Women and Men discussion

Women and Men
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message 1: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new) - added it

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 658 comments This folder is for introducing ourselves.

Suggestions:

Why do you know that this book exists?

If you've not read it or begun it, what is the impression you've created for yourself about Women and Men? What do you anticipate experiencing?

If you have read it or begun it, give us a two sentence characterization of what the experience of reading it is like.


message 2: by Stephen M, Tome Terminator (last edited Sep 19, 2012 10:42AM) (new) - added it

Stephen M | 81 comments Nathan.

It's gonna be tight.

n/a


message 3: by Ali (new)

Ali | 11 comments I read about Women and Men during a drastic change in my reading preferences last summer, during which I became interested in more experimental fiction that would make me work a little during the reading, as opposed to the more traditional stuff I read at the time, with which I was becoming exceedingly bored because I wasn't getting anything out of it. I did some Wikipediaing for postmodernist and experimental fiction and went on a book-getting fest, and Joseph McElroy was one of the authors I found. I was intrigued that in all the articles I read name-dropping Gaddis and Pynchon and Wallace and sometimes even Markson or Hawkes, the name of Joseph McElroy was almost never mentioned, and I wanted to know what about his fictions made him so unknown, assuming there was anything and he wasn't just one of those writers who, despite prodigious talents, tend to slip through the cracks.
Now, after reading more about this book in particular, I'm stuck between others perceptions and my own when trying to form an opinion on what the experience might be like. people have said his sentences are hard to parse, yet I don't find that to be so. People have said that you will read this entire book and have little idea of what just happened, yet the random excerpts I have read have been perfectly lucid. So for now I guess I will say that I have no idea what reading him is going to be like.


Aloha | 524 comments http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uprjmo...

Nathan "N.R." wrote: "This folder is for introducing ourselves.

Suggestions:

Why do you know that this book exists?

If you've not read it or begun it, what is the impression you've created for yourself about Women ..."



Aloha | 524 comments The book came to my notice because of Nathan's enthusiasm. Since I've been into reading really thick books that require focus, I decided to tackle this one. I only read the birthing scene, and it's a flow of consciousness, similar to how the mind actually thinks, which is a connection of disparate thoughts and imagery.


message 6: by Geoff (new) - added it

Geoff | 9 comments I want to read Women & Men because I have too many human relationships and a disciplined exercise routine. I'm trying to find ways to expunge my life of those things, and I've found that gigantic, experimental literary tomes are a particularly damaging way to do this. After I finish reading Women & Men I plan to judge each and every being (animal and man) that I happen to meet on whether or not they too have read Women & Men by Joseph McElroy, and I will only value their presence in the world in direct relation to how their feelings about the book align with my own. Also, my prescription for eyeglasses hasn't needed adjusting for awhile, and so the eyes are way past due for some punishment. My visual field has far too few cataracts. I look forward to our discussions and "animated debates". I have not yet read any of the book (my copy is in the mail!) but my expectations are that it will cause my brain to leak out through my ears.


message 7: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new) - added it

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 658 comments Geoff wrote: " After I finish reading Women & Men I plan to judge each and every being (animal and man) that I happen to meet on whether or not they too have read Women & Men by Joseph McElroy, and I will only value their presence in the world in direct relation to how their feelings about the book align with my own. "

We could compile a list of other books which would also accomplish that feat. Currently, I use Finnegans Wake, The Phenomenology or Spirit, and Being and Time in that function. After this group convinces me that I'm not off my nut about W&M, I'll add it to my list as well.


message 8: by Geoff (new) - added it

Geoff | 9 comments Let's not forget The Anatomy of Melancholy! That one's a eye- and brain-destroyer nonpareil!


message 9: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new) - added it

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 658 comments Geoff wrote: "Let's not forget The Anatomy of Melancholy! That one's a eye- and brain-destroyer nonpareil!"

Not forgotten! I was reading it yesterday at my favorite anarchist coffee shop. See my suggestion for a passage possibly related to W&M over in that auxiliary reading thread.


message 10: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new) - added it

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 658 comments obfuscations wrote: "500 pages deep I am not very convinced any more than a few dozen of us need to care, however. Astonishing to write words at any of you at all though. "

Write some words at us. Can you extrapolate about us few dozen? W&M does have a small audience, doesn't it? I find it a difficult book to recommend to anyone and am rather impressed with the brave souls that have signed up for this reading group.


message 11: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new) - added it

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 658 comments obfuscations wrote: "I read nonfiction/review McElroy over the years in NYRB with no awareness of his novels."

I checked the NYRB website for the McElroy stuff but they're not very friendly to folks without subscriptions. Would you have handy the citations to a few of his pieces? Perhaps you have access to their archive via a subscription? I'd be interested in anything, even if just a bibliographic citation. I'm not sure how complete McElroy's own website is.


Aloha | 524 comments Brave or naive. I like not knowing I can't do something. The gaffes I make not knowing is such a pleasurable journey.

Nathan "N.R." wrote: "Write some words at us. Can you extrapolate about us few dozen? W&M does have a small audience, doesn't it? I find it a difficult book to recommend to anyone and am rather impressed with the brave souls that have signed up for this reading group. ."


message 13: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new) - added it

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 658 comments Aloha wrote: "Brave or naive."

I'm also anticipating, from some fellow readers, incredulity about my claims for this novel being 'difficult.' It might not even be that. I might be the naive one here.


message 14: by Stephen M, Tome Terminator (new) - added it

Stephen M | 81 comments My brain is blocking out everything that says it's "difficult". If I had let that stop me from IJ, Gravity's Rainbow, Ulysses, it would have been an average year for reading. Instead, it's been the best I've ever had. I'm hoping to add to it by not taking anyone's claim about W & M being difficult until I've found out for myself.


Aloha | 524 comments Nathan's being Chicken Little. Difficult? Pshaw!


message 16: by Stephen M, Tome Terminator (new) - added it

Stephen M | 81 comments It's just words.... and words in english, right guys???


message 17: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new) - added it

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 658 comments Stephen M wrote: "It's just words.... and words in english, right guys???"

Well, now, to paraphrase the thought of our today's masterful Author, we would say not "words" but that a novel is constructed of sentences. Should we believe him? But it is English, at least the semantic portion.

But, uh, yeah, I'm a little wee chick.


message 18: by Aloha (last edited Sep 21, 2012 11:03AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Aloha | 524 comments I've tackled sentences crawling all over the place (Mark Z. Danielewski). I've tackled loopy loops of mathematical equations (Douglas R. Hofstadter), reincarnation, pagan/christian/jewish religion, physics, all embedded in post-modernism. Give me your best shot, oh Author!


message 19: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new) - added it

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 658 comments Aloha wrote: "I've tackled sentences crawling all over the place (Mark Z. Danielewski). I've tackled loopy loops of mathematical equations (Douglas R. Hofstadter), reincarnation, pagan/christian/jewish religion..."

godsdamn, you folk don't scare easily! Did you pull out the mirror for those Danielewski footnotes?


Aloha | 524 comments Mirrors are for sissies.


Aloha | 524 comments One day, I will have that book in my hardback collection.


message 22: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new) - added it

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 658 comments Aloha wrote: "One day, I will have that book in my hardback collection."

...every penny.


message 23: by Stephen M, Tome Terminator (last edited Sep 21, 2012 11:27AM) (new) - added it

Stephen M | 81 comments Nick wrote: "This is how I know about—and why I want to read—this book.
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacke..."


I love that review. I'll post in the non-gr review area.


message 24: by Brant (new) - added it

Brant | 5 comments I came across a reference to this book for the first time at the end of an essay—if essay is the right word—that Steven Moore wrote comparing an early manuscript version of Infinite Jest to the published version. (Wherein, among other things, I learned that the Year of the Whopper was originally the Year of the Twinkie.) I had recently finished being amazed by IJ and was reading anything I could put my hands on about it. Toward the end of the essay is the following paragraph: "While reading William Gass’s The Tunnel last year at this time, I feared I was witnessing the last of a dying breed, the encyclopedic American novel that began with Gaddis’s Recognitions in 1955, hit its stride in the sixties and seventies (Giles Goat-Boy, Gravity’s Rainbow, Gaddis again with J R, The Public Burning, LETTERS), went baroque in the eighties (Darconville’s Cat, Take Five, Women and Men, You Bright and Risen Angels), then raged against the dying of the light in the nineties with Powers’s Gold-Bug Variations and Gass’s massive masterpiece. Who was left to write such novels, or to read them at a time when some scorn such books as elitist, testosterone-fueled acts of male imperialism? For those of us who regard these works as our cultural milestones, not as tombstones in patriarchy’s graveyard, David Foster Wallace demonstrates that the encyclopedic novel is still alive and kickin’ it."
I had heard of all of these except Take Five and Women and Men. I immediately explored the list and made it a goal to acquire a copy of every book he mentioned: if IJ was the most recent entry into this group, I had to read all of the progenitors. I now own all but two. I happened upon a hardback first edition of W&M at a used book store about two years ago for $1.50. Snatched it up. It's been staring at me for two years or so. Now I just have to read it.


message 25: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new) - added it

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 658 comments Brant wrote: "I came across a reference to this book for the first time at the end of an essay—if essay is the right word—that Steven Moore wrote comparing an early manuscript version of Infinite Jest to the pub..."

!!! Thankyouthankyou! I hadn't gotten around to pasting this quote but it is the exact spot I had first learned about McElroy and I had similar thoughts as you did. And I endeavored to read the entire list. I fail only The Public Burning and 1/3 (plus a coherent first 2/3) of Gravity's Rainbow. (For Shame!)


message 26: by Brant (new) - added it

Brant | 5 comments Nathan "N.R." wrote: "Brant wrote: "I came across a reference to this book for the first time at the end of an essay—if essay is the right word—that Steven Moore wrote comparing an early manuscript version of Infinite J..."

We're mirror images. I have come only recently to the party of this brand of fiction, but I have read The Public Burning.


message 27: by Stephen M, Tome Terminator (new) - added it

Stephen M | 81 comments Great stuff Brant. Glad we could pull some people together to keep the encyclopedic novel kicking!


message 28: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new) - added it

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 658 comments Nick wrote: "Great. More great big books for me to read. "

I saw that you've added that delicious list to your tbr stack. I've had the audacity to extend that list, if you're interested:

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

[apologies for the appearance of self-promotion!]


Aloha | 524 comments Brant wrote: "I came across a reference to this book for the first time at the end of an essay—if essay is the right word—that Steven Moore wrote comparing an early manuscript version of Infinite Jest to the pub..."


So far, I have:

Take Five (hardback)
Darconville's Cat (hardback)
The Public Burning (hardback)
Giles Goat-Boy (hardback)
The Tunnel (hardback)
Gravity's Rainbow (eBook and Audio)
The Recognitions (eBook and Audio)
JR (eBook)
Women and Men (eBook)
Infinite Jest (eBook, Audio)


I still need to get:
You Bright and Risen Angels
The Gold Bug Variations


Aloha | 524 comments I'm not sure what you mean by LETTERS. What book is that?


message 31: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new) - added it

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 658 comments Aloha wrote: "I'm not sure what you mean by LETTERS. What book is that?"


LETTERS. But you "have" to read his first six books first. ; )


message 32: by Vilma (new) - added it

Vilma (Vaalkyrjaa) Nathan "N.R." wrote: "Aloha wrote: "I'm not sure what you mean by LETTERS. What book is that?"


LETTERS. But you "have" to read his first six books first. ; )"


Nathan, I really really start to dislike you - and that´s a compliment, mind you :) Never heard of that one but sounds marvellous *sigh* was a bad move to join the group :/


message 33: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new) - added it

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 658 comments Vilma wrote: "Nathan, I really really start to dislike you"

I have that effect on people.

Meanwhile, don't take my word on Barth at its market value. Oddly, there are folks who don't really dig him. Odd, that. LETTERS has been call "unreadable" too many times to believe. But can that man everever tell a story and another and another. ; )

*sigh* was a bad move to join the group :/

nope.


message 34: by Aloha (last edited Sep 22, 2012 06:30AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Aloha | 524 comments Okay, I now have
LETTERS and The Gold Bug Variations.

Only You Bright and Risen Angels to go, which I won't get until I'm ready to read because it's easily available in paperback. I snatched up the used HBs of the others for pennies because I'm afraid it might go in the way of Women and Men.


message 35: by Vilma (new) - added it

Vilma (Vaalkyrjaa) Nathan "N.R." wrote: "I have that effect on people."

Glad I am not the only one who feels that way :P Any chance you have read Hans Henny Jahnn? as you speak/read German? I am intrigued to spend 90 Dollars for his 4 volume "Fluß ohne Ufer", a 2200 page Behemoth (not translated into English). Have never seen it any cheaper but cannot make up my mind to spend that much money even those books are unread - there are so many others... drives me crazy.


Aloha | 524 comments Will you people stop mentioning another author? I was on my butt last night looking for books and all morning. Now, I'm searching on Amazon for Hans Henny Jahnn.

Vilma wrote: "Nathan "N.R." wrote: "I have that effect on people."

Glad I am not the only one who feels that way :P Any chance you have read Hans Henny Jahnn? as you speak/read German? I am intrigued to spend 9..."



message 37: by Vilma (new) - added it

Vilma (Vaalkyrjaa) Aloha wrote: "Will you people stop mentioning another author? I was on my butt last night looking for books and all morning. Now, I'm searching on Amazon for Hans Henny Jahnn.

Vilma wrote: "Nathan "N.R." wrot..."


Sorry :D I think you can get others of his works for reasonable prices in English translation - if you dont speak German?! - have not really checked but "Fluß ohne Ufer" had never more than four sellers (between 200 and 300 Dollars a piece) and now three more are into the game with dumping prices. And... the book is at least 40 years out of print *sigh* Might be a lifetime opportunity.


Aloha | 524 comments Thank you, Vilma. I checked on Amazon and the pickings are slim for an English translation of his books. It's just the book hoarding instinct in me. It's not as if I'm overwhelmed with what I've got to read right now.


message 39: by Vilma (last edited Sep 22, 2012 08:14AM) (new) - added it

Vilma (Vaalkyrjaa) Its not that I run of books to read anytime soon or can afford to buy more but still.. there are some I want to read badly and those are getting more and more every day. My bad that those thickies/demanding/(left blank) novels are the ones I am falling in love with all the time and not some light chick-lit reading. That´s why I dont look at this page anymore

http://writersnoonereads.tumblr.com/

my own private hell :(


Aloha | 524 comments Tell me about it. I'm afraid PoMo is the type of lit I've been wanting to read, since I have an ADD about wanting to know everything, never focusing on one theme. I get this numbing in my head from the same stimulation. I get a high from learning new things and recombining them. I don't know what I'll do once I get bored with PoMo.


message 41: by Aloha (last edited Sep 22, 2012 08:46AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Aloha | 524 comments I followed it.

Vilma wrote:http://writersnoonereads.tumblr.com/.."


message 42: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new) - added it

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 658 comments Vilma wrote: "Any chance you have read Hans Henny Jahnn? as you speak/read German? I am intrigued to spend 90 Dollars for his 4 volume "Fluß ohne Ufer", a 2200 page Behemoth "

Ah ha! That must be it. This fits the description of a book which I overheard in some online bookchat but failed to note the author or title. This most certainly must be what I was hoping someone would remind me of. It would definitely daunt my German capacity, much like Thomas Mann daunts me, but I will be peeling my eyes on its behalf. Dankedanke, dearestdearest, Vilma!!!

And for my money, not being currently a poor student living in the streets of Trondheim ; ), I'd risk the $90, knowing what I know of its unavailability.


message 43: by Vilma (last edited Sep 22, 2012 11:12AM) (new) - added it

Vilma (Vaalkyrjaa) Nathan "N.R." wrote: "And for my money, not being currently a poor student living in the streets of Trondheim ; ), I'd risk the $90, knowing what I know of its unavailability."

Glad to be of service grrr anyway, not sure whats the joke on it but there is 1986 reprint done by a German company but the page count says 995 only, which seems low - too low - in comparison to the close to 2200 pages?! But for now it was impossible to get any information somewhere about it. I dont imagine a different font or another paper quality does the trick so you might doublecheck what you are buyin´. Just sayin´.

But the reprint isnt sold much cheaper as far as I can tell as one of the originals. Should be around 90-100 Dollars, dont know exactly.


message 44: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new) - added it

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 658 comments Here's a beautiful hardbound set:
http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookD...

And Jahnn's complete works in paperback:
http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookD...


message 45: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new) - added it

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 658 comments Welcome to those who've joined in the past pair of days. Glad to have all of you around.

I know that several folks still don't have access to a copy of W&M. There's an ePub floating around here somewhere if you feel capable of breaking down and using it. Otherwise, aside from the ridiculous collectors' prices, I hope Dzanc will come through for us next Summer. Please feel free to stick around the group even if you don't have a copy yet. I suspect many of us will still be reading it next June. And we can start all over again at that time as well.


message 46: by John (new) - added it

John (ZoydWheeler) | 1 comments I found out about McElroy through the Dalkey Archive. I was looking for a new read and I came across his latest book, Night Soul. The little eBlurb compared him (his larger novels they said) to Gaddis, Wallace and Pynchon. I was able to find a few of his books rather quickly thanks to the advent of Goodreads but I kept looking in search of his real monster, his "white whale" if you will. Women and Men was it, with its massive structure and ridiculous page count it seemed perfect.


message 47: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new) - added it

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 658 comments 40 members!! Hot damn. Welcome brave and mighty souls! If you're up for it, give us a little introduction. Let us know if you need to purloin a copy or if you'd be interested in purchasing a print copy possibly being reissued next year by Dzanc Books. We're doing our best to get this novel into people's hands, so don't be shy about making your W&M-lessness known.


Aloha | 524 comments 40 Members? Great! I made an announcement at Sword & Laser in the Cloud Atlas thread about us reading this book. Let me check to see whether there are S&L members.


message 49: by Stephen M, Tome Terminator (new) - added it

Stephen M | 81 comments Holy molely! 40. This is going to be great.

I feel proud spreading the word about such an over-looked book.


message 50: by Herb (new) - rated it 5 stars

Herb | 3 comments I started reading Joseph McElroy after I saw reviews of Lookout Cartridge in, I think, the NY Times and the Village Voice in the mid-1970s. In the couple of years after I read that, I read all his earlier books and have pretty much kept up ever since. I don't love everything by McElroy equally, but I've liked it all enough to want to read anything by him that I can. And I really liked Women and Men, which (to answer one of the questions posed here) I guess I heard about specifically when excerpts ran in magazines (Conjunctions and ??) before the book came out.

I read a lot, & there's certainly some overlap among the books that all y'all have name-checked in your introductions and my own reading. I don't read only long and "demanding" novels & there are plenty of books that fit that description that I don't care much about. My tastes in music (I've worked as a radio/concert/recording producer over the years) and other arts run pretty parallel to my taste in literature, which may be obvious from the books I've posted on GoodReads.

Because I work full time, I can just about guarantee that I won't have time to re-read Women & Men any time soon. If you delay the start of the read until the book's back in print again, I hope I can find time by then.

&, FWIW, if the gender symbols on this group's home page are supposed to refer to McElroy's longest work, they're in the opposite order of the book's title.


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