What not to read at the beach? 
Posted: 04 November 2012 08:15 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Good luck.

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Posted: 04 November 2012 01:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Well, I suppose different people have different reasons for reading books. “Because it’s difficult” is certainly not one of mine.

I’d add to that list anything more than two pages long by Henry James (how to keep from falling asleep? A thorn at one’s breast, perhaps, like the legendary nightingale?). Another one I gave up on was A Clockwork Orange, which I quickly realized wasn’t in English. (though I greatly enjoyed the movie, which was)

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Posted: 04 November 2012 02:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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De gustibus non carborundum est and all.  The language in A Clockwork Orange was a good part of what I liked about the book.  That one and Riddley Walker.

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Posted: 04 November 2012 02:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Arga warga.

(This is a way of saying that I agree with Faldage.)

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Posted: 04 November 2012 04:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Of the ten, I have only attempted Finnegan’s Wake and Das Kapital. I gave up on the former. The latter I finished: one is not expecting a poltical economic treatise to be a lively rollicking tale of bawdy so it dryness was tolerable.

Another book I manfully struggled through to completion was Voss by Patrick White.

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Posted: 05 November 2012 04:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Arga warga.

(This is a way of saying that I agree with Faldage.)

Arga warga, and also horrorshow!

My father is a very talented reader-aloud, and on family holidays we used routinely to have a book on the go that he would read aloud from. (On camping holidays, for example, when it was raining too hard to go walking or rock climbing, and skiing holidays, to fill in the hungry hour before dinner.) One year he brought Clockwork Orange, which was one of the best books for reading aloud we ever had – even though it wasn’t till we’d finished it that he realised there was a glossary at the back. We hadn’t needed it at all, and the entire family could speak nadsat by that time. Within the family we still use occasional nadsat words such as horrorshow, krovvy, lomtick and starry veck.

By the time Riddley Walker was published my brothers and I were all grown up and married and we had long stopped having family holidays, but I suspect it would be a big hit for reading aloud as well.

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Posted: 05 November 2012 05:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Well, I suppose different people have different reasons for reading books. “Because it’s difficult” is certainly not one of mine.

Agreed.  Hard writing should make easy reading.  Anything written in an artificially-invented language (ie not easy reading) doesn’t appeal to me at all.  But I’ve had this argument with LOTR et al fans before, so this is going over old ground.

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Posted: 05 November 2012 06:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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A Clockwork Orange was certainly a difficult book for Americans to finish because they had left out the final chapter in U.S. editions until a few years ago.  Plus, Kubrick’s movie also left out that chapter so Americans had no idea how the novel was supposed to end.

P.S.  When you’re on your way to the checkout line and you grab a book called The Negro Leagues thinking it’ll have lots of anecdotes about Cool Papa Bell and Satchel Paige, and it rings up at $34.95 and then you notice it’s 400 pages you know it’s not going to be good beach reading.

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Posted: 05 November 2012 07:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Under the Volcano?  Huh.  To each his own, but I found it compulsively readable.  I knew Finnegans Wake would be on there, a boringly predictable choice.  As for Capital: huh?  Why not include, say, Mathematical Methods in Quantum Mechanics, With Applications to Schrödinger Operators if you’re not sticking to fiction?  Eh.  I know people have an endless appetite for these lists, but they’re generally pretty silly ("Here are ten things I like/dislike!  Let’s argue about what obvious things I left out and what dumb things I put in!  [Increase my page views!!]").

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Posted: 05 November 2012 07:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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P.S.  When you’re on your way to the checkout line and you grab a book called The Negro Leagues thinking it’ll have lots of anecdotes about Cool Papa Bell and Satchel Paige, and it rings up at $34.95 and then you notice it’s 400 pages you know it’s not going to be good beach reading.

Why?

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Posted: 05 November 2012 09:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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McCrum is a literary type who wrote a biography of Wodehouse which is why he included Spinoza (Jeeves’s favourite writer) rather than Principia Mathematica or texts about quantum mechanics. (A couple of Guardian readers cited Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit maybe missing the spirit of the article.) Newspapers have to fill space with footling features crap in the hope some readers find it diverting for a brief while. It’s why they have sports and lifestyle sections I could happily do without.

Like Syntinen (who clearly had an enlightened dad) I had enormous fun with teenage friends incorporating inventive nadsat slang in our speech. I can remember shouting something like “Yarblockos! Bolshy great yarblockos to thee and thine!” at one in a pub. “It’s a chill flip winter bastard,” someone would say as the nights were drawing in, to which the hopeful response was “Though dry”. You had to be there :(
I thought only the American edition had a glossary and didn’t realise they left out the last chapter. Isn’t it about redemption? You’d expect Christian America to go for that. I haven’t read it since then. A great novel but not as good as the Enderby tetralogy.

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Posted: 05 November 2012 10:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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OP Tipping - 05 November 2012 07:26 AM

P.S.  When you’re on your way to the checkout line and you grab a book called The Negro Leagues thinking it’ll have lots of anecdotes about Cool Papa Bell and Satchel Paige, and it rings up at $34.95 and then you notice it’s 400 pages you know it’s not going to be good beach reading.

Why?

This was based on an actual event.  $34.95 (U.S.) is a hefty price even for a hard cover.  Not what you expect when you haven’t inspected a book very closely and you assume you’re buying a book of anecdotes about colorful characters from a fabled era of American sport.  $16.95 and far fewer pages would be more like it for a New Release of this type, and these usually move to the bargain bin fairly quickly.  Turns out The Negro Leagues is what I would call a “scholarly tome” full of intricate details of the shoestring business deals and the personalities of the team owners of the various Negro leagues that existed from the early 20th century until about 1960.  A very good book, serious, well-researched and extensively footnoted, but not much in the way of breezy anecdotes (though they recount the time Effa Manley, a white woman “passing for black” called rival owner Cumberland Posey a “handkerchief head” in a contentious league meeting; and the white ex-con who broke the color barrier years before Jackie Robinson).  I didn’t lug it to the beach.

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Posted: 05 November 2012 10:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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venomousbede - 05 November 2012 09:29 AM

I thought only the American edition had a glossary and didn’t realise they left out the last chapter. Isn’t it about redemption? You’d expect Christian America to go for that. I haven’t read it since then. A great novel but not as good as the Enderby tetralogy.

Burgess and the publisher blame each other for the omission of the final chapter in the original American edition.  My sons’ Catholic high school assigns it as optional summer reading for incoming seniors, and I have no idea if the abridged version was on the reading list or not, back in the day.  Still, there is a market for all kinds of books even in “Christian America”.

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