Most overrated writer/movement ever? Maybe. These guys are just fuck-ups. Silver spoon kids (mostly) with really high IQs, who lacked work ethic, selfMost overrated writer/movement ever? Maybe. These guys are just fuck-ups. Silver spoon kids (mostly) with really high IQs, who lacked work ethic, self control, and integrity/morals. Why do people suck off the Beats so much? Is it because they did so many drugs? Wow. Super. Is it because they all slept with each other and homosexuality is interesting and cool? Fuck off. Is it because they went on road trips? I went on a road trip. Is it because Kerouac wanted to fuck his mom and Oedipus complexes are so interesting and relevant? In a 20th century context, sorry, but Oedipus complexes are just disgusting.
There's a lot of revisionist history associated with the Beats. Why their lifestyle is so romanticized now is beyond me....more
"When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature. If a writer can make people live there"When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature. If a writer can make people live there may be no great characters in his book, but it is possible that his book will remain as a whole; as an entity; as a novel. If the people the writer is making talk of old masters; of music; of modern painting; of letters; or of science then they should talk about those subjects in the novel. If they do not talk of those subjects and the writer makes them talk of them he is a faker, and if he talks about them himself to show how much he knows then he is showing off. No matter how good a phrase or a simile he may have if he puts it in where it is not absolutely necessary and irreplaceable he is spoiling his work for egotism. Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over. For a writer to put his own intellectual musings, which he might sell for a low price as essays, into the mouths of artificially constructed characters which are more remunerative when issued as people in a novel is good economics, perhaps, but does not make literature. People in a novel, not skillfully constructed characters, must be projected from the writer's assimilated experience, from his knowledge, from his head, from his heart and from all there is of him. If he ever has luck as well as seriousness and gets them out entire they will have more than one dimension and they will last a long time. A good writer should know as near everything as possible. Naturally he will not. A great enough writer seems to be born with knowledge. But he really is not; he has only been born with the ability to learn in a quicker ratio to the passage of time than other men and without conscious application, and with an intelligence to accept or reject what is already presented as knowledge. There are some things which cannot be learned quickly and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are the very simplest things and because it takes a man's life to know them the little new that each man gets from life is very costly and the only heritage he has to leave. Every novel which is truly written contributes to the total of knowledge which is there at the disposal of the next writer who comes, but the next writer must pay, always, a certain nominal percentage in experience to be able to understand and assimilate what is available as his birth-right and what he must, in turn, take his departure from. If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an ice-berg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. A writer who omits things because he does not know them only makes hollow places in his writing. A writer who appreciates the seriousness of writing so little that he is anxious to make people see he is formally educated, cultured or well-bred is merely a popinjay. And this too remember; a serious writer is not to be confounded with a solemn writer. A serious writer may be a hawk or a buzzard or even a popinjay, but a solemn writer is always a bloody owl."...more
probably the worst book i've read in a few years. horrible writing. wordy. trite. no appealing characters. promising storyline turned far-fetched. lotprobably the worst book i've read in a few years. horrible writing. wordy. trite. no appealing characters. promising storyline turned far-fetched. lotta holes. pathetic.
on a positive note, this book was so bad that it inspired me. several reputable names gave this book good reviews (chicago tribune, san francisco chronicle, nytimes review). i can do much better than this....more
"It was shameless how life made fun of one; it was a joke, a cause for weeping! Either one lived and let one's senses play, drank full at the primitiv"It was shameless how life made fun of one; it was a joke, a cause for weeping! Either one lived and let one's senses play, drank full at the primitive mother's breast--which brought great bliss but was no protection against death; then one lived like a mushroom in the forest, colorful today and rotten tomorrow. One else one put up a defense, imprisoned oneself for work and tried to build a monument to the fleeting passage of life--then one renounced life, was nothing but a tool; one enlisted in the service of that which endured, but one dried up in the process and lost one's freedom, scope, lust for life....
"Ach, life made sense only if one achieved both, only if it was not split by this brutal alternative! To create without sacrificing one's senses for it. To live without renouncing the nobility of creating. Was that possible?"...more
"No man has earned the right to intellectual ambition until he has learned to lay his course by a star which he has never seen—to dig by the divining"No man has earned the right to intellectual ambition until he has learned to lay his course by a star which he has never seen—to dig by the divining rod for springs which he may never reach. In saying this, I point to that which will make your study heroic. For I say to you in all sadness of conviction, that to think great thoughts you must be heroes as well as idealists. Only when you have worked alone—when you have felt around you a black gulf of solitude more isolating than that which surrounds the dying man, and in hope and in despair have trusted to your own unshaken will—then only will you have achieved. Thus only can you gain the secret isolated joy of the thinker, who knows that, a hundred years after he is dead and forgotten, men who never heard of him will be moving to the measure of his thought—the subtile rapture of a postponed power, which the world knows not because it has no external trappings, but which to his prophetic vision is more real than that which commands an army."...more
“There was, for starters, the tendency of everyone who actually played the game to generalize wildly from his own experience. People always thought th“There was, for starters, the tendency of everyone who actually played the game to generalize wildly from his own experience. People always thought their own experience was typical when it wasn’t.”
“The point about Lenny, at least to Billy, was clear: Lenny didn’t let his mind screw him up. The physical gifts required to play pro ball were, in some ways, less extraordinary than the mental ones. Only a psychological freak could approach a 100-mph fastball aimed not all that far from his head with total confidence. ‘Lenny was perfectly designed, emotionally, to play the game of baseball,’ said Billy. ‘He was able to instantly forget any failure and draw strength from every success. He had no concept of failure. And he had no idea of where he was. And I was the opposite.”
“You didn’t need to know Billy Beane at all—you only needed to read his stats—to sense that he left every on-deck circle in trouble. That he had developed neither discipline nor composure. That he had never learned to lay off a bad pitch. That he was easily fooled. That, fooled so often, he came to expect that he would be fooled. That he hit with fear. That his fear masqueraded as aggression. That the aggression enabled him to exit the batter’s box as quickly as possible.”
“Billy wasn’t one to waste a lot of time worrying about whether he was motivated by a desire to succeed or the pursuit of truth. To his way of thinking the question was academic, since the pursuit of truth was, suddenly, the key to success.”
“There are a certain kind of writer whose motives are ultimately mysterious. The writer born into a family of writers; the writer whose work is an attempt to make sense of some private trauma; the writer who from the age of four is able and willing to stay in his room and make up stories: each of these creatures is a stereotype. What he writes may be good, but why he writes isn’t something you particularly want to hear more about.”
“‘Every form of strength is also a form of weakness,’ he once wrote. ‘Pretty girls tend to become insufferable because, being pretty, their faults are too much tolerated. Possessions entrap men, and wealth paralyzes them. I learned to write because I am one of those people who somehow cannot manage the common communications of smiles and gestures, but must use words to get across things that other people would never need to say.’”
“What mattered was James’s ability to light a torch in a dark chamber and throw a new light on a dusty problem. He made you think. There was something bracing about the way he did it—his passion, his humor, his intolerance of stupidity, his preference for leaving an honest mess for others to clean up rather than a tidy lie for them to admire—that inspired others to join the cause. That cause was bigger than fielding statistics. The cause was the systematic search for new baseball knowledge.”...more
I read this book in college for a class called “Society and War.” At the time it immediately shot ahead of All Quiet on the Western Front as my favoriI read this book in college for a class called “Society and War.” At the time it immediately shot ahead of All Quiet on the Western Front as my favorite war book. (I’d only read a few at that point. By now I’ve read about thirty war books.) I now perceive the book as really good, but not great.
It’s great in the sense that Orwell takes a very pragmatic approach in describing the war, as opposed to the overly romanticized approach that is usually taken. He presents details in a way that is almost academic, but never dull or dry.
“‘Revolutionary’ discipline depends on political consciousness—on an understanding of why orders must be obeyed…”
A hilarious account of one of Orwell’s soldiers taunting the Fascists by yelling how much better the militiamen were fed: “We’re just sitting down to buttered toast over here! Lovely slices of buttered toast!”
“One of the most horrible features of war is that all the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.”
“One of the dreariest effects of this war has been to teach me that the Left-wing press is every bit as spurious and dishonest as that of the Right.”...more
“He had liked his time in Mexico but—buttoned-up, self-conscious, innately gloomy, cursed with an instinctive fatalism, and envious in a class-obsesse“He had liked his time in Mexico but—buttoned-up, self-conscious, innately gloomy, cursed with an instinctive fatalism, and envious in a class-obsessed way—patronized the Mexicans much as the British patronize Americans, and for the same reasons.”...more
Every time I read Marquez I’m reminded of why he’s one of my favorite authors. The man defies time, makes you feel like you could be at any moment inEvery time I read Marquez I’m reminded of why he’s one of my favorite authors. The man defies time, makes you feel like you could be at any moment in history.
Marquez writes with a complete lack of embarrassment. He describes his bowel movements in great detail in one sentence, then his desire to take the virginity of a young teenage girl in the next.
I don’t have the book in front of me, so I’m going to butcher this line. But he writes something like this: In death, it is impossible not to become the person everyone else thinks you are. There are two ways to interpret this and I adopt the latter. The first is that we spend so much time, maybe an entire lifetime, trying to outrun certain character traits. Trying not to succumb to tragic flaws identified at an early age. And in the end, these traits and flaws inevitably endure and send us to our grave in the image everyone expects. The second view is that people construct an image of others that they hold more sacred than the actual person, regardless of the life that that person lives. That this selfishness is almost impossible to overcome and creates for a lack of understanding....more
This is as much a riddle as it is a novel. It essentially asks you to connect dots that are haphazardly sprinkled throughout the story. It is also verThis is as much a riddle as it is a novel. It essentially asks you to connect dots that are haphazardly sprinkled throughout the story. It is also very gimmicky. I believe Vonnegut uses the time travel technique as a safety net and as a way of making the message(s) seem more grand. I was somewhat disappointed since many people I know consider Slaughterhouse/Vonnegut among their favorite books/authors.
That being said, it was an enjoyable read. Some memorable lines:
Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops.
He was experimenting with being ardently sympathetic with everybody he met. He thought that might make the world a slightly more pleasant place to live in.
How nice to feel nothing, and still get full credit for being alive."...more
If you're a song-writer or care at all about the craft of song-writing then this is a great read. He doesn't give you any road maps, just explains thiIf you're a song-writer or care at all about the craft of song-writing then this is a great read. He doesn't give you any road maps, just explains things in his typically disjointed manner. Some quotes...
A song is like a dream, and you try to make it come true. They're like strange countries that you have to enter. You can write a song anywhere, in a railroad compartment, on a boat, on horseback-it helps to be moving. Sometimes people who have the greatest talent for writing songs never write any because they are not moving.
Sometimes you see things in life that make your heart turn rotten and your gut sick and nauseous and you try to capture that feeling without naming the specifics.
Practically speaking, the '50s culture was like a judge in his last days on the bench. It was about to go. Within ten years' time, it would struggle to rise and then come crashing to the floor. With folk songs embedded in my mind like a religion, it wouldn't matter. Folk songs transcended the immediate culture.
Hitler, Churchill, Mussolini, Stalin, Roosevelt-towering figures that the world would never see the likes of again, men who relied on their own resolve, for better or worse, every one of them prepared to act alone, indifferent to approval-indifferent to wealth or love, all presiding over the destiny of mankind and reducing the world to rubble.
Best if read in segments here and there. I found it a bit tedious and repetitive when reading large chunks at a time. But he is very smart and insightBest if read in segments here and there. I found it a bit tedious and repetitive when reading large chunks at a time. But he is very smart and insightful and hilarious. The Porn chapter was so true that it frightened me. Actually, it sort of embarrassed me. Well done, Klosterman....more
This is a re-read. Terrifyingly inspiring. The extent of their intoxication is just mind-blowing. I actually had to put the book down at times just toThis is a re-read. Terrifyingly inspiring. The extent of their intoxication is just mind-blowing. I actually had to put the book down at times just to try and conceptualize how crazy these two fucks were. This book gets a 10 for style points. It somewhat changed my perspective on how a book should be written. It's sort of like what Dave Eggers tries (and fails) to do, abruptly pulling out of the narrative to be descriptive in a footnote-ish style. At times I wished it was more cohesive and structured, but this would probably destroy the story....more