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in Food, Cooking & Recipes
Posted August 23, 2007
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in Past Book Logs
Posted August 21, 2007
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Another Bullsh*t Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn
(Yes, this is a memoir)
"Poet Nick Flynn was either fortunate or unfortunate enough to live a life so ripe for a good memoir. The events in Another Bullshit Night are extraordinary enough to spur critical debate about whether the story would be better served in fictional form. In fact, the story is so enlightening that Flynn
Contemporary Fiction is my area of specialty. Although I will read almost anything, contemporary fiction has always intrigued me the most. A lot of these authors are vastly talented, as well as unique, and I don't feel as though they receive adequate levels of recognition.
I will utilize this thread to provide all of you with my personal recommendations (for those that are interested, of course). However, I encourage all of you to at least give one of these authors a chance. In my opinion, a lot of these books will eventually be considered classics. And hopefully, one day, they will have the benefit of being studied in a classroom environment, but who knows.
Falling Man by Don DeLillo
"Keith Neudecker, a lawyer and survivor of the 9/11 attack, arrives on his estranged wife Lianne's doorstep, covered with soot and blood, carrying someone else's briefcase. In the days and weeks that follow, moments of connection alternate with complete withdrawl from his wife and young son, Justin. He begins a desultory affair with the owner of the briefcase based only on their shared experience of surviving: "the timeless drift of the long spiral down." Justin uses his binoculars to scan the skies with his friends, looking for "Bill Lawton" (a misunderstood version of bin Laden) and more killing planes. Lianne suddenly sees Islam everywhere: in a postcard from a friend, in a neighbor's music--and is frightened and angered by its ubiquity. She is riveted by the Falling Man. Her mother Nina's response is to break up with her long-time German lover over his ancient politics. In short, the old ways and days are gone forever; a new reality has taken over everyone's consciousness. This new way is being tried on, and it doesn't fit. Keith and Lianne weave into reconciliation. Keith becomes a professional poker player and, when questioned by Lianne about the future of this enterprise, he thinks: "There was one final thing, too self-evident to need saying. She wanted to be safe in the world and he did not."
Through all the terror, fire and smoke, De Lillo's voice is steady as a metronome, recounting exactly what happens to Keith as he sees friends and co-workers maimed and dead, navigates the stairs and, ultimately, is saved. Though several post-9/11 novels have been written, not one of them is as compellingly true, faultlessly conceived, and beautifully written as Don De Lillo's Falling Man."
The Contortionist's Handbook by Craig Clevenger
"John Vincent was born with an extra ring finger on one hand. To his constantly broke, jail-bound father, this was just something John had to live with. After years of ridicule by other children, his father gave him a magic book through which he learned some slight-of-hand tricks that helped him conceal his disfigurement from others. That, together with a sharp mind and a knack for replicating signatures and official documents, started John on a path of petty crime. Then he started getting inexplicable and untreatable migraines, which led to a history of drug abuse. As John started going in and out of hospitals for drug overdoses, he deftly learned how to change identities. This life of identity theft, drugs, and crime continues in a downward spiral, until he falls in love and meets his match. He starts to question his own identity, after rejecting it for so long, which eventually leads to some redemption. Clevenger cleverly creates a modern-day Mr. Ripley."
Kiss Me, Judas by Will Christopher Baer
(The first novel in the trilogy)
"In his extremely dark but very effective first thriller, former cabdriver and homeless counselor Will Christopher Baer takes that old urban legend of the man who wakes up in a hotel bathtub full of ice to discover that somebody has removed one of his kidneys and whips it up into a modernized Edgar Allan Poe nightmare. Baer's hero is in fact called Phineas Poe--an ex-cop who spent six years digging up dirt in and on the Denver P.D.'s Internal Affairs Division. On his first night out after a nervous breakdown and a six-month stay in a psychiatric hospital, Poe is picked up by a prostitute named Jude who drugs his drink and deftly removes his kidney.
Poe heads for the Witch's Teat, a sex shop where his friend Crumb works. "Crumb isn't really a doctor. He does cheap abortions and gunshot wounds and even dental work for the mad and desperate," Baer writes in deceptively plain present-tense prose, which quickly mesmerizes like electronic music. Poe learns that his kidney has been replaced by a bag of heroin--which could kill him if it dissolves. Intent on retrieving his stolen organ, he traces Jude to a bowling alley called the Inferno. Strangely enough, with Jude he reluctantly discovers the chance of love and family that he thought was gone forever when his wife died. In lesser hands, this flash of light in a roomful of noir could easily have spoiled everything. But Baer makes it all seem as natural as whistling in the dark."
Syrup by Maxx Barry
"Lampooning corporate "ethics," sexual politics and the marketing and film industries, this clever debut satire by 25-year-old Australian writer Barry will have readers nodding in agreement and quoting it to their friends. Ingenuous new marketing graduate Scat (he feels that his full name, Michael George Holloway, just won't do for a career in marketing) moves to L.A. hoping to become rich and famous. After he gets a million-dollar idea for a new cola product, cheeky and arrogant Scat approaches a beautiful, ruthless marketing manager named 6 at Coca-Cola. The new product's name is, hilariously, a "dirty" word, spelled unconventionally and in stylish font on a black can. But before Scat's cash cow can be milked, his roommate Sneaky Pete steals the idea, is hired by Coke, and soon holds the purse-strings for Coca-Cola's biggest marketing undertaking ever, a $140 million movie. The infuriated Scat joins forces with 6 to create their own, better movie, with a measly $10,000 budget. With Scat's creative ideas, 6's business acumen and the help of 6's film-major roommate Tina, and Scat's actress ex-girlfriend Cindy, they set out to beat Sneaky Pete at his own game. Scat and 6 have an affectionate, wary bond (even though Scat's crazy for her and she claims she's a lesbian), and together they nimbly dodge the clever, ever-surprising political landmines that Sneaky Pete sets in their path."
in General Fiction
Posted August 20, 2007
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Ok, you've sold me. I did see it in the library a few times, but always hesitated picking it up, because I wasn't too keen on his other recent books. Once I get through my current load of books, I'll definitely give it a go.
Please do. In fact, I both urge and encourage others on this board to read Rant as well. Even if you have never read a Chuck Palahniuk novel, I can assure you that reading through this book has many rewards. Also, it would lead to some engrossing discussions...
Posted August 19, 2007
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Fight Club blew me away when I first read it. It's one of those books that I was so glad I had the chance to pick up. Though it was mainly centered around young/middle-aged men and their dissatisfaction with their place in society, it really spoke to me. I think alot of what Palahniuk says in Fight Club can apply to anyone living today. It's not only the story, but the way it was written. There were so many punchy one-liners in that book!
Yes! Thank you for your reply. Fight Club was an instant classic. It will absolutely be utilized within classroom settings in the future, although, I've noticed that it has already begun to pop up in some university curriculum's already.
Palahniuk has always maintained a severely clever, yet unique, view on societal issues. His observations on the present state of society are priceless. Also, the manner in which he incorporates his views into his plot lines, as well as the characters, never fails to impress.
I suppose I mostly enjoy his work because his style of writing is different. As I've mentioned earlier -- his voice is stunning. Although it may be a bit repetitive throughout his work, it never reaches the level of "tiresome".
I eagerly picked up his other books as they came out, but none of them came close (IMO) to Fight Club. I did enjoy Invisible Monsters and Survivor, but I don't think I even finished Choke or Lullaby. I haven't bothered to pick up his most recent ones.
I have a difficult time ranking Palahniuk's novels. I have completed all of them with an immense amount of satisfaction. I could read Chuck's writing all day.
Invisible Monsters contained one of the more shocking plot twists that I have ever read. It's been quite a while since I've read it, but I vividly remember being placed in a severe state of shock. I would say the same about Diary -- this novel has an extremely delicious twist at the very, very end.
Lullaby falls more along the lines of science fiction perhaps. This was actually the first novel of his that I read. I was immediately drawn to his style of writing and the uncommon, yet ingenious characters that he was able to create. I enjoyed this novel thoroughly.
I would rank Choke more towards the upper portion of Palahniuk's work. I know that many seemed to dislike this novel; however, I found it to be truly invigorating, as well as refreshing. It's much more calm than his other work, but it maintained a similar level of intrigue.
I would like to give his other books another go, to see whether I feel differently about them now. I honestly don't think he could top Fight Club...but that's just my opinion, of course. :eek2:
Haunted was brilliant in my opinion. It's a novel told through a collection of some of the best short stories I have ever read. HOWEVER, there is one short story entitled GUTS that may have a negative effect on your physical being. Indeed, it's a well-known fact that this short story has caused over 70 people to faint during various live readings. This is just a warning to those that decide to read this novel.
Lastly, Palahniuk's most recent novel, Rant, is perhaps his best work since Fight Club. Thematically, it may surpass Fight Club. He's intertwined so many critical themes into the story. Chances are, you won't pick up on all of them after reading it once. The way that he has constructed and executed the plot almost forces you to re-read the book. In fact, it is, perhaps, essential that you read Rant twice, and chances are, you will feel a strong desire to upon completion -- and for numerous reasons too, because the second time around, it will read as an entirely different story. This novel is pure genius.
in General Book Discussions
At last count I have approximately 360 books to read. I'm quite surprised how small everybody else's are, but you've all obviously got a lot more self-control than me!
YES. I also find myself in the range of 300 as of right now.
Have you ever bought everything an author has written after reading just 1 book of theirs?
Indeed. There are many.
Bret Easton Ellis
Will Christopher Baer
That's all I can think of right now.
Posted August 18, 2007
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So, between 1997 and now?
This is much more difficult than I originally thought..
Posted August 17, 2007
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I'm sure someone has - or perhaps if you give us all a bit more info about him and the books he's written, you'll inspire some of us to give him a try.
Hmm. I like this idea.
Perhaps you'll nominate a book by him for the reading circle next month?
Indeed! I would be more than happy to. Although, I'm still trying to grasp the gist of what others on this board enjoy reading.
Chuck's writing can be quite explicit.
Which novels would make your list? Naturally, we all maintain differing opinions, but I'm interested in seeing what others think..
As for me, I have yet to complete my list. It will be up soon, although I must admit -- I am slightly struggling with this..
No one here reads any Chuck?! :eek2:
Palahniuk is most notably known for his novel Fight Club. Has anyone here read any of his other novels? In my opinion, he possesses one of the more unique voices within contemporary literature. I found his latest novel, Rant, to be thematically compelling.
Hello and welcome *hands over chocolate welcome muffin*
How sweet of you..
Welcome. I like your choice of fav book. And your avatar. Interesting.
INDEED. Thank you.
BLESSINGS TO ALL FOR THE VERY WARM WELCOME..
I keep intending on reading American Psycho as I'm a big contempoary American lit fan But I'm pretty squeamish so could be a problem!
Indeed, this may be a rather large issue, specifically because the explicitness is powerfully detailed.
Also, which contemporary literature are you fond of?
I'm also reading Life of Pi - how are you finding it so far?
I have only read through the introduction to Life of Pi, and was quite intrigued by it. However, I just received a copy of Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman in the mail, and I am very anxious to read this novel, so I have started that for the time being. So far, I am quite impressed by his style of writing.
Posted August 14, 2007
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Hello, everyone. I have been quite fond of books since a very young age. I am slightly ashamed to admit that American Psycho is perhaps the greatest novel I have read, mostly because it is frowned upon by many, although I tend not to be influenced by the ideas and opinions of others. However, I suppose I am still in search of an author that has successfully captured what Ellis has accomplished within this novel.
Regardless, I encourage all to venture through the book with an excessively open mind -- the rewards are potently existent.
Lastly, I look forward to exchanging ideas, opinions, and knowledge with all of you.