Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Tue Mar 29, 2011 7:37 am

OK. I'm awake. I loved the girl in pink. Not because of the whole pink business or the nubile sexiness, neither of which I can identify with, but because of her utter lack of filter, which I can completely identify with. I laughed every time she asked a forward question because I could totally see myself doing the same. Wonderful character, her and her gramps :) The rest I'll spoilerize.
I actually found myself crying for the shadows a couple of times. Especially the librarian's. It was just so sad how people were being forced to lose a part of themselves. And you kind of knew where it was headed, with the guy realizing his consciousness was getting fucked with, but it was just more relatable when the process was anthropomorphized. And of course, it was nice that ultimately he was able to choose what to keep and what not to keep, though I was still upset that his poor shadow had been allowed to wither so much.
Also, I loved the thugs who wrecked his apartment. LOVED them :) I almost wish they'd had more development.
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Eigenbasis » Tue Mar 29, 2011 9:41 am

I was really confused there because I thought that was going to be a spoiler for Ubik.
"Have you ever heard the expression, ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, and then throw it in the face of the person who gave you the lemons until they give you the oranges you originally asked for?’"

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Tue Mar 29, 2011 10:11 am

Hehe, sorry. I spoiled a couple of extremely pivotal deaths in a certain series to remain unnamed in chat once and I've been pretty gun-shy about discussing plots since. I mean the clannie actually said, "Jenny, wtf. I haven't gotten to that part yet." I felt terrible!
I just put this here because I know some people can't resist clicking on it.
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by NardoLoopa » Tue Mar 29, 2011 11:47 am

I'm mixed on the book. I thought some of the writing was really good, some trying a little too hard. The characters were well developed and interesting. But perhaps most notable is his portrayal of his female characters. One is fit but chubby. One is slim but eats like a sumo wrestler. The other makes food but is devoid of much physical description. And all are active agents -- which it is wonderful, since so much of Asian culture seems to pigeonhole women into passive(-aggressive) roles. Both chubby and the eater are very straightforward. The chubby one delightfully so -- probably the biggest joy in the novel. Actually, all the female characters were really good. Even the Librarian is right out of Chekhov.

The novel is pretty saturated with western literary and media (music/movie) references. I found that odd. The only signs that this was a Japanese novel were the location (Tokyo) and a translation of brancine as suzuki. I kept searching for a Japanese or Asian reference in the compulsively dropped literary references, but never found one. It makes me wonder what of this novel makes it a Japanese novel. That's also part of my disappointment. Instead of finding out about Japanese culture, I found out that their culture is obsessed with our culture.

Obviously this is to the translator's credit, but the use of the term "lamebrain" by the chubby girl had me howling. I haven't heard that since the 80s.

(Not Ubik):
The arc of the story was a bit odd. At around the thug break-in I lost a sense of what was at stake and what was going on. Okay, the protag is a unique pawn. The System/Factory is a faceless social control structure (govt) of totalitarian proportions. But the escape through the bogs and up the stairs/ladder to get to the secret lair . . . for what? To find out he's doomed? Hmm, okay. It's settling a bit for me now -- it isn't the ending I was expecting, but I see its charm. I think it will grow on me.

I did like that you never really meet any of the factions involved except for one obnoxious bureaucrat who dismisses the gut wound. Were the thugs Factory? Maybe. You never see the INKlings.

The connection between the inner mind and the outer existence was pretty clear as soon as the passwd was mentioned. I suspected the data was actually a program to trigger something in his head. But it's not clear what the shadow's escape means viz-a-viz his external mind. I guess it means there's a hope he can be recovered.

I'm not sure I really liked the End of the World. The digging a hole. The 'gathering mind' of animals. The 'reading dreams'. I haven't really put it together on what it translates to for the protag-propper. How to translate what these things mean for his subconscious.

Also, I thought the Thugs were pretty boilerplate. Big guy no brain. Small guy no muscle. It read like a typical literary thug shake-down. I can't even point to anything that might be Japanese about it.
Part of my frustration with the book was I kept trying to apply vague memories of criticisms of Snark's book to this book. I was around page 350 asking WHERE THE F--- ARE THE CLONES?! Pretty funny in retrospect.

In all, it was an easy read. Very similar to Ubik in theme. Not a bad way to spend a day.
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Tue Mar 29, 2011 12:08 pm

NardoLoopa wrote:Part of my frustration with the book was I kept trying to apply vague memories of criticisms of Snark's book to this book. I was around page 350 asking WHERE THE F--- ARE THE CLONES?! Pretty funny in retrospect.
This had me cackling at my desk, out loud.

I didn't think about the Asian aspect so much, because I was fooled by Kazuo Ishiguro's Japaneseness, only finding out partway through Never Let Me Go that he's British :)
I know what you mean, with the whole dream interpretation, and unicorn skull/replication skull, and unicorns dying, and what it meant for the overall picture. I just assumed that it was too arcane for me to understand, but I suppose it's possible that that was what the author was going for. Do you wonder how much of it is lost in translation?? I know there are words and phrases in Chinese that I can't translate. While watching Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and reading subtitles, I'd see things that weren't 100% accurately translated. Forgot to mention - it doesn't seem like there was much of Japanese culture, as you mentioned. I'm just wondering how well Western culture translates with Japanese language.

For me, I just chalked the dream extraction and loss of shadow and end of the world to his subconscious crumbling away, about to 'splode. And that by helping his shadow escape but staying behind with the Librarian, he was at least preserving the existence of both his proper mind and a 'sploded-mind setting where he knew he'd be happy. I suppose I have him being schizophrenic but alive at worst, and compartmentalized at best :)

The boilerplatiness of the thugs is kind of what I liked best about them. They were like, one normal thing in a whole story full of mindfuckery!
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by thacon » Tue Mar 29, 2011 12:52 pm

Eigenbasis wrote:I was really confused there because I thought that was going to be a spoiler for Ubik.
Same here. I know Jenny is crazy, but I didn't think she was that crazy.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Tue Mar 29, 2011 12:56 pm

Dear thacon,

I will give you this ENTIRE bottle of Blue Moon if it will shush you.

Love,
Jenny
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by quamper » Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:39 pm

JennyUnderpants wrote:Dear thacon,

I will give you this ENTIRE bottle of Blue Moon if it will shush you.

Love,
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by thacon » Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:47 pm

quamper wrote:Jenny be nice to my multi
:(

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by lotsofphil » Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:53 am

Finally read the book.
It took two days to read. At the end of day 1 my wife asked me what it was about. This, of course, resulted in a very odd-sounding synopsis/statement of confusion. Around that time I was thinking "I guess it will all make sense at the end. Maybe I'll go back and re-read it." The first part of that didn't really come true. Not sure about the second (although I am leaning towards it).

Regarding what Nardo said about Pat, I think it ties in to thacon's comment about the chapters being too short/going too fast. Either Pat v. Jory was just omitted or Jory was so powerful that it would have been interesting. The guy who dies in the bathroom (Al Hammond?) doesn't struggle or fight or anything. Wendy crawls into a closet and dies. How interesting would Joe's climb up the stairs have been without Pat as a foil? I think that if Dick had written about Jory v. Pat it would have been pretty uninteresting. Jory's omnipotence and, dare I say, ubiquity, is what makes him so worrisome.
"there are Jorys in every moratorium. This battle goes on wherever you have half-lifers; it's a verity, a rule, of our kind of existence."

More on this: I told my wife he's called a science fiction writer, but his books aren't really science fiction. They just have aliens or spaceships or whatever and then are "normal books". Pat has cool powers, but no one's powers do anything in the book, ever.

For what it's worth, I think Runciter is in cold-pac at the end, having just died.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Eigenbasis » Mon Apr 04, 2011 12:33 pm

More on this: I told my wife he's called a science fiction writer, but his books aren't really science fiction. They just have aliens or spaceships or whatever and then are "normal books".
The same can be said for Vonnegut.
"Have you ever heard the expression, ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, and then throw it in the face of the person who gave you the lemons until they give you the oranges you originally asked for?’"

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Ceirdwyn » Mon Apr 04, 2011 12:50 pm

Finally got my hands on the book a few days ago and am still reading it. So far I am torn between liking it and being confused. Lets see how it plays out.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Raccoon » Mon Apr 04, 2011 1:17 pm

I was flipping through one of the volumes of PKD's collected stories, and I came across one called "The Pre-Persons" . . . I had completely forgotten about it, or didn't bother to read it back when I bought the book, but it's a pretty incendiary anti-abortion story about a near-future society where the government has decided that you don't have a soul until you manifest the ability to do higher reasoning, which is defined as being able to solve complex algebraic equations. The law presumes that you can do this at age 12, but not any earlier. So in other words, parents can send their kids away up to age 12. Those kids get held in a facility for 30 days, during which time they can be adopted by other parents (kind of like a pet shelter), after which they get killed by mass suffocation . . . .

I wouldn't have thought that PKD would be so pro-life, given that he lived in Berkeley, and his writings tend somewhat toward communitarian/libertarian themes.
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by big_mara » Mon Apr 04, 2011 2:15 pm

Raccoon wrote:I was flipping through one of the volumes of PKD's collected stories, and I came across one called "The Pre-Persons" . . . I had completely forgotten about it, or didn't bother to read it back when I bought the book, but it's a pretty incendiary anti-abortion story about a near-future society where the government has decided that you don't have a soul until you manifest the ability to do higher reasoning, which is defined as being able to solve complex algebraic equations. The law presumes that you can do this at age 12, but not any earlier. So in other words, parents can send their kids away up to age 12. Those kids get held in a facility for 30 days, during which time they can be adopted by other parents (kind of like a pet shelter), after which they get killed by mass suffocation . . . .

I wouldn't have thought that PKD would be so pro-life, given that he lived in Berkeley, and his writings tend somewhat toward communitarian/libertarian themes.
From what I've read, PKD doesn't really have a high esteem for women, at least that's what the pages of his work suggest. Much of the criticism of his work with regard to his female characters is that they are all the same, almost villainized woman. It really shouldn't come as a huge surprise that his take on abortion is such that it is. I guess he wrote an afterward in 1980 after receiving a lot of negative feedback over this story in particular and he had this to say: "In 'The Pre Persons' it is love for the children that I feel, not anger toward those who would destroy them. My anger is generated out of love; it is love baffled." It isn't really surprising that he would take his stance on abortion to the extreme since that's what his work is all about. That said, it is kind of conundrum, given the general themes and topics with which he works, that this is probably his grittiest work.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Raccoon » Mon Apr 04, 2011 4:30 pm

big_mara wrote:From what I've read, PKD doesn't really have a high esteem for women, at least that's what the pages of his work suggest. Much of the criticism of his work with regard to his female characters is that they are all the same, almost villainized woman. It really shouldn't come as a huge surprise that his take on abortion is such that it is.
I guess that's right. He and Raymond Chandler, another of my favorite authors, do share misogynistic tendencies. . . .
I guess he wrote an afterward in 1980 after receiving a lot of negative feedback over this story in particular and he had this to say: "In 'The Pre Persons' it is love for the children that I feel, not anger toward those who would destroy them. My anger is generated out of love; it is love baffled." It isn't really surprising that he would take his stance on abortion to the extreme since that's what his work is all about. That said, it is kind of conundrum, given the general themes and topics with which he works, that this is probably his grittiest work.
Heh, well, that nuance doesn't really come through in the story. . . . It's about as subtle as a hammer.
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Omri » Mon Apr 04, 2011 9:18 pm

big_mara wrote:From what I've read, PKD doesn't really have a high esteem for women, at least that's what the pages of his work suggest. Much of the criticism of his work with regard to his female characters is that they are all the same, almost villainized woman. It really shouldn't come as a huge surprise that his take on abortion is such that it is.
Not to open a can of worms here, but how do being against abortion and low esteem for women correlate? Even ignoring the rights and dignity of the child, from where I see it, honoring one of the most amazing and unique parts of womanhood - the ability to bear new life - is hardly having low esteem for women.

Again, sorry to open a can of worms, and I know you were probably just referencing the particulars of the book and author in question, but the way that you phrased that and the association that it implied felt like a kind of passive-aggressive attack to me. Anyways, I'll shut up now.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by reverkiller » Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:24 pm

Omri wrote: Not to open a can of worms here, but how do being against abortion and low esteem for women correlate? Even ignoring the rights and dignity of the child, from where I see it, honoring one of the most amazing and unique parts of womanhood - the ability to bear new life - is hardly having low esteem for women.

Again, sorry to open a can of worms, and I know you were probably just referencing the particulars of the book and author in question, but the way that you phrased that and the association that it implied felt like a kind of passive-aggressive attack to me. Anyways, I'll shut up now.
Here is my take: in a man's world, becoming pregnant unintentionally is "the woman's fault," and its a "woman's choice" to end the pregnancy. Thus being pro-life (anti-abortion, take your pick) is anti-woman by denying them their choices and freedom.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by thacon » Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:28 pm

Jenny notified me that it's my turn to pick a book. I read Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut when I was 16 and have been saying that it's one of my favorites ever since - even though I barely remember it at this point. Now that a decade has passed, I'd like to give it another read and see if I still even like it. This particular Vonnegut book is more war than sci-fi, so it shouldn't cause a sci-fi overload following Ubik. Let me know if there are any objections.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Omri » Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:32 pm

I haven't been reading along yet, but I just may join in for Mother Night. I read it in college about 3 or 4 years ago and quite enjoyed it.

Edit: And regarding the other vein of discussion, I certainly don't want to turn this fine thread into a nasty debate, so I am going to refrain from saying anything more - I just felt that I had to say something.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Thu Apr 07, 2011 11:39 am

OK! well, since nobody wants to approach an abortion/misogyny discussion with a 39 1/2-foot pole, let's set the due date for Mother Night for May 10th :)
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by preniqueezer » Thu Apr 07, 2011 10:49 pm

I'm excited about Mother Night. I really like Vonnegut. Read it ages ago, thought I owned it. But I either lost it or gave it away during a great book purge a few years back. I don't know why I'd get rid of any of the Crazy V, though. I can find Slaughterhouse-Five, Galapagos, Deadeye Dick, and Sirens of Titan right beside me. Actually, my copy of Breakfast of Champions is missing, too, and that does not bode well. Crap, I need to find that one.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Fri Apr 08, 2011 8:25 am

Book....purge? :?: :?: :?:
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by preniqueezer » Fri Apr 08, 2011 1:14 pm

I had a lot of books. I moved a lot of times. Many books hadn't made it out of the boxes for the previous 3 or 4 moves, and I didn't want to move them another two or three times in the next year. Figured it was time to get rid of them. Most of the books I sold or gave away I don't miss, but I think a few quality ones ended up in the pile. Or my tastes or memory have changed.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Verdigris97 » Fri Apr 22, 2011 12:07 am

*Crosses the finish line, panting, sweaty and a little bit pale*

Finished Ubik. *wheeze* Finally.

RL has really sucked lately (not like a family member dying, but just work being completely, outrageously out of control: see my ascension history for a brief synopsis), and I finally got an hour tonight to plow through the last 100 pages.

Wow. Typical PKD, with shallow, shadowy, but plot-relevant women, and yes, the "average Joe" (haha) who finds out that things are not as he thought they were.

All in all a pretty good read, but I have to agree with everyone else that I wish a few parts of the plot had been fleshed out a little more.

With PKD I always have the strong reaction: "imagine how good this could have been without all of the gimmicks." I always wish his editor had been a little more firm with the Sci-fi excursions, and the "predicting the future" bits.

Gee, 1992 sounds neat. I can't wait to get ther... what? Already? Dammit.
For me, the standout examples of his weakness in Ubik were the coin-operated everything, and the ridiculous clothing. Although in retrospect maybe he needed the extreme clothing in 1992 to make 1939 seem more rational and grounded. (The "base" state, as it were.) I assume he was trying to make a hyperbolic point about rampant commercialization of everything with the coin-op machines, but to me it just seemed like a contrived way to let us know Joe never had any money on him.
Very fun book. Thanks again, Phil!

On to Mother Night...

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Ceirdwyn » Fri Apr 22, 2011 6:39 am

Hmm somehow the coin-operated things were the one thing I really liked in Ubik - they are not that far from what our industry would do if it could and provided a humorous tidbit. I think when I will think about this book in the future what I will remember is the door saying "I'll sue you".

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by NardoLoopa » Fri Apr 22, 2011 7:23 am

Have to strongly agree with Ceir here. The coin-op was one thing I loved best. Corporations would love to charge us to breath, if they could figure out how. Heck, they already charge obscene amounts for water.
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Fri Apr 22, 2011 12:01 pm

I also found the idea that Joe not being able to leave because he couldn't afford to pay his door extremely hilarious.
Meanwhile, I have made zero progress on Mother Night. I didn't realize how much reading I got done on the Metro.
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by slaphappy snark » Fri Apr 22, 2011 12:36 pm

I am bringing up the rear with V and just finished Ubik earlier this week, mostly because I was distracted by other books. I also felt like it was an interesting plot that didn't quite deliver. Also, I could swear that I read this book maybe five years ago, but not a single detail seemed more than a little familiar. That isn't my usual experience with re-reading books, and I can't figure out why it's the case here--maybe it just didn't hang together for me.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Verdigris97 » Fri Apr 22, 2011 3:12 pm

I think the coin-operated devices interfering in his routine was funny, in an Arthur Dent/Sam Lowry way (Terry Gilliam could have had a field day with it), but the eventual subject matter of the book was serious enough that, instead of coming off as comic relief or black humor, it seemed like misplaced slapstick. Maybe if I re-read the book, knowing how it ends up, I would have taken it differently...
Of course, now that I've written it out like that, I think Terry Gilliam should have made this into a movie.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by lotsofphil » Fri Apr 22, 2011 3:27 pm

Currency (and the images on it) played a big role in the changes through time as well.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by thacon » Tue Apr 26, 2011 10:44 am

Mother Night thoughts:
Sigh, I don't think I can call this one of my favorite books anymore. I remembered the first time that I read it, I was shocked when Resi turned out to be Resi. Maybe it was just because I knew it was coming, but this time around it seemed obvious and trite. I feel like I'm repeating my comments from Ubik, but I would have liked another chapter here to develop the bond between them and really drive home the betrayal. Once again I would have liked this book to have been longer. There are some interesting characters and relationships, but they weren't explored as much as I would have liked.

I like the concept of a spy who maybe wasn't a spy who could have been a spy, but makes you question what it is to be a spy and whether or not he was too good of a spy. I think the question of whether his actions hurt more than they helped is interesting. I think this would have made a great short story. The concept and themes are far more interesting than the book itself. This would have been a great addition to Welcome to the Monkey House.

Even though I knew how it was going to end, I was still hoping for a Beautiful Mind like twist rather than Wirtanen coming forward. It wasn't a happy ending, but it wrapped up that question of whether or not he was really a spy. Perhaps no conclusion would have been the best conclusion. As a whole, though, I put it down feeling frustrated. I think I ruined it by spending 10 years remembering it as something better than it is. I'm still going to recommend it to people who have only read Slaughterhouse Five, but I'm not going to hype it up as much.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by NardoLoopa » Tue Apr 26, 2011 2:01 pm

Thacon: yes, I found out last year that I can no longer read Vonnegut. Read "Sirens of Titan" (new for me) and found it predictable and uninspiring. Vonnegut, like Rand, is someone whose impact on your life greatly depends on when you read them.
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Raccoon » Tue Apr 26, 2011 2:09 pm

NardoLoopa wrote:Thacon: yes, I found out last year that I can no longer read Vonnegut. Read "Sirens of Titan" (new for me) and found it predictable and uninspiring. Vonnegut, like Rand, is someone whose impact on your life greatly depends on when you read them.
This saddens me.

I remember really like "The Sirens of Titan" when I read it in my early 20s, which is when the bulk of my Vonnegut-reading took place. I was less impressed with "Slaughter-House 5," but that was probably because of all of the hype it had been receiving. I also recall liking "Player Piano" and "Galapagos," as well as many of the short stories in "Welcome to the Monkey House." Oh, and of course, "Cat's Cradle" was a blast. I wonder how many (few?) of those would hold up today.
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by thacon » Tue Apr 26, 2011 3:13 pm

I put my comments in a spoiler box because I didn't want to discourage others from reading the book.

We're all kidding. It's the best book ever, you should still participate!

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Tue Apr 26, 2011 3:16 pm

Jerks! I haven't even cracked mine open yet. And it's my first Vonnegut. And I can't resist the forum post email notifications.
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by big_mara » Tue Apr 26, 2011 4:54 pm

NardoLoopa wrote:Thacon: yes, I found out last year that I can no longer read Vonnegut. Read "Sirens of Titan" (new for me) and found it predictable and uninspiring. Vonnegut, like Rand, is someone whose impact on your life greatly depends on when you read them.

Granted, I haven't read any Vonnegut in a few years, but I don't see why this is the case. Since plot doesn't really matter in any of his novels, I don't see how predictability would diminish the joy that comes from reading a well-crafted witticism, which is what Vonnegut is really good at. I could probably do without the repetitiveness of the refrain technique he employs in every novel-length work, but I have a feeling I'd still enjoy sitting down with almost any of them. Mother Night, however, was never a work of which I was particularly fond. This is one of his less inspired works; I saw the god-awful Nick Nolte movie before I read the book, so I think that's largely burned into my mind when this title comes up.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by thacon » Tue Apr 26, 2011 4:57 pm

I read Jailbird a few months ago and enjoyed it

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Eigenbasis » Tue Apr 26, 2011 5:57 pm

In the past year or two I read Breakfast of Champions, Slaughterhouse Five, Cat's Cradle, and Sirens of Titan. I enjoyed them all, though Cat's Cradle was the best.
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by thacon » Tue Apr 26, 2011 6:56 pm

I've been collecting Vonnegut books from used bookstores ever since high school in an attempt to own/read them all. I lent my copy of mother night to a friend in college and never got it back, so I just replaced that one with a copy from amazon. My problem has been that I can't seem to remember anything about his books after more than a handful of months have passed since I read them.

eta: eek, I need to dust!

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by big_mara » Tue Apr 26, 2011 7:03 pm

thacon wrote:I've been collecting Vonnegut books from used bookstores ever since high school in an attempt to own/read them all. I lent my copy of mother night to a friend in college and never got it back, so I just replaced that one with a copy from amazon. My problem has been that I can't seem to remember anything about his books after more than a handful of months have passed since I read them.
No Look At the Birdie(a recent collection of unpublished short stories) in there? Otherwise, very nice collection. I notice a few that I don't own/never read that I could get around to in an effort to see if Vonnegut still gives me immense joy.

EDIT: And no Happy Birthday, Wanda June? That one is memorable in that it's easily the worst thing Vonnegut wrote.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by thacon » Tue Apr 26, 2011 7:16 pm

big_mara wrote:No Look At the Birdie(a recent collection of unpublished short stories) in there? Otherwise, very nice collection. I notice a few that I don't own/never read that I could get around to in an effort to see if Vonnegut still gives me immense joy.

EDIT: And no Happy Birthday, Wanda June? That one is memorable in that it's easily the worst thing Vonnegut wrote.
I considered buying a copy of Look At the Birdie, but I have a hard time with things published posthumously. I feel like if he had wanted us to read those stories, he would have published them during his lifetime. And I haven't come across a copy of Happy Birthday, Wanda June. Like I said, I've been trying to buy them all second-hand. When I was probably 14, I was hanging out at my local used book store when I stumbled on that copy of Welcome to the Monkey House. I bought it for $0.75 and read it over and over. (Harrison Bergeron was always my favorite story.) After the thrill of finding such a great book amongst the unsorted stacks and boxes of books, I decided that I wanted to collect them all this way. Unfortunately, used book stores like that are almost extinct.

If you haven't read any of his autobiographical works, I'd highly recommend them. I like them as much, if not more, than his novels.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Eigenbasis » Tue Apr 26, 2011 8:04 pm

Vonneguts grades of his books as compared to each other (written in Breakfast of Champions):

* Player Piano: B
* The Sirens of Titan: A
* Mother Night: A
* Cat's Cradle: A-plus
* God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: A
* Slaughterhouse-Five: A-plus
* Welcome to the Monkey House: B-minus
* Happy Birthday, Wanda June: D
* Breakfast of Champions: C
* Slapstick: D
* Jailbird: A
* Palm Sunday: C
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by big_mara » Tue Apr 26, 2011 8:23 pm

Eigenbasis wrote:Vonneguts grades of his books as compared to each other (written in Breakfast of Champions):

* Player Piano: B
* The Sirens of Titan: A
* Mother Night: A
* Cat's Cradle: A-plus
* God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: A
* Slaughterhouse-Five: A-plus
* Welcome to the Monkey House: B-minus
* Happy Birthday, Wanda June: D
* Breakfast of Champions: C
* Slapstick: D
* Jailbird: A
* Palm Sunday: C
I vaguely remember seeing this rating. It surprises me that Slapstick is rated so low as I remember it being among my favorites.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Mon May 02, 2011 3:55 pm

I finally finished Mother Night!
Forgive my scattered thoughts. I've been staring at helpdesk tickets all day. Also I'm listening to Jamie by Weezer which always makes me happy. Did I read this wrong? I know I've never read any Vonnegut, but I was actually semi-amused through the whole thing. Only semi because I think it's quite a challenge to make anti-semitism fully amusing. First, the really really short chapters made the book seem more frenzied than what it was, which was a guy writing down his miserable confessions. I liked the confrontation with Wirtanen where they both considered whether he was a Nazi in thought by virtue of being a Nazi in action. I hadn't really considered that angle in spying. I did get that :O feeling when Resi turned out to be Resi. And I loved Dr. Jones and the black Feurher. They made me laugh, especially with the business of "But you have a black guy and a Catholic right here." "That's just how pervasive they are!!" I may have laughed out loud at the DMV.
Anyway, now I'm tired, and there's a week until new book time so I think I'll go ahead and roll to see who gets to pick next :)

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chatbot (private): Rolling 1D18 gives 17.

preniqueezer! You're up :D
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by preniqueezer » Mon May 02, 2011 9:16 pm

Eep! I haven't even gotten my hands on a copy of Mother Night yet. Ah, well.

Give me a day or two to get my thoughts together, I guess?

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Mon May 02, 2011 10:13 pm

Aw, no pressure! Take all the time you need, or one week. Whichever is shorter :D
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by lotsofphil » Tue May 03, 2011 8:44 am

JennyUnderpants wrote:Aw, no pressure! Take all the time you need, or one week. Whichever is shorter :D
Sounds like I ruined it for everyone with "Can I wait 6 weeks before picking a book?"

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Tue May 03, 2011 8:51 am

I don't know how you are immune to my nagging. Kudos.
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by preniqueezer » Tue May 03, 2011 12:33 pm

I'm leaning toward "The Night Country," by Loren Eiseley. I read it for class in high school, and it's one of the books that I truly enjoyed, despite it being a reading assignment. It's nonfiction, anthropology mostly, a collection of short pieces, but I recall it being grippingly written. That was half my life ago, though, so I've been meaning to reread it and see if I enjoy it as much the second time around.

Oh, and Jenny, re: Vonnegut -- he always writes humorously, despite often exploring heavy topics, and most of his books have the fragmenty, time-jumpy nature that's classic Vonnegut style.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by big_mara » Tue May 03, 2011 3:06 pm

preniqueezer wrote:I'm leaning toward "The Night Country," by Loren Eiseley. I read it for class in high school, and it's one of the books that I truly enjoyed, despite it being a reading assignment. It's nonfiction, anthropology mostly, a collection of short pieces, but I recall it being grippingly written. That was half my life ago, though, so I've been meaning to reread it and see if I enjoy it as much the second time around.
Nebraskan, ftw! It's surprising that I haven't read Eiseley at some point in my educational career, though Cather has been thoroughly shoved down my throat at every possible interval (not a bad thing since she's among my favorite authors, but still). I'm sure this will be a work that I'll enjoy.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by preniqueezer » Mon May 16, 2011 6:30 pm

Uh-oh. It's been 13 days since the last comment and big_mara is the only person who has said anything about my suggestion. Did I singlehandedly kill book club? :oops:

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by lotsofphil » Mon May 16, 2011 6:43 pm

preniqueezer wrote:Uh-oh. It's been 13 days since the last comment and big_mara is the only person who has said anything about my suggestion. Did I singlehandedly kill book club? :oops:
Oh oops. I last saw the "give me a few days" comment. I'll go see if the library has it.

edit: and they don't :(

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by big_mara » Mon May 16, 2011 6:51 pm

preniqueezer wrote:Uh-oh. It's been 13 days since the last comment and big_mara is the only person who has said anything about my suggestion. Did I singlehandedly kill book club? :oops:
I don't know about everyone else who has been participating in this thing, but this is always a very busy time in the year for me. Just finished finals/moving myself/packing shit at my job for a move to a new building/enjoying the finally not-shitty weather outside. I actually just received the book and plan on starting it tonight/tomorrow, so this shouldn't be a one-person discussion :D

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Mon May 16, 2011 7:12 pm

My logic is that I have until June 10th to finish the book I'm reading now, procure your suggestion, read it, and then offer my silly thoughts. Plus, world event and killing skeletons and buying Bone Star t-shirts. But mostly that first thing I said.
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Eigenbasis » Mon May 16, 2011 10:28 pm

Distracted by finals, then I'll read Mother Night...
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Verdigris97 » Mon May 16, 2011 10:35 pm

Just finished Mother Night on the plane today (I'm in DC for work for a few days...), and I will look for the new book at the library when I get home.

I'm currently reading Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, by Patton Oswalt, on the side. (A little humor to balance Mother Night, which, once again, depressed the hell out of me.)

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Mon May 16, 2011 10:40 pm

Ha! We should grab a beer! Wait, wrong thread.
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Verdigris97 » Mon May 16, 2011 11:06 pm

JennyUnderpants wrote:Ha! We should grab a beer! Wait, wrong thread.
I'm up for that! tomorrow evening is wide open...

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Thu May 26, 2011 10:44 pm

I ordered my copy. I don't know where it is yet. I suspect I will be late reading this one, missing the deadline, and it will drive me maaaaaaaaad!
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by preniqueezer » Wed Jun 01, 2011 10:25 pm

No spoilers yet, just want to say that, after rereading The Night Country, I think it remains one of my favorite books, even given half a lifetime's aging. Some of the chapters are pretty dense and take some effort, but it's rare that a book really challenges me, so even that's nice. Many of the other sections read easily, and with great entertainment. Pieces that I couldn't remember, or remembered as fragments without identifying the source, came back to remind me that this book had some formative role in my writing style and perceptions of the world.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Sun Jun 12, 2011 10:33 pm

Oh. Crap. All this time I've been shaking my fist at B&N for not shipping my book, it's been because I gave them an expired credit card. And now the due date has snuck up on me and I'm late reading it and my Asian sensibilities are angry that I've done an assignment late. I'm sorry pie :(

To be fair, I have been swamped at work, playing with all the new content, and busy with contest planning. Do we want to give an extension on this? Have you guys given up on nerdy books? :) Is anybody still reading this thread? Is everyone else, like me, too focused on Beers? >.>
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Ceirdwyn » Mon Jun 13, 2011 4:53 am

Still reading this thread but with it being summer I read a lot less and spend my time outside on bike tours instead....

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by NardoLoopa » Mon Jun 13, 2011 8:01 am

Funny, I read a lot more -- nothing like sweating under a canopy at the local coffee house pouring over a book.
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Eigenbasis » Mon Jun 13, 2011 9:48 am

I ordered The Night Country from the library, and it arrived today. It took a while because it was in the annex and they had to ship it to campus. There isn't a copy of Mother Night available yet.
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by lotsofphil » Mon Jun 13, 2011 9:51 am

I'm definitely paying attention to this thread, I just couldn't get the latest book.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Eevilcat » Mon Jun 13, 2011 1:32 pm

Well I finally (!) picked up a copy of Never Let Me Go in a charity shop today so I'm way behind but still paying attention. The Night Country looks interesting so I'm still planning to grab a copy of that. I've been a bit distracted by the latest True Blood novel and the library at work had a copy of Roofworld which I've always wanted to read.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by big_mara » Mon Jun 13, 2011 6:20 pm

I'm about halfway through this one. I've enjoyed it so far, but it definitely isn't one of those books I'd engorge in a sitting or two. For such short essays, each one is incredibly dense and I often felt I was only reading at the surface (in my defense, he jumps around a bit). I really enjoy the prose and, while I rarely read nature writing, the sense of time and place that shine through every essay is reminiscent of some of my favorite Midwest authors.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by preniqueezer » Mon Jun 13, 2011 10:05 pm

big_mara wrote: reminiscent of some of my favorite Midwest authors.
Sand County Almanac, possibly? What else do you have on that list? I've been in the mood for some good nature writing.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Mon Jun 13, 2011 10:12 pm

Yay, I successfully ordered it. I don't mean to be That Clingy Girlfriend with the nagging and the "OMG do you guys still want to read with me??" I just read well when there's peer pressure. :oops: And I like cracking the whip, so to speak. :) If other people are still in the middle of it, we can just push the due date to the end of June. That'll give people time to finish contest runs, drink beer, avoid turns, and read. Plus I have a chili cookoff championship to retain, and coming up with a genius recipe takes time.
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by maddsurgeon » Mon Jun 13, 2011 10:42 pm

Now that I've a bit more time on my hands, I'd kind of like to join in...pending being able to get the books (my local library was decimated in a flood a couple years back, but there are a lot of used bookstores around here).

I'd like to jump in on the next book, if that's cool - or should I try to track down the current one?
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