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Rafiki
06-15-2011, 01:42 PM
Well, the summer officially begins with the solstice on the 21st. So it's timely that I will begin another list today and work through them over the summer. I hope to see some more participation in this thread, I know some people are reading what I am writing because there's no way that I viewed that last thread 160 times.

So please let me know: what are you planning on reading this summer?

I'm reading some horror this summer along with some short stories and other psychologically engaging texts.

At the Mountains of Madness: and Other Weird Tales - H. P. Lovecraft
Prayers to Broken Stones - Dan Simmons
Who's Afraid of Virgina Wolf - Edward Albee
Yellow Dog - Martin Amis
The Gunslinger (Dark Tower 1) - Stephen King

If I make it through the first Dark Tower, and if I like it, I reserve the right to continue reading the series throughout the summer.

Gonzo
06-15-2011, 01:55 PM
Well, the summer officially begins with the solstice on the 21st. So it's timely that I will begin another list today and work through them over the summer. I hope to see some more participation in this thread, I know some people are reading what I am writing because there's no way that I viewed that last thread 160 times.

So please let me know: what are you planning on reading this summer?

I'm reading some horror this summer along with some short stories and other psychologically engaging texts.

At the Mountains of Madness: and Other Weird Tales - H. P. Lovecraft
Prayers to Broken Stones - Dan Simmons
Who's Afraid of Virgina Wolf - Edward Albee
Yellow Dog - Martin Amis
The Gunslinger (Dark Tower 1) - Stephen King

If I make it through the first Dark Tower, and if I like it, I reserve the right to continue reading the series throughout the summer.I loved the Dark Tower series. Perfect summer reading.

Here's mine:
Einstein: The Life and Times (http://www.amazon.com/Einstein-Times-Ronald-W-Clark/dp/0061351849/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1308159989&sr=8-1) - Ronald W. Clark (currently reading)
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer (http://www.amazon.com/Emperor-All-Maladies-Biography-Cancer/dp/1439107955/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1308160058&sr=1-1) - Siddhartha Mukherjee
Bag of Bones (http://www.amazon.com/Bag-Bones-Anniversary-Stephen-King/dp/1439106215/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1308160175&sr=1-1) - Stephen King
Fletch Won (http://www.amazon.com/Fletch-Won-Gregory-Mcdonald/dp/0375713522/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1308160235&sr=1-1) - Gregory Mcdonald
Le Morte d'Arthur (http://www.amazon.com/Morte-DArthur-Sir-Thomas-Malory/dp/1613820569/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1308160446&sr=1-1) - Sir Thomas Mallory

I also want to get into The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series at some point.

Rafiki
06-15-2011, 02:39 PM
I loved the Dark Tower series. Perfect summer reading.

Here's mine:
Einstein: The Life and Times (http://www.amazon.com/Einstein-Times-Ronald-W-Clark/dp/0061351849/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1308159989&sr=8-1) - Ronald W. Clark (currently reading)
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer (http://www.amazon.com/Emperor-All-Maladies-Biography-Cancer/dp/1439107955/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1308160058&sr=1-1) - Siddhartha Mukherjee
Bag of Bones (http://www.amazon.com/Bag-Bones-Anniversary-Stephen-King/dp/1439106215/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1308160175&sr=1-1) - Stephen King
Fletch Won (http://www.amazon.com/Fletch-Won-Gregory-Mcdonald/dp/0375713522/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1308160235&sr=1-1) - Gregory Mcdonald
Le Morte d'Arthur (http://www.amazon.com/Morte-DArthur-Sir-Thomas-Malory/dp/1613820569/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1308160446&sr=1-1) - Sir Thomas Mallory

I also want to get into The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series at some point.

Thanks for posting! Einstein's theories were expounded a bit in one of the last books I read for spring. I, for one, cannot fathom what kind of mind it would take to come up with General and Special Relativity. I admire physicists but find their way of thinking completely mind-boggling. Interestingly, Einstein didn't win the Nobel prize for these cornerstone theories, but instead won for proving that photons behaved as both particles and waves. YET- Quantum Mechanics proved experimentally that once observed, the probability wave collapses and photons behave only like particles, which is effing crazy IMO.

Let us know how the books turn out. I am definitely into legends like Arthur and feel they teach us a lot about ourselves.

Gonzo
06-16-2011, 09:41 AM
Thanks for posting! Einstein's theories were expounded a bit in one of the last books I read for spring. I, for one, cannot fathom what kind of mind it would take to come up with General and Special Relativity. I admire physicists but find their way of thinking completely mind-boggling. Interestingly, Einstein didn't win the Nobel prize for these cornerstone theories, but instead won for proving that photons behaved as both particles and waves. YET- Quantum Mechanics proved experimentally that once observed, the probability wave collapses and photons behave only like particles, which is effing crazy IMO.

Let us know how the books turn out. I am definitely into legends like Arthur and feel they teach us a lot about ourselves.
It's an incredible book so far. I heard Walter Isaacson's biography of him was good as well, and it's a little more contemporary (Clark wrote his in the '71), so you get more info on how his theories have impacted us today.

A friend recommended Mallory to me a while ago. I just found a full copy (usually split to 2 volumes) in a 3 books for $10 deal. It's ****ing massive for an old epic, so I'll likely read the lighter stuff in between this giant biography. It has the smallest font I've ever read I think, has to be 9 pt, with quotes being in 8. It's never taken me this long to get through 300 pages (of 778, not including notes). Hopefully I can get to the other books! :lol:

Of all the books on my list, I'm looking forward to The Emperor of All Maladies the most and will be reading it next.

My wife is reading David Cross's I Drink for a Reason. I might throw that one in too, probably on my flight to L.A. next month.

Rafiki
06-23-2011, 02:09 PM
Well, I finished a collection of H.P. Lovecraft's stories last night. They were enjoyable to read, not only because of his obvious command of prose, but also because of the way he develops horror into his stories.

The themes in almost all of his stories seem to be centered around an obsession to gain hidden or primeval knowledge, and the horrific consequences of this search. In some the search is for knowledge of black magic, in a couple it is a faraway land, and in a couple it is a search for scientific knowledge in the form of anthropology and geology.

I was very interested to see how he fostered a feeling of horror. The way he does this is by obscuring the image of the horrific, or leaving vital details out. Lovecraft doesn't go overboard on an image dump of the horrific things the characters see, and often times will tell you that its basically indescribable and moves on. Sometimes a character will shriek in terror, but will be unable to convey what they saw. What I think this does, is allows the reader to use their imagination to build a personal monster. It is effective because what one person thinks is scary doesn't always translate to another. With a blank monster, we can all fill it in with something we think would be particularly horrific and the desired effect is achieved.

He also has a great habit of ending some of his short stories with a reveal, in this edition usually written in italics. It's a real "dun dun dunnnn" moment, but I love that in horror stories.

Before I began reading the stories, I was aware of his Cthulu mythos, but only superficially from popular and internet culture. Surprisingly Cthulu himself never appeared in the collection of stories I read, but his children appeared in one (as powerful land octopi).

All in all, I would recommend this to others. It has some tedious moments, especially his alternative earth history about Elder Ones or the Great Race (which reminded me of nautiluses), but I thought it was a good diversion and some of his short stories are particularly memorable.

If you have a half hour and want a taste, check this short story out:
http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/fiction/td.asp

It is true that I have sent six bullets through the head of my best friend, and yet I hope to shew by this statement that I am not his murderer. At first I shall be called a madman—madder than the man I shot in his cell at the Arkham Sanitarium. Later some of my readers will weigh each statement, correlate it with the known facts, and ask themselves how I could have believed otherwise than as I did after facing the evidence of that horror—that thing on the doorstep.BTW I love the opening paragraphs of his stories.

Rafiki
06-30-2011, 02:08 PM
Last night I finished reading Dan Simmons' short story collection Prayers to Broken Stones. I have previously read his Hyperion Cantos and I was surprised to see that a lot of the same themes were repeated in some of his short stories. It seems that his short stories kind of led up to his masterpiece (Hyperion) like seeds lead to a garden. I also appreciated his introduction to each section, which was not necessary, but helped in contextualizing the state of mind he was in while writing.

His horror style is similar to what I know of Stephen King, being that most of them involve either vampiric people (either literally, metaphorically, or figuratively) or psychics. His story about the "cancer vampires" called Metastasis was probably my favorite and combines both of those themes. The most disturbing imagery of the story was when the main character was performing oral sex on his fiance and looked in a mirror to see a cancer insect peeking out from between her labia.

I found a .pdf of this short story and you can read it here: http://www.univeros.com/usenet/cache/alt.binaries.ebooks/10.000.SciFi.and.Fantasy.Ebooks/Dan%20Simmons/Dan%20Simmons%20-%20Metastasis.pdf

Anyway, up next is a play in written form Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee. I saw the last half of the movie based off this play starring Elizabeth Taylor and damn near fell out of my seat at how dark, psychotic, and great it was.

Rafiki
07-06-2011, 08:18 PM
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was very bizarre. I think the dominant theme of the play was power and powerlessness. The two main characters (George and Martha) exert control through their use of psychological games. Martha goes as far as to attempt adultery with a party guest, but alas he had the whiskey dick.

It was funny but the amount of abuse the two main characters give each other is stunning. The weirdest part of the whole thing is when it was revealed that the whole time they do these "games" they are participating in some sort of intellectual grandstanding. It seems that the manipulation of others' emotions is their principal form of pleasure.

Odd..

Anyway, I'm already reading Amis's Yellow Dog. So far, so good. I hope it doesn't end with the same depression-laden prose as his The Information did. I enjoy his writing immensely. He is very witty but can sometimes show off.

Rafiki
07-15-2011, 02:34 PM
I'm already done with Amis' novel Yellow Dog. It was worthy. It was perverse and violent. The review said it had to do with masculinity, and I can see that. It really is an unflinching look at the darkest desires of men: for power, for gratification, for love.

What Amis does very well is capture in his characters what Thoreau said: "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." You can sympathize with the characters because they're very flawed, their thought patterns are realistic, and their motivations can be disjointed and illogical. I saw this in The Information and in this novel. Thankfully Yellow Dog has a happy ending, which I think is almost necessary in a novel which can evoke despair.

So last night I picked up The Gunslinger, the first book of seven in Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. Already I'm seventy pages in. I probably won't reply to this thread until the series is all read. At the pace I'm setting I will have it done before the Equinox.

3rd and long
07-26-2011, 12:16 PM
I've read Vonnegut's Sirens's of Titan, Cormac McCarthy's The Road, S. C. Gwynne's Empire of the Summer Moon, and Phillip Roth's The Humbling, so far this summer. I would recommend all except for "The Humbling". It's not as good as the earlier Roth stuff I have read. "Empire of the Summer Moon" was really good, even though it can get repetitive in the details at times. Gwynne seems to sum things up often, especially when changing topics, which is sometimes good. I'm looking forward to starting "Blood Meridian" by Cormac McCarthy next week.

Rafiki
07-26-2011, 04:06 PM
I've read Vonnegut's Sirens's of Titan, Cormac McCarthy's The Road, S. C. Gwynne's Empire of the Summer Moon, and Phillip Roth's The Humbling, so far this summer. I would recommend all except for "The Humbling". It's not as good as the earlier Roth stuff I have read. "Empire of the Summer Moon" was really good, even though it can get repetitive in the details at times. Gwynne seems to sum things up often, especially when changing topics, which is sometimes good. I'm looking forward to starting "Blood Meridian" by Cormac McCarthy next week.

Of those, all I've read is The Road. I even started a thread on it, somewhere down the list. It was good. I haven't read any more of McCarthy's work, but I've heard good things about Blood Meridian.

Rafiki
09-22-2011, 08:37 PM
Okay, so right on time yesterday I finished the seventh and last book of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. The series was very long; I'm talking probably over 3000 pages of material. It was also complex, so if this turns into a very long post I'll now apologize in advance and put a TLDR brief at the bottom. I'll start by talking about what I believe the general theme of the series is, then the overall structure of the series. If you've read the series, please post your thoughts.

If I were to generalize the series as a type of story, I'd say that first of all it's a story about the quest for redemption. It has a very archetypal hero, a gunslinger cowboy-type, and the more I think of it, it also has an archetypal plot structure, but done in a very complex way. In the beginning, Roland, the main character, is a very simple cowboy, following the "man in black" across the desert. It becomes evident that the reason why he wants to capture the man is to find out how to get to the dark tower to set right a world that has "moved on". What at first seems like a western setting quickly evolves into a post-apocalyptic setting where the world is on its last legs and slipping into non-existence. Roland has swore that he will find the tower, and all of his friends had died in this quest, and he is the last gunslinger.

Perhaps the greatest paradox of the story is that to make things right, Roland is willing to sacrifice everything and everyone, thereby increasing his guilt and his need to make things right. Though he is willing to sacrifice new victims to his quest, he comes to understand that the pain of new sacrifice always outweighs the pain of old. Pain is ephemeral and does indeed heal over time. But he cannot help himself; he has set out with a quest and made promises to himself and to his old friends and is therefore unable to renege.

The fact that the tower becomes the foundation of existence later, I think can be both understood metaphorically and literally. Literally in the sense that the series takes on a sci-fi "many worlds" context, and metaphorically as in the only thing the gunslinger lives for.

Some people might say that the end of the series is the equivalent of a huge drawn out story ending with a single line: "it was all just a dream." But I think that the renewal of his quest shows a concrete progression towards his redemption. He does not achieve it simply by reaching the tower; he must run the whole thing over again until he no longer needs to seek the tower, or seek redemption.

Also it would be hard to ignore the parallels with the Arthurian legend. Roland is a descendant of Arthur Eld, an ancient order of gunslingers (but gunslinger and knight could be interchangeable in a post-apocalyptic setting). He also has his weapons passed down through the ages, ancient and powerful. Also Maerlyn (Merlin), the man in black, or Walter, also known in other works (like The Stand) as Flagg makes several appearances throughout the story.

The interesting parallel with the Arthurian legends is that instead of losing his one true love (Guinevere in Arthurian Legend, Susan Delgado in The Dark Tower) to another man, Roland loses her because of his responsibilities. He is simply preoccupied with duty and killing and therefore unable to protect his love.

Instead of going through the books individually, I will say that the so-called genre of the story shifts back and forth between a science fiction, a western, and a cyber-punk theme, and sometimes two or three of the types combined. What I felt Stephen King did well in this series is developing round characters who experience, learn, and change. Nothing is more off-putting in reading literature than following the acts of characters you are unsympathetic to.

TLDR Version:

It was a good series. The main character loved, lost, and loved again, only to lose again in his quest to find the tower. It should remind us that the journey, and not the destination, is what is important in life.

Gonzo
09-22-2011, 09:17 PM
Okay, so right on time yesterday I finished the seventh and last book of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. The series was very long; I'm talking probably over 3000 pages of material. It was also complex, so if this turns into a very long post I'll now apologize in advance and put a TLDR brief at the bottom. I'll start by talking about what I believe the general theme of the series is, then the overall structure of the series. If you've read the series, please post your thoughts.

If I were to generalize the series as a type of story, I'd say that first of all it's a story about the quest for redemption. It has a very archetypal hero, a gunslinger cowboy-type, and the more I think of it, it also has an archetypal plot structure, but done in a very complex way. In the beginning, Roland, the main character, is a very simple cowboy, following the "man in black" across the desert. It becomes evident that the reason why he wants to capture the man is to find out how to get to the dark tower to set right a world that has "moved on". What at first seems like a western setting quickly evolves into a post-apocalyptic setting where the world is on its last legs and slipping into non-existence. Roland has swore that he will find the tower, and all of his friends had died in this quest, and he is the last gunslinger.

Perhaps the greatest paradox of the story is that to make things right, Roland is willing to sacrifice everything and everyone, thereby increasing his guilt and his need to make things right. Though he is willing to sacrifice new victims to his quest, he comes to understand that the pain of new sacrifice always outweighs the pain of old. Pain is ephemeral and does indeed heal over time. But he cannot help himself; he has set out with a quest and made promises to himself and to his old friends and is therefore unable to renege.

The fact that the tower becomes the foundation of existence later, I think can be both understood metaphorically and literally. Literally in the sense that the series takes on a sci-fi "many worlds" context, and metaphorically as in the only thing the gunslinger lives for.

Some people might say that the end of the series is the equivalent of a huge drawn out story ending with a single line: "it was all just a dream." But I think that the renewal of his quest shows a concrete progression towards his redemption. He does not achieve it simply by reaching the tower; he must run the whole thing over again until he no longer needs to seek the tower, or seek redemption.

Also it would be hard to ignore the parallels with the Arthurian legend. Roland is a descendant of Arthur Eld, an ancient order of gunslingers (but gunslinger and knight could be interchangeable in a post-apocalyptic setting). He also has his weapons passed down through the ages, ancient and powerful. Also Maerlyn (Merlin), the man in black, or Walter, also known in other works (like The Stand) as Flagg makes several appearances throughout the story.

The interesting parallel with the Arthurian legends is that instead of losing his one true love (Guinevere in Arthurian Legend, Susan Delgado in The Dark Tower) to another man, Roland loses her because of his responsibilities. He is simply preoccupied with duty and killing and therefore unable to protect his love.

Instead of going through the books individually, I will say that the so-called genre of the story shifts back and forth between a science fiction, a western, and a cyber-punk theme, and sometimes two or three of the types combined. What I felt Stephen King did well in this series is developing round characters who experience, learn, and change. Nothing is more off-putting in reading literature than following the acts of characters you are unsympathetic to.

TLDR Version:

It was a good series. The main character loved, lost, and loved again, only to lose again in his quest to find the tower. It should remind us that the journey, and not the destination, is what is important in life.Another fun aspect of the story is it's connection to other books in the Stephen King universe. I just started reading Bag of Bones, which apparently has a sizable connection to the DT series.

Check out the graphic novels if you get the chance. They are awesome.

Rafiki
09-22-2011, 09:27 PM
Another fun aspect of the story is it's connection to other books in the Stephen King universe. I just started reading Bag of Bones, which apparently has a sizable connection to the DT series.

Check out the graphic novels if you get the chance. They are awesome.

Stephen King said that the Dark Tower series is his magnum opus, and even contemplated retiring after its completion.

I may read more, but I am afraid that after reading King's best, the others will be dull in comparison.

Gonzo
09-23-2011, 12:14 AM
Stephen King said that the Dark Tower series is his magnum opus, and even contemplated retiring after its completion.

I may read more, but I am afraid that after reading King's best, the others will be dull in comparison.I think they are more continuations. So far I really like Bag of Bones, and I've already noticed some connections. Apparently the number 19 and it's importance starts in Bag of Bones.

BTW, just finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Meh. I don't get the hype, but I can't wait for Fincher's take on it. I think he'll top the source material.

Vaark
10-21-2011, 03:46 PM
I think they are more continuations. So far I really like Bag of Bones, and I've already noticed some connections. Apparently the number 19 and it's importance starts in Bag of Bones.

BTW, just finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Meh. I don't get the hype, but I can't wait for Fincher's take on it. I think he'll top the source material.

I d/l'ed that trilogy but haven't taken the opportunity to move any over to Aldiko yet.. Someone tells me that of the 3, the Girl Who Played With Fire was the best. On the basis of a friend's recommendation, also d/l'ed "The Hypnotist" by Lars Kepler, (in actuality, the pen name for a Scandanavian husband/wife writing team) which is along the same lines as the trilogy but even better. We'll see.

Just started the dark, violent and good vs evil allegorical John Connelly's "The Burning Soul." (Part of the tortured detective Mike Parker series). Like James Lee Burke, who's known as the Faulkner of Suspense, Connelly is another Master of the skill of writing. Pretty engrossing so far.

PortFin
01-22-2012, 10:35 PM
Well, I finished a collection of H.P. Lovecraft's stories last night. They were enjoyable to read, not only because of his obvious command of prose, but also because of the way he develops horror into his stories.

The themes in almost all of his stories seem to be centered around an obsession to gain hidden or primeval knowledge, and the horrific consequences of this search. In some the search is for knowledge of black magic, in a couple it is a faraway land, and in a couple it is a search for scientific knowledge in the form of anthropology and geology.

I was very interested to see how he fostered a feeling of horror. The way he does this is by obscuring the image of the horrific, or leaving vital details out. Lovecraft doesn't go overboard on an image dump of the horrific things the characters see, and often times will tell you that its basically indescribable and moves on. Sometimes a character will shriek in terror, but will be unable to convey what they saw. What I think this does, is allows the reader to use their imagination to build a personal monster. It is effective because what one person thinks is scary doesn't always translate to another. With a blank monster, we can all fill it in with something we think would be particularly horrific and the desired effect is achieved.

He also has a great habit of ending some of his short stories with a reveal, in this edition usually written in italics. It's a real "dun dun dunnnn" moment, but I love that in horror stories.

Before I began reading the stories, I was aware of his Cthulu mythos, but only superficially from popular and internet culture. Surprisingly Cthulu himself never appeared in the collection of stories I read, but his children appeared in one (as powerful land octopi).

All in all, I would recommend this to others. It has some tedious moments, especially his alternative earth history about Elder Ones or the Great Race (which reminded me of nautiluses), but I thought it was a good diversion and some of his short stories are particularly memorable.

If you have a half hour and want a taste, check this short story out:
http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/fiction/td.asp
BTW I love the opening paragraphs of his stories.


I'm a big Lovecraft fan myself, and was wondering what your favorite stories of his are, Rafiki, or if you feel you've read enough of him to compile a list of favorites? My favorite one by him I think is the first one I read; and maybe it only is because it was my first taste into his world, I don't know, but its called "The Music of Erich Zann." It is a story that is more eerie and unsettling than true horror, but then, I think thats when he's at his best anyway. I highly recommend it, if you haven't read it.

PortFin
01-22-2012, 10:38 PM
Stephen King said that the Dark Tower series is his magnum opus, and even contemplated retiring after its completion.

I may read more, but I am afraid that after reading King's best, the others will be dull in comparison.

I've only read maybe five or six King books (haven't read any DT yet) but I really liked "'Salem's Lot," if you're looking for somewhere to start reading his others. Maybe someone whos read more King can offer better recommendations though. Sounds like Gonzo is familiar enough with him to offer up some good ones.