Slow down on the interesting parts, speed up on the several long detailed parts. (The bit about building the temple is about as interesting as a 600-page book of blueprints.)
Funny, “It” is one of the only books I’ve read where I distinctly remember the reading experience. My parents dragged me along to go “antiquing” with their friends one day when I was about 11 or 12. I had no interest in the crap they were looking at at the various stores we went to, so I just plopped down in antique chairs/couches at a dozen or so stores and plowed through the book in one (multiple) sittings over that very long day.
I guess I should add it was a pretty fucked up book to read as a 12 year old, but the most fucked up parts, I couldn’t understand anyway
…should we avoid spoilers?
Lucky, lucky sod! My mother was an antiques dealer. I still have PADSS (Post Antiques Dealer Suppression Shock).
Depends how far he’s got.
I mean if he’s on the Old Testament, “I say unto you” and beards, big fuck off beards… OK, yeah, I’m stealing Eddie Izzard’s line here.
I skipped ahead to the ending. I am not reading it in order, that way I am ready to stab out my eyes somewhere in the Book of Numbers. So far I’ve read I Samuel, Isaiah, about 30 of the psalms, Matthew, Efesians, Galatians, Romans, the epistles of John, and the epistle of James.
Deuteronomy and Leviticus are really good for sharpening up the ol’ homicidal urges. And Song of Solomon - why, yeah! That just fits right in with the whole narrative, don’t it? Aren’t you seduced by those dulcet verses? (Actually, I think that book is all code that nobody’s cracked yet. Either a FTL drive or a recipe for really killer matzo balls.)
Oryx and Crake (Audible version) by Margaret Atwood
I want to like Atwood. Really I do. I got bored of The Blind Assassin 132 pages in (she should be proud; I’ve managed 31 pages of Atonement - twice), yet I ploughed through The Handmaid’s Tale feeling fully rewarded. So, enjoying the first part of the MaddAddam trilogy is most pleasing.
Here is one of the greats thinking through the minutae deeply (in a way my current read* doesn’t), creating a rich, dystopic world, and a wonderful character in Snowman. Most of the story is how we reached this point in flashback, through Snowman’s eyes, which is useful because he is the prime witness, but Atwood handles this seemlessly.
While I enjoyed the book, I found the narrative to be uneven, ranging between the Atwood over-worked passages I’m familiar with, and seemingly unedited and quite cringey verbal exchanges later on in the book. Snowman’s character also seems to have minor inconsistencies - particularly when you compare the start and finish. Where are the editors? Fortunately, the tale is engaging enough to ride roughshod through all that. I’ll certainly read ‘The Year of the Flood’ some time next year.
Side note: Some of the ‘old world’ corporations have a similar ‘product’ to a company I created for the ‘Tharg’s Future Shocks’ pitch I submitted to the slush pile mid-September. One of those corporations’ names is phonetically similar to my creation. I’d like to say great minds think alike, but it’s a pretty obvious choice considering the ‘product’.
- I’m 30% of the way through Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time.
Yeah, I read it when I was fifteen or sixteen or so, and it still terrified me.
I love that novel. Kind of reread it this year, as I was having the pupils read it in class (dystopian fiction is one of the topics in the final years).
Oh it didn’t terrify me. I don’t think I’ve ever been scared from reading a book, actually… but reading about a little kid orgy is probably not the best thing when you’re still basically a little kid, right?
Fun fact, Stephen king was who first introduced me to the word “cunt”, which I had read in I think… cujo, and didn’t understand, and asked my dad to explain to me, completely innocently, as we went for a stroll around the neighborhood. I still remember the look on his face!
In a way, I suppose it’s a better age to read about that than to read it as an adult. If you know what I mean.
Mostly I just found kings stuff pretty easy to read at that age, in a mechanical sense, despite the occasional unfamiliar word. I think quite a few of my middle school teachers were horrified at what I was bringing to school, though…
I listened to Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature (The Great Courses - through Audible) presented by Professor Pamela Bedore during the summer. I really enjoyed the lectures, and there’s a decent 243-page guidebook to go with it. I’d already read several dystopian novels (The Road being top of the tree for me), and picked up the excellent Station Eleven as recommended by the prof.
I’ve decided to embark on David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. I’ve put it off for a while, intimidated by its length (over 1,400 pages in the 20th anniversary edition) and by reports citing its non-traditional nature. 50 pages in, it seems really good so far, but then I think about how Murakami’s 1Q84 lured me in, and I begin to panic…
Of course, I loved 1Q84, so I have high hopes for Jest.
Oh, cool, those Great Courses sound good… I’ll have to have a look at that.
In class, though, I like to distinguish between post-apocalyptic fiction (The Road, and I think Station Eleven, too (will see if I find the time to read that!)) and dystopian fiction (1984, Brave New World etc.). That’s mainly because you’d give different assignments for analysis in these genres - dystopian fiction as it’s commonly understood depicts a future society in which societal trends of the present are extrapolated to warn against them, whereas in post-apocalyptic fiction, society is broken down to its bare bones.
Of course, Oryx and Crake is both, depending on whether we’re talking about Snowman or Jimmy
Yes, I can understand that. I think for the purposes of her discussions, Prof. Bedore was less concerned about whether the fictional causes were societal, environmental or political, but more how the world we end up in is seen from within and without the text, giving consideration to the context of the time the text was written. She also explores how writers have used the subject to philosophise their ideas, and to show how what can be a utopia for some is a dystopia for others.
I used my monthly Audible credits to buy this course and others (‘How Great Science Fiction Works’ and ‘Masterpieces of the Imaginative Mind: Literature’s Most Fantastic Works’) - it’s far more cost effective.
Were-sharks and Nazi leprechauns: the rise and fall of the horror paperback
The books Hendrix studied – which are largely out of print – feature “Jewish monster brides, sex witches from the fourth dimension, flesh-eating moths, homicidal mimes … golems stalking Long Island”, he writes. They were written for supermarkets and drugstores, and according to Hendrix, they are “timeless in the way that truly matters: they will not bore you”.
“Thrown into the rough-and-tumble marketplace, the writers learned they had to earn every reader’s attention. And so they delivered books that move, hit hard, take risks, go for broke. It’s not just the covers that hook your eyeballs. It’s the writing, which respects no rules except one: always be interesting,” he writes.
Hendrix says he loves the horror genre because it literalises everyday terrors. “Anxious about being a first-time homeowner? Here’s a book where the house you bought wants to kill you and you can only abandon your down payment and run screaming into the night. Do you have a hard time being understood by others? Here’s a book about a woman transformed into a skinless monster who can only howl with rage and murder everyone around her. Dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder after coming home from combat? Here’s a book about a veteran who moves to the countryside to get away from it all only to discover that he’s living in a house haunted by the ghost of witch who wants to drive him insane.”
But Hendrix’s favourite, he says, is “the animal attacks novels that that came out in the wake of Peter Benchley’s Jaws and James Herbert’s The Rats”, both published in 1974.
“For some reason, animals really love to eat British people, and Great Britain became to animal attacks what Japan was to giant monster attacks,” he says. “You guys have been invaded by killer dogs, cats, lizards, moths, crabs, jellyfish, maggots, rabbits, frogs, pigs, geese and slugs, and that’s just off the top of my head. I love the idea that animals are sick and tired of our baloney and that all of them, from ducks to border collies, have declared open season on anything that wears socks.”
I will be buying this book.
I spent my October reading a bunch of Bradbury, Gaiman and Harlan Ellison short stories…moving onto strictly comics for the month of November…BUT I’m cheating a bit and listening to Layer Cake by J.J Connolly on audiobook. It’s read by Paul Thornely and it’s friggin’ perfect. I’m from the U.S so there’s nothing quite like listening to it in an authentic accent.