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What non-comics are you reading these days?


#2032

Read A CITY DREAMING.

There were some good ideas here, fun and funny. The actual writing I thought was very mediocre. Would have worked better, I think, as a comic, where the one or two good lines would have sung and the rest could have been cut.

But as someone who lives in New York, and has lived in what I’d consider to be the two sides of New York: I found this understanding of the city to be very one note, and very white. I know the people who live in THAT city exclusively, and one gets the sense that he probably moved to New York and has forever existed in it, but for me it is the much less interesting, inspiring New York, completely cleaved from history and community and anything of substance.

More than anything, after, it made me want to write a story-as-rebuke, because this is too often the New York that makes it to page, and the city is much more than that (and that is being eroded, which is something else that should be talked about more).


#2033

The Oceanic Languages


#2034

Dracula.

Found my copy, so re-reading it. It’s one of those I can do so on a regular basis, and just drift away to the Carpathians or Victorian London.


#2035

Having finished this, my feelings on it haven’t really changed. It’s perhaps a bit too enigmatic for its own good, but knowing that it’s positioned as the start of a trilogy means there’s still space to explore some of its ideas further.

I feel like the movie is bound to depart from the book quite significantly, though. I can’t really imagine this working as a film otherwise.


#2036

I’ve been listening to the audiobooks of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, read by Douglas Adams.

I just got to the end of Life, The Universe, and Everything, which I remember being disappointed in the first time I read it. I loved it this time around though, and would probably put it above The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

There’s some stuff that doesn’t work, like how Trillian, Zaphod, and Marvin disappear for most of the book and then show up when the plot needs them, but most of the rest holds up for me, like all the anti-war bits.

I remember not liking So Long… when I was a teenager, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that is for me now.


#2037

The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night aka Burton’s Arabian Nights


#2038

In January I finished a different version of The Arabian Nights based on the French adaptation, which apparently leaves out some of the more risqué narrative than the Burton version. Lucky you. :wink:


#2039

I started reading Comics and Sequential Art by Will Eisner
It is not a comic so I guess it can fall under this topic.


#2040

I was looking specifically for the Burton version, as that includes the Tale of Sindbad the Sailor (Which he renders as “The Seamen”; My inner teen giggled; reminds me of these:



)
because I was inspired to read it from the fact that my old Arabic book (It was the Modern Standard, and not the Levantine dialect (Ash-Shami that I would use if I went to Israel and the disputed territories, and needed to interact with a Old City Jerusalemite Arab (Qudsi), a Golani Druze, a member of the Lebanese double-agents for the IDF against Hezbollah, who if their was a strong risk of being exposed Israel would secretly transport them to Israel, give them refugee status, and settle them in special villages in the Galilee, or a Negev Bedouin, but my University library had a text for learning Levantine (Ash-Shami) Arabic, which the Queens PL and the NYPL don’t have at all.) had readings from Sindbad the Sailor (though they changed the name of Sindbad the Porter to Hindbad the Porter.).

#2041

Gonna be starting RAILSEA (Mieville) and Letters from Chernobyl, from the same author/reporter as SECONDHAND TIME, which is one of the best things I’ve ever read.


#2042

I’m still not a fan of So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish.

It’s barely a Hitchhiker’s book (no Zaphod, no Trillian, and no plot) and is more of a quirky romcom. This would be okay, except it’s not a very good quirky romcom.

The prologue says that this book is Fenchurch’s story, but she’s barely a character. She mostly just exists for Arthur to be obsessed with. It’s a shame, as some of the hints at her story are somewhat interesting. The other characters introduced are okay too, but they don’t really do anything. They just exist.

There’s a few great moments, like Arthur showing Fenchurch how to fly for the first time, and the ending with God’s Final Message and Marvin. Mostly, though, it seems like Adams had a bunch of jokes about subjects like rain, California, and dating, and wrote a book around them (the infamous biscuit thief anecdote shows up as part of Arthur’s past and feels very forced).

I much preferred Mostly Harmless, even though it was much darker than I remembered.

It feels very episodic (most of the other books happen over a day or two, years pass in this one), and it struggles to fit all the pieces together, but it does better than I expected at it.

Not all of it works (Trillian’s character feels off, but that could just be that she never had much of a character before, and the Elvis diner scene feels tacky and too obvious), but I enjoyed it.

If it was really supposed to be the final book though, it has one of the darkest series endings ever with the entire cast all dying pointlessly and the Vogons winning.

I also read And Another Thing, the Eoin Colfer-written sixth book from 2009. I remember thinking it was okay when it came out, but listening to it just after the other five, it’s pretty painful in places.

Aside from not being funny enough, it’s far too long, over double the length of most of the other books. Being edited down probably wouldn’t make it good, but it would help. It doesn’t help that Simon Jones isn’t a very good narrator either, after five books narrated by Adams.

There’s some good bits (the God interviews are fun, and the final Vogon attack is good), and it tries to give Trillian her own storyline (though that storyline is awful), but it mostly feels like fan-fiction that’s trying too hard.

I’m now on to the Dirk Gently books (read by Adams), which I’m really enjoying.

I’d forgotten that Dirk doesn’t really turn up until halfway through Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, or the first half having so much setup. I always pictured Dirk being in his mid-40s too, but he’s only eight years out of college, so he’s probably only in his late twenties.


#2043

Many years ago I read Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon, and it blew my mind. It was the most audacious, unconventional piece of SF I’d ever read at that point. It has no plot, no characters, it’s just a dry, matter-of-fact “history” of the next four billon years of human evolution. I knew Stapledon had another infamous SF book, Star Maker, that I intended to find read some day.

Well, it’s taken me 30 years, but I’ve now read Star Maker.

It is the most audacious, unconventional piece of SF I’ve ever read. In Star Maker, Stapledon obviously decided his scope was a bit small in his previous book, and so he sets out to describe the entire universe. He starts small, looking at a few years of history on a single planet (and there are obvious political points being made about the 1930s that he was writing in), then he moves out to cover all the planets in our galaxy, then all the other galaxies, covering billons of years. His ideas just get bigger and madder, as he explains the wars between stars and galaxies (not the people living around the stars, the stars themselves) and the ultimate birth of a universal consciousness. Then he explains all the universes before this one, and all the unverses after it, and finally talks about the being (the “Star Maker”) that created everything.

I can’t do it justice in a few sentences. The whole concept of the book is insane, and it shouldn’t work, it should be unreadable (in parts it is difficult to read, given the dry, academic, style and philosophical subject matter), and yet it’s so rewarding to read.

I really, really recommend this book. But I doubt I’ll ever want to read it again. (Though I do plan to re-read Last and First Men now.)


#2044

I’ve been listening to the Beware of the Leopard podcast - an A to Z rundown of the Hitchhikers Guide books - recently (catching up with the backlog) and had been toying with rereading the books. I think I’m going to commit and do it after reading your post.


#2045

Jesus Christ. I’ve just now put down and finished Alan moore’s Jerusalem. I can honestly say this is the most challenging and exhausting thing I’ve ever read, and I scarcely know how to talk about it beyond that.


#2046

You had the luck of missing the N-word.


#2047

You and me both, good sir.


#2048

Been reading Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian, which in hindsight seems like it ought to have been marketed as a young adult book, because the writing is about at that level.


#2049

Mary Shelley also spent time in Dundee as teenager and stated that that was the time her literary imagination was sparked off.

Apparently she also witnessed some guy demonstrating the movement induced in dismembered frog’s legs by the application of electricity at that time.


#2050

Also, Scotch.


#2051

Well… was it worth it?