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What book(s) are you currently reading?

Posted: 2nd January 2012 21:04

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Quote (Kane @ 12th October 2011 02:13)


Anyway, outside of my classes, I just finished reading If on a Winter's Night a Traveler. It's a very strange novel

I fear I'm too late, but my god what a fantastic novel. Reading it when I was 19 completely blew my mind. aaaaaaah again! AGAIN!!!

I've just finished Naked Lunch by William Burroughs.. ugh. just, ugh. I enjoyed it for the most part but I guess I'm slightly too squeamish to get through it without being disturbed..

As a change of place I'm starting Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo today happy.gif

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Posted: 2nd January 2012 21:48

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Just finished The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. Liked it for the most part.

That If on a Winter's Night a Traveler sounds pretty interesting. I might give that a shot this year.
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Posted: 3rd January 2012 00:34

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Read The Tain, The Mabinogion and am now in the middle of Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman.

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Posted: 4th January 2012 14:30

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Quote (Blinge Odonata @ 2nd January 2012 17:04)

I've just finished Naked Lunch by William Burroughs.. ugh. just, ugh. I enjoyed it for the most part but I guess I'm slightly too squeamish to get through it without being disturbed...

Funny I'm reading that right now, amongst some other things, and I haven't been grossed out or felt squeamish at all. Mostly, I've been catching myself laughing out loud and trying to wipe my troll-face grin off my face.

Edit
...and the more I think about it, the more this seems like a personal problem.


This post has been edited by MogMaster on 4th January 2012 15:08

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If you've been mod-o-fied,
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Don't you be tarot-fied,
It's just alot of nothing, so what can it mean?
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Sins exist only for people who are on the Way or approaching the Way
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Posted: 9th January 2012 11:15

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I.. couldn't possibly comment. happy.gif

I did like how the characters floated back to the reader now and then through that nebulous mass... Dr. Benway especially, I found him rather memorable

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Posted: 9th January 2012 13:13

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Quote (Blinge Odonata @ 9th January 2012 07:15)
Dr. Benway especially, I found him rather memorable

Which is perfect, given what Benway was and what Burroughs was. To a... well, junky, the pusher is always vibrant, always interesting, always elevated to a position of the utmost interest. In fact, there likely isn't anybody on the planet more important to them, so it's rather natural that he would obtain such clarity and such a memorable nature in a book about being a skeevy opium eater. I like that regardless of the realism with which Burroughs portrays him (i.e as a backalley, underhanded, charlatan), for all these 'faults', Benway nevertheless stands out as a sort of Demi-God. It's a damn near perfect picture, in my opinion.

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If you've been mod-o-fied,
It's an illusion, and you're in-between.
Don't you be tarot-fied,
It's just alot of nothing, so what can it mean?
~Frank Zappa

Sins exist only for people who are on the Way or approaching the Way
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Posted: 9th January 2012 17:16

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Quote (Rangers51 @ 16th November 2011 08:20)
Anyway, back on topic - I just finished a book by Misha Glenny called DarkMarket: Cyberthieves, Cybercops, and You. After hearing an interview with the author, I thought it sounded like an entertaining book about the culture of online fraud. I was wrong. The source material was interesting enough, but the book itself was painful to read in a lot of ways; for one, I thought the author gave a lot of reverence to the criminals - while credit card scammers are certainly a very intelligent lot, I don't see any reason to treat them with the adulation the book seemed to at times. Additionally, there was a lot of editorializing for a book that I would have imagined better without it, especially when it came to just about any chance to point out how many times Western governments failed to keep cybercrime in line. Finally, there was obvious baiting to set up a sequel - which I found out actually did happen for Kindles just a few weeks ago.

If the concept of a look into the underworld of online fraud appeals to you, try to find another book. I might try Kevin Poulsen's soon, since he actually knows of which he speaks as a reformed hacker himself.

I just finished the book that I mentioned trying in this previous post, and it makes me rethink my scathing opinion of the first just a bit. Kingpin is a much, much better book overall - it's better written and the narrative feels less subjective. The case for feeling sympathetic towards the main figure is better made, so you feel a bit sympathetic towards him without it feeling like you're reading a love note to him.

I think if you're interested in the topic, there's enough that doesn't cross over where you can read DarkMarket as a precursor to Kingpin to get more of the whole story regarding the online credit card fraud of the last decade; the former focuses on European operations, and the latter has more of an American bent. The latter is still the better book by far, but it's interesting to see some of the same facts presented from the different angles you get from reading both.

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Posted: 10th January 2012 18:58

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Quote (MogMaster @ 9th January 2012 13:13)
Quote (Blinge Odonata @ 9th January 2012 07:15)
Dr. Benway especially, I found him rather memorable

It's a damn near perfect picture, in my opinion.

As is your analogy. smile.gif

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Posted: 27th January 2012 13:50

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The Difference Engine by William Gibson. I like the setting and writing style but I find it a bit difficult to follow.
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Posted: 28th January 2012 03:42

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Empire of the Summer Moon. Very enlightening, but man, so sad and graphic!
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Posted: 4th February 2012 11:13

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The Idiot. Again. I must be an idiot myself to have missed something in this book, considering I've read it like five times now. Nevertheless, I find Dostoevsky novels are ALWAYS better a second or third time through. One no longer wonders what's going to happen and pays more attention to the brilliant psychological portraits.

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If you've been mod-o-fied,
It's an illusion, and you're in-between.
Don't you be tarot-fied,
It's just alot of nothing, so what can it mean?
~Frank Zappa

Sins exist only for people who are on the Way or approaching the Way
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Posted: 4th February 2012 22:58

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I started the Idiot last year or so, but couldn't find any redeeming qualities in any of the characters or situations, and it felt like just watching train wreck after train wreck, so I gave up. I agree Dostoevsky is great at what he does ("painting brilliant psychological portraits"), and I'm sure he made a very good point in his portrayal of Russian aristocracy, but it's not something I personally found pertinent. Who knows, maybe I got a bad (English) translation or something...
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Posted: 5th February 2012 12:43

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Quote (finalalias @ 4th February 2012 18:58)
I started the Idiot last year or so, but couldn't find any redeeming qualities in any of the characters or situations, and it felt like just watching train wreck after train wreck, so I gave up.  I agree Dostoevsky is great at what he does ("painting brilliant psychological portraits"), and I'm sure he made a very good point in his portrayal of Russian aristocracy, but it's not something I personally found pertinent.  Who knows, maybe I got a bad (English) translation or something...

What I found endearing about Dostoevsky is that these characters of the Russian Aristocracy aren't so very different from the people you meet everywhere. Dostoevsky spent years in prison reading only the Russian Orthodox Bible, you also have to remember. Part of the reading experience with him is identifying how certain little social things never really change, but rather meta-morph ( I won't say Evolve, nor Devolve). I like that saying in Ecclesiastes, "...and there is no new thing under the sun", at the end of 1:9. When I read it, I'm personally astonished at how people are all still basically the same as they were back then. His description of sensations and facial expressions may seem like weeping and gnashing of the teeth to some extent, but there are times in all our lives where we might personally pull any number of the contorted expressions he so beautifully describes. It's all the small small details that he never skips.

This is merely a defense of its overall worth, on my part. Oftentimes when people read Dostoevsky in English, the standard for English translation is the Constance Garnett version, mostly, I think, because its copyright is up for free. Unfortunately, without further editing and annotation, her translations, aside from being... how shall I say this? somewhat in the pragmatic style of her time, she also leaves things like the French spoken when the aristocrats were being aristocratic untranslated. (I'm not sure if just knowing French is still in vogue amongst the rich in all of Europe still.) It certainly is possible to get other translations or, alternatively, the Barnes and Noble Editions of the Garnett translations offer additional annotation to clear up some of the problems of how foreign the book is.

No matter which way you slice it though, Dostoevsky is somewhat of a dry read, and certainly somewhat old. I find I enjoy the feeling of being transported back in time to a far corner of Europe for hours on end when reading him, and come back here to America in 2012 somewhat refreshed. I definitely wish I could recommend him to everyone, but I can't.

That said, I feel I should probably say that if "watching train wreck after train wreck" isn't your thing, it might be ok to assume he's not the author for you happy.gif .

Edit
And also, the Brothers Karamazov is a much less dramatic, and arguably better book by him if you ever did feel the need for a second crack. Much more overtly philisophical... more worldly, or "global" in a certain sense, despite how inescapably (and sometimes horribly) Russian it is.


This post has been edited by MogMaster on 5th February 2012 12:59

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If you've been mod-o-fied,
It's an illusion, and you're in-between.
Don't you be tarot-fied,
It's just alot of nothing, so what can it mean?
~Frank Zappa

Sins exist only for people who are on the Way or approaching the Way
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Posted: 12th February 2012 21:12

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I just today finished the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. While it can be a bit awkward to read as it has a tendency to jump forward and backward in time (it's organized mainly by time, but as it connects theme to theme it shifts backwards sometimes), it's a very interesting read.

I know not everyone likes Apple, and especially not Steve Jobs, and there's plenty to not like about him while reading his life story. The level to which he publicly was a massive... jerk... is miniscule compared to what a bastard he really could be. However, the same story tells how freaking smart he genuinely was, too. It's a really interesting read, though a bit long, and the guy really did have a pretty fascinating life. It was worth the couple weeks it took me to get through it.

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Posted: 13th February 2012 04:16

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I've been perusing Danielle Cadena Deulen's poetry collection Lovely Asunder, Sei Shonagon's The Pillow Book, and The Art of the Personal Essay (edited by Phillip Lopate), and I'm enjoying each of them immensely, as well as using them for inspiration for my latest essays.

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Posted: 20th March 2012 14:54

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I just finished Erin Morgenstern's debut novel, The Night Circus, a few minutes ago, as I have to return it to the library later today. It's a bit of a mystery fantasy love story, centered around a magical circus that runs only at night and travels Europe and North America nearly unnoticed; the mystery and love both come in as the reader tries to figure out how the two main characters both tie to the circus, and as those characters work out how they connect to one another.

I wasn't quite sure about it at first, as its narrative hook requires that you pay a lot of attention to where and when certain events are taking place in order to follow them. Characters at first seem to be introduced almost at random, as well; however, once you reach the second half of the book, and the ends start to chain together, it creates really beautiful imagery and a lovely melancholy.

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Posted: 7th April 2012 20:18

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I finished the Tim Tebow book a few weeks ago and I thought it was really good. Lately I have been reading The Lord of the Rings and have about a fourth of The Fellowship of the Ring to finish. I've enjoyed reading it, however.
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Posted: 7th April 2012 22:48

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I've been going through "Physics of the Impossible" by Michio Kaku, in audio-book form during my commutes to work. People usually skimmed over this kind of stuff in the Physics Department when I was getting my degree, but it's almost always the kind of stuff that people talk about outside of school. That's why I wanted to read it, and so far it's been satisfactory.

One thing I wish is that I could play the audio-book at double-speed 'cause the cadence of the reader combined with the style makes things seem to drag on sometimes, but it's not unbearable. I find myself wishing the same thing for other audio books from time to time.
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Posted: 7th April 2012 22:56

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I usually don't get drawn into books over hyped by people and the media until the hooplah has died down. But I'm making an exception for A Game of Thrones. 125 pages in, and I can already tell its worth every positive review its received.

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Posted: 15th April 2012 22:29

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Just finished up a book called Monsters in America by a professor of history at the College of Charleston. I picked it up on a whim from my library when I was just there killing time after taking the baby out for a walk a couple weeks back. The book's a dissertation on the nature of creature and horror stories and how they mirror the times in which they originate, from Puritan religious intolerance sparking witch trials in the 18th century to the Twilight books as a reference for neoconservative gender politics. I thought the various discussions of 20th century pop culture were the most interesting, as they were the most relatable, and partially because I'd studied a number of them before many years ago at university. Pretty clever book overall, but as you would expect from a historical dissertation, a bit dry even given the subject matter. smile.gif

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Posted: 16th April 2012 08:53

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Lovecraft's mountains of madness.

The book is a little difficult to read,because it was written in the 20's? or possibly the 30's,so he writes with very fancy british english writing,rather than americanized.He is from the same place as steven king:New england,or at least i think stephen king was from new england.

The writing actually reminds me more of a adventure thriller than a direct thriller.There is a ton of exploration and aliens.
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Posted: 26th May 2012 16:05

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Just started Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake.

wowww... Castle Gormenghast.. what a setting.
It was meant as an obvious critique on tradition and monarchy, especially in Britian I think..
and it really fits

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Posted: 26th May 2012 16:30

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I LOVE the Gormenghast trilogy, but the third book (Titus Alone) is a step down. The companion short story that was made later is just as trippy.

Recently finished Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard. Pure entertainment. The man has awesome dialog and utterly unpredictable plots. Will not be my last Leonard novel.

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Posted: 4th June 2012 06:14

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Bram Stoker's Dracula. Pretty awesome stuff.
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Posted: 4th June 2012 15:17

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I have that on audiobook; I should listen to it sometime.

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Posted: 4th June 2012 18:10

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I just started the books of the new sun. Has anyone else read these excellent novels? If not, I wholeheartedly recommend them.

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Posted: 11th July 2012 14:04

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Quote (Magitek_slayer @ 16th April 2012 04:53)
Lovecraft's mountains of madness.

The book is a little difficult to read,because it was written in the 20's? or possibly the 30's,so he writes with very fancy british english writing,rather than americanized.He is from the same place as steven king:New england,or at least i think stephen king was from new england.

The writing actually reminds me more of a adventure thriller than a direct thriller.There is a ton of exploration and aliens.

Ha, I wanted to put an Aboleth in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign, so I read that over an afternoon not too long ago. If I'm not mistaken, it's just a bit longer than Call of Cthulu? Lovecraft had... issues. He was an American Anglophile, who never ceased off beating himself up for not getting a proper college education, mostly due to his extreme poverty and the fact that he was pretty much insane. I've never tallied this against him, however. In fact, it's what I love about him. The "horror" of Lovecraft, is less the sort of horror that Poe came about with before him, and more the horror of the scientific mind striving to make sense of things that are inherently insensible to them. It's a different horror for a different generation, and I feel it doesn't help or lend him credit that he's been so overdone at this point.

Cthulu plush dolls. Nuff said. (;,;)

I just recently finished Atlas Shrugged, against the advice of pretty much everyone I've ever met who's read it. I now get to add my voice to theirs in telling people to avoid Ayn Rand. She comes off as though she read all of Nietzsche then ran with about a third of what he said, then proceeded to tell the world that all philosophy was bunk but her. Despite my problems with Ms.Rand, I won't take away from the book the merit it deserves in certain areas, like the realm of self-esteem. No joke though, I finished the damn paperweight, then proceeded to laugh out loud for about two minutes straight. I then climbed on my roof and smoked a cigarette with a huge grin. It was a big TL;DR, so far as I'm concerned. It had the length and pacing of a Dostoevsky novel without any of the redeeming features he would throw in that depicted humans as being humans, and not wooden cutouts(or as she says, "sharpened" images of man). It's interesting to note that Rand was from Russia, and read Dostoevsky. Wikipedia cites him as an influence, but I only see it in parts of the novel's structure, and not the ideas or characters at all. Again, there are certainly some good things to be said about the novel and the points she raises, but it's not anything I'd recommend to just anybody. My largest qualm is that Rand simply doesn't know how to laugh, and this humorless attitude carries over into her work. It isn't for nothing that she was depressed in her private life and developed an addiction to amphetamines. This, from the woman who wrote a book about how by living one's life in such and such a way, we should be happy. I find this telling. I largely read the work to spite critics who said it's a book that nobody should read, and while I agree that it's ultimately a failure, I feel this is no detriment to any author, and, in a strange way, I relate her in my head to Franz Kafka.

Since then, I picked up The Possessed/The Devils by Dostoevsky again, and am thoroughly enjoying it this third time through.

Edit
My Cthulu emoticon turned into a winking face, haha, whoops.


This post has been edited by MogMaster on 11th July 2012 14:06

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If you've been mod-o-fied,
It's an illusion, and you're in-between.
Don't you be tarot-fied,
It's just alot of nothing, so what can it mean?
~Frank Zappa

Sins exist only for people who are on the Way or approaching the Way
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Posted: 11th July 2012 20:46

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Cheers on reading Lovecraft, by the way, he's one of my favorites. I keep the full collections of his works on hand and am usually in the middle of one of his stories or the other. Currently I'm in the middle of The Shadow Out of Time at the moment, my favored of the novellas. Honestly I wouldn't say he was insane, his life was difficult and left him a little unbalanced, but not crazy. If you want crazy, look at Poe. To be quite frank, I never liked his style and found him more morbid and as worrysome as an angst ridden teen.

Aside from Lovecraft, I usually have a number of books going at the same time so I can switch up genres when I need a dose of something else. At the moment I'm in Dragon's Winter by Elizabeth A. Lynn, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (For probably the 12th time. :3 ), A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs ( Again. Yes, I did it! I read it before the movie was a twinkle in Disney's eye! Mwahaha.) and The Zero Stone by Andre Norton (Again.)

I recently tried to read the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins but had to put it down in the middle of MockingJay. I will usually pursue a book to it's ending no matter how much I dislike it, but this one I just could not. I admit to being one of the rarity's that sees too many direct pulls from Koushun Takami's Battle Royale, which bothers me a bit more than I thought it would have. Aside from that, I find the characters dull and the issues the the author tries to captivate the reader with to be far from the more interesting points of the story. I'll probably try to finish it again someday, but for right now I can't. I think it's a great novel for young people in their early teens, but being the kid that read Frank Herbert's Dune at 13-14 it just doesn't appeal to me.

As a side, MogMaster, I saw Cthulhu until you pointed out the winking face. ;-;
I don't have a problem! 8D

This post has been edited by St Khael on 11th July 2012 20:46

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Posted: 11th July 2012 23:27

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Dragoon
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For the last month and a half, I have been re-reading the Harry Potter series. I felt this urge to do it for a long time, and I figured after knocking out Lord of the Rings in the spring, that I'd read Harry Potter over the summer. I'm near the end of Order of the Phoenix currently.
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Posted: 12th July 2012 13:41

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Holy Swordsman
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Quote (St Khael @ 11th July 2012 16:46)
Cheers on reading Lovecraft, by the way, he's one of my favorites. I keep the full collections of his works on hand and am usually in the middle of one of his stories or the other. Currently I'm in the middle of The Shadow Out of Time at the moment, my favored of the novellas. Honestly I wouldn't say he was insane, his life was difficult and left him a little unbalanced, but not crazy. If you want crazy, look at Poe. To be quite frank, I never liked his style and found him more morbid and as worrysome as an angst ridden teen...

Unbalanced is a shade too light of a word, I maintain. Then again, my favorite philosopher was Nietzsche, who was believed to be a syphilitic (as was Lovecraft's father), and most certainly did go catatonic-insane. The utmost clarity and lucidity, such as that exhibited by Lovecraft, for example, is no guarantee of sanity happy.gif . The man was depressed from a lifetime of poverty and disappointments incongruous to his self-image, and also suffered from night-terrors from a very young age. Don't forget that his family had a history of mental illness, too. Full blown cuckoo, in the fashion of the Mad-Hatter, isn't what I'm suggesting, but insanity, as a general term, surely fits the bill. By way of exonerating insanity from it's typically pejorative connotations, I mention that the proto-psychologist, William James, in his Varieties of Religious Experience, puts forth the idea that types of insanity are useful as a way of enlarging, in the fashion of a microscope, certain parts of the brain that everybody has, but are disproportionately exaggerated in said individuals of questionable balance. A truth is a truth is a truth, regardless of it's provenance. That said, I personally maintain that all truths have an extremely subjective weight wink.gif .

Quote

...I recently tried to read the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins but had to put it down in the middle of MockingJay. I will usually pursue a book to it's ending no matter how much I dislike it, but this one I just could not. I admit to being one of the rarity's that sees too many direct pulls from Koushun Takami's Battle Royale, which bothers me a bit more than I thought it would have...


This is the number one reason I never cared to read Hunger Games. I had seen Battle Royale back in high-school, and when this whole cultural uproar started, given the arguably less brutal story of Hunger Games, I found myself apathetic towards it. Quite frankly, the whole thing bores me, and if I wanted to go in for something pulpy, I have a thousand other options at my disposal that would actually expand some concepts I haven't already been familiar with since I was fifteen. I don't even intend to see the movie.

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