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About Oblomov

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    Central Central England
  1. whilst I'm in the mood... The Sea, The Sea expected so much. although it did finally pick up in the last 200 pages, the novel overall is one of the most condescending, pretentious and self-satisfied pieces of work imaginable. "oh but you're meant to find the main character disagreeable" they say "yes," say I "but someone like Coetzee manages to create such characters within more engaging and meaningful plots in with none of the considerable extra drivel used here" The first 300 pages could have been edited down to 100 with little loss of character, plot, mood, ambiance etc.
  2. Thanks megustaleer! right, well, as I was saying...Never Let Me Go I came to this book a) as a big fan of other Ishiguro novels as a big fan of dystopian narratives but it disappointed on a major level, even though the acclaim for it was wide-ranging and reputable. flat, predictable characters; underdeveloped themes; condescending and pedantic narrative voice; ultimately no great or original dystopian statement to make; riddled with plot flaws and banal allegories hmph
  3. sorry to start a new thread on this, but wasn't there already a well-established thread on the same subject? am I being stupid/blind or has it disappeared? am asking because I'm desperate to add 'Never Let Me Go' on
  4. haha! and the best of it is...i've put it in the wrong century! sorry mods
  5. More a collection of linked short stories than a novel, Ron Currie Jr. takes a wry and poignant look at a world in which God has demonstrably popped his - or rather her - clogs. This is no overly-referential literary debut, but a fun, sad and engaging effort with a refreshing lack of self-awareness and pretension. The scenarios range from puerile satire such as Colin Powell's repressed desire to be some Samuel L Jackson type, straight-talking black man; to the postmodern/experimental writing in an interview between the author himself and a feral dog that has inhabited divine powers after feasting on God's dead corpse; to the simple and touching portrayal of lives at loose ends. Currie's biblical referencing and Catholic-turned-Atheist personal beliefs give a deeper level of interest and Currie is keen to look at aspects of belief in general without moralising or assuming a righteous podium. This is no literary masterpiece - the technical aspects and depth of the writing is not strong enough - and there are other small flaws such as the uncertain structuring, which in turn leads to other issues such as floating characters who scream 'plot device' more than anything breathable. It is however a very readable, humane and inventive work that refuses to get bogged down in the pitfalls of introspective writing that sometimes haunt new, young writers. A good marker for things to come
  6. thanks for the response Kimberley. interesting theory on the MA-poaching as a means of lessening the editing needed. I've already looked into the courses and know exactly what you mean about the shifts in focus. In England, Birkbeck seems to be an example of a very commercial, even genre-based programme...the application partly probes career and genre choices. On the other hand, Royal Holloway seems to offer a very technical course based on classic or traditional studies of theory and literature in general. Would also agree that one of the simplest benefits of an MA is actually the stronger guarantees of a similar peer group. Something that seems to be slightly overlooked in the increasingly razzle-dazzle era of celebrity tutors for these courses.
  7. I don't think it has much to do with brain capacity as such and that it is largely dependent on how plot-driven the narratives are. I don't generally read a lot of genre fiction, so imagine it would be harder to reader more than 2 or 3 of those novels at the same time. the plots tend to be more intricate and the moods more immersive and escapist for one thing. they also generally promote themselves on the basis of 'page-turnability' which is another hindrance to reading 2 or 3 in combination. at various times in the past year I have read 1, 2-3, 4-5 or as many as 12 books as the same time, in rotations of varying length. recently i've settled on 3-4 with a balance between - short/long narratives, challenging/fluid reads, non-fiction/fiction, classic/modern, grand themes/isolated themes for example...a recent rotation has been White Teeth long, wide-ranging but fairly fluid Malcolm Bradbury: Modern British novel factual, technical and requires note taking at a desk God is Dead new fiction, short, subtle but easy read in bite-size chunks Great Gatsby classic short novel, inhabiting very different world and style, can choose to linger on the symoblism etc. or not
  8. Hello fellow scribblers/typers/quill manipulators anyone studied/studying/applied for/applying for a creative writing MA? am in the (overly long) process of doing so at the moment and was just wondering whether anyone was in the same boat/vessel? I ask partly with the thought of mutually bemoaning the application process with someone, and for general advice on what seems to be both an under-informed and varied trial from course to course.
  9. Several years on the waiting-to-be-added-to-the 'to be read pile' and then several months waiting on the tbr pile itself, i finally started this a few days after New Year's (an apt time as I discovered towards the novel's climax). As a previous poster said, I'm also always slightly put off by books that are described as "rioutously funny" or which come with bold statements such as "this will have you in stitches"...and I was also (and still am) fairly jealous of Smith's precocious talent and success. I found it an outstanding work for two thirds and a very good novel overall; an affirmation of a new, bold literary voice and promise of more to come. For around 350 pages the narrative is pacy, light-footed, sharp, balanced and engaging. Smith presents us with inventive structures, characters that are truthfully observed, metaphors and word choice that are punchy, fresh and incisive, and wonderfully sounded-out dialogue in all it's idiosycracies. It's was all going along almost flawlessly when I got the feeling that she had a moment of panic - 350 or so pages in: lots of threads opened, stories interlinked, but none have yet gone anywhere... Then the writing stiffens, becomes more self-conscious, the scenarios contrived and convoluted, the figurative writing overdone, analogies and allegories come at the reader from everywhere, they're overpowering and several are clumsy, flat and unnecessary. Smith mocks our tick-box driven view on multiculturalism, yet her scope of characters and themes is so broad that several of them slip into the realm of caricature. I also found the final section all a little patronising at times...following an instructive, relativist vein of thinking that is/was very of the 'now' and fits well with the postmodern trend of stereoscopic narration, but I wonder for how much longer? On this note, Smith chooes to employ a fairly colloquial register throughout the book and mostly popular references...but inexplicably wants to use a word like 'anagnorisis' in the same breath. It can't work both ways without further devices or a different literary habitat (Magical Realism, Stream-of-Consciousness?) After the fairly light-hearted build-up and coverage of the major issues in the first two thirds, there is also a sense that Smith suddenly tries to grope for the poigniancy all too abruptly in the final third. Buddha of Suburbia is a book that combines coming-of-age humour with subtle moments of reflection, perhaps White Teeth tries to do too much, and the combination of tones is slightly jarring here. It left me with the overwhelming impression - strengthened after reading about the novel's writing process whilst she was still an undergraduate at Cambridge - that this had suddenly been both rushed and under-edited. The last few pages in particular seem to sum up the frustrations in a microcosm: firstly the ending scenario is terribly convoluted. Secondly, after pages of build-up for each character/interest several storylines suddenly go nowhere, aside from a clunky '7-years-later' paragraph. This is still an excellent book and the criteria I'm judging it against are those of all-time classics, which this threatened to join for some way. I've no doubts it will still prove a very important work of the new century and the foothold of a major literary career.
  10. Fairly obvious questions to pose to any bookworm, yet I'd imagine the answers touch on something both essential and common to all readers, whilst also offering numerous variations from person to person. The reasons aren't mutually exclusive, and no doubt the motivations evolve and develop over periods and life stages, but what do you consider your principle drive? What is it now? What has it been? Have you always read for the thrill, the action, the escapism? Do you look for the cases of art imitating life? Do you see your reading directly or indirectly as a vocation? do the Victorian ideals of 'self-improvement' still hold any relevance? Then the second part of the question - what to read? Has anyone had spurts where they've ignored the 'too many books, too little time' maxim and really gone for it, trying to cover as much as possible before realising the absurdist flaw to it all? Then what? Does it recur? Do you simply choose to read what you like? Cover the classics? Do you build up from what you like and know, gradually expanding and branching out from there or flit around? Do you set reading targets for a month/year/decade(!)? Do you go through phases on one author/genre/style/technique/movement/theme etc.? Or do you consciously move from heavy to light, classic to modern, long to short, flowery to sparse? Do you develop a 'meta-narrative' or a project to define the reading? ...Am I asking too many questions?
  11. Good day one and all, this seems like a logical place to make my first proper post. White Teeth - 1 year on the TBR pile and all other years on the I-know-I-should-read-it-but-the-moment-I-do-I-also-know-I-am-going-to-be-intensely-jealous-of-her-precocious-talent pile. Something of a resolution to finally read it. God is Dead - Ron Currie Had a proof copy of this somewhere and remember being intrigued by the blurb...lost that copy in a house move, but finally got round to buying the 'real thing' last week. The Modern British Novel - Malcolm Bradbury How is this OOP? £18+ for a second-hand copy! praise be to libraries
  12. Hello all! I stumbled upon this outpost on my internet wanderings yesterday and immediately thought it was the best-looking books forum I'd come across, so here I am registered. I try to read all styles of mostly literary fiction and write (alas, part-time at the moment) too. I'm in the process of applying to the creative writing MA in East Anglia. I tend to like quite bleak fiction(!), 'detached' narratives, dystopias, the work of the Modernists, though none of these are proscriptive. I've recently gone through a 'J.G Ballard phase', which followed mini-Joyce/Ishiguro/Graham Swift phases previously. Have just read: Netherland - what was all the hype about?! A Case of Exploding Mangoes - Excellent Occasionally still wake up in cold sweat to images of: Tess of the D'Urbervilles The Sea, The Sea The Sorrows of a Young Werther Will always cherish: Portrait of an Artist As A Young Man Waterland His Dark Materials Atrocity Exhibition Fungus the Bogeyman Oh and my name is Michael and I live in glorious Leicester - as far away from the sea as one can be in England (This may or may not be related to my phobia of The Sea, The Sea)
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