#AutumnalCity discussion

This topic is about Dhalgren
Spoiler Discussions > Discussion of pages 101-150

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Brian | 31 comments Mod
Discussion of pages 101-150

Brian | 31 comments Mod
This string of prisms, mirrors and lenses is becoming more sinister by the page. I'd started a conversation about the second moon on Twitter today ... trying to figure out if they were being portrayed in an astronomically correct manner or not. Turns out the book answers that question itself a few pages later.

Emma Glaisher | 17 comments The chain is one of those intensely physical images in the book - always digging in, leaving its shape on the skin. I would like to say more but don't think that's covered in the first 150 pages...

message 4: by David (last edited Oct 01, 2012 06:47AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

David Merrill | 35 comments Thus far I've read most of this on my ereader. The version I have as I've mentioned before, has a lot of issues in the last chapter and isn't particularly usable from that point on. I'd thought it would be OK through the the first 6 chapters, but my experience of the book has seemed a little off, so I pulled out a paperback version last night and read some of it from there. I realized what was missing. The e version misses a lot of the line breaks and page breaks. Punctuation is off in a lot of places. It was then I remembered this is the book that made me want to write. In Dhalgren the order of the words, the spacing of the words, the breaks in the text, punctuation, everything is crucial. All of those things create the rhythm, mood and tone of the book. The ereader version I was using became a rhythmless mess. From here on out I'll be reading the Bantam paperback. Someone needs to create a good ereader version of this book.

Emma Glaisher | 17 comments Ebooks are appalling, really. For example, the Kindle always starts a book on page 1 - not the cover. You miss dedications, special messages, contents, everything. And because the title is not displayed at the top of every screen, I for one keep forgetting what books are called. Not Dhalgren of course!

Must get up in the attic and see if I can find my falling apart, 30 year old copy.

message 6: by David (last edited Oct 01, 2012 08:47AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

David Merrill | 35 comments I think a lot of current writers don't have the finesse with words, punctuation and spacing Delany has, so ebooks probably don't have as much of an affect on the experience of the book.

But particularly some of the Project Gutenberg books have a lot of typos and reorganized sentences. It's maddening at times. I always wonder whether whole chapters could be left out as I'm reading. One would hope current e-books put out by major publishers would be better constructed and proofread.

Recently I was reading The Trial by Franz Kafka in the Gutenberg edition. The second to last chapter said it was never finished. I had to go to the library to look at a printed copy to see if it was the transcriber that didn't finish it or if it was Kafka who didn't. It turned out it was Kafka. It makes me very uneasy reading ebooks at times. You don't really know what you're getting. I find myself consulting back and forth between the ebook and the printed book if I happen to own both. I even found myself making corrections to the RTF version of an Edgar Rice Burroughs book I was reading last month.

I find myself thinking about getting a cheap copy of the Vintage paperback of Dhalgren, cutting it up and scanning the whole thing at work on our copier and creating my own pdf ebook. Absolutely crazy, but it would work. I have no idea why the UK ebook wasn't created this way. It certainly seems like it would have gotten better results than how they created it.

message 7: by David (last edited Oct 01, 2012 08:56AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

David Merrill | 35 comments Emma wrote: "Ebooks are appalling, really. For example, the Kindle always starts a book on page 1 - not the cover. You miss dedications, special messages, contents, everything. And because the title is not disp..."

This is just one more argument against buying a Kindle. There seem to be a lot of them.

And the part about the title not being displayed would drive me nuts. I find myself more and more happy I bought a cheap ereader. It has its issues, but it sounds like they all do. Mine has the file name at the top of the page, so I always have the book name that way.

Brian | 31 comments Mod
I share some of the frustrations you mention ... I read JR as an e-book, and there were typos; some of them completely destructive to a paragraph's meaning. But I still appreciate e-books for what they are and what they can be.

A simplistic dismissal of e-books as terrible fails to account for all of their advantages. Most e-books are cheaper than their paper equivalents. If you live in a smaller home, the space saved over time can be significant and money-saving. I buy dozens of books every year, and many of them are books I won't want to keep around later. I enjoy having the opportunity to have these books in an electronic format.

The typos and formatting problems are not endemic to the format, and can be fixed if publishers start to pay more attention. You don't mention it, but have you noticed that print books are more typo-ridden than they have been in the past? When publishers stop paying for proper editing, all formats suffer.

Issues that ARE endemic to the format include permanence, digital rights management, post-purchase bowdlerization, and the class issues inherent in a ~$100 reading device. Those are significant, and will bear watching; but they are not a reason to dismiss the entire format.

David Merrill | 35 comments Brian wrote: "I share some of the frustrations you mention ... I read JR as an e-book, and there were typos; some of them completely destructive to a paragraph's meaning. But I still appreciate e-books for what ..."

I don't think either one of us is suggesting an entire dismissal of the format. After owning my ereader for a month, I'd downloaded about 700 books from Project Gutenberg and other sources. I'm still getting more.

I definitely agree print books and all print forms have suffered greatly from a dumbing down of editors and lack of proofreading over the past few decades, but it's not nearly as bad as what I've seen in the few ebooks I've read so far.

I think the class issues due to the $100 price point are gone. My ereader cost $38 including shipping from Amazon. That's still a stretch for some people, but I think most people could spring for an ereader that cost about the same as 1 or 2 hard cover books if they knew bout it.

For me, I think the main problem with ereaders is the number of different file formats and the loss of text formatting in converting from one to another that becomes necessary when adapting books to your specific ereader. It's kind of like having 10 different forms of VHS tape and a magic box that can convert them to the one your VHS player can handle, but with minor streaks through the picture or a hiss behind the audio track. Beta wouldn't have gone away. In fact others would have made new formats in that situation. Eventually we need a standard that works best for all text/picture formatting needs to win out and ereaders to be built to handle the format in an optimum fashion.

Wow, this really got away from Dhalgren, but then I think Dhalgren, more than most books, illustrates the limitations of ereaders and their file formats.

David Merrill | 35 comments Ok, I've been all over the map with this book. Over the past 50 pages, I've switched from the ebook to the Bantam edition and now to the Wesleyan University Press edition because it was the newest most corrected version I have. Then I decided to research which edition is the most correct. It turned out to be the Vintage 3rd edition and later. So, now I just bought a later Vintage edition on Abebooks.com. It's the one Delany himself sees as the most correct. If 'm going to read Dhalgren again, I might as well do it right.

message 11: by David (last edited Oct 02, 2012 08:46PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

David Merrill | 35 comments I like this section of the book because we get to meet the Richards family and what a dysfunctional family they are. There's daughter June who is trying to find George Harrison, who supposedly raped her and made the local paper complete with pics of the rape, her bratty brother, Bobby, Mrs. Richards who pretty much lives in a bubble and her hubby who lies to her about going to work every day. There are some pivotal things that happen with the Richards going forward. There's also the two moons, one named after George Harrison. And there's the nude poster of George that seems to turn up everywhere, including the Church, where they're distributed.

I started remembering what probably attracted me to this book when I was 16. Everything in it was as alien to me as stories about other planets, yet it was set on earth. I grew up in a whitebread town and was pretty isolated and sheltered. This book was the total antithesis of where I grew up and boy did I ever want to escape from that place. My Mom would probably have been a bit like Mrs. Richards. So, Dhalgren, which breaks all the social mores I grew up with, was a breath of fresh air. It never occurred to me while I was reading it the first time, there were places like this somewhere on earth. Today I know Delany based a lot of it on what was going on in Greenwich Village in the late 60's, early 70's. The funny thing about it is my Great Aunt lived in that world, at that time.

I couldn't have picked a better book to be reading while trapped in a van on a cross country trip with my family of 9. Dhalgren was the ultimate escape from that world.

The other thing I like about this section of the book is Kidd starting to write in the journal and meeting the poet, Newboy.

message 12: by Emma (new) - rated it 4 stars

Emma Glaisher | 17 comments And Lanya, who I guess we met a bit earlier but I'm feeling trapped by all this page reference!

Lanya was a reassuring presence for the 20 year old, gently raised girl/woman I was on first reading. In all that chaos and surrounded by exciting and scary people, you can be intelligent and musical and still have a good time! Also the apparently casual treatment of June's 'rape' is uncomfortable ground for a feminist, and when she tears into Kid with her excoriating rant about what rape really means, I felt vindicated.

Oh the Richards. A very powerful passage, I'd sort of forgotten how quickly most of them fade out of the book, although their presence is always felt. Anyone able to offer any thoughts on the significance of the House of the Ax/Labry/Labyrinth connection?

message 13: by David (last edited Oct 04, 2012 05:43AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

David Merrill | 35 comments I agree, being trapped within these pages is difficult. I've been wishing we were going by book section rather than by these page counts. It would be good to be discussing House of the Ax as a whole.

The casual discussion of June's rape is uncomfortable for anyone, I would think, but then I've always had friends who had been raped and been something of a feminist myself, so I'm probably coming from a similar perspective and can't know if someone from another perspective would feel about.

All those naked pics of men everywhere was a bit uncomfortable too. Delany was turning everything upside down in Bellona. I think pin ups of nude women were as ubiquitous in the 70's of our real world. You don't see that as much any more.

I remember being entranced by Lanya at 16. She was like the perfect girlfriend. She was probably also a comfort to me being I came from homophobic whitebread world. She meant we'd stay in a bit more comfortable territory for a while. I don't mean this part was on a conscious level. I didn't realize until I got to college just how homophobic that world was.

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