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Posts posted by hux

  1. 56 minutes ago, megustaleer said:

    Yes, it is very slow. I've had some editing problems and can't add links.  Book reviews are difficult to find, and don't seem particularly active. Active threads seem mainly to be personal book blogs, and feel a bit exclusive. 

      Don't know if BGO really has a better format, or if I have become set in BGO ways after 16years, either way, Book Club Forum isn't doing it for me.


    Yes, all true.


    I dislike the book blogs. You actively have to search through someone's personal reading to see if they're reading something you've also read. Not sure what the point of that is. It's a 'forum.' The idea is surely to encourage discussion rather than ask people to hide it away. Anyway. 

  2. 5 hours ago, megustaleer said:

    I am finding Book Club Forum unsatisfactory, so withdraw any recommendations I made earlier.

    I was misled by wishful thinking, and a similar appearnce to BGO - as they had recently transferred to the same host (Invision). The problems evident at that time have not been dealt with, and I suspect that the administrator has taken on more that she can cope with, or has not managed to gather a sufficiently competent team.

    It is a shame, but I will not be doing much more than popping in there now and again. 


    You mean that the site is slow to react? Every time I log in there, it seems to be endlessly buffering or something.


    I also dislike the general setup. But otherwise it seems okay.

  3. Can't find a thread to bump on this so starting a new one.


    This was one of the most wonderful reading experiences I've ever had. The book is no classic but it's wonderfully written and profoundly engaging. I honestly couldn't put it down. 


    The story is fairly straight-forward and involves a man named Toru Watanabe reminiscing about his youth in the late 60s. After his best friend, Kizuki, commits suicide he becomes closer with Kizuki's girlfriend Naoko. They eventually have sex and Watanabe goes to university. Here he meets several characters, most notably Nagasawa and his girlfriend Hatsumi. Watanabe and Nagasawa begin going out drinking and meeting girls for sex. Watanabe then discovers that Naoko is in a sanitorium and struggling with her mental health. He writes to her, eventually visits, and they rekindle their romance. Naoko lives at the sanitorium with an older woman called Reiko (she tells a rather interesting tale about why she's also at the sanitorium which includes a story about teaching a 13-year-old girl to play the piano). 


    The Japanese really do have a way when it comes to writing erotica, don't they? That being said, it felt like there was a little too much sex being used as an alternative to other, more conventional expressions of affection. Maybe that's a Japanese thing. I don't know. Everyone seems to need emotional reassurance but only expresses it through sex. Then again, it was set in the late 60s so maybe that's why.


    The casual use of sex aside, my only criticism would be the chapter where Murakami jumps ahead and tells us about the future of one of the characters. This felt out of place since the whole narrative takes place chronologically. Only at the very beginning of chapter one does he write from the perspective of being an older man in the late 1980s. Then we dive into the story when he's 18 and stay with that story. But suddenly, halfway through the book, he informs us of a character's fate and it felt a little jarring.


    I'm reliably informed that this is Murakami's most conventional novel. I'm not sure if I'd like his other works as much but based on this, I will definitely seek out more of his work. 


    I honestly can't remember enjoying reading a book this much. Many people would assume that I might think the book is a masterpiece as a result of that (a mistake many contemporary readers make in my opinion). They think if the reading experience is good then that means the book must be also great. For me, it's more complicated than that. I tend to put books into 4 categories. 


    1) The reading experience is wonderful. The book resonates, stays with you, changes your worldview, overwhelms you.

    2) The reading experience is wonderful. But the book quickly fades from memory, doesn't hold its grip.

    3) The reading experience is awful. But the book still somehow resonates, stays with you, overwhelms you etc.

    4) The reading experience is awful. The book doesn't resonate, has nothing meaningful to say.


    Category 4 is thankfully the most rare, followed by 3, then 1. For me, most books (and certainly most contemporary novels) are in category 2, including this. People make the mistake of thinking that if they really enjoyed reading a book then that must mean it is great literature. But often it's merely competently written *cough* Normal People *cough* etc. This is why so many modern novels get hyped, win awards, then disappear completely. 


    I'd place this at the top end of category 2. Highly recommended. 



  4. A superb exploration of loneliness and the roles we are forced to play.

    The book revolves around a deaf/mute named John Singer. After his friend (also a deaf/mute) is put into an institution, Singer moves into a new room where, slowly but surely, four characters come to view him as a kind of spiritual leader. They go to him to tell of their woes, their frustrations, their dreams. Because he can't speak, he is forced into the role of listener (whether her wants to be or not) and they quickly transform him into a blank canvas for their worldview. Unbeknownst to them, however, Singer also has a life. He too requires a figure in his life whom can give meaning to his loneliness (this being his deaf/mute friend). That Singer has his own life never occurs to them. He has been unpersoned by them in their desire for him to have the answers.

    The four of them begin to visit him on a regular basis. First, there is Biff the café owner who represents the middle-class view. Then Jake Blount, the working-class alcoholic. Then Dr. Copeland, the African American idealist. And finally, Mick, a young girl who dreams of being a musician but who is inevitably forced into conforming towards a more conventional role as a woman.

    Each of these people are oppressed by the role they must play in life. Blount and Copeland seek answers in a simplistic and utopian form of Marxism. Mick in romantic ideals and Biff, the most important character in my opinion, in hoping for a better tomorrow.

    The writing is wonderful, full of fluid and detached prose which works perfectly (despite often not being my cup of tea). McCullers has a great gift for telling a character's story whilst simultaneously placing you in another moment. She can switch between the two with ease. The narrative flows nicely and slowly builds a realistic world. At no point does she throw in an affair or a murder. The book essentially has no plot (my preferred type) and simply tells a self-contained story of lonely people looking to escape the chains that life has put them in.

    I interpreted the ending as ultimately pessimistic though. It ends with Mick showing signs of slowly conforming to her role as a socially acceptable female. She now wears earrings, has embraced the 9 to 5, and is moving away from her tomboy persona. Some may view this as a positive (that she is blossoming) but I saw it as Mick succumbing to the social norms, to the daily grind.

    Because, eventually, we all do.

    A fantastic debut novel. Highly recommended.

  5. That's^ interesting about The Great Gatsby. I also read it late in life and the book's reputation might have been a factor. I was possibly expecting too much. That being said there are other books which huge reputation that lived up to them. For me, it was just... okay. 


    Books you didn't finish is a good additional question.


    I quit halfway through Moby Dick and Jane Eyre. Not because I wasn't enjoying them but because I just lost interest, got distracted by life, put them to one side.


  6. On 01/04/2021 at 20:10, lunababymoonchild said:

    10. Book(s) you enjoyed at the time but later wish you hadn't read


    Not sure I understand this question. You mean books you grew out of, or books you initially liked but, putting some thought into it, concluded weren't that great.


    The only thing that qualifies is Atwood's Blind Assassin. I enjoyed reading it and when I finished I thought it had been great. As the weeks and months went by, however, I started to think it was actually quite poor, overly melodramatic, and somewhat inconsequential and gimmicky. 


  7. Just finished this.


    It's a very original book where you, the reader, become one of the characters. You buy a book but it has typos so you take it back to the shop where you meet a woman, also wanting to read the book, and then you speak to a university professor with her about the book, then another professor, then a publisher about a different book, then a writer about another book, then you begin a relationship with the woman, then you go to another country to find the complete manuscript... and so on etc. 


    Sadly, that didn't work very well for me because after the first couple of chapters where you're in the bookshop, having a coffee, thinking about the writer, you then go on an adventure with a woman called Ludmilla that instantly makes the idea of you as a character entirely redundant. It very quickly feels like you, the reader, is in fact not you at all, but rather some blank individual that doesn't matter in the slightest. The initial chapter really worked and grabbed me immediately but after that, I found myself tolerating the parts of the book where you, the reader, are doing this or that.


    Meanwhile, the fictional chapters (opening chapters from books that you, the reader, are trying to find complete versions of) were far more interesting to read. There's a really great one about a couple who kill a man and are trying to dispense of the body somewhere. And one where a man is traumatised by ringing telephones; and an excellent erotic story set in Japan. Plus the others are pretty great too. When these chapters ended, I genuinely wanted to know more, what happens next, which I guess is the point. Calvino even mentions how writing opening chapters alone is very easy because there's no expectation to fill in the blanks. I even wonder if he deliberately squeezed a lot of his own aborted ideas for novels into this book purely to do something with them.


    Overall, it's an interesting idea. But it doesn't entirely work. The first chapter is wonderful and really excites you but the rest of the book always feels like it's chasing that initial burst of inventiveness. It can never quite live up to it. Which is the problem with a lot of experimental novels.


    I read a quote by David Mitchell about the book which rather perfectly sums up my feelings. He essentially said he was magnetised when he first read it, but on rereading it, felt it had aged and was not as "breathtakingly inventive" as it first seemed. To be honest, I didn't need a second reading to reach that same conclusion. It tries to be something breathtakingly inventive but never actually achieves it.


    Definitely worth a read though. 



  8. Before the forums closes, tell me...


    1. Your favourite book.

    Journey to the end of the Night.


    2. Saddest book you ever read.

    The Leopard.


    3. Book you read a paragraph or two from every now and then.

    The Book of Disquiet.


    4. Best opening line you ever read.

    The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. 


    5. Most overrated book.

    The Great Gatsby.


    6. Book you read because of a review you saw here.

    The Book of Ebenezer Le Page (I've also bought The Heart is a Lonely Hunter).


    7. Book you hated.

    Blood Meridian.


    8. Favourite line from any book.

    "He had a tremendous wang, incidentally. You never know who'll get one."


    9. Weirdest (experimental) book you've ever read.

    Nothing too weird yet but I've almost completed 'if on a winter's night a traveller' which is a likely contender. 


    Feel free to add your own questions.




  9. Another disappointed customer here.


    I enjoyed the book for the most part but wasn't necessarily blown away by it. The first third, where we are introduced to the wonderfully grotesque globule of man known as Ignatius J. Reilly, was a lot of fun to read. This man just utterly overwhelms you with his absurd, pompous affectations and over-the-top character. Then, however, I found my interest slightly waning, especially when we're introduced to the rather pointless characters (if you ask me) who frequent the 'Night of Joy' club such as Lana and Darlene and (worst of all) Jones. All he does is sweep the floor and say 'ooo eee' over and over. It's easy enough to read and has a lot of chapters predominantly filled with dialogue rather than narration, and occasionally there are some long, and very boring letters to and from his friend Myrna which I hated. The truth is the plot of this book (which only tangentially requires the involvement of the other characters) is rather unnecessary in the grand scheme of things. This book is about the amazingly outlandish Ignatius. He is the book.

    And that's kind of why the book ultimately fails for me. As comical and mesmerising as he is, the man is an altogether unrealistic individual whose personality dominates all aspects of the plot. As a result, the plot therefore becomes redundant. Frankly, who cares about the pornography scam, or the need for policeman Mancuso to get an arrest under his belt, or 'Levy Pants' being sued. None of it matters. All that matters is Ignatius. He is simultaneously the best thing about the book but also the reason it feels ultimately... inconsequential.

    The truth is, we rarely meet people like this in real life. The whole book feels like a collection of buffoonish clichés and convenient plot points, all in service of this obese and pretentious oaf. Sorry, but that isn't enough for me. I need literature to have something more to it than a clownish character who belongs in a Looney Tunes cartoon.

    Not a terrible book by any stretch. But not remotely worth the praise either. I read through it rather quickly and found it mostly inoffensive.



  10. On 25/10/2020 at 07:49, Tom Fitch said:

     I read that one about a year or three ago. I would not say that it was a bad read, but it was disappointing overall. But that may also be down to too high expectations.


    It often felt rather sketchy with then some bits that stood out as very good. But then it slumped again. That the story line was not always very clear to me, did not help.


    Toole nevertheless captures the seething atmosphere of New Orleans very well. That certainly was a strong point.


    Curious to learn how you will rate it.




    I was also somewhat disappointed. 


    Have posted a review. 

  11. On 13/03/2021 at 12:41, Minxminnie said:

    Great pics! Lovely dogs and a fabulous photographer. 😃


    All done by a professional. 


    This is as good as I get.



  12. This will very probably be my last book review posted here. And it's a rather perfect choice, one which reminds me how beautiful literature can be.


    The book of disquiet is quite simply one of the most beautiful things I've ever read.

    There's no narrative to speak of, no plot, only a man giving his thoughts on the world and the human condition. It feels like a diary, and many of the chapters do, indeed, have dates, but most don't and even the ones that do aren't chronologically ordered, but rather placed, haphazardly, in any order. You might read several entries from 1932 only to find, many chapters later, that you're reading his thoughts from 1916. Not that it matters, the whole book could be read in any order, in any way, starting at the middle and moving backwards, or picking any random chapter you wanted. It makes no difference at all.

    Pessoa writes using the heteronym 'Bernardo Soares', and tells us very little about himself other than where he works, his boss, the errand boy, with a few occasional references to the streets and the weather. More than anything, he concerns himself with the nature of existence, the tedium of life, the mystery of being alive. He writes beautifully, almost poetically, and is always accompanied by a sense of melancholy and, perhaps, even despair. The book reminded me of 'Journey to the end of the night' by Celine in its low opinion of humanity. Yet he also sees the beauty in life, and adores nature and and art. He ponders the meaning of things and the emptiness too. It's exquisite.

    I wouldn't recommend this book lightly. If you're someone who prefers a narrative, then this might not be your cup of tea. But if, like me, you enjoy books where opinions are given, ideas explored, and thoughts are allowed to spiral into the darkness, then this is a glorious example of that.


    The book was published long after he died which, given that he spends a moment towards the end of the book contemplating being rediscovered as a writer by later generations, fills me with joy.


    The book is an exhaustive list of wonderfully quotable thoughts such as... 



    I'm almost convinced that I'm never awake. I'm not sure if I'm not in fact dreaming when I live, and living when I dream, or if dreaming and living are for me intersected, intermingled things that together form my conscious self.



    I asked for very little from life, and even this little was denied me. A nearby field, a ray of sunlight, a little bit of calm along with a bit of bread, not to feel oppressed by the knowledge that I exist, not to demand anything from others, and not to have others demand anything from me - this was denied me, like the spare change we might deny a beggar not because we're mean-hearted but because we don't feel like unbuttoning our coat.



    Friends: not one. Just a few acquaintances who imagine they feel something for me and who might be sorry if a train ran over me and the funeral was on a rainy day.



    There are ships sailing to many ports, but not a single one goes where life is not painful.

    There is so much sadness in the character. And you can just picture him, gazing from his window at night, seeking out a small piece of light.



  13. 3 hours ago, tagesmann said:

    Well we can.

    As a test I created one here https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/1148702-bookgrouponline


    Is this an idea people want to take forward?  Of course, instead of giving Facebook your data you would be sharing with Amazon (but only about books).


    How does it work over there? I assumed it was just a billion book reviews (that become difficult to follow as a consequence) and not much more. 

  14. I've created an account there. I don't like their set-up as much as here. It seems a little vague in terms of where to post book reviews. Doing it by century seems more straightforward. 


    I also like the bar on the side that let's you know what the most recent posts are.


  15. 1 hour ago, lunababymoonchild said:

    Suggestion of an alternative site : Good Reads.  Not a member myself but it's worth a try.


    4 hours ago, Clavain said:

    Facebook is not an option for me for many reasons and like Hux will look for alternative forums.


    Good reads is a minefield. Truth be told, the small community here is what appealed to me in the first place (and yet ironically is also the very thing that ensures it can't survive).


    This looks like it might have potential - https://www.bookclubforum.co.uk/community/

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