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 Book Chat Fiction - What Are You Reading Now?

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PostSubject: Book Chat Fiction - What Are You Reading Now?   Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:51 pm

I'm about a third of the way into A Cure For All Diseases by Reginald Hill - creator of the famous Dalziel and Pascoe whom you may be familiar with from TV. His website is quite a bit out of date.

http://www.randomhouse.com/features/reghill/

Hill is one of the most articulate, erudite and damn clever crime writers out there and the last book The Death of Dalziel (pronounce Dee Ell) was super.

This one is loosely modelled on Jane Austen's Sanditon - the epistolary novel which she never finished and it's a great read so far, featuring Dalziel in convalescence, some instantly recognisable Jane Austen characters (a hypochondriac and an arrogant Lady Whatsername) and a nasty creature from Peter Pascoe's past. There's also some fat sex in a shower which you may or may not find appealing.

Are there any other crime readers out there?
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PostSubject: Re: Book Chat Fiction - What Are You Reading Now?   Mon Apr 14, 2008 10:11 pm

Charles Stross, Halting State... software techie crime thriller set about ten years or so in the future in an independent Scottish Republic. Good but not his best, albeit narrated in the second person which gets wearing. Also reading an old Alan Dean Foster book to send me to sleep and Ed Moloney's updated version of the Secret History of the IRA. I should be reading more serious stuff but no enthusiasm for it... so my reading tends to shift between history/politics/culture and science fiction/political thrillers with a smattering of stuff like Douglas Coupland (like a lot), Ian McEwan or JM Coetzee - sort of the big name literature types.

I intermittently like crime, but I've never read Hill. I used to like Kellerman and James Lee Burke a lot. More recently I really got into Lawrence Block's "Burglar" books. I was in Barcelona last Summer and read a cracking crime/procedural by a relatively contemporary British author whose name escapes me. I'll have to find out what it was...

Fat sex? Hmmm...
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PostSubject: Re: Book Chat Fiction - What Are You Reading Now?   Mon Apr 14, 2008 10:21 pm

I'm still reading 'That they may face the Rising Sun' by John MacGahern. Taking me forever, but enjoying it nonetheless
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PostSubject: Re: Book Chat Fiction - What Are You Reading Now?   Mon Apr 14, 2008 10:37 pm

I started a book club here about a year ago and that was our second last book, EVM.

I didn't get to finish it in time for the meeting but I was enjoying it a lot. Nothing happens but it happens so beautifully that it doesn't really matter. It's about place and time and, I suppose the glorious tedium of the lives that we all lead but which we never celebrate. I think McGahern does that.

Several members of the club gave up half way through and refused to read anymore - another said it was the best book he'd ever read. Those who hated it did so because, as you know, nothing much happens and because they were reading it for plot they were bitterly disappointed.

I think it's an important book, a lovely book but not an exciting read so far - but I'm happy with that. I'll get around to finishing it myself soon...

Re WorldbyStorm: Kellerman I haven't tried and Burke I couldn't get into at the time (maybe I'll try him again). Lawrence Block I'll look into.There's a great shop on Dawson St called Murder Inc. Bad for the pockets though... And it's fascinating to see so many varied titles and series about cat detectives. Seriously.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Chat Fiction - What Are You Reading Now?   Mon Apr 14, 2008 10:52 pm

Yeah, I know Murder Inc. It is good, but I noticed the cat detective books too. Odd.

Anyone ever read Brian Moore's Lies of Silence?
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PostSubject: Re: Book Chat Fiction - What Are You Reading Now?   Mon Apr 14, 2008 11:02 pm

Read Iain M Banks newest Culture novel - Matter - on Friday night, and China Miéville's Iron Council on Saturday night. Both SF, I'm afraid!
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PostSubject: Re: Book Chat Fiction - What Are You Reading Now?   Mon Apr 14, 2008 11:03 pm

Kate P wrote:
.. Nothing happens but it happens so beautifully that it doesn't really matter. It's about place and time and, I suppose the glorious tedium of the lives that we all lead but which we never celebrate...

That's a seriously brilliant description just there Kate.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Chat Fiction - What Are You Reading Now?   Mon Apr 14, 2008 11:17 pm

EvotingMachine0197 wrote:
I'm still reading 'That they may face the Rising Sun' by John MacGahern. Taking me forever, but enjoying it nonetheless

I was lucky enough to buy this in Leitrim in hard back signed by the author, and to read it in Leitrim, the first time I ever stayed there. Leitrim in March is covered with creeping buttercup with it seems a little pond in every field. I am not trying to do the prose here, just to say that it was a totally seductive place to me. When I read the book it was just published and I expected it to cause a furore, because of the gross brutality of the central story in it, and what it said about the position of women in rural Ireland. The plot all happens in two or three pages, is drawn directly from life, from what people there told me, and is set in the most delicious, wonderful description of the Leitrim landscape in which MacGahern lived. I was told he was well enough liked, but treated with some suspicion, because you might find yourself or your family on the pages of his next work. I think its a very great book that will last.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Chat Fiction - What Are You Reading Now?   Mon Apr 14, 2008 11:39 pm

WorldbyStorm wrote:
Yeah, I know Murder Inc. It is good, but I noticed the cat detective books too. Odd.

Anyone ever read Brian Moore's Lies of Silence?

I read it years ago - I remember it being quite different to other books I'd read by him. It's an action story set in the North - beloved of teachers of Leaving Cert English to boys at ordinary level because there's a little sex, a lot of violence, plenty of suspense, double dealing and unexpected plot developments. And it's set in a mythological world they have one foot in.

The psychologies of the main characters Michael and Moira - isn't it? - are well drawn. Michael (if that's his name at all) reminds me a bit of Hamlet 'The time is out of joint, o cursed spite, that ever I was born to set it right.' It's the most modern of tragedies in that regard, I suppose, where the hero doesn't have a relatively simple decision to make that will seal his fate but finds himself in a place where all he can do is learn to live with the fact that while what he chooses makes a profound difference to his own life, in the larger scheme of things over which he has no control, his efforts are essentially futile. So it's a journey, rather than a destination story - and a good one at that.

What did you think of it, WorldbyStorm?
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PostSubject: Re: Book Chat Fiction - What Are You Reading Now?   Mon Apr 14, 2008 11:51 pm

cactus flower wrote:
EvotingMachine0197 wrote:
I'm still reading 'That they may face the Rising Sun' by John MacGahern. Taking me forever, but enjoying it nonetheless

I was lucky enough to buy this in Leitrim in hard back signed by the author, and to read it in Leitrim, the first time I ever stayed there. Leitrim in March is covered with creeping buttercup with it seems a little pond in every field. I am not trying to do the prose here, just to say that it was a totally seductive place to me. When I read the book it was just published and I expected it to cause a furore, because of the gross brutality of the central story in it, and what it said about the position of women in rural Ireland. The plot all happens in two or three pages, is drawn directly from life, from what people there told me, and is set in the most delicious, wonderful description of the Leitrim landscape in which MacGahern lived. I was told he was well enough liked, but treated with some suspicion, because you might find yourself or your family on the pages of his next work. I think its a very great book that will last.

The brutality of one particular event reverberates through every page that follows, doesn't it? And it's not just the physical violence meted out, or the humiliation for the victim; it's the fact that it goes uncondemned; understood but unremarked upon, and the pace of the story almost lures you in to accepting it just like the natives do - and to reliving the transient revulsion whenever the perpetrator comes on the scene. I thought he was a wonderful character (a nasty man - but a wonderful character), by the way - more alive than anyone else but morally dead.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Chat Fiction - What Are You Reading Now?   Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:21 am

Reading "The Red Men" by Matthew De Abaitua. Dystopian sci-fi of the highest order about the ultimate focus group that could threaten democracy. The Red Men are digital copies of the rich and powerful whose vile appetites and hatred for real life soon lead to murder...

Also, some short stories from Ursula Le Guin's "The Wind's Twelve Quarters" (fantasy).
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PostSubject: Re: Book Chat Fiction - What Are You Reading Now?   Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:25 am

I got "Speeches that changed the World" as a birthday present and it's proved an excellent read thusfar. I read Cromwell's speech to the Rump Parliament and Eamon DeValera's speech on the 50th anniversary of the Rising for the contrast between the two. I must say I was in close agreement with the sentiments expressed by our longest-serving Taoiseach.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Chat Fiction - What Are You Reading Now?   Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:25 am

Pax wrote:
Reading "The Red Men" by Matthew De Abaitua. Dystopian sci-fi of the highest order about the ultimate focus group that could threaten democracy. The Red Men are digital copies of the rich and powerful whose vile appetites and hatred for real life soon lead to murder...

Also, some short stories from Ursula Le Guin's "The Wind's Twelve Quarters" (fantasy).

Have you read "The Dispossessed" by Le Guin?
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PostSubject: Re: Book Chat Fiction - What Are You Reading Now?   Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:29 am

ibis wrote:
Pax wrote:
Reading "The Red Men" by Matthew De Abaitua. Dystopian sci-fi of the highest order about the ultimate focus group that could threaten democracy. The Red Men are digital copies of the rich and powerful whose vile appetites and hatred for real life soon lead to murder...

Also, some short stories from Ursula Le Guin's "The Wind's Twelve Quarters" (fantasy).

Have you read "The Dispossessed" by Le Guin?

Yup. I'd intended to read Le Guin anyway but my hand was forced when I read a quote from "The Dispossessed" in a Parecon book!
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PostSubject: Re: Book Chat Fiction - What Are You Reading Now?   Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:33 am

Pax wrote:
ibis wrote:
Pax wrote:
Reading "The Red Men" by Matthew De Abaitua. Dystopian sci-fi of the highest order about the ultimate focus group that could threaten democracy. The Red Men are digital copies of the rich and powerful whose vile appetites and hatred for real life soon lead to murder...

Also, some short stories from Ursula Le Guin's "The Wind's Twelve Quarters" (fantasy).

Have you read "The Dispossessed" by Le Guin?

Yup. I'd intended to read Le Guin anyway but my hand was forced when I read a quote from "The Dispossessed" in a Parecon book!

Possibly my favourite author. I used to be a fan of Doris Lessing's SF, but find it unreadable these days.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Chat Fiction - What Are You Reading Now?   Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:11 am

Kate P wrote:
WorldbyStorm wrote:
Yeah, I know Murder Inc. It is good, but I noticed the cat detective books too. Odd.

Anyone ever read Brian Moore's Lies of Silence?

I read it years ago - I remember it being quite different to other books I'd read by him. It's an action story set in the North - beloved of teachers of Leaving Cert English to boys at ordinary level because there's a little sex, a lot of violence, plenty of suspense, double dealing and unexpected plot developments. And it's set in a mythological world they have one foot in.

The psychologies of the main characters Michael and Moira - isn't it? - are well drawn. Michael (if that's his name at all) reminds me a bit of Hamlet 'The time is out of joint, o cursed spite, that ever I was born to set it right.' It's the most modern of tragedies in that regard, I suppose, where the hero doesn't have a relatively simple decision to make that will seal his fate but finds himself in a place where all he can do is learn to live with the fact that while what he chooses makes a profound difference to his own life, in the larger scheme of things over which he has no control, his efforts are essentially futile. So it's a journey, rather than a destination story - and a good one at that.

What did you think of it, WorldbyStorm?

Loved it, thought it was brilliant. A companion piece, after a fashion is Eoin McNamee's Resurrection Man which is extremely horrific, but beautifully written.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Chat Fiction - What Are You Reading Now?   Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:16 am

ibis wrote:
Pax wrote:
ibis wrote:
Pax wrote:
Reading "The Red Men" by Matthew De Abaitua. Dystopian sci-fi of the highest order about the ultimate focus group that could threaten democracy. The Red Men are digital copies of the rich and powerful whose vile appetites and hatred for real life soon lead to murder...

Also, some short stories from Ursula Le Guin's "The Wind's Twelve Quarters" (fantasy).

Have you read "The Dispossessed" by Le Guin?

Yup. I'd intended to read Le Guin anyway but my hand was forced when I read a quote from "The Dispossessed" in a Parecon book!

Possibly my favourite author. I used to be a fan of Doris Lessing's SF, but find it unreadable these days.

I still like Le Guin. Yeah, Lessings work sat well beyond the frontiers of what I'd seriously define as SF. I'd liken it to CS Lewis and his supposed SF. I've started Banks book, and sort of like it, but, I'm not making any headway at the mo...

Pax, that Red Men book sounds right up your street Wink . I must check it out...
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PostSubject: Re: Book Chat Fiction - What Are You Reading Now?   Thu Apr 17, 2008 2:22 pm

Ah yes, fiction. The thing that stops me doing anything constructive with my spare time Very Happy . Currently reading John Case "The First Horseman" but mainly because it was lying around and I couldn't remember what happened in it. Not entirely sure it was worth the effort. With fiction, I work on the basis of I'll give it a go unless either I've tried the author before and didn't like them (although thats not an absolute, I've read everything Michael Connelly wrote and still am not sure I like his stuff) , or (and this is an absolute) it has ever won an award for anything, particularly the Booker Whitbread or Mann prizes (that may actually be only two prizes, I lose track).

My first love though is fantasy. Both epic and high. Feist, Kerr, Scott Card (though only Enders Game and Enders Shadow,fantastic books, went downhill after that), Goodkind, Gemmell, Eddings, et al.
Thereafter crime, SF, spy novels, you name it, I'll read it. Have even been known to read Mills and Boons that have drifted into my orbit. Then again I've happily read the back of cereal boxes, so its not saying much!
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PostSubject: Re: Book Chat Fiction - What Are You Reading Now?   Thu Apr 17, 2008 8:14 pm

A bit like WorldByStorm, my reading tends to yo-yo from the the dense and heavy - history, politics, marketing (!) - and the light and fluffy - page-turning novels and, at the minute anyway, graphic novels.

I'm in the middle of Post-War by Tony Judt which is very good - although I would have issues with how he deals with Northern Ireland and with Punk. But a great overview of the genesis of modern Europe and the dynamics that shaped it.

On the fiction side, I've just finished the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Lies of Silence - I appreciated it more than liked it. It is covered in a constant and impending sense of doom, I suppose.

That They May Face the Rising Sun on the other hand is simply brilliant. The masterpiece from the master. Although, interestingly, I never thought of that violent incident as the centrepiece of the book at all.

And Kate P - that's just the most perfect description of it I've read.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Chat Fiction - What Are You Reading Now?   Thu Apr 17, 2008 8:36 pm

I'm another fluctuator when it comes to reading - it could be the twelve volume Winston Churchill's WWII one week then Calvin and Hobbes the following. I'm glad someone mentioned graphic novels - I've always been a big fan of comics and I've gotten through the Sandman and the Watchmen among others. Then I go through periods of not reading for months.

Like MikeW I've got Sci-Fi and fantasy lined up now. I'm still looking around the shops for Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson but can never seem to see it to buy though I read it and found it mighty. If I get around to it, it's Raymond E. Feist's Magician trilogy next. I've also got a Fritjof Kapra book on Green Politics ..

I can't read normal fiction very well - takes me ages. I got through Banville and George Eliot and some of the Brontes mostly because I had to and recommend Banville to the visualizers in the audience. If it's fiction then it has to be proper fiction out of the imagination either sci-fi, fantasy I've been through my horror phase in my teens and you just can't bate Stephen King with a big shtick.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Chat Fiction - What Are You Reading Now?   Thu Apr 17, 2008 8:56 pm

I can't recommend Magician itself enough. The two sequels Silverthorn and a Darkness at Sethanon are abit weaker though. However once you read those you then have the Tsurananni series with Janny Wurts (Servant of the Empire, Daughter of the Empire and Mistress of the Empire). One of the story arcs in the trilogy is Magician from the opposing point of view. Sounds a bit contrived but is excellently done. The three books stand up on there own fine as well.

As far as horror goes,always been more of a Dean Koontz fan for psychological horror and Graham Masterson or Dan Simmonds for gory horror, though SK writing as Robert Bachman was very good. His fantasy (Dark Tower) though was poor.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Chat Fiction - What Are You Reading Now?   Thu Apr 17, 2008 9:04 pm

I must really try to settle down to that Magician - people always recommend it.

Dan Simmonds - The Shrike? I recall being fairly fascinated by the first book Hyperion but I think I lost it then didn't get around to getting the rest. It was very unique, I thought as is the Neuromancer fella's stuff although it can be a bit shallow. Good speculative bits in it.

I've read Dune also and consider it literature not sci-fi and I lament not having the resolve to just put my head in the rest of it because the ideas and the Arabic theme in it pop into my head now and then even though I read it 15 years ago. At the moment I'm on page three of Collapse by Jared Diamond...
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PostSubject: Re: Book Chat Fiction - What Are You Reading Now?   Thu Apr 17, 2008 9:21 pm

If you like Stephen King you HAVE to read his memoir 'On Writing'. The first half is about his life and - surprisingly, it will make you laugh until you're sick - or people turn to stare at you on the Luas, which is where I started reading it. It also deals with his relationships and how damn hard it is to make it as a writer.

The middle bit is about writing fiction, nuts and bolts stuff and the end is about his very serious accident.

It's a pretty inspiring read - and great fun.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Chat Fiction - What Are You Reading Now?   Thu Apr 17, 2008 11:02 pm

Ah, thesaturdayboy, graphic novels and me sort of fade in and out of view. Watchmen, genius... and indeed anything by Gaiman. I still like Hellblazer. But then I tend to think I need the whole series of something to actually delve into it.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Chat Fiction - What Are You Reading Now?   Thu Apr 17, 2008 11:03 pm

Kate P wrote:
If you like Stephen King you HAVE to read his memoir 'On Writing'. The first half is about his life and - surprisingly, it will make you laugh until you're sick - or people turn to stare at you on the Luas, which is where I started reading it. It also deals with his relationships and how damn hard it is to make it as a writer.

The middle bit is about writing fiction, nuts and bolts stuff and the end is about his very serious accident.

It's a pretty inspiring read - and great fun.

Didn't he also write a great non-fiction book on horror. I hate horror, but this was brilliant. Can't recall its name. He's actually a better writer than often given credit for... but not necessarily a great writer.
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