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Thread: Cocked, foxed, & dogeared: books for a broken blab

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    Senior Member Hayduke's Avatar
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    Default Cocked, foxed, & dogeared: books for a broken blab

    David Mitchell's latest, The Bone Clocks coming out next Tuesday, is meta-David Mitchell, bringing characters from all his other books together in much the way he usually weaves lightly interwoven storylines. It's a (Man Booker longlisted) scam to get you to hurry up and read his back catalog:
    • Ghostwritten (1999)
    • number9dream (2001)
    • Cloud Atlas (2004)
    • Black Swan Green (2006)
    • The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (2010)

    And it's working on me. I've read Cloud Atlas twice and Thousand Autumns and I suspect one more, but I'm starting from the beginning with Ghostwritten. So far it reads like a really good Murakami knock-off. Japan, check. Jazz soundtrack, check. Murakami namecheck, check. So far the the most Murakamiesque character is an Englishman untying the knot at the end of his rope. I expect to find him in the bottom of a well any page now. Murakami has a new one out this week too, but I'm still a bit hacked over 1Q84, so I'm reading this first.
    sudo open the pod bay doors, HAL.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hayduke View Post
    David Mitchell's latest, The Bone Clocks coming out next Tuesday, is meta-David Mitchell, bringing characters from all his other books together in much the way he usually weaves lightly interwoven storylines. It's a (Man Booker longlisted) scam to get you to hurry up and read his back catalog:
    • Ghostwritten (1999)
    • number9dream (2001)
    • Cloud Atlas (2004)
    • Black Swan Green (2006)
    • The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (2010)

    And it's working on me. I've read Cloud Atlas twice and Thousand Autumns and I suspect one more, but I'm starting from the beginning with Ghostwritten. So far it reads like a really good Murakami knock-off. Japan, check. Jazz soundtrack, check. Murakami namecheck, check. So far the the most Murakamiesque character is an Englishman untying the knot at the end of his rope. I expect to find him in the bottom of a well any page now. Murakami has a new one out this week too, but I'm still a bit hacked over 1Q84, so I'm reading this first.

    I've read all of David Mitchell's books except the new one, which I am eager to delve into. He's a remarkable, brilliant writer. Agree that the first two are very Murakami-esque, but he's also one of those rare writers who ultimately is not rooted in a particular style, which both Black Swan Green (something of a boyhood memoir of growing up in semi-suburban England) and Thousand Autumns (surely a historical masterpiece of a novel) attest. I have the new Murakami sititng on the shelf too...I couldn't resist after Patti Smith's review in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago. Looking forward...

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    Senior Member Hayduke's Avatar
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    I saw today that Mitchell also wrote dialog (and maybe more) for Kate Bush's new stage show.

    ----------

    Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa's Greatest Explorer by Tim Jeal. This has been out a while (2007 National Book Critics Circle Award), but I just, er, discovered it. The story is astounding. The only parts that slow are Jeal's chastisements of previous biographers for believing anything Stanley said about himself; He was the first biographer to have access to a trove of documents and letters and this bio knocks everything prior off the shelf. The truth turns out to be far more impossible and puts Stanley in a much better light. Rejected repeatedly by his family from birth, grew up in a workhouse, was a veteran of the Confederate and Union armies and the Union Navy, a reporter on the western frontier and then did the whole mapping of the major river systems of the dark continent thing. Attempting to hide his past and fit in with the upper crust he tripped into exaggerations that undercut his accomplishments while telling the truth about things others knew to cover up.

    Think of an expedition back then as kind of like a Saturn 5 rocket jettisoning stages as it goes up. You start with hundreds of men (though oddly, about half as many as he claimed) carrying trade goods and supplies and as you use them up disease, accidents, and poison arrows whittle down the number of mouths to feed. Every time Stanley set foot on the continent he figured odds were against escaping alive and a few weeks of near-death illness were a given.
    sudo open the pod bay doors, HAL.

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    Senior Member t3p's Avatar
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    from a review that came out today:

    David Mitchell once said he preferred “to discuss the human heart through characterization, and to address the human condition through plot.”

    In his new novel, “The Bone Clocks,” his heroine, Holly Sykes — a feisty teenage runaway when we meet her, and a worried grandmother at the book’s end — attests to this highly cerebral author’s ability to create a thoroughly captivating character. Holly’s poignant charm and Mr. Mitchell’s sheer fluency as a writer help the reader speed through this 600-plus-page novel with pleasure.

    But the plot — which seems to borrow from such disparate sources as “Minority Report,” “The Da Vinci Code,” “Men in Black” and Shirley MacLaine’s writings about reincarnation — proves a creaky, jerry-built vehicle that devolves into lots of silly mumbo-jumbo. The resulting novel is simultaneously dazzling and hogtied, genuinely moving and sadly unconvincing...
    "i tell this truth to you/ not out of spite or anger/ but simply 'cause it's true"

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    Senior Member Hayduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by t3p View Post
    from a review that came out today:
    Alexandra Alter, also writing in the Times, is a bigger fan.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/25/bo...ous-novel.html

    Still doing Ghostwritten and it's somewhat disturbing to hit the end of a chapter and realize you're never going to see this person again, so Bone Clocks may remedy some of that.

    -------

    My car audiobook fun read is Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Problem is, it's in Eunice's car (she has the fancy USB port setup, I have a cassette deck with remnants of a tape stuck in it), so I'm inventing reasons to borrow her wheels. It's an escapist romp through a virtual reality world in a dystopian future where knowledge of 1980s computer games and geek trivia is king. As it happens, I have such knowledge. I'm running out of car excuses so I might switch to ebook reading this one.

    One advantage of an etext is that, as the writer is a child of the 90s, I've already hacked a copy to remove most of the extraneous "actually"s. Can't do much about the misplaced modifiers (though a regex to leapfrog every instance the word "only" forward a notch to be somewhere near where it belongs would help). This sort of thing may be an option in future books. It would be trivial to change character names, which I'm sure I'd opt for if a major character outside an Ed Abbey novel was named Hayduke.
    sudo open the pod bay doors, HAL.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by t3p View Post
    from a review that came out today:

    David Mitchell once said he preferred “to discuss the human heart through characterization, and to address the human condition through plot.”

    In his new novel, “The Bone Clocks,” his heroine, Holly Sykes — a feisty teenage runaway when we meet her, and a worried grandmother at the book’s end — attests to this highly cerebral author’s ability to create a thoroughly captivating character. Holly’s poignant charm and Mr. Mitchell’s sheer fluency as a writer help the reader speed through this 600-plus-page novel with pleasure.

    But the plot — which seems to borrow from such disparate sources as “Minority Report,” “The Da Vinci Code,” “Men in Black” and Shirley MacLaine’s writings about reincarnation — proves a creaky, jerry-built vehicle that devolves into lots of silly mumbo-jumbo. The resulting novel is simultaneously dazzling and hogtied, genuinely moving and sadly unconvincing...
    "A review"? Really? Can't you do better than that and give us at least a source?

    While no one is beyond criticism, Mitchell is an artist who has established a body of work that is substantial and worthy enough that I find it rewarding to delve in and see what's he's up to.

    As Oscar Wilde wrote...more or less..."The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius." Whether Mitchell is a genius or not, I don't even care to debate. Not even sure what that means. But he's usually immensely rewarding to read, and that's enough for me.

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    Senior Member t3p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AC View Post
    "A review"? Really? Can't you do better than that and give us at least a source?

    ...he's usually immensely rewarding to read, and that's enough for me.
    review from nyt http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/27/bo...s-journey.html . And I posted just fwiw; I haven't read the book and don't mean to criticize
    "i tell this truth to you/ not out of spite or anger/ but simply 'cause it's true"

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    Senior Member Hayduke's Avatar
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    A 56-Song Playlist of Music in Haruki Murakami’s Novels: Ray Charles, Glenn Gould, the Beach Boys & More

    http://www.openculture.com/2014/08/a...mi-novels.html
    sudo open the pod bay doors, HAL.

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    Quote Originally Posted by t3p View Post
    review from nyt http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/27/bo...s-journey.html . And I posted just fwiw; I haven't read the book and don't mean to criticize
    Ah...there I was...having discovered a very unexpectedly excellent Tempranillo during a 3 hour airport layover...and, into my third glass, I ventured onto the Blab

    I tend to err on the side of openness and enthusiasm, so I don't really see the value or purpose in posting a somewhat negative review of a book that you yourself haven't read...unless you're a Kakutani fan, and while certainly a reputable critic, she is not without her own detractors: especially known for trying to take down writers once they have achieved a certain level of success with their work.

    Overall, I'm much more interested in what the artist has to share than in what the critic has to say about it.

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    Senior Member Hayduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AC View Post
    Ah...there I was...having discovered a very unexpectedly excellent Tempranillo during a 3 hour airport layover...and, into my third glass, I ventured onto the Blab

    I tend to err on the side of openness and enthusiasm, so I don't really see the value or purpose in posting a somewhat negative review of a book that you yourself haven't read...unless you're a Kakutani fan, and while certainly a reputable critic, she is not without her own detractors: especially known for trying to take down writers once they have achieved a certain level of success with their work.

    Overall, I'm much more interested in what the artist has to share than in what the critic has to say about it.
    I like to err on the side of openness and enthusiasm and don't see the value or purpose in posting a somewhat negative review of a t3p's post... unless you're an AC fan (which I am), and while certainly a reputable blabber he is not without his own detractors. Overall I'm more interested in the post than what the critic has to say about it /ducking
    sudo open the pod bay doors, HAL.

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