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GENERAL CONVERSATION > July - August, 2010 CHAT

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message 1: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (last edited Jun 29, 2010 09:20PM) (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Chat here for the next two months! I opened this a day early. Oh well.


message 2: by Michael (last edited Jul 01, 2010 05:34AM) (new)

Michael (MichaelCanoeist) <<>>

http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/fea...

I'm going to continue this subject in this new thread. I had not read the Bissinger article before. I had read several pages of Running With Scissors in a bookstore one day and had been revolted by the snide, exhibitionistic tone of it. I thought maybe it was just un-hip me not getting a current trend. Now, having read this article, it seems a whole lot worse. If the family is sustantially correct about "Burroughs" 's lies about them (and God knows what else), he needs help badly and someone should be returning the money this book "earned." It's a shame that people, and publishers, seem to be able to succeed by concocting a pack of lies whose main purpose is to exploit other people's lives for their own aggrandizement.

One other thing I've noticed that shows up in this situation -- writers who change their own names for a new publishing identity often seem to be the least trustworthy about facts and the larger realities.


JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Bravo, Michael. My feeling exactly.


message 4: by Michael (new)

Michael (MichaelCanoeist) http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/fea...

The above is the correct link to that Vanity Fair article -- I've gone back to my previous post and edited it in, since I noticed the link I had put there didn't work.


message 5: by Michael (last edited Jul 01, 2010 06:33AM) (new)

Michael (MichaelCanoeist) It's hard for me to imagine any justification for what Chris Robison aka "Augusten Burroughs" did to this family that took him in and, in his own words, "saved my life" -- if their version is true, that is. It's clear they are not exactly the most stable of families, either. Somewhere in my education, though, the notion that literature is meant to seek the truth lodged in my head and has stayed there. How would a memoir that actively distorts and contradicts the truth meet that standard? And what do readers get from the experience of reading it?

Is there an appeal to some "higher truth" as the justification for treating your sources, who may have protected you in real life, as shamefully and falsely as possible? What would that "higher truth" be?

I can't answer that in this particular case, "Running With Scissors," because I found what I read of the book pure crapola. So I don't understand what others may have found there instead. But, in fiction, we see the materials of reality transmuted via the writer's imagination in order to bring to life a higher truth. What is different about this whole spate of phony memoirs is that they get a free ride by presenting themselves as memoirs -- as having a basis in real lives, and real experiences.

In fiction, we expect a logic of character and story to be respected by the writer. It doesn't have to be a literal logic -- it can be as fantastical as anyone may conceive -- but we still hold it to some test that it must pass to receive that hallowed "suspension of disbelief" during the course of our reading. And plenty of works fail the test, and either never get published or disappear soon after they are.

Memoirs don't have to meet that same standard, by their very nature. We are trusting that there is at least a reasonable attempt to recapture the truth of people who actually existed, and events that actually occurred. Writers who take that trust and abuse it strike me as not writers at all, but performers (and, in the extreme cases, parasites). They can't meet the artistic standards of fiction, so they exploit the memoir genre and hide behind disclaimers. They are not pornographers, exactly, but something closely related.


JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
"For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity's affair, they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss — a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity's mouth as if she were a giant cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world's thirstiest gerbil."

EWWWWWW

Winner of the annual bad-writing contest

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/a...


JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Michael wrote: "It's hard for me to imagine any justification for what Chris Robison aka "Augusten Burroughs" did to this family that took him in and, in his own words, "saved my life" -- if their version is true,..."

Michael, if I were not brain dead, I would make some erudite and pithy comment on your post, which I found to be thoughtful and oh-so accurate. Especially this part:

Writers who take that trust and abuse it strike me as not writers at all, but performers (and, in the extreme cases, parasites). They can't meet the artistic standards of fiction, so they exploit the memoir genre and hide behind disclaimers. They are not pornographers, exactly, but something closely related.

Thanks for putting my thoughts into words!


message 8: by Connie (new)

Connie (Constants) | 49 comments I may have inadvertently spammed some of you a week or so when my AOL account was hacked into, and I apologize for that. I do not want you to purchase drugs from Canada and I have changed my password so that it won't happen again. However, I do have a modest Spam proposal for you.

I just got involved with some old friends who are involved in this "race" to see who can send a package of Spam or Spam Lite, across the country, to every state. I have the package here in Missouri, and have taken pictures of it in some Missouri-identifiable locations. Now I need to send the package to someone in another state. That's where you come in.

Anybody out there willing to receive, photograph and send off a small 3-oz. package of Spam Lite to a friend or relative in another state? The contest is between Team Spam and Team Spam Lite, and as you can tell, the fate of the free world hinges on who wins this competition.

The states it's already been to are CA, CO, HI, KS, NC, OR, SD, VA, WA, DC and WY. And, of course, MO. If you go to spamrace.wordpress.com you can see the pictures of where it's already been. The info in the package says it costs about $1.39 to mail, and someone has already enclosed some postage stamps if you need to use them.

Thanks in advance, and no problem if you're not interested.


message 9: by Suep (new)

Suep | 15 comments I love the race with Spam! Unfortunately, it appears the dear little processed meat product has made it to all the states which I could have helped. I love it! this is really funny.


message 10: by Suep (new)

Suep | 15 comments Now, on a Goodreads note.....I have been following the talk about Augusten B and I have not yet read the article. I have a whole week off next wk and I will catch up! I love the parasite reference, michael. This site makes my day so often. Have a Happy 4th all and I'll catch up soon.


message 11: by R. (last edited Jul 03, 2010 05:13AM) (new)

R. Honey | 142 comments JoAnn/QuAppelle wrote: "Michael wrote: "It's hard for me to imagine any justification for what Chris Robison aka "Augusten Burroughs" did to this family that took him in and, in his own words, "saved my life" -- if their ..."
I would like to 2nd this statement. My thoughts exactly. This is why I shy away from this type memoir. I heard over exagerated "we have lived long and suffered much"stories from certain family members and friends down through the years. I certainly don't want to read about the same general stuff!


message 12: by R. (last edited Jul 08, 2010 06:34AM) (new)

R. Honey | 142 comments I know there some Donna Leon fans here. This article was in The Philadelphia Inquirer food section today!


http://www.philly.com/philly/restaura...


message 13: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandin954) | 211 comments R. wrote: "I know there some Donna Leon fans here. This article was in The Philadelphia Inquirer food section today!


http://www.philly.com/philly/restaura......"


Thanks for the link. I did not know that Donna Leon had published a cookbook. The recipes listed in the article all look very good.


Carolyn (in SC) C234D | 123 comments R. wrote: "I know there some Donna Leon fans here. This article was in The Philadelphia Inquirer food section today!


http://www.philly.com/philly/restaura......"


I'm one! Nice article, thanks!


message 15: by Shannon (new)

Shannon | 43 comments It is finally really summer in WA, I've switched computers again, and have found my way back. Next stop? The library with my new list in hand. I have missed the recommendations from here!


message 16: by Schmerguls (new)

Schmerguls | 257 comments What I read in July 30 years ago (1980)

1577 Wilson: The Struggle for Neutrality 1914-1915, by Arthur S. Link (read 4 July 1980) (Bancroft Prize in 1961) I cannot help but marvel over how reading a book puts one into another world. I found the third volume of Link's biography of Woodrow Wilson really intriguing. In light of all the reading I have done on World War One, I really have not done that much on the war as it affected the U.S. and this book and the volumes on Wilson are very logical ones for me to read to remedy that. This third volume only takes one up to the fall of 1915. Most of the book recounts the problems with German submarines, but there are chapters on Mexico, and an eye-opening chapter on Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Our procedure in Haiti under Wilson makes some of Russia's domination of satellites appear almost subtle. The study of the Lusitania and the other incidents is really intriguing. I was amazed how easy it was to shock that unbrutalized age. I suppose I am not much of an international lawyer, but it is hard for me to be shocked by German sinking of British vessels, regardless of who is on them. I suppose the concept of total war was relatively new in 1915, and this accounts for the U.S. reaction at the time. This is a very good account, even though it relies so much on contemporary (1915) stuff.

1578 Wilson: Confusions and Crises 1915-1916, by Arthur S. Link (read 9 July 1980) This is the fourth volume of Link's study. It is really good. It has a chapter on Wilson's marriage in 1915, and then covers the crises with Germany and Mexico up to July 1916. I found it absorbing. I again confess that our attitude vis a vis Germany seems hyper-technical. If I had been a knowing perceiver of the time, I feel sure my attitude would have been similar to what I presume LaFollette's and Norris's was. I mean I am very much for the Allies now, so I don't mind what Lansing and Wilson did, but the case against Germany doesn't seem all that strong. In a nutshell, it seems so simple to say: Americans traveling in the war zone on warring powers' ships do so at their own risk, period. All the crises up to July 1916 came from the sinking of British and French ships!

1579 Wilson Campaigns for Progressivism and Peace 1916-1917, by Arthur S. Link (read 13 July 1980) This fifth volume of Link's biography is just intriguing and I really enjoyed it. The dire straits the Allies were in financially, and the great empathy I have for them, made me welcome the American entry into the war, but I cannot help but feel that the actions of the Germans were not the horrendous things one feels justify war. But this view is no doubt conditioned by my living through the years from 1939 through 1941. I really do appreciate World War One--it is undoubtedly the war most intriguing to me. The closing pages of this volume (which apparently is the last volume in the series which has been published) are keenly dramatic, as they tell of the entry of the U.S. into the war. The last paragraph: "'For all time,' Frank Cobb wrote, 'April 6 will remain a mighty day in the annals of the United States, a day on which was consummated the most far-reaching policy to which democracy has ever consecrated itself. The old isolation is finished. We are no longer aloof from Europe, we are no longer aloof from the rest of the world. For weal or woe, whatever happens now concerns us, and from none of it can be withheld the force of our influence." A magnificent volume--I wish there were more.

1580 Germany's Aims in the First World War, by Fritz Fischer (read 31 July 1980) I have wanted to read this since I first saw it in 1968. It paints a pretty devastating picture of what Germany was aiming at, and what things would have been like if Germany had won the first world war. It was really fantastic: what Germany expected to allocate herself in victory! It would have a different world. Nor does the fact that Russia has such a dominant position now mean things'd've been different if Germany had won the first World War. After all, Germany supported the Bolsheviks for months after Nov. 1917. The book was typically heavy German, and much of it was heavy going. But I am glad I read it.






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message 17: by Heather (new)

Heather (medtechknitter) Schmerguls wrote: "What I read in July 30 years ago (1980)

1577 Wilson: The Struggle for Neutrality 1914-1915, by Arthur S. Link (read 4 July 1980) (Bancroft Prize in 1961) I cannot help but marvel over how readi..."


I wish someone would have said to me...document what you read. I've only been on goodreads a short time but I have enjoyed your post. I can't imagine how wonderful it must be to go back in your jounal and see all those books and your thoughts on them at the time you read them.


message 18: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) Schmerguls wrote: The study of the Lusitania and the other incidents is really intriguing. I was amazed how easy it was to shock that unbrutalized age. I suppose I am not much of an international lawyer, but it is hard for me to be shocked by German sinking of British vessels, regardless of who is on them."
--------------------

In the simple YA book I recently read on WWI, I was surprised to read that the the German "embassy decided to warn passengers before her next crossing not to sail aboard Lusitania. The Imperial German embassy placed a warning advertisement in 50 American newspapers, including those in New York"

See link for picture of advertisement:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RMS_Lusi...


message 19: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) Heather wrote:
I wish someone would have said to me...document what you read. I've only been on goodreads a short time but I have enjoyed your post. I can't imagine how wonderful it must be to go back in your jounal and see all those books and your thoughts on them at the time you read them.
"

----------------

I started to keep a hardcover journal in 1999 that lists the date, title, author, rating, fiction or non fiction, and the number that book is for my yearly total. It takes up one line or two lines and takes a 15 seconds to do.

I regret that I didn't start while in college.

I always tell myself I am going to write a paragraph for each book, but never seem to do it. I did it one year and find it a very valuable exercise. Maybe I'll start up again today. :) It really only takes about 5 minutes.

In the last few years, I do sometimes take copious notes of some non fiction books. I find even if I never read these notes again, it helps to organize my thoughts on the subject.

Anyway, at least keeping a journal of titles read is something I always recommend to people. I'm always amazed at how few people do this. Even people in book book clubs that I am in rarely do this.


message 20: by Heather (new)

Heather (medtechknitter) Alias Reader wrote: "Heather wrote:
I wish someone would have said to me...document what you read. I've only been on goodreads a short time but I have enjoyed your post. I can't imagine how wonderful it must be to go b..."


Like you I do have a list of books that I have read from about 2002 on, but I never thought to actually put down my thoughts on the book or even the date I read them on for alot of them.


message 21: by Schmerguls (new)

Schmerguls | 257 comments I agree with these comments. MY regret is that I did not start recording my comments earlier than I did--occasioally beginning in 1963, on every book beginning in 1969. It would seem to me that I had wasted the time reading the book if I did not record the date finished and what the book said or meant to me. I feel as if I have in some way appropriated the book to myself permanently by using a few minutes (far less than the hours spent reading it, of course)to record my reaction to it.


message 22: by Alias Reader (last edited Jul 16, 2010 09:19AM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) Schmerguls wrote: It would seem to me that I had wasted the time reading the book if I did not record the date finished and what the book said or meant to me. I feel as if I have in some way appropriated the book to myself permanently by using a few minutes (far less than the hours spent reading it, of course)to record my reaction to it.""
---------------------

I agree with your sentiment and I am going to try and do this for all the books I read, not just the few non fiction books that I take notes on.

I always enjoy reading your monthly comments. You certainly are an inspiration. :)


message 23: by Shomeret (new)

Shomeret | 81 comments From ages 11-17 I used to copy quotes from books and write long journal entries concerning the thoughts that arose from the quote and how it related to my life. I stopped when I went to college because I decided that I no longer had the time. I never re-started. When I re-read those journals now, they embarrass me.

My current book journals started when I became involved with the M/T board on AOL. I decided that it would enable me to do a good monthly reads report every month. It has also helped me with book discussions here on Goodreads now that the M/T board (and this board) have moved here.


message 24: by Michael (new)

Michael (MichaelCanoeist) Shomeret wrote: "From ages 11-17...When I re-read those journals now, they embarrass me"

Of course -- isn't that exactly what adolescence was FOR??


message 25: by Michael (new)

Michael (MichaelCanoeist) R. wrote: "... This is why I shy away from this type memoir. I heard over exagerated "we have lived long and suffered much"stories from certain family members and friends down through the years. I certainly don't want to read about the same general stuff!"

I was glad to read that, R. I suppose it ought to go without saying that this kind of memoirist shouldn't get readers' dollars for his subsequent books. But I'm going to be the nag that says it anyway. And no tickets for movies based on ersatz crapola either! Alas, our society seems to eat this stuff up; don't ask me why. Even if all the stories in his books are as phony as the name "Augusten Burroughs," look at the enthusiastic reviews on this site. Way too many. But it is some small comfort (to me, at least!) that he knows the truth, however deviously he tried to deflect the facts in the interview with Buzz Bissinger. Let him walk around trying to pretend not to know what a fake he is. Apparently he teaches at some New England school? (Figures.... lol.) Someone should bring that Vanity Fair article to his tenure review.


message 26: by Alias Reader (last edited Jul 23, 2010 10:01AM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) From The Writer's Almanac 23 July


It's the birthday of Raymond Chandler, born in Chicago (1888). His parents were Irish, and after his father left the family, his mom moved them back to Ireland, and he grew up there and in England. He moved back to America and settled in California.

He wrote pulp fiction about the city of Los Angeles and a detective there named Philip Marlowe. Chandler's first novel was The Big Sleep (1939), which sold well and was made into a movie in 1946 with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall — William Faulkner co-wrote the screenplay. Chandler wrote seven more novels featuring Philip Marlowe, who became the quintessential "hard-boiled" private eye, tough and street-smart and full of wise cracks. In Farewell, My Lovely (1940), Marlowe says: "I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I neededa home in the country.What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun."

Farewell, My Lovely~ Raymond Chandler

The Big Sleep~Raymond Chandler



message 27: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Is anyone a baseball fan? My son-in-law just finished this book The Game from Where I Stand: A Ballplayer's Inside View by Doug Glanville and thought it was excellent. It is not a memoir, but thoughts on the game from the inside. It got great reviews/blurbs from people in the know.

Doug is one of the "good guys" in the baseball realm, and really smart too. A good role model.

I have not yet read the book, but have read his columns in the New York Times. http://topics.nytimes.com/top/referen...

I should mention that Doug is married to one of my daughter's lifelong friends, whom we have known since she was 13.


message 28: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandin954) | 211 comments JoAnn/QuAppelle wrote: "Is anyone a baseball fan? My son-in-law just finished this book The Game from Where I Stand: A Ballplayer's Inside View by Doug Glanville and thought it was excellent. It is not a me..."

Thanks JoAnn, looks very interesting. I am not a big enough baseball fan to actually know the author but I do enjoy reading about baseball, especially if the book focuses on insider information. I am currently reading Seasons in Hell, a sportwriter's look at covering the Texas Rangers back in 1973-1975, which is making me wonder how anybody associated with the Majors survived the seventies with their livers intact.


message 29: by BurgendyA (new)

BurgendyA | 22 comments Michael wrote: "Shomeret wrote: "From ages 11-17...When I re-read those journals now, they embarrass me"

Of course -- isn't that exactly what adolescence was FOR??"


I remember having that same funny feeling a couple of years ago when I've read my journal from my teen years. I literally was thinking that nutty girl was me? =P


message 30: by Rosie (new)


message 31: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
thanks, Rosie...good article


message 32: by Claere (new)

Claere (Omenonwings) | 2 comments Sorry.... don't really get the topic here.


message 33: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Clair wrote: "Sorry.... don't really get the topic here."

General chat during the months of July and August about....whatever!


message 34: by Leon (new)

Leon Lahoud | 1 comments SuperFreakonomics was cool until the last chapter, which is the one that caused all the controversies. I mean come on putting SO2 in the air to cool down the earth. You don't need to be a PhD to know this is a bad idea.

Anyway, the way it portrays prostitutes ( at least the low end ones) matches Column McCann's one in "Let the great world spin".


message 35: by Daniella (new)

Daniella Brodsky (DaniellaBrodsky) | 1 comments Readers, I'd like to take this moment to say thank you for sharing book info this way. I'm not even going to point you to my latest novel, which you can easily find here on amazon (SHAPE Magazine says if you read one book, you should make it this one; OK, that was a little shameless...); instead I want you to think about how simple and powerful and logical it is that like-minded readers honestly review books this way. Kudos to you for using your voice! It's like in the old days, when word of mouth was the most important element in book selling. Sad but true: You may not know what a service you are doing to readers around the world by participating! Most books have a very short period to make the numbers publishers want to see, and these books don't get into the hands of the media, nor do they get the advertising of the big books like Twilight or Norah Roberts. This may not seem like such a big deal, but the trial period publishers are giving a book to sell is shrinking. Eventually, new voices without the numbers of the established voices won't have a chance at all. Think what a shame that would be to readers, writers, and the world at large! I urge you; if you love a book, tell the world! That is a powerful place to be, and with venues like this, we've all got the power. So let's use it. Here's my shameless push for a book I loved this year, that you probably never heard of: THE ANATOMY OF WINGS, by Karen Foxlee.


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Books mentioned in this topic

Farewell, My Lovely (other topics)
The Big Sleep (other topics)
The Game from Where I Stand: A Ballplayer's Inside View (other topics)
Seasons in Hell (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Donna Leon (other topics)
Raymond Chandler (other topics)