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The Spine 2014 > Brain Pain 2015 Proposed Reading Schedule choices

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message 1: by Jim (last edited Oct 27, 2014 01:42PM) (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Brain Pain 2015 proposed reading schedule choices

In keeping with Brain Pain tradition, we will begin the year with Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. We will also read another Thomas Pynchon novel – either Mason & Dixon, or Against the Day, depending on the poll results.

For the rest of the schedule, here is a list of potential titles pulled from previous member recommendations. Please add your comments about which of these books interests you (or doesn’t interest you) for next year. Once the IJ and Pynchon polls are complete and people have commented on the below list, I’ll use my special algorithm (non-GR), and put together a schedule for 2015.

Richard Brautigan - In Watermelon Sugar

Dino Buzzati – The Tartar Steppe

Italo Calvino – If on a Winter's Night a Traveller

Albert Camus – The Plague

Fyodor Dostoevsky – Notes from Underground

Juan Filloy – Op Oloop

Paula Fox - Desperate Characters

Sigmund Freud – The Uncanny

John Hawkes - The Lime Twig

E.T.A.Hoffmann – The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr

Le Comte de Lautréamont – The Songs of Maldoror

Clarice Lispector – Near to the Wild Heart

Clarice Lispector – Água Viva

David Markson – Vanishing Point

Nicholas Mosley – Impossible Object

Flann O’Brien – At Swim-Two-Birds

Fernando Pessoa - The Book of Disquiet

Ernesto Sabato - The Tunnel

Gilbert Sorrentino – Mulligan Stew

Laurence Sterne – Tristram Shandy

Enrique Vila-Matas – Dublinesque

Okay, let me know what you think, especially which books you are most likely to read. Thanks!!


message 2: by Zadignose (last edited Oct 27, 2014 02:46PM) (new)

Zadignose | 444 comments There are several great books in there. Of the ones I'd be most interested in rereading and sharing, there are Maldoror and Tartar Steppe, which are a bit off the map, sort of fringe classics. Of the ones I haven't yet read, Maybe Book of Disquiet and Op Oloop seem most intriguing... Hoffmann's Tomcat Murr too. Most of the books have some appeal for me, so on the negative I'd just say I'd prefer that not too many of the books have authors or editors as protagonists, or revived authors and characters from other books. It's not a theme that appeals to me, though if a book is amazingly well executed I can get over that.


message 3: by Mkfs (new)

Mkfs | 210 comments Tristram Shandy and The Songs of Maldoror are already on my to-read list, so I'd vote for those.

Scheduling the Book of Disquiet might make me actually finish the thing (if I can find it).

And I am always up for some E. T. A. Hoffman.


message 4: by Ellie (last edited Oct 27, 2014 04:30PM) (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) I don't think I can do another read of Tristram Shandy but I could re-read The Book of Disquiet and Maldoror's been on my list forever!


message 5: by Jen (new)

Jen Definitely yes to Woolf, Lispector and Calvino, for me. But it's a great list overall and there are several more on my tbr I would be likely to read along with (Pessoa and The Songs of Malderor, for example). Great work as always, Jim!


message 6: by Rand (last edited Oct 27, 2014 05:47PM) (new)

Rand (iterate) | 4 comments Paula Fox, Lispector, Sabato, Hoffman, Maldoror.
but really, the whole list is good. No preference on Pynchon, though Against the Day might segue better with Orlando.


message 7: by Jen (new)

Jen Oh and Paula Fox for me, too.


message 8: by Mkfs (new)

Mkfs | 210 comments Rand wrote: "Paula Fox, Lispector, Sabato, Hoffman, Maldoror."

Lispector and Sabato look quite good, and Juan Filloy intrigues me as well. Paula Fox, less so -- not another Brooklyn novel! -- but still interesting.


message 9: by Casceil (new)

Casceil | 90 comments A comment on Vanishing Point. We read it in another group two years ago, and participation was low, largely because the book seemed to have very limited availabilty. The relatively few used copies that were available were surprisingly expensive. $20 + shipping was the low end, if I'm remembering correctly. I enjoyed the book, but I felt vaguely disappointed when I finished it. It got off to a great start, but then didn't seemed to develop as much as I expected.


message 10: by Cphe (new)

Cphe | 131 comments I'm interested in Camus and I've Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino to be read next.

There are a couple of others I'm also interested in and I've already Orlando in my TBR pile but I'll put ot off until next year and read with the group.

2015 is looking good so far, reading wise.

I'll have to look further into the list to see what's available for kindle. I have trouble sourcing some of the reads otherwise.


message 11: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Cphe wrote: "I'll have to look further into the list to see what's available for kindle. I have trouble sourcing some of the reads otherwise..."

Zadignose has recently been borrowing ebooks from Openlibrary.

Z, can you let us know if it's a good source, and maybe post a link here.


message 12: by Cphe (new)

Cphe | 131 comments I'd like to read The Songs of Maldoror but according to one of the reviews the translation (by Dent) is the worst. That seems to be the only translation for kindle at this time....."sigh"


message 13: by Nicole (new)

Nicole | 143 comments I've read, and recently, both the Paula Fox and the Buzzati, and neither was good enough to make me want to read it a second time. I don't think either one was bad, just....they were ok. So I'd vote no on both of those, or "vote" no in the jimgorithm.

I'd be most interested in Calvino, Camus, Lispector, and Hoffman.

I'd also probably read (depending on timing and book availability) Sterne, Sorrentino, Sabato, Pessoa, Mosley, and the Filloy (which has intrigued me) if they were selections, though I might not read each and every one of them if they all suddenly appeared on the schedule.

Finally, for future seasons, are others at all interested in Christine Brooke-Rose books, or in A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing? They seem like they fit the whole Brain Pain....thing.


message 14: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Nicole wrote: "Finally, for future seasons, are others at all interested in Christine Brooke-Rose books..."

I'm curious about CB-R. Any suggestions for which book might be a good read for the group?


message 15: by Nicole (new)

Nicole | 143 comments I have no idea, actually; I haven't read her yet myself.

At some point I clicked the "want to read" button for Textermination, but that may have been as much because I saw it half off on a used book site somewhere as any considered judgement about which book to start off with.


message 16: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Nicole wrote: "I have no idea, actually; I haven't read her yet myself.

At some point I clicked the "want to read" button for Textermination, but that may have been as much because I saw it half off on a used b..."


After an exhaustive, 90-second search, I came across a telling quote from one of my favorite book-nerds fellow readers and found this caveat re: CB-R

As to Brooke-Rose, I have skimmed through her Omnibus and holymolymoly. It really is some of the most cryptic and nigh-unreadable stuff I have seen in the avant-garden. As to it being funny and inventive, probably not to anyone born after 1970 and without a PhD.

Maybe we can try CB-R in 2016 and pair her with Finnegan's Wake...


message 17: by Nicole (new)

Nicole | 143 comments Heh. I got this: "This is a fantastic book once you know what’s going on. I would best describe it as literary criticism dressed up as fiction."

We are clearly stalking very different people.


message 18: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 10 comments Wonderful list, Jim! Everything looks good, with my picks being Buzzati, Calvino and Lispector.


message 19: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Sarah wrote: "Wonderful list, Jim! Everything looks good, with my picks being Buzzati, Calvino and Lispector."

Thanks! Buzzati, Calvino, and Lispector are strong contenders for 2015 - according to the algorithm...


message 20: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) I'm definitely hoping to be more active next year-work has been horrible this year.

CB-R is great, especially (I think) Amalgamemnon. Also any Lispector.

But it's altogether a great list.


message 21: by Dee (new)

Dee (deinonychus) | 27 comments Out of those, the Dostoevsky immediately jumps out at me. I've read it before, and would love to look at it again. Other ones that look interesting are Camus, Calvino, Sterne, and O'Brien. They are all books that I've been meaning to read for a while. I've read quite a bit by Camus, but not got round to La Peste yet. I read The Third Policeman a year or so ago, and found it fascinating, so would love to read more by O'Brien.


message 22: by Zadignose (new)

Zadignose | 444 comments Open Library is a great resource in that I can sometimes find ebook versions of works that are not otherwise available in ebook... and they're free to borrow! However, it really is like a library. If one person checks out a book, it's not available to anyone else... I mean, worldwide, until they return it. So if it's used as a resource for a group read, only one of us can have it at a time.

The site is openlibrary.org and I used it to get Pig Tales.


message 23: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Zadignose wrote: "Open Library is a great resource in that I can sometimes find ebook versions of works that are not otherwise available in ebook... and they're free to borrow! However, it really is like a library. ..."

That's strange. First come, first served on a global scale...


message 24: by Nicole (new)

Nicole | 143 comments David wrote: "Out of those, the Dostoevsky immediately jumps out at me."

Okay, I totally missed this on the list. Can I add Dostoevsky to my "most-interested" list?


message 25: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Nicole wrote: "David wrote: "Out of those, the Dostoevsky immediately jumps out at me."

Okay, I totally missed this on the list. Can I add Dostoevsky to my "most-interested" list?"


done...


message 26: by Dee (new)

Dee (deinonychus) | 27 comments Here is an interesting read on Camus, La Peste, the Ebola outbreak, and contemporary politics: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/...


message 27: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
David wrote: "Here is an interesting read on Camus, La Peste, the Ebola outbreak, and contemporary politics: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/..."

Thanks for sharing that. Now I want to read Camus tonight...


message 28: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Oh, gosh! Like absconding to the local bookstore to get lost in the shelves, only a LOT less expensive. My top 6 to throw into the ad hoc, half-assed imaginary algorithm:

- Freud, "The Uncanny"
- Hoffmann, "Tomcat Murr"
- Lispector, "Wild Heart"
- O'Brien, "Two-Birds"
- Buzatti, "Tartar Steppe"
- Fox, "Desperate Characters"

Oof. That was tough!


message 29: by John (new)

John Sundman (jsundman) | 19 comments Flann O'Brien, for sure.

I guess after that, Lispector, to find out what all the fuss is about.

To be honest, I expect to spent most of next year running behind the pack, reading my Vollman & Gaddis, & panting, out of breath, "hey you guys! Wait for me!"

But I'll definitely read At Swim Two Birds again with the group. I read it for the first time in 2014 & was completely blown away by it. Just wonderful, wonderful stuff.


message 30: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 108 comments Probably not Brautigan, Camus & Dostoyevsky as I've read them a couple of times before. 'Maldoror' is a favourite of mine and I could easily be tempted to join in with a group read. Hoffmann is one of my favourite writers and 'Tomcat Murr' is one that I really have to read - I might not be able to wait though!

I tried to read 'Tristram Shandy' years ago and abandoned it so it may be a good time to give it another try. I would love to read some Flann O'Brien and Calvino would be a re-read that I'd be up for.

I haven't heard of most of the others so I'll have to check them out. I had a quick look at 'Op Oloop' as I was intrigued by the title and that looks promising.

I'll have a think about the Pynchon though as I should probably read 'V' or 'Gravity's Rainbow' first.


message 31: by William (new)

William Mego (willmego) | 119 comments Mason and Dixon, IJ, Calvino, Filloy, O'Brian, Lispector, Camus, and Mosley. Most of them were already on my radar for 2015!

Read the Markson with the same group Casceil did, was definitely not blown away. I think you (Jim) commented on my horrid, pissy review of it...fortunately not that it was a horrid and pissy review...which it was.


message 32: by Amy (new)

Amy | 21 comments I love Brautigan, but don't see him as "Brain Pain."

Like Johnathan, I tried to read "Tristam Shandy" and gave up. Not sure I'd try it again, but who knows?

My vote is for the Hoffmann; "Tomcat Murr."


message 33: by Mkfs (new)

Mkfs | 210 comments One thing I planned to read next year, and which may be of interest for Brain Pain (if it wasn't already a selection), is The Sleepwalkers: A Trilogy.


message 34: by Gregsamsa (new)

Gregsamsa | 74 comments Pardon terseness; on my phone. The Plague is painless, brain wise. A disaster movie with a few existential interludes. I'd say replace with CB-R's Amalgamemnon.


message 35: by Zadignose (new)

Zadignose | 444 comments Boooooooo!!

A literature professor worried about losing her job versus a city of people at risk of losing their lives and humanity! Plus, Hat's off, gentlemen! That never gets old.


message 36: by Gregsamsa (new)

Gregsamsa | 74 comments One of them is truly apocalyptic, the other has rats pirouetting into graves to obvious dialog.


message 37: by Zadignose (new)

Zadignose | 444 comments Rats are scary, ask Winston Smith.


message 38: by Jim (last edited Oct 29, 2014 12:29AM) (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Gregsamsa wrote: "One of them is truly apocalyptic, the other has rats pirouetting into graves to obvious dialog."

I think I saw that on Broadway... Andrew Lloyd Weber, right?


(PS. I have a thematic spin that might make it work...)


message 39: by Daniel (new)

Daniel From this list I have read the Camus, Calvino, Dostoevsky, Pessoa and Sabato.

I would nominate the following -

Juan Filloy - Op Oloop
Clarice Lispector – Near to the Wild Heart
Clarice Lispector – Água Viva
Fernando Pessoa - The Book of Disquiet (this requires a re-read)


message 40: by Russell (new)

Russell | 8 comments Most of these are hitting my sweet spot. Especially Calvino, Markson, O'Brien, Sorrentino, Sterne (already planning on reading this next year, so would be good to do group-style), Pessoa, and could probably re-read Camus. Hopefully this year I'll get a little more time to join in and schooling and work won't get in the way as much.

Am I right in assuming the WTV Seven Dreams read through will be halted until The Dying Grass gets a release, or will The Rifles make an appearance some time this year? Asking for a friend...


message 41: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Russell wrote: "Am I right in assuming the WTV Seven Dreams read through will be halted until The Dying Grass gets a release, or will The Rifles make an appearance some time this year? Asking for a friend..."

Whoops! I forgot to include Vollmann, but yes, we'll read The Rifles and hold a place open for The Dying Grass, assuming its released in 2015.


message 42: by Russell (new)

Russell | 8 comments Excellent! Thanks Jim.
Hopefully the publishers (or Bill, but mostly the publishers) will get over this 700 page limit thing, and we'll get to set eyes upon it.


message 43: by Zadignose (new)

Zadignose | 444 comments He could just insist on six-point type. If they push for wordcount rather than pagecount, he can start creatively developing new compound nouns... and compound adjectives... and compound clauses...


message 44: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Zadignose wrote: "He could just insist on six-point type. If they push for wordcount rather than pagecount, he can start creatively developing new compound nouns... and compound adjectives... and compound clauses..."

...and massive amounts of hyphenation...

BTW, since Dying Grass might not drop in 2015, would anyone be interested in The Rainbow Stories as an alternative?


message 45: by Zadignose (new)

Zadignose | 444 comments I'll go for any Vollmann... but whaddabout The Atlas?


message 46: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Zadignose wrote: "I'll go for any Vollmann... but whaddabout The Atlas?"

A good one for sure, but I'd really like to read this early collection of his to see his formative years. If we hear that Dying Grass is stalled for the year, we can do a poll for a few different WTV books.


message 47: by Russell (last edited Oct 30, 2014 03:35AM) (new)

Russell | 8 comments I think he's currently a fair way over the 700, so he's going to need all the compounds and 6-point type tricks he can muster. Even then he'd probably still have to work the rest into the "notes".

I could go for either of those 2 suggestions, personally. I was thinking of hitting them (and possibly 13 Stories...) up at some stage anyway.


message 48: by Jen (new)

Jen I would love to read Rainbow Stories with the group.


message 49: by Zadignose (new)

Zadignose | 444 comments I'll make like Thor and cross that rainbow with y'all.


message 50: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Zadignose wrote: "I'll make like Thor and cross that rainbow with y'all."

One idea I had was to use The Rainbow Stories as our short stories read, like we did with Kafka and Borges. It just might work....


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