whether or not to read them. I am now glad I have read them both. Paul
  7. Angury, Exactly my dream, too -- to have read one of each kind of book or author that is out there, just to know and enjoy what the field of literature has been. Meanwhile, I settle for a library that probably has a couple hundred years of reading in it, and simply ignore the fact that I'll never get around to all of it. I just wish I had a list of the books I have actually read in my lifetime -- at about 50 a year when I am really going -- but even if I had that, it would not be very long. It's all just too sobering. On the other hand, I think it is the joy of buying that is even greater than the joy of reading! And that is accomplished once the book is in hand. One doesn't even have to read it, just fondle it and put it on the shelf. So I'm content. A little bit crazy, But content Paul
  8. Kylie, Thanks for your kind comment. No, I passed by Mockingbird when it came out -- not my favorite topic -- but comment on the story has been hard to miss. (It feels like I have heard about race issues in the US every day of my life, ever since elementary school many years ago, and I am sort of full up to my earlobes on the topic by now.) However, it is on the shelf around here, and we have just picked up Watchman at B&N, so I'm going to be reading both, just to get re-informed and catch up with the crowd. Sorry to be grouchy, but I think some book hype/discussion gets really overdone (Witness 50 Shades). But have a nice day It looks hopeful here, early this morning Thanks Paul
  9. Is it our disappointment at Atticus coming down off a pedestal of our own creation? Or our disappointment at Harper Lee coming down off a pedestal? Or our suspicion of conspiracies? Or our fear of contamination? Or what? Perhaps there are books that are so perfect they should be set off in isolation, and no other of an author's works read. Or perhaps there are authors whose public persona is so perfect that their less public personalities should not be exposed to view. But I think almost anyone who reads much of an author realizes that their total oeuvre will be uneven and, for some, nothing is lost by seeing the person, and their works, and the times in which they were written, all as a whole. I would suggest, on the contrary that there is much to be gained. But, to each their own for whatever our different purposes in reading. After all, we are all people, both the real ones and the fictional ones among us, and life is a wondrous thing in its variety. I am in the camp that reads everything, and still not enough time to do it.
  10. Thank you very much, and most sincerely, Chrissy and Athena, for your kind reactions. Somehow, now looking back, it seems so much clearer than when I was in the thick of it.
  11. Life's Ways   No one can construct for you the bridge upon which precisely you must cross the stream of life, no one but you yourself alone - Friedrich Nietzsche Now, at later age, I realize that I have lived my life incrementally, not knowing the future, with only general thoughts at each step of the way; As a child, with my parent's encouragement, and not knowing why, I only knew that doing well at school was a good thing, So I tried; Through college years I studied and worked hard, without clear ideas of what my chosen profession would be like; but I persisted, and became an electrical engineer; I sharpened my technical skills as well as I could along the way, and had my reward, by rising in my career further than I had expected. I enjoyed work and expected that I would work for my entire life; but then retirement age came, and I was retired, even though I would have preferred otherwise. But, professionally, things worked out better than I had been able to imagine. And my personal life too followed a path I could not have predicted As a child I did not know what marriage meant, except for the good examples seen in my own family and among my family's friends; I had no imagination of whether marriage would happen to me, or not. Later, in early teen years, I still did not understand how I would find love and what marriage would mean; yet, during college, I did find love and marry; Still, with no understanding of what parenting and family would mean, we had our first wonderful child; and then we had three more. Having seen unhappy marriages, I resolved that I would be happily married forever; but my marriage failed, and I felt the shame of divorce. For many years I had no interest in remarrying; once was enough for me for such heartache. I never thought I would find an attractive and lovely wife and partner again, yet it happened; and I have again found happiness, in a new life and in a wonderful second marriage. On balance, I would do it all again. So, the next ten years? Who knows? Lately, my joints have started aching . . .
  12. Your Top 10 Authors!

    These have been mine for quite some time now: Vladimir Nabokov Virginia Woolf William Faulkner John Banville John LeCarré George Eliot Charles McCarry Marguerite Duras Marcel Proust and the most astoundingly wonderful of all, the equal of any, even if not well known: James Salter
  13. Good to hear from you willoyd. We are a verrry small minority as far as I can tell.
  14. Thanks for the reply, nollaig. I'll look at it with a new eye.
  15. Nollaig, Glad to see your list, especially with its inclusion of The Martian and Flowers for Algernon as points of contact with my own list. They should be on everyone's lists. Book Thief continues to puzzle me however. It appears at the head of almost every list I see for best book of year etc, and seems to be enormously popular. But it eludes me and leaves me flat, if not actually annoyed. I guess I just don't see in it what so many other people do. But opinions will differ, so no big deal I suppose.
  16. Hi Bobblybear, I hope you enjoy the story as much as I did. It definitely is a thriller to the very last page, even if I think a few parts are rather too theatrical for me to imagine happening. Happy reading Paul.
  17. Without a doubt, Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews is sidling onto my list of best books in a decade of reading. A spy thriller with a highly trained cat secretly tracking a very educated mouse, the suspense carries from page to page in a way that I can't recall from other espionage books I have read. Matthews is a master of the craft, having had a career with the CIA, and the detail on every page into both personal psychology and espionage tradecraft is absolutely remarkable and new to this reader. He ranks with the masters and is very highly recommended to anyone.
  18. You are most welcome, iceypik. I hope you enjoy your time here as I have mine. There are nice people on this forum and a whole world of books to enjoy.
  19. Commemorating a decade of membership and discussion in online book forums: my best-of-the-best books I have enjoyed. A Decade of Reading Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov Pnin - Vladimir Nabokov Look at the Harlequins - Vladimir Nabokov Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf The Waves - Virginia Woolf The Sea - John Banville Stoner - John Williams Absalom, Absalom! - William Faulkner Daniel Deronda - George Eliot The Lover - Marguerite Duras The Golden Notebook - Doris Lessing Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger Franny and Zooey - J.D. Salinger The Stream of Life - Clarice Lispector Light Years - James Salter The Hunters - James Salter Gilead - Marilynne Robinson Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce Dreams of my Russian Summers - Andrei Makine Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy Casanova in Bolzano by Sandor Marai American Pastoral by Philip Roth The Universal Baseball Association - Robert Coover Your Face Tomorrow (3 v) - Javier Marias Spy, Detective, Terrorism The Untouchable - John Banville Harlot's Ghost - Norman Mailer The Smiley Series - John LeCarré I Am Pilgrim - Terry Hayes Sci Fi Malevil - Robert Merle On the Beach - Nevil Shute Contact - Carl Sagan Canticle for Leibowitz - Walter M. Miller, Jr. Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes The Martian - Andy Weir Islam Orientalism - Edward Said From Beirut to Jerusalem - Thomas L. Friedman Mohammed, a Prophet for Our Time - Karen Armstrong The Truth About Mohammed - Robert Spencer American Islam - Paul M. Barrett Onward Muslim Soldiers - Robert Spencer Lit Crit Post-Modernist Fiction - Brian McHale Short Story The Lost Decade - F. Scott Fitzgerald Drama Waiting for Godot - Samuel Beckett Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf - Edward Albee Poetry The Classic 100 Poems - William Harmon, ed. Biography Salinger - David Shields Inspirational Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions - John Donne Thank you, everyone, for your friendship and an enjoyable experience. Sincerely Paul
  20. Fifty Shades of Grey, E.L. James

    Late to the party, it has been a long time since I've been in a discussion of "50 Shades." Most of what I might have to say has probably already been said here, and elsewhere, so I'll restrict my comments to some not often heard. 1. I bought the book to read it, and read the other two as well. No apologies offered -- my own free will. 2. I have never seen a book where so many people who haven't read it have so many negative opinions about it. Herd mentality in action. 3. The book does have a plot. There is character development; There is a plot structure (introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, denoument). 4. It has a happy ending for those who like happy endings. 5. I have never heard so many people who are suddenly literary critics and judging the book to have poor writing. (When no comments are made about the quality of writing in all the other books people read. I assume they must all have excellent writing). 6. Many other erotic books have been mentioned as superior, without titles being given. Titles, please! (Bared to You is not. It is inferior). 7. The book deserves its popularity, and she her money. 8. Whether it causes other people to read, I care not.
  21. Paul's Reading 2014

    Two more pages and I was done. * * * Added in edit: I've shifted over to When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro. Pontalba knows interesting books when she sees them.
  22. Paul's Reading 2014

    Probably not, now that you ask. Most in the category are just not interesting. This one is absolutely repulsive. My next read will definitely be better!
  23. Who has read Faust by Goethe?

    Several times, and once in German. Very enjoyable, and with a worthwhile moral. But Part I only. Part II has been on my reading list for all of this year.
  24. Paul's Reading 2014

    Upthread, in an unguarded moment, I mentioned that I was reading American Psycho. I may yet be sorry for confessing that initial interest. At first, and from whatever I have heard about it, I thought it was scathing parody of modern acquisitive American culture. But too late I have found out that the protagonist is a misogynist serial killer. Sooo.... so far, at 30%, there has been a graphic bedroom scene, explicit to the point of bordering on porn -- depending on one's definition of porn. And separately a mutilation that might turn one's stomach -- again depending on one's definition of stomach. Plus a few murders 'way offstage. Up for grabs right now is the question of whether I'll continue on. In the post-modern vein, the idea of any plot is still rather sketchy, and the (lack of) continuity is quite bizarre. At the moment I am leaning toward one of several decisions: Deferred, or Abandoned, and/or Worst of Year. Not Recommended for general reading, although I'll probably hang in a little to see if anything like a coherent story develops. I'll let you know. yech! PS Is the site a bit slow?
  25. Paul's Reading 2014

    Umm, yes you are right, and you are not prying. I have four children by a previous marriage, all grown, and Kate and I have none. It's not a particular secret; just never thought to mention.