Books and literature recommendations

Movies, books, music, and all the arts go here.
Give us your recommendations and reviews.
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BoSoxGal
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Re: Books and literature recommendations

Post by BoSoxGal »

(except a guitar)
For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
~ Carl Sagan

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Gob
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Re: Books and literature recommendations

Post by Gob »

Gob wrote:My mate Patrick has a new one out.

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Getting a lot of 5 star reviews..
Goodness! Five stars in the Daily Telegraph! Thank you, Sophie Ratcliffe...

Eustace is glowing. It’s not so much his medication – although the cancer-zapping pill he has just taken would get a Geiger counter going – as his mood. After months of virtual dating, he’s about to meet his online squeeze, Theo, some 20 years his junior.
The timing isn’t great. Having reached “an age when he was reassured that life was unlikely to surprise him any further”, Eustace had been firmly set for proverbial pipe and slipperdom, not life-changing encounters with beautiful men in army fatigues. And the fact that he’s “quite possibly dying” may put a dampener on his first real-life date. (He hasn’t even told Theo he’s in hospital.)
For all this, Patrick Gale’s hero remains upbeat, almost relishing the 24 hours of solitude enforced by his radioactive cancer treatment. Using the hospital isolation room as a kind of vortex, the novel moves between Eustace’s unexpected mid-life romance and his teenage years in run-down Weston-super-Mare.
Take Nothing With You marks a move from Gale’s beloved Cornish landscape, but it’s also a return of sorts. While his Costa-shortlisted A Place Called Winter transported readers to the Canadian prairies, this captivating novel, Gale’s 18th, shows him to be better than ever, and is closer to home. A deeply autobiographical work, it draws on his own experiences of sexuality, music and childhood trauma.
An only son living in a family-run old people’s home, Eustace takes cello lessons with the spellbindingly bohemian Carla Gold (think Jacqueline du Pré meets Bruno Tonioli, in florals). His gift takes him to the edge of the professional musical world – in the holidays, he learns alongside a group of equally talented child musicians. Flaunting their perfect pitch or “casually demoralising” each other with “a cascade of Vivaldi”, Gale’s players are spiky and precocious, like so many musical versions of Noel Streatfeild’s small ballet stars.
L P Hartley’s The Go-Between is a more explicit literary touchstone – and, as with that classic, the book’s tension hinges on how much, or how little, a child knows about the grown-ups. It’s not long before Eustace finds himself an unwitting player in the messiness of adult lives, with all their forbidden love affairs, marital discord, and unspoken truths. The plot is tight, and the surprises keep coming. But the journey is reflective as well as dramatic. Gale encourages us to think not just about the rifts between people, but also about the contradictory versions of ourselves.
The past may well be, as Hartley said, a foreign country, but most of us don’t get through its customs without a holdall of mental souvenirs – and some of them are pretty ugly. Cursed with a selfish, unbalanced and “depressingly indestructible” mother, Eustace has quite a bit to shoulder. The image of a cello-lugging teen-hero, trudging the streets like a mini-Atlas, is the book’s leitmotif. But just as that instrument brings light as well as weight, Gale’s novel is generously optimistic. It shows how our past shapes us, but suggests that we can make something from the emotional burdens that we bear. It also illuminates the idea that it’s OK not to be perfect.
It’s hard to make writing feel this easy and compelling. Gale’s translucent prose and subtle structuring are artful but never showy. (It’s a gift he shares with Anthony Trollope, who gets a few fond hat tips here, not least in the title.) It’s also very sexy. Passionate, appetitive, flirtatious, Gale can write of the mind, but he also gets the body – from the bat-squeak of arousal in a London club, to the heady musk of teenage fumblings in a bed of “ivy, discarded crisp packets and used condoms”. Food is given its due, too, from stroopwafels to a step-by-step recipe for pasta sauce that ensures “you will never lack friends”. Gale is an accomplished cellist, and the sound of music is described with just enough detail to make you seek it out.
As he walks out of the isolation suite, Eustace takes nothing with him. Hospital regs dictate that his T-shirt, boxers, and even the cheap MP3 player of cello music, must go into the bin. Loved ones can look, but not, until the radiation wears off, touch, as if he’s stuck behind a glass screen. I closed the book with a similar sense of longing. Eustace – who had become flesh and blood – was now beyond my grasp. It’s a novel that evokes the most precious of feelings, the feeling of falling, of not wanting things to end. Read it once, fast. Then again, savouring the story. And stop and listen to the music as you go
“If you trust in yourself, and believe in your dreams, and follow your star. . . you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy.”

Burning Petard
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Re: Books and literature recommendations

Post by Burning Petard »

I will never understand Amazon's business model. Right now, the hardback version is priced higher than the paperback. Both recent releases.

Reviews look interesting. Somehow I have never looked at this author.

snailgate

wesw
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Re: Books and literature recommendations

Post by wesw »

one for guin.....

how to win friends and influence people....., by Andrew Carnegie, I think.

it s been 30 yrs since I read it, maybe I should re read it myself

Jarlaxle
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Re: Books and literature recommendations

Post by Jarlaxle »

Latest: Paradise Valley by CJ Box, the latest Cassie Dewell/Lizard King book. Excellent so far.

And Harry Potter and the Death Eater Menace updated! WOOHOO!
John Ross for president

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Bicycle Bill
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Re: Books and literature recommendations

Post by Bicycle Bill »

Jarlaxle wrote:And Harry Potter and the Death Eater Menace updated! WOOHOO!
You sunuva.....!   I thought there was something new in the canon, but you're just talking fan-fic.
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-"BB"-
Yes, I suppose I could agree with you ... but then we'd both be wrong, wouldn't we?

Jarlaxle
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Re: Books and literature recommendations

Post by Jarlaxle »

Bicycle Bill wrote:
Jarlaxle wrote:And Harry Potter and the Death Eater Menace updated! WOOHOO!
You sunuva.....!   I thought there was something new in the canon, but you're just talking fan-fic.
Image
-"BB"-
Yes...and it's better than the novels. Seriously.

The author managed to make Peter Pettigrew absolutely terrifying. (Halfway through year 3, the only one even close is Bellatrix-and Pettigrew still has the edge.)

The titles so far:
Harry Potter and the Prince of Slytherin (also the overall title on the site)
Harry Potter and the Secret Enemy
Harry Potter and the Death Eater Menace
John Ross for president

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Crackpot
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Re: Books and literature recommendations

Post by Crackpot »

Can’t be worse than “Harry Potter and the invisible poo”
Okay... There's all kinds of things wrong with what you just said.

Jarlaxle
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Re: Books and literature recommendations

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John Ross for president

ex-khobar Andy
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Re: Books and literature recommendations

Post by ex-khobar Andy »

I prefer history and science books but I have recently discovered (i.e., new to me but maybe not to anyone else) two novelists through gifts from someone who knows me well.

Amor Towles wrote A Gentleman in Moscow which is a fascinating account of a Russian aristocrat placed under a sort of house arrest by the Bolsheviks - he lives for the next 40-odd years in a hotel in Moscow. Towles also wrote Rules of Civility which I bought myself as a follow up, and which is equally good. It's about a young woman from the sticks who arrives in 1930s NYC and tells her story and that of the people, including high society types, she comes across.

Anthony Doerr wrote All the Light You Cannot See about a young blind girl who is evacuated from wartime Paris to St Malo, a walled city on the Brittany coast. St Malo became an important hub for the German military, and hence was heavily bombed by the Allies a month or two after D-Day.

Every now and then I think I can write, and maybe I should get down to it and gestate a novel. Usually, to cure myself of that notion, I read something by A.S.Byatt (Possession, for example) - that lasts for a year or two until I get the urge again. I think I can write as well as plenty of people who seem to make a living from it, but not nearly as well as I would like. These three (Byatt, Towles and Doerr) are like watching Federer play tennis. There are plenty of competent tennis players I enjoy watching, but usually it is only Federer of whom I can say "How the fuck did he do that?"

Jarlaxle
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Re: Books and literature recommendations

Post by Jarlaxle »

Year three in Sinister Man's Harry Potter rewrite is done!

Starting year four: Harry Potter and the Resurrection Game.
John Ross for president

Burning Petard
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minor complaint about the state of modern society

Post by Burning Petard »

After reading the interview feature in the NY Times Book Review section for today, I decided I wanted to give 'Billy Budd' by Melville to a grandson for Christmas this year. I went to Amazon and Searched the book. I scrolled thru THREE screens before I came to a hardback edition. Not even a Library of America edition. Along the way there were various XXX or perhaps just bodice rippers with similar titles (judgement based on quick glance at the cover as I scrolled down.) It is seems to be a 'like new' version manufactured for the Franklin Mint suckers collection.

I ordered it. I will have time to send it back and go looking at B&N brick and mortar if I don't like it. Further searched and found it is included in the third Melville volume for the Library of America. I really want a stand alone book, not Billy Budd as part of a collection.

snailgate

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Long Run
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Re: Books and literature recommendations

Post by Long Run »

Can't imagine there is too much demand for a hard cover of Billy Budd, so not surprising that it is down the list. When I searched, using the additional term Melville, I only saw different versions of the novel, including those where it is packaged together with other stories. With all those different versions, though, they all have the same sad ending . . . kind of like the four gospels before the resurrection ;)

Burning Petard
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Re: Books and literature recommendations

Post by Burning Petard »

In this time of pandemic I am a sucker for a sad ending. I think the ending is the reason it was not published while the author was living.

snailgate

Jarlaxle
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Re: Books and literature recommendations

Post by Jarlaxle »

The sequel is here! WOOHOO!

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John Ross for president

Jarlaxle
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Re: Books and literature recommendations

Post by Jarlaxle »

Harry Harrison's "Stars and Stripes" series is great.
John Ross for president

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Scooter
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Re: Books and literature recommendations

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I suppose it is for those who still regret that the Confederacy had its ass handed to it.
White privilege doesn't mean your life isn't hard. It means your skin colour isn't making it harder.

What goes on in a woman's uterus is none of your fucking business.

Equal rights for others does not mean less rights for you. It's not pie.

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Econoline
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Re: Books and literature recommendations

Post by Econoline »

Scooter - ?????

I haven't read this trilogy but now that I know of its existence, it's on my "to do" list. I've read and enjoyed many other works by Harry Harrison. From what I've been able to gather, it's not so much pro-Confederacy as anti-British, with the CSA re-uniting with the USA to battle a common enemy. It's no more "pro-Confederacy" than The Man in the High Castle is "pro-Nazi".

:shrug Or maybe you just don't get the whole concept of "Alternative History"?
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Gob
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Re: Books and literature recommendations

Post by Gob »

Just finished this;

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Now reading this;

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“If you trust in yourself, and believe in your dreams, and follow your star. . . you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy.”

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Scooter
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Re: Books and literature recommendations

Post by Scooter »

Econoline wrote:
Fri Jun 11, 2021 5:21 am
Or maybe you just don't get the whole concept of "Alternative History"?
I get the concept, and how so much of it revolves around turning the CSA into the good guys, in one way or another.
White privilege doesn't mean your life isn't hard. It means your skin colour isn't making it harder.

What goes on in a woman's uterus is none of your fucking business.

Equal rights for others does not mean less rights for you. It's not pie.

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