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Book Club Round #2: Voting Thread

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message 1: by Ben (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:15AM) (new)

Ben (deadwolfbones) | 88 comments Mod
PEACE, Gene Wolfe
A MINOR APOCALYPSE, Tadeusz Konwicki
HEART OF A DOG, Mikhail Bulgakov
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF RED, Anne Carson
THE MEDUSA FREQUENCY, Russell Hoban

Descriptions below...


message 2: by Ben (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:15AM) (new)

Ben (deadwolfbones) | 88 comments Mod
PEACE

"Peace is indeed a haunting and frighteningly literate retelling of Edgar Lee Masters's SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY, situated somewhere on the literary spectrum between H.P. Lovecraft and Sherwood Anderson. What is most remarkable about Peace, to me, is the way it defies any easy categorization, from genre (it's not exactly science fiction, but if not, what is it?) to form (ostensibly the interrelated, and frequently interrupted, deathbed ramblings of an old man, which ultimately construct their own dream-like architecture). In this sense Peace is most similar to the novels of Jonathan Carroll, who mines similar territory.

My only caveats would be Tor's tiny, occluded typesetting (a valid regret, as noted elsewhere here) and the fact that Wolfe chooses to drop us into Weer's meditations without any gloss or preparation. The first thirty pages are indeed rough going--even for those of us who were in fact schooled on Joyce, Garcia Marquez, and Faulkner.

Like Carroll, Alan Garner, and other contemporary fabulists, Wolfe has yet to receive his due from the mainstream literary establishment. It's a pity. This novel should have at least started that ball rolling, long ago."


message 3: by Ben (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:15AM) (new)

Ben (deadwolfbones) | 88 comments Mod
A MINOR APOCALYPSE

"As in his novel The Polish Complex, Konwicki's A Minor Apocalypse stars a narrator and character named Konwicki, who has been asked to set himself on fire that evening in front of the Communist Parry headquarters in Warsaw in an act of protest. He accepts the commission, but without any clear idea of whether he will actually go through with the self-immolation. He spends the rest of the day wandering the streets of Warsaw, being tortured by the secret police, and falling in love.

Both himself and Everyman, the character-author experiences the effects of ideologies and bureaucracies gone insane with, as always in history, the individual struggling for survival rather than offering himself up on the pyre of "the greater good." Brilliantly translated by Richard Lourie, A Minor Apocalypse is one of the most important novels to emerge from Poland in the last twenty five years."


message 4: by Ben (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:15AM) (new)

Ben (deadwolfbones) | 88 comments Mod
HEART OF A DOG

"Bulgakov's Heart of a Dog... is a novella full of "unpleasant surprises," both happening to and instigated by Bulgakov's singular literary creation, Sharik (aka Mr. Sharik, aka Citizen Sharikov, aka Polygraph Polygraphovich Sharikov, commisar of cat control, etc.) Bulgakov takes an absurd situation (think of Gogol's "nose" wandering around the streets of St. Petersburg for comparison) and crafts it into a wonderful parody of the societal madhouse that was 30s Moscow under the party's intolerable decrees. His is a portrait of political correctness run amok. Citizen Shvonder, the representation of all things banal about the collectivist mentality of the era is the Bulgakov's primary target in this regard. His jealous rage at the fact that professor Phillipov is living the high life, while he and his ilk are sharing one room apartments, remains comically ineffectual. It was Bulgakov's way at getting back at all of the party appartchiks that were in fact causing him a great deal of consternation and physical hardship at the time.

A reviewer who was critical of this work as being too much akin to a Chagall painting was drawing an accurate analogy. Yet, coming from a perspective in which magical realism has become an accepted literary technique, I don't consider that a drawback. It is part of the same Russian tradition. The fanciful and the grotesque have long been an integral part of Russian fiction. Bulgakov is simply one of its more famous and adept practitioners."


message 5: by Ben (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:15AM) (new)

Ben (deadwolfbones) | 88 comments Mod
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF RED

"Anne Carson's Autobiography of Red is a novel in verse, the author's first. A classicist by profession as well as a poet, Carson has drawn on antiquity for her cast, updating the myth of Geryon and Herakles. In the original version, of course, Herakles killed the red-skinned, winged Geryon. In Carson's very contemporary retelling, he merely inspires, but does not return, the monster's passion. By choosing Geryon as her central character, Carson can bring up the questions of existence as if they hadn't been asked before. After all, the monster's instincts have not been numbed by civilization. Fires twist through him. We feel the pain of learning the most elementary things, and then the volcanic intensity that comes with that more advanced thing, love. Yet Carson doesn't so much tell the story of Geryon's love as mediate his very being through semiological surfaces: cafes, video stores, lipstick, a library where he shelves government documents with a "forlorn austerity, / tall and hushed in their ranges as veterans of a forgotten war." Carson seldom satisfies herself with an image of the world. Instead she atomizes the world, leaving it broken down, refracted, and glinting. At times her verbal pyrotechnics manage to render pure energy:

A little button at the end of each range activated the fluorescent track above it.
A yellowing 5 x 7 index card
Scotch-taped below each button said EXTINGUISH LIGHT WHEN NOT IN USE.
Geryon went flickering
through the ranges like a bit of mercury flipping the switches on and off.
The librarians thought him
a talented boy with a shadow side.

No novelist could have gotten away with that last line. Yet it's very much to the point: Carson's Geryon is, among other things, a camera freak who doesn't understand that an observer must inevitably alter the nature of the thing observed. Here is Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, cheek-by-jowl with the ancients! And indeed, Carson's achievement is to interweave the archaic and the modern so seamlessly that by the time we finish reading Autobiography of Red, the entire landscape looks inside out."


message 6: by Ben (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:15AM) (new)

Ben (deadwolfbones) | 88 comments Mod
THE MEDUSA FREQUENCY

"Herman Orff, an obscure London novelist reduced to writing comic books, decides to get his brain zapped with a hot-wired EEG device in the hope that it will jump start his third novel. Soon he's carrying on an intermittent conversation with the head of Orpheus, as well as the legendary sea beast the Kraken, which communicates with him via the green phosphorescent letters on the screen of his Apple II. This slender book about love, art, loss and delusion, by the author of "Riddley Walker" and "Turtle Diary" (both also out of print), deftly combines a stubborn, self-deprecatingly British sense of humor with a mythic undertow of surreptitious power; the first time I read it, I wept through the conclusion without quite understanding why. The fantastic strain in Hoban's work seems to have kept his reputation on the windy side of full literary legitimacy. Only "Riddley Walker" made much of a splash in America, largely because it was written in an invented, post-apocalyptic dialect that could hardly fail to impress. As a result, frustratingly few readers know that Hoban is also a wondrous stylist, one who wields the earthy, brambly, resonant beauty of the English language in a way that's positively Shakespearean."


message 7: by chase (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:15AM) (new)

chase Adams | 44 comments how am i supposed to choose from those?
shit.

i'm going with medusa frequency. im sort of dying to buy all 5.


message 8: by Sebastian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:15AM) (new)

Sebastian | 5 comments heart of a dog.
i hope i dont change my mind later


message 9: by Andrew (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:15AM) (new)

Andrew | 7 comments Heart of a Dog!


message 10: by tim (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:15AM) (new)

tim | 2 comments the medusa frequency.


message 11: by Ben (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:15AM) (new)

Ben (deadwolfbones) | 88 comments Mod
I should add that all of these are quite short.

Heart of a Dog is probably the shortest (my copy is 120pp), Peace the longest.


message 12: by Ben (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:15AM) (new)

Ben (deadwolfbones) | 88 comments Mod
I'm going to vote for The Medusa Frequency as well. I read Hoban's Pilgermann recently and it refuses to leave my mind.


message 13: by jord (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:15AM) (new)

jord | 2 comments Tough call, but I'm going to have to vote for Autobiography of Red which sounds amazing (and Canadian).


message 14: by Ben (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:15AM) (new)

Ben (deadwolfbones) | 88 comments Mod
Wait, it's Canadian?

Strike it from the options!


message 15: by Aaron (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:15AM) (new)

Aaron | 15 comments heart of a dog, holla


message 16: by jord (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:15AM) (new)

jord | 2 comments alas, poor CanLit


message 17: by Jon (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:15AM) (new)

Jon (kuboaa) | 13 comments I'm going to vote Medusa Frequency and damn you for adding more books to my "to get" list


message 18: by toph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:15AM) (new)

toph | 24 comments Heart of a Dog for me. A couple of the others look good, but that one's been on my "to read" list for a while, so this seems like a good opportunity to keep up with it. Plus I may actually finish it in time to discuss it this time!


message 19: by Christian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:15AM) (new)

Christian | 8 comments The Medusa Frequency


message 20: by kel (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:15AM) (new)

kel | 3 comments I vote Peace but if I had three votes I'd also vote Heart of a Dog and Minor Apocalypse.


message 21: by kel (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:15AM) (new)

kel | 3 comments I vote Peace but if I had three votes I'd also vote Heart of a Dog and Minor Apocalypse.


message 22: by Sean (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:15AM) (new)

Sean | 2 comments Oops that was me on my girlfriend's account. We both vote Peace.


message 23: by Ben (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:15AM) (new)

Ben (deadwolfbones) | 88 comments Mod
who the fuck is kel

<3 u for voting wolfe


message 24: by Ben (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:15AM) (new)

Ben (deadwolfbones) | 88 comments Mod
Voting will remain open till midnight Friday.


message 25: by Christian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:16AM) (new)

Christian | 8 comments In that case you can remove my vote. I'm traveling out of the country on Saturday and thus won't be able to pick up the book.


message 26: by kel (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:16AM) (new)

kel | 3 comments kel and sean were both the boarder known as mousepad, i will force my gf to read the book with us though


message 27: by toph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:16AM) (new)

toph | 24 comments In that case I don't think you should really get two votes then, huh?


message 28: by Ben (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:16AM) (new)

Ben (deadwolfbones) | 88 comments Mod
If they're both reading, they both get votes.


message 29: by Ben (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:16AM) (new)

Ben (deadwolfbones) | 88 comments Mod
How long are you going to be abroad, Christian?


message 30: by Ben (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:16AM) (new)

Ben (deadwolfbones) | 88 comments Mod
Current polling:

The Medusa Frequency: 5 (-1 for Christian?)
Heart of a Dog: 4
Peace: 2
Autobiography of Red: 1


message 31: by Christian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:16AM) (new)

Christian | 8 comments ~2 weeks


message 32: by Ben (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:16AM) (new)

Ben (deadwolfbones) | 88 comments Mod
This process seems to take about a month. Also, the current leader is like 120pp. Sure you want to drop out?


message 33: by Hunter (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:17AM) (new)

Hunter | 3 comments I'm going with the Medusa Frequency. Although it may be difficult to track down.


message 34: by Jon (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:17AM) (new)

Jon (kuboaa) | 13 comments there are quite a few copies on half.com for cheap, The Medusa Frequency that is


message 35: by Ben (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:17AM) (new)

Ben (deadwolfbones) | 88 comments Mod
Amazon marketplace, too.


message 36: by Sebastian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:18AM) (new)

Sebastian | 5 comments are these books easy to find in a medium sized library?

im poor, real poor


message 37: by Sebastian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:18AM) (new)

Sebastian | 5 comments my library has none of these, i guess i have to pull out.
remove my vote also i guess


message 38: by Sebastian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:18AM) (new)

Sebastian | 5 comments my library has none of these, i guess i have to pull out.
remove my vote also i guess


message 39: by Ben (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:18AM) (new)

Ben (deadwolfbones) | 88 comments Mod
Are there any university libraries nearby?


message 40: by Christian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:18AM) (new)

Christian | 8 comments Ben, if it is going to be a month to read and discuss the book I guess I can stick with it. It just seemed like the first round went by rather quickly.


message 41: by Ben (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:18AM) (new)

Ben (deadwolfbones) | 88 comments Mod
I see no problem with making it a month.


message 42: by toph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:18AM) (new)

toph | 24 comments Ok, so voting is closed, right? What's the verdict? I'm ready to start reading.


message 43: by Ben (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:18AM) (new)

Ben (deadwolfbones) | 88 comments Mod
The Medusa Frequency: 6
Heart of a Dog: 5
Peace: 2
Autobiography of Red: 1

Medusa Frequency it is.


message 44: by Rebecca (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:19AM) (new)

Rebecca well i guess i'm in trouble for not voting but i'm happy with the choice


message 45: by toph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:19AM) (new)

toph | 24 comments Did somebody delete my post or something? I counted and found Medusa and Heart tied, and posted about it, but now that's gone. Maybe something goofy is happening with this site though.


message 46: by Ben (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:19AM) (new)

Ben (deadwolfbones) | 88 comments Mod
See my post in the thread on the board.

I didn't delete any posts here or anything, though. Maybe you're just remembering your post there?


message 47: by Jeremy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:19AM) (new)

Jeremy (jkrycz) | 1 comments When am I supposed to have read these by?


message 48: by Chad (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:19AM) (new)

Chad Walker | 1 comments Not that anybody knows who I am, but I'll be joining in on this.


message 49: by Ben (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:19AM) (new)

Ben (deadwolfbones) | 88 comments Mod
Discussion closes on Friday, July 13th.


message 50: by toph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:19AM) (new)

toph | 24 comments In reference to Ben's post - you're probably right. I knew I made a post about it somewhere. Chalk it up to a long day.


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