Books fleeting thoughts

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Zohar
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Books fleeting thoughts

Postby Zohar » Thu Sep 01, 2016 12:48 pm UTC

Apparently it's the 37th anniversary of The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, and Google did a charming doodle for it. I was happy to find it included scenes from the latter half of the book, the one not described in the movie. It's a fantastic book, and I recommend everyone to read it, whether you're young or old, and having seen the movie or not.
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Re: Books fleeting thoughts

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Sep 01, 2016 2:18 pm UTC

Can you even define the latter half of that which never ends? ;)



My fleeting thought is that it seems (from what was said at the weekend) that the Discworld is on a confirmed hiatus. Novel-wise.

The current executors of the Pratchett estate are carefully and slowly developing existing stories for visual media, but are (for the foreseeable future) not entertaining any post PTerry novels (e.g. by daughter Rhianna, amanuensis Rob or even 'guest' authors like has happened with the Ian Flemming estate). More than this, an apparently 'sole copy' very incomplete manuscript was actually shredded in publuc after some tantilising reading by Rob.

So no possibility of Raising Taxes, Running Water or Scouting For Trolls, amongst others, on the horizon.

Mixed feelings about this. I had thought Rhianna, at least, might have been able to do justice (her capability with screenplays and doubtless osmotic immersion), but then again is it worth it to flog a dead horse? Or, in this case, author. Could be good, and true to the spirit, but I'm not sure I quite 'got' the post-Asimov continuation of the Foundation series, etc...


(Did a quick check, surprised that there was no prior Fleeting Thoughts thread here, so I thought I'd support this newly-created one. Also my information does not really fit into the Best And Worse Discworld Thread, although I covered beyond-book Pratchettania in the Film/TV subforum earlier today. Mods are free to intervene if they know better, naturally.)

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Re: Books fleeting thoughts

Postby Zohar » Thu Sep 01, 2016 2:44 pm UTC

I don't necessarily want it to be extended. I would be very worried about any future books being written mostly to make more money and not necessarily because there's something great to do with the world.
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Re: Books fleeting thoughts

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Sep 01, 2016 8:49 pm UTC

Openly, at least, the vast riches so far accumulated by the literary efforts of Sir Terence, OBE, are significantly flowing into charitable causes, and into the likes of Narrativia (not likely to be a cash cow, but does certainly act to prevent the traditional others from squeezing his works, individually, through their own cash dairy farms). I would be sympathetic to an estate-approved continuation of his world.

(This is what "The Watch" was originally described as. A.K.A. "CSI: Ankh-Morpork", four years back whilst Terry was still around to be happy or otherwise with the format. From the way I understand the revision has proceeded (i.e. "So how do we even tell Vimes's story?"/<Rest of room turns and looks, as one, to the stack of extant books sitting at the end of the meeting table>) it might now be a direct faithful-ish conversion rather than a "The Backroom Guys"-type thing in the book-flavoured setting.)

But, as I said, I didn't much like the post-Asimov Asimovs, and I haven't really seen much of the post-Flemming 007 novels (I'm only sure that I've read Icebreaker, and certainly none of the Young Bond ones). I want more 'world', like you, but am wary of it going wrong. Risk averse as I am, I should probably be happy.


(BTW: Currently reading Anne Leckie's "Ancilliary" series, #2/Sword in particular, amongst several other books. Interesting works.)

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Re: Books fleeting thoughts

Postby AngrySquirrel » Tue Sep 06, 2016 1:23 pm UTC

I think I've spent too much time with book critics and tropes to enjoy books anymore.

When I was a kid I used to get this feeling I have no name for when I read a good story. This sense of excitement and adrenaline that would sweep me away into the story and make me feel it as if it was real. I haven't had that feeling for over 15 years now.

I keep reading. Books that have been recommended by people I know and who know me. Books with good reviews. Books with poor reviews. Books with brilliant premises and books with ridiculous premises. From bizarre fan-fiction to praised and adored works of literature. And I'm just constantly disappointed. The stories feel empty, thin, like gloriously decorated shells promising great things but when you break into them there's just...nothing.

There are still stories that make me laugh. And there are stories I objectively can judge as good and well written. But mostly it's just tropes. And not exciting re-writings of tropes. Just tropes. Nothing new. And I can't get that feeling I used to have when I was younger to come back and that just makes me sad.
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Re: Books fleeting thoughts

Postby Whizbang » Tue Sep 06, 2016 1:32 pm UTC

One reason I am afraid to delve too deeply into tvtropes.

BFT: I haven't read a book in months. All my book time is audio-book through Audible or Overdrive. I have a pile of e-books I bought from Amazon just sitting there... burning a hole in my brain.

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Re: Books fleeting thoughts

Postby natraj » Tue Sep 06, 2016 4:29 pm UTC

AngrySquirrel wrote:Tout est dit, et l'on vient trop tard depuis plus de sept mille ans qu'il y a des hommes qui pensent.


i feel very much for you :(
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Re: Books fleeting thoughts

Postby Kewangji » Wed Sep 07, 2016 8:50 am UTC

AngrySquirrel wrote:[...]and that just makes me sad.

Pardon me, but this does not sound entirely like it's caused by having more knowledge. It just sounds like depression to me, like how food stops tasting like anything (kind of). I'm sorry you're having this problem though, and I'm sorry to speculate wildly here.

~

Been thinking about the gender ratio of my bookshelves. Overwhelmingly male authors, but I'm slowly evening it out I hope. Most recent female authors include Solnit and Aleksijeitj, whose name is probably anglicised in a different form. But then there's a different problem of how to organise the bookshelves. The spatial metaphors of who's first and who's on top need thinking about. I've placed all my Pratchett books on the row behind, which I think is a metaphor about how they were important during my formative clay years but aren't things I return to.

Do y'all do this type of thing? It's been so long since I had the space to indulge in it.
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Re: Books fleeting thoughts

Postby AngrySquirrel » Wed Sep 07, 2016 10:45 am UTC

Kewangji wrote:
AngrySquirrel wrote:[...]and that just makes me sad.

Pardon me, but this does not sound entirely like it's caused by having more knowledge. It just sounds like depression to me, like how food stops tasting like anything (kind of). I'm sorry you're having this problem though, and I'm sorry to speculate wildly here.

Well, yea, depression is definitely part of it, but only a part.
natraj wrote:
AngrySquirrel wrote:Tout est dit, et l'on vient trop tard depuis plus de sept mille ans qu'il y a des hommes qui pensent.


i feel very much for you :(

It's not that I feel books were better before either. When I was a kid and teenager they were new to me sure. They presented me with new concepts and ideas that still echo through my actions and work, which in itself is quite fascinating to realize and trace back to its origins. But it wasn't like those books were significant "better" than the ones I read now. It's just...I don't know. The problem is me, I think I expect too much and when that fails to deliver it just feels empty.

So yea, I got into this train of thought cause I finally read one of the requested discussion books for the "book" club I'm in. And everyone's squeeing about it and I'm feeling it was mostly mediocre and I'm not looking forward to our next meeting where we'll discuss this and people will be gushing and I'll be there going "it was ok I guess, the author probably reads a lot of manga or watch a lot of anime cause I recognize trope x, y and z and they commonly appear in manga, also this one description really bothered me". You know, being that guy.

Siiigh. I just want to read something that makes me feel more than cheap laughs and superficial annoyance.
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Re: Books fleeting thoughts

Postby Echo244 » Wed Sep 07, 2016 11:50 am UTC

...maybe a break would help? Just a chance to back off a little bit, and not feel like you're constantly wading through derivative tosh in search of some little gem of innovation, excitement and wonder?

And then... maybe a change of direction? Pick up something you're not generally interested in, non-fiction or something that *will* be different to your normal tastes. See what you can find. Focus on the bits of diamond, rather than the rubbish.

Maybe even give yourself a chance to forget some of the patterns you're tired of seeing. Well, not forget exactly, but... let their impact fade.
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Re: Books fleeting thoughts

Postby AngrySquirrel » Wed Sep 07, 2016 12:34 pm UTC

Echo244 wrote:...maybe a break would help? Just a chance to back off a little bit, and not feel like you're constantly wading through derivative tosh in search of some little gem of innovation, excitement and wonder?

And then... maybe a change of direction? Pick up something you're not generally interested in, non-fiction or something that *will* be different to your normal tastes. See what you can find. Focus on the bits of diamond, rather than the rubbish.

Maybe even give yourself a chance to forget some of the patterns you're tired of seeing. Well, not forget exactly, but... let their impact fade.

That is not an option.
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Re: Books fleeting thoughts

Postby Jesse » Fri Sep 09, 2016 9:27 pm UTC

I went through something similar, and really fell out of love with reading for a while. I eventually came back to it by finding writers for whom reading their sentences itself was a joy. Like Amy Hempel. Regardless of the fact that I did end up enjoying her stories, I first fell in love with just the way she writes, and the way she uses words. No idea if that will interest you at all, but it worked out for me (and as a white male, my experience is representative of the rest of humanity).

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Re: Books fleeting thoughts

Postby raudorn » Mon Sep 12, 2016 9:38 pm UTC

AngrySquirrel wrote:From bizarre fan-fiction to praised and adored works of literature. And I'm just constantly disappointed.


I may be picking on the wrong thing, but... how bizarre are we talking here? I'm asking because I noticed with myself that fan-fiction has taken over a role that published works of fiction cannot fulfill properly, because of how bizarre things can get. There's no need to introduce characters, set up a world or try to convince the reader why this fictional universe is interesting. You can start a fanfic in medias res and everything makes perfect sense.

Without all that tropy cruft usually necessary to make a story work, some fanfics manage to immediately get to the core of telling an interesting story (while others are only tropy cruft without a story). So I guess my question is if you have sampled all kinds of fan-fiction and found them all lacking or maybe there could be a certain type that would reignite your passion for written stories?

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Re: Books fleeting thoughts

Postby AngrySquirrel » Tue Sep 13, 2016 8:42 pm UTC

raudorn wrote:
AngrySquirrel wrote:From bizarre fan-fiction to praised and adored works of literature. And I'm just constantly disappointed.


I may be picking on the wrong thing, but... how bizarre are we talking here? I'm asking because I noticed with myself that fan-fiction has taken over a role that published works of fiction cannot fulfill properly, because of how bizarre things can get. There's no need to introduce characters, set up a world or try to convince the reader why this fictional universe is interesting. You can start a fanfic in medias res and everything makes perfect sense.

Without all that tropy cruft usually necessary to make a story work, some fanfics manage to immediately get to the core of telling an interesting story (while others are only tropy cruft without a story). So I guess my question is if you have sampled all kinds of fan-fiction and found them all lacking or maybe there could be a certain type that would reignite your passion for written stories?

How I read this:
Me: I read a wide variety of books and stories
You: But have you tried reading different stories?

...
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Re: Books fleeting thoughts

Postby pogrmman » Wed Sep 21, 2016 9:36 pm UTC

I'm reading Pale Fire right now -- it's a great book!

I love how the story in America and of the king's escape are slowly revealed -- it makes for a great read.

Also, I actually liked the poem quite a bit.

I think Nabakov is definitely one of my favorite authors.

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Re: Books fleeting thoughts

Postby Mambrino » Thu Sep 22, 2016 6:12 am UTC

AngrySquirrel wrote:It's not that I feel books were better before either. When I was a kid and teenager they were new to me sure. They presented me with new concepts and ideas that still echo through my actions and work, which in itself is quite fascinating to realize and trace back to its origins. But it wasn't like those books were significant "better" than the ones I read now. It's just...I don't know. The problem is me, I think I expect too much and when that fails to deliver it just feels empty.

So yea, I got into this train of thought cause I finally read one of the requested discussion books for the "book" club I'm in. And everyone's squeeing about it and I'm feeling it was mostly mediocre and I'm not looking forward to our next meeting where we'll discuss this and people will be gushing and I'll be there going "it was ok I guess, the author probably reads a lot of manga or watch a lot of anime cause I recognize trope x, y and z and they commonly appear in manga, also this one description really bothered me". You know, being that guy.

Siiigh. I just want to read something that makes me feel more than cheap laughs and superficial annoyance.


I think I recognize something familiar in your description, in that some of the science fiction I used to read lost its appeal when I grew up and started to be more pessimistic about humanity's real prospects to expand to space and outer universe. ("Growing up" just to provide a time frame, not to imply that the optimists just haven't grown up, I admire SpaceX...). Also, reading other more "meta" texts on literature and writing (including TvTropes and detailed reviews of 'high' literature in magazines and critical editions of classics aimed for lit students and stuff like that) also ruined some of the books, especially "for the entertainment" kind of fiction that runs on tropes.

Unfortunately I don't really have that much sure-you-get-you-there cure about how to get rid of that nagging feeling "it's just the same old stuff" and start enjoying books again.

However, I'm going to write some random shit about current reading habits and maybe it'll inspire you, too.

I still enjoy comics (more serious "graphic novel" kind of works). In the good ones, I can always enjoy the interplay between the visual art, the rhythm of the action and movement as depicted, and the story (even if the story is trope-y). Watching the well drawn visual part always a pleasure.

I still have interest in reading the serious literature, especially the classics. The kind of work where author tries to say something about they deemed important. Concentrating on "renowned" works also doubles as history. Even if I'm not impressed or don't get it (the both happen quite often), at least you can read the vast stuff written about the stuff you've just read, and it counts as studying history of literature, if you find that kind perspective interesting. (If you found TvTropes interesting, then maybe?) Plus, then there's always something that surprises you, like, Don Quijote had surprisingly, err, weird poop jokes.

Also, maybe your interests just are not a match with your book club. You could try searching for other literate company. I recently found that the local uni students have weekly book club meeting, and I've found that revitalizing: instead of gushing about anime-influenced fiction, thus far we've had some quite interesting discussion about semi-important 19th century German authors with people who actually study that stuff (plus nobody asked if I even was a student), but this is a perk of living a university town, so I don't know if you have that option.

-

Finally, I see that you could also read my post as you did here:

AngrySquirrel wrote:How I read this:
Me: I read a wide variety of books and stories
You: But have you tried reading different stories?

...


But I'm afraid that that's the best we can do when we are discussing reading books in general. Maybe there's chance for a more fruitful discussion if you talked about which specific works you were disappointed in and how and what else you thought about them?

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Re: Books fleeting thoughts

Postby doogly » Thu Sep 22, 2016 12:10 pm UTC

Mambrino wrote:[Concentrating on "renowned" works also doubles as history. Even if I'm not impressed or don't get it (the both happen quite often), at least you can read the vast stuff written about the stuff you've just read, and it counts as studying history of literature, if you find that kind perspective interesting.

I really enjoy taking this perspective also on some much older ones. Then the burden is on me to understand just what makes Genji so good. Home girl isn't writing to impress me, but can I get what she's doing? It helps that she is absolutely brilliant. But can I try to capture how this was read by the folks in her life, this is some good exercise.
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Re: Books fleeting thoughts

Postby poxic » Sun Sep 25, 2016 3:29 am UTC

AngrySquirrel wrote:I think I've spent too much time with book critics and tropes to enjoy books anymore.

Thought about this today. I think I got to the same place with music: a decade spent taking it apart to see how it works, and now it's like I'm bored of everything as soon as I hear it.

I ended up going to African music as an antidote. I don't know the words (unless they're in English or French), and many countries have styles that don't follow Western musical tropes. Especially fond of Oumou Sangare (I have this album), who I found via the African Angels compilation (one of the kickest-ass songs here. Features Jah Wobble eventually).

No suggestions for getting around literature fatigue, unfortunately, just a slightly-related anecdote.
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Re: Books fleeting thoughts

Postby rmsgrey » Sun Sep 25, 2016 6:17 pm UTC

(late to the party, but...)

With Pratchett, it's the writing that's the magic; not the characters or the setting, which makes it much harder for anyone else to take over. As with Douglas Adams, it's hard to imagine anyone taking over successfully.

Sure, there could be other Discworld stories written, but they wouldn't be the same.

***

As for the issue of seeing books as collections of tropes rather than as magical portals into other worlds, I find myself able to see both, just like I can see both the pixels and the image when I look at my computer monitor.

I recently re-read The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe - and, yes, I can see the thinly veiled Christian allegory peeking through, and the places where Lewis hadn't yet decided things that would be important in other books, and the times something just happens for the sake of the plot, and the parts of the monomyth (though The Silver Chair probably does that best) - but I can also see the magical land I first visited when I was 5, enchanted by an evil sorceress for a hundred years.

I don't pretend to know how to get there, but that's been my solution to "trope vision" - accept it, but don't let it hide the magic of the complete work.


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