Archive for the ‘books’ Category
3:AM Magazine has posted an English translation of an interview of Lars Iyer by Antônio Xerxenesky from the IMS blog.
New Statesman has another interview with Iyer that manages to cover completely different material. Too many writers recycle the same stock answers even when presented with different questions. Iyer isn’t one of them.
I confess that I haven’t read any of Iyer’s books yet. His blog and now his Twitter account have been regular reading for years. Bill’s pushed his novels on me several times, but never followed through. It’s time to read them, as Iyer always inspires me to be a better reader.1
- I’ve been on a long jag of genre fiction and comic books, which is very fun, but these diversions are becoming the primary diet. [↩]
It seems that the people of Timbuktu knew the score with the Islamist militants and pulled the old switcheroo on them, hiding most of the manuscripts (many of them gems of history of both Islam and Africa) before the town was taken. Only a few hundred, rather than all 300,000, were destroyed. They counted on the illiteracy of the rebels. The trick isn’t going to work twice unfortunately.
I don’t know what to think. I admire the idealism of the citizens of Timbuktu, as they have kept them preserved for all of these years and their resourcefulness has saved them yet again. they also have a noble ambition to keep the documents available to everyone. However, these documents are kept under less than ideal environmental conditions and there are too many hateful, ignorant people hellbent on destroying all art and knowledge in the vain attempt to placate their petty god.
Orthofer over at the Literary Saloon points out that Stanislaw Lem’s Summa Techologiae is being published in English for the first time. Hell, yes. I probably was dimly been aware of this, but it’s hard to keep track of this stuff when one is an easily distracted flake. The new excitement overwhelms any memory of anticipation.
This winter I tried filling in a few more missing pieces of Lem’s work in my library. One of the books was A Stanislaw Lem Reader. (Thank you, Peter Swirski and Northwestern University Press.) It was amazing work, but as Orthofer points out, some of Lem’s ideas now come across as a bit dated. But also like him, I’m still in awe of Lem. That was one hell of a mind.
(Also, I’m embarrassed to admit that Philip K. Dick’s Exegenesis has been on my shelf for over a year, and I stalled out pretty early, despite some conscientious returns to pick through it. )
Aw, I reckon that I’ll read David Shields’ new book How Literature Saved My Life. His Reality Hunger seemed fun at the time. Although I don’t recall what I came away with, it’ll be bound to be more fun than the mountain of erotica my damned company has decided to replace our normal New Arrivals feature with (and it’s always sorely lacking.) The bulk of my reading this past month is genre fiction with no pretense of it being anything else. Some naval gazing and literary anecdotes might be a good jolt out of rut, as I’ve resorted to giving another shot to Lev Grossman’s The Magician King, as I loathe his writing so much that it’s bound to provoke some kind of reaction.1
- How does Grossman get away with this shit? Some superhero comics from Marvel and DC right now are better than this, and the man is regarded by some Americans as a serious writer who is saying something. Mediocrity! Sycophant! Bottom feeding scum… [↩]
New Directions blog has a post on a panel discussion with Bolaño’s English translators. Bolaño’s natural cadence in his writing that makes me coming back to him and it’s amazing that both of his translators manage to deliver something I believe is his actual voice, forgetting sometimes that I’m reading translations.
Hell, I don’t think I was even aware New Directions has a blog now and it’s been going for over a year. Oops.
Do i need to read Ladislav Klíma? Probably, but I’m too lazy. André Pieyre de Mandiargues is familiar, but…
You don’t even want to know how I’ve been pronouncing his last name.
I didn’t have a clue this was out. Oops. Kinda pricey for so short of a book though.
I’ve been on a science fiction jag recently. Most of my teens were spent buried in science fiction. Nostalgia was getting the best of me and with all of the possible changes in the near future, something comforting from the past seemed in order.
- The Windup Girl. Paolo Bacigalupi. The idea was to read Hugo and Nebula winners. It won both. This damned thing gave me fits. There were some cool ideas. The world was larger again, as global travel nearly dies after the oil runs out. Genetic engineering has wrecked the ecosystem and nearly destroyed the world’s food resources, partly by accident and partly through ruthless releases of diseases, intending to make populations dependent on patent controlled crops. Global warming has also played havoc with the environment and many cities are drowned, as most are at sea level. There exists a class of humans considered subhuman machines, as they were designed for specific tasks, called windups. The book is set in Thailand… ooo… exotic! Unfortunately, the book doesn’t ring true. Despite the many ideas, they’re repeatedly incessantly, as if they are forgotten only sentences later. The characters come across like partial amnesiacs, having to recite the same plot points and descriptions. Much of the text winds up being redundant. This reviewer on Amazon explains the problem well, guessing it’s lack of quality editing. And that rape scene? Completely and utterly unnecessary. I wasn’t offended so much as confused as to why it was so graphic, when there was a gruesome murder of a viewpoint character that was relatively glossed over.
- Leviathan Wakes. James S.A. Corey. It was funny to see sci-fi fanboys losing their shit over this one as it was labeled a “space opera” but doesn’t even cross the galaxy. The audacity! Anyway, it was very much like the old stuff I once read so it’s easy to wave off its faults. The setting is familiar to anyone to read late Golden Age material, when enough was known about the solar system that all of the futurists had divied up the planets and moons for whatever resources needs humankind would need. Minerals and metals in asteroid belt. Water and gases from the giant planets. Farms on certain moons of Jupiter and on Mars. Very Heinlein in that sense. (I saw mention of Niven in a review, but oddly, not sure if I ever read Niven back in the day.) Very old-fashioned science fiction. Derivative. Meat & potatoes. It grabs from the crime noir and horror genres. I liked it. The damned thing was solid entertainment, instead of a short story masquerading as a true novel.
- Redshirts. John Scalzi. Cute. Metafiction for the masses. That’s not necessarily all that innovative either, as i have dim memories of that syndicated tv series Hercules pulling the same thing. (Yeah, it pains me to admit i’ve seen and remember that.) It’s not as the nerdy community isn’t familiar with this style of fiction. For that matter, the book felt like a television show. The two codas worked better for me than actual novel, with the second one being schmaltzy but poignant for this kind of book.
Blaise Cendrars’ The Astonished Man and Roberto Bolaño’s The Return have been added to the ever-growing stack of books underway, but it’s likely the fun pulp that I’ll be sticking with for awhile.