my (short) pretentious list Best book you've ever read: my (short) pretentious list

Yseult on Monday, July 19, 1999 - 04:47 am:

    yeah, that's right:

    Tin Drum, Gunter Grass
    V, Thomas Pynchon
    Lolita, Nabakov
    Molloy, Beckett
    The Fall, Camus
    C & P, Dostoyevsky

    i'm done. this is my short list so sit on it.

By Gee on Monday, July 19, 1999 - 10:04 am:

    the list or the books?

    I've never read any of those. Nor am I inclined to do so. You people...all of you...are making me feel stoopid.

By Droopy on Monday, July 19, 1999 - 11:00 am:

    We only come here to seem intellijent. And we don't always suckseed.

    Having said that: any one who likes Molloy and Kafka's "The Burrow" (from the other thread) is ok in my book.

By Skeptical waffles on Monday, July 19, 1999 - 01:05 pm:

    hey Gee, it's all about quoting and posting a bunch of shit that makes you seem so you...abstract, and you know........really cool...and you know...really above all......this person appears to be listing his favortite bands, books, and authors. It's the typical pretentious references made by all at one time or another in this place. Don't be intimidated, you might be surprised at the man/woman behind the words.

By Droppings on Monday, July 19, 1999 - 02:48 pm:

    I hope nobody taked me the wrong way. I am like facing extreme home repair and improvement bills and I feel stoopid fer letting things get to that point and i would Much liKe ot evil in a burrow like a badger or whatever the hell that thing was in the story.

    Still love Molloy, though.

    "We underestimate this little hole, it seems to me. We call it the arsehole and affect to despise it. But is it not in fact the true portal of our being and the celebrated mouth merely the kitchen door."


    I'm not sure I'm making sense butImaynotnormallyandbesides
    it was one of those lunches
    of potables whole bunches
    and sips between munches
    and paranoid hunches.

    My favorite books are:

    My stereo instructions (to this day I can't figure out how to work the thing.)

    Yellow pages. (a cornucopia of commerce.)

    The book of love (the pages on mine seem to be stuck together)

    Anything small, portable, and insipid that can get me through a kafkaesque wait in a doctor's office without having to read People.

    books are food for naught.

By Yseult on Tuesday, July 20, 1999 - 02:00 pm:

    the list... hmmm. the "sit on it" is a reference to the fonz a la happy days.

    and yes, i'm a pretentious english major.

    i just got Watt the other day and i intend to read the shit out of it.

    also, for my non-pretentious choices: anything by Haruki Murakami, and anything by Jeff Noon.

    i thought the thing in the burrow was a mole. but then again... i was paranoid for days after i read it.

By Cyst on Saturday, July 24, 1999 - 02:32 pm:

    I've read (the english-language translations of) most of those books.

    what the hell was v about, anyway? took that, moby dick and ulysses with me on an extended journey out of the u.s. -- I figured that was the only way I would ever read them. so I read v and had no fucking idea what pynchon was talking about most of the time.

    I love to read but chose not to be an english major because anyone can pick up a book.

    I was supposed to read v in an english class I took long ago and the professor mapped out the journey benny profane took, and I think it was in the shape of a big v. but so the fuck what?

    tell me all about it. what is it about and why do you like it?

    I read the fall on a plane a couple weeks ago. maybe I was reading a bad translation or something, but it seemed pretty silly. a few good, funny lines, but the tavern monologue structure was awkward and forced.

    a few months ago I smuggled hard currency out of the former soviet union in a copy of crime and punishment. I thought that was pretty funny until I got chosen to be searched.

By Semillama on Saturday, July 24, 1999 - 06:36 pm:

    damn, it was a short list of the books i chose to take with me when I moved, and it's still too long!

    here's an abbreviated version:
    Illuminatus! - Shea and Wilson
    Confederacy of Dunces - O'Toole
    The Book of the Subgenius
    Revelation X-The "Bob" Apocryphon
    The Wheel of time series- Jordan
    Earth -Brin
    Radio Free Albemuth -Dick
    The Elfquest series -Pini and Pini (laugh if you will, but no other piece of art/literature has contributed more to my worldview)

    i could go on...

By Gee on Sunday, July 25, 1999 - 04:01 am:

    You know...I like to think I'd be too cool and feministy to run to Fonzie's side when he snaps his lil' fingers at me, but I have to admit, I'd be there. He's such a lil' buttercup.

    Okay. You can all go back to being superior now.

By Droopy on Sunday, July 25, 1999 - 09:37 am:

    I've never been superior a day in my life. The creature in "The Burrow" wasn't a mole, though. Ever seen one of those things? Nasty. Out of the ground they look like big hairy grubs with stubby back legs and nasty sideways-turned front claws. I just like badgers. They're insouciant and bad-assed, the Fonzies of the forest, and maybe a giving more credit to the creature in the story; but there must be paranoid, insecure badgers out there somewhere.

By Agatha on Sunday, July 25, 1999 - 03:02 pm:

    "confederacy of dunces" was a great book. i tend to like a lot of black women writers nearly obsessively, not sure why that is. one of my friends is fond of telling me that i was a black lesbian in my previous life.

    i just like good fiction. john irving, vonnegut, tom robbins, raymond carver, people who are capable of entertaining me. i do not get into the stilted, challenging language of most of the authors mentioned above. i tried to read atlas shrugged about a year ago, and got about two chapters in before i abandoned it. i didn't enjoy it, and i am a firm believer in reading for escape purposes. i don't want to struggle with the book i am reading, i want to float in it and forget about the other things going on in my life completely.

    i like philip k dick, but not wholeheartedly. some of his books rocked me, some left me cold. he has influenced a lot of people whose writing i love, though, and for this i appreciate him. has anyone read the new neil stephenson book yet? is it any good?

    right now i am reading some fiction book about world war two, which is really not my style. it's not too bad, though, although it sometimes borders on the cheesy. "gone for soldiers", by marge piercy. that's all.

By Sheila on Sunday, July 25, 1999 - 03:35 pm:

    my list changes continuallly, but "dunces" has remained near the top always.

    llama, we are members of the same congretation. wouldn't you know.

By Semillama on Sunday, July 25, 1999 - 03:48 pm:

    I'd like to throw out one word and see how many folks think it applies to this community: "karass" ( a term supplied by Vonegut).

    I just finished "Lord of the Barnyard" by Tristan Egolf.

    For Dunce fans, this is a must read. Great romp throught the quaking hell that is ignorance in America. it follows the adventures of one John kaltenbrunner, who through no fault of his own is pushed over the edge by the swinish townsfolk until he becomes their nemesis. Although there are a few spelling errors, the language flows and roils like spring runoff and the story won't let you go. Marvelous book.

By Cyst on Sunday, July 25, 1999 - 06:32 pm:

    tomorrow I am going to start reading george eliot's "adam bede" on the bus. or "memoirs of a geisha" by arthur golden.

    maybe we're a karass in that we are part of the small group of people in the western world who do not spend most of their free time watching tv.

    lately I've heard a lot of "it's time you settled down" advice (always those words too -- "settle down"), and today I decided that I will no longer even listen to, let alone consider, advice from people who do not read books. which the advice givers do not.

By Antigone on Sunday, July 25, 1999 - 07:08 pm:

    I wouldn't be so quick to judge people on those criteria, Cyst. A predilection to read books does not necessarily show wisdom. I'm not even sure it's a correlate. Sure, it's a correlate for intelligence, but only a specialized type of intelligence. What you want in a good advice giver is worldliness and experience. Besides, I think it's always folly to ignore a viewpoint. Truth always comes from the most unexpected sources...

By Moonunit on Monday, July 26, 1999 - 12:55 am:

    Gee I know what you mean about the fonz *sigh*

    out of all the above authors and books that you guys have mentioned I recognised one - and thats the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, and I think I like it, but sometimes when reading these huge novels i wonder why i am bothering then something exciting happens and i get right into it again.

    i love terry pratchets earlier work, hes one of the few authors that can make me laugh out loud - which disturbs people on the bus ; )

By Gee on Monday, July 26, 1999 - 01:16 am:

    My favorite writer is Jane Austin. She's just very calming. Mellow. I also really like Ron Carlson and Christopher Pike. I usually feel the need to apoligize for liking Pike, though, because he's mostly a YA writer. I just Really love his imagination and the different views he has of God and godlike creatures.

    When I was younger I was OBSESSED with the Taffy Sinclair books.

By Cyst on Monday, July 26, 1999 - 03:14 am:

    I was really sorry to have finished all of jane austin's novels this year. I wish she'd completed 30 books instead of six.

    people who read books instead of watching tv have advice that is relevant to me. these people who tell me to settle down don't understand that I can't fill my time in front of the box as they do.

    I know very few people who neither read books nor watch tv.

By Cyst on Monday, July 26, 1999 - 03:16 am:

    reading books implies curiosity, which is the linchpin of intelligence.

By Sheila on Monday, July 26, 1999 - 11:16 am:

    oh pleeeez. i guess you have never seen anyone who reads romances, and in fact spend hours and hours doing so. what relevant advice would they have for you, coming from their "books"? curiosity can be useless and counterproductive and meaningless, vapid and self indulgent.

    everyone should read books, all the time, all kinds. but it doesn't imply intelligence. it implies you have time on your hands and prefer to spend it trying to fill the gaps with other people's ideas. just because your brain is crammed with stuff doesn't mean you can meaningfully process it, or use it for good, or anything else. it means you read a lot. i read everything, all the time, and have no illusions that it indicates intelligence on my part.

    only on Jeopardy! do you win by putting everything in the form of a question.

    in spite of decades of curiously studying it, no one knows what is the linchpin of intelligence.

    i'm sort of cranky this morning.

By Friendly on Monday, July 26, 1999 - 09:45 pm:

    The Futurological Congress, Memoirs Found In A Bathtub and Solaris by Stanislaw Lem. He is cooler than all of you.

    The Fungus Garden by Brian Brett. If coolness like this was lethal, we'd all be dead.

    Last and First Men and Last Men in London by Olaf Stapledon. To think that this was written when we hardly knew what a lightbulb was. So much cooler than your great-grandparents.

    All of Richard Brautigan's prose. So cool and yet so unverbose. That's why he had that moustache. It was pure, unadulterated, super-concentrated cool growing out of that upper lip. It could not would not be contained.

By Holden on Monday, July 26, 1999 - 09:48 pm:

    Neither the best I've ever read or qualifiers for some dilettante's list,but pretty damned good. Plus, they come to mind instantly:

    God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Vonnegut
    The Old Man and the Sea, Hemmingway
    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Thompson
    Catch 22, Heller that I recently disrupted several waiting rooms with laughter while reading:

    Why Not Me?, Franken

By Antigone on Monday, July 26, 1999 - 11:09 pm:

    I think intelligence causes curiosity, not the other way around. Is that what you mean by "linchpin," that curiosity causes (or is a necessary precursor of) intelligence? Maybe it can go both ways: an intelligent mind may become restless and desire new stimuli leading to curiosity. Also, a restless mind can stimulate itself, promoting adaptation and growth, and thus becoming more intelligent.

    What the fuck?

    Anyway, so that I'm not completely off topic:

    "Invisible Cities" and "CosmiComics" by Italo Calvino
    "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" by Milan Kundera
    The "Dune" series by Frank Herbert
    "Slaughterhouse-Five" and "Mother Night" by Kurt Vonnegut
    "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabakov
    "Ghosts" by Paul Auster

    and, as long as we're including Franken,

    "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot"

By Cyst on Tuesday, July 27, 1999 - 06:50 pm:

    sheila - you're smart and you read books. should I go find a man so I can get married and start a family and get settled before it's too late?

    a romance reader might not think so. a romance reader might tell me to wait for that special guy or something equally idiotic.

    you may want to defend all the zombies, but I don't like the shit the tv watchers are telling me, and I've just decided that I can consider everything that say completely irrelevant to my life. but I guess I shouldn't subject others to my convoluted arguments that I'm trying to think up to justify this opinion.

    I completely stole the "curiosity is the linchpin of intelligence" line from kim rollins ( I believe everything she says and wondered if others would as well.


    I'm reading "adam bede" and trying to figure out if hetty sorrel and the young squire ever actually fucked or not. he had her neck shawl in his little cabin. and the back of the book calls him her "seducer." I wish she'd get pregnant or something so I could know for exactly sure if any truly "base folly" occurred.

By Waffleboy on Tuesday, July 27, 1999 - 07:24 pm:

    if curiosity is the linchpin of intelligence, then my cats should be making six figures and supporting ME. But then again, maybe they register so high in IQ that that is PRECISELY why they DON"T work to support me and somehow manage to manipulate me and my s/o into feeding, brushing, bathing, and loving them so. hmmmmm, NOW I am curious......genius?

By Drpy on Tuesday, July 27, 1999 - 07:43 pm:

    I seem to remember Plato saying that curiosity was the beginning of philosophy.

    A linchpin is a small peg at the end of an axle that keeps a wagon wheel from falling off. If curiosity is a linchpin, is intellijence the wheel or the axle? I see curiosity as in fact being the wheel and intelligense as the axle and maybe discretion as the linchpin which keeps curiosity from running rampant. Although it's possible that inteligence is the axle and curiosity is the driving wheel and discretion or even decency is the linchpin which keeps intelligence from overstepping its boundaries. But I don't like that because to many curious, intilligent people overstep their boundaries every day, so maybe the first is right. Although maybe ego is the wheel, entelligence is the axle, and money is the linchpin. naaaaaaah.

    Curiosity isn't a linchpin. Kim Rollins is totally wrong. Don't believe everything you read.

    I wonder if there's anything good on TV tonight?

By Sheila on Tuesday, July 27, 1999 - 10:13 pm:

    "the life of birds" is on pbs

    at least it is where i am

By Antigone on Tuesday, July 27, 1999 - 11:37 pm:

    When I went to Kim Rollins' page it said I was visitor #2 since March 14th, 1995! Cyst, I guess that means you were #1...

By Antigone on Wednesday, July 28, 1999 - 12:23 am:

    Well, Kim Rollins' primer says that she was "essentially raised by television," so I guess you shouldn't listen to her either, Cyst. :-)

By Waffles on Wednesday, July 28, 1999 - 02:11 am:

    actually though, I went earlier Antigone, and it said I there had only been one visitor prior to me....that was before your post..........perhaps a fluke in the counter........

By Silly on Wednesday, July 28, 1999 - 02:24 am:

    Atlas Shrugged,and The Fountain Head :Ayn Rand.The Good Earth:Pearl Buck.

By Cyst on Wednesday, July 28, 1999 - 04:41 am:

    her counter's a joke.

By Croix on Wednesday, July 28, 1999 - 10:13 am:

    I enjoyed the make-a-wish foundation joke.

By Antigone on Thursday, July 29, 1999 - 12:25 am:

    Ya, I kinda figured the counter thing was a joke or broken. I'm just giving you a hard time, Cyst, 'cause you seem to be getting a bit snooty lately...

By Lawanda on Thursday, July 29, 1999 - 11:18 am:

    Someone mention Ayn Rand? Here's my list:

    Anthem - Ayn Rand
    Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follet
    No Cure for Cancer - Denis Leary
    Dolphin Island - Lewis C. Clarke (started my dolphin craze when I was 13, I still re-read it from time to time.)
    In Cold Blood - Truman Capote

    I read everything Ann Rice writes (with the exception of the books she wrote under a different name), but I don't like all of them. I just can't help myself. My favorites of hers are The Mayfair Witches and Interview With a Vampire.

    I'm the kind of reader that goes on tirades. I read a lot of one author, then go to another one. Then I might get into a subject matter, and read a bunch on that. For a couple of months, I read all I could get my hands on about the Titanic. I devour true crime books. Some are really well crafted, others are like reading tabloid papers...baaaad. It is rare that I think a book is so bad that put it down and quit.

    I tried to read the much hailed "Winter's Tale" by Mark Helprin, but I just couldn't finish the thing. Maybe I'll go pay my library fines and try again. I want to read all of Franken's books.

    Cats are alien beings that were put on earth to subjugate us. Think about it next time your cat gives you that look that says "You are my slave, earthling."

By Droop on Thursday, July 29, 1999 - 12:02 pm:

    I'm reading a novel called Cold Mountain right now. I got it a long time ago and tried for months to start it, but I wasn't in the right frame of mind. A lot of the book is about misery.

    One of the characters in the book - Ada - is reading Adam Bede (ain't that a coincidence.) Or trying to.

    "So she had work as an excuse for not focusing her thoughts on the page. But, too, she had long since grown impatient with Adam and Hetty and the rest and would have quit the book but for the fact that she had paid so much for it. She wished all the people of the story to be more expansive, not so cramped by their circumstance. What they needed was more scope, greater range. Go to the Indes, she directed them. Or the Andes.

    She marked her place with a yarrow stem and closed the book and set it in her lap. She wondered if literature might lose some of its interest when she reaced an age or state of mind where her life was set on such a sure course that the things she read might stop seeming so powerfully like alternate directions for her being."

By Cyst on Thursday, July 29, 1999 - 04:49 pm:

    kim rollins is my dream girl.

    antigone -- I've seemed snooty lately? I've actually been snooty this whole time. feel free to give me as hard a time as you wish, although I don't really need any help in making myself look stupid. I'm getting annoyed by my own posts and have not even been reading them. thanks for the jab, I actually appreciate it just now.

    droopy - hey, thanks for posting that passage. the only part that didn't ring true is that someone paid a lot of money for "adam bede." I read it because it was cheap. a lot of 19th-century stuff is in the public domain or whatever, so you can go to pretty much any country in europe and pick up the original eng-lang versions of austen, eliot, twain, etc., for like $2 a pop. my next $2 will be "tom sawyer" or dostoevsky's "the idiot."

    in "adam bede," the omniscient unseen narrator (I forget the proper literary terms) is clearly a man, and a slightly misogynist one at that. occasionally I got mad at george eliot/mary ann evans for betraying us women. she even has the one strong female character, a methodist preacher, give up her lifelong passion and gift for evangelism in order to get married and have kids.

    george eliot's books start out great. the characters lust and do wicked things. but then they end in repentence and redemption and boring holy shit. the "cold mountain" character was right. they need to run off with their lovers and never come back.

By Yseult on Thursday, July 29, 1999 - 05:02 pm:

    i think that part of the charm of V is that it is so enigmatic. or essentially the question running through your mind the entire time your reading it is, what the fuck is it and why is it everywhere....???

    i haven't read any criticism. some bits are rather foggy since i read it last summer... but it was just the right time for it.

    the V is what binds the characters together. they themselves aren't aware of it. the stories correlate in a way... with the philosophy and themes and such.

    as for the fall... Camus's technique was bizarre, effective but imperfect. it suited the character i think, but it made it hard to identify with him because there wasn't... well... real interaction.

    i particullarly like the concept. somewhat like the one Sartre explored in No Exit where one incident/decision defines a person's life...?

By Antigone on Thursday, July 29, 1999 - 09:46 pm:

    Jeez, Cyst, I needle you a bit and you bleed a bucket. Actually, it sounds like you were already bleeding, ya? Need some St. John's Wort, or something? You sound a little down...

By Cyst on Friday, July 30, 1999 - 01:51 am:

    maybe I just need a good book to read. yesterday I was given a copy of "the sun also rises." I read the back cover -- sounds like a lot of bleeding goes on in that novel. when I saw a bullfight in mexico city, the horses had gore-proof covers. doesn't sound like that's the old-fashioned way. yuck.

By Droopy on Friday, July 30, 1999 - 09:59 am:

    cyst - cold mountain is set in the south during the (american) civil war - 'round 1864. adam bede was written in '59, so i guess ada still had to pay full price for a leather-bound edition. besides, she is dirt poor. the book was an extravagance.

By Droopy on Friday, July 30, 1999 - 10:03 am:

    i think you should go out and find a copy of some rabelais and have some fun.

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