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Originally Posted By: Evnissyen
This is part of why I think the writing is so interesting. This includes 'mistakenly' using the lesser-known word "masticate" when she really meant "masturbate".

Meh. Atrocious puns and mistaken words don't get very far. It's written way too straight to be any good. Even if it's meant as satire, there are hundreds of stories out there with equally bad writing that are serious efforts, so it's not really satirizing anything. It's just another car wreck.

Dikiyoba.
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Based on the fact that this topic has over 1.5 million views, everyone's answer should be "What have you been reading recently?"

The topic is dead! Long live the topic!   —Alorael, who will throw in The Ringmaster's Daughter, a relatively normal and therefore still quite unusual novel by Jostein Gaarder. Unlike Sophie's Wor

It was in one of the introductions for a book. Part of the problem was he had a few children and was trying to save for their future educations.   The figure I've seen is that a basic paper back

Dikiyoba just finished the Tamír Trilogy. The first two books were very good. The third one staggered under too many character viewpoints. Unfortunately, that meant there could be no subtlety when it came to Tamír's romance because it was pretty much the only subplot she had left to tell and she was a flatter, less interesting character for it. It ended way too quickly as well. If you have to stick in an author's note that basically says "No, really, I did not forget about the MacGuffin.", you haven't written a complete conclusion. (Unless it was meant to be a confusing or vague ending, which this one wasn't.)

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Originally Posted By: Evnissyen
Ahh, somebody who's familiar with B.S. Johnson.

Christie Malry was a good book... personally my favorite was Albert Angelo. There're still a couple of his works I've been looking for. They're not easy to find.


Agreed. Over here (the land of chocolate) it's a hassle to come by any one of them. I'll keep my eyes open for Albert Angelo anyway.

@Alo

I shall commit myself to Hardy's poetry. I would really love to find his talent not wasted.
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Trying a bit of John Varley recently. My first encounter with his work was when I found a copy of Steel Beach in the library. I only picked it up because of a cover quote from Spider Robinson saying that not even he would have attempted the opening line, which is really something considering that Robinson once began a book, "It was a dark and stormy night--when suddenly the snot ran out . . ." Anyways, Varley's opening line turned out to be "In five years, the penis will be obsolete." I'll let you decide whether that's a recommendation or a warning.

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Originally Posted By: Toby-Linn
That reminds me of this article I read about funny metaphors in high school essays.

http://help.com/post/124066-funny-metaphors-used-in-high-school

I find it hilarious!


Quote:
9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.


That ripped off Douglas Adams. tongue
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In order to improve your reading experience, I invite you to peruse this piece on deconstruction.

 

—Alorael, who highly recommends it. Now your academic skills can be optimally abstruse. Remember, folks, the best prose is neither absolutely opaque nor clearly transparent (har har). You are aiming for transpicuous gloom.

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It doesn't reference anything past 1993, certainly. I encountered it by googling "postmodern adventure" while looking for something else entirely. The internet is truly a land of wondrous chance and serendipity.

 

—Alorael, who is just glad that wondrous chance in this case brought him to something that left him unharmed and that could be shared in polite company.

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That'll do, I think. So would the question itself, for that matter. (The distinction between a question and a statement is as wax in the hands of a good deconstructionist.)

 

A couple of distinguished colleagues and I once published a paper, in Physical Review A, about deconstruction. Or at least, we put deconstruction in the title, and began the text with the lines, "According to deconstructionist philosophers, words refer only to other words. There is a certain amount of truth in the analogous statement that papers in theoretical physics refer only to other papers ..." We weren't really deconstructing anything, exactly, though we were pointing out that a simple theoretical model which was popular in theoretical literature, to the point that it was kind of taking on a life of its own, was going to have to be generalized in many ways as actual experiments came online. So we did have in mind some of the concerns about socially defined epistemology that do motivate deconstruction. We just addressed them in terms of equations and experiments, instead of hot air.

 

I really like Alorael's link, if for no other reason than that it seems to confirm my own hesitant suspicions about the whole postmodern theory thing. Yes, there are some interesting ideas involved; but handled properly by someone with scientific training, they could be boiled down to at most one book. As a major academic movement, postmodernism is the professor's new clothes. That sociological phenomenon is itself quite interesting. I think the guy who wrote Alorael's link is a bit too cynical; the factors he identifies can't be the whole story.

 

Maybe what all those postmodern people have is not just a grain of truth in a mountain of chaff, but a seed that stubbornly refuses to germinate. That is, maybe they're really onto something big, but figuring it out properly is really hard. In previous ages the idea would just lie dormant for several centuries, until the right context evolved and the right person came along to make the breakthrough. Now, though, there is a large class of academics who are supposed to making active progress on such things. They can't just leave the problem alone, because they can smell how important it is. But they can't just solve it, because it's so hard. So they end up swarming around it furiously, like bugs around a lightbulb.

The roiling stasis in the actual subject gives time for sociological factors to dominate the field, and frustration makes the temptation irresistable, to overblow one's infinitesimal advances, and to pretend that what is being done is a lot more significant than it is.

 

At any rate, this is my more charitable explanation for the observed high bogosity levels. Maybe this situation does not really obtain in critical theory, but I think it does, at least a bit, in current physics. Maybe in most fields, actually.

 

 

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Warning: making things up ahead!

 

I think that much like the cutting edge of a new scientific field, postmodern deconstruction is really difficult stuff that requires those applying it to think in unfamiliar ways. Like quantum mechanics, this results in many things that to laypeople look like bogus insanity. If we were properly up to date on the jargon and the theory, it would be fascinating stuff.

 

The problem, though, is that I think even the people who think they understand postmodernism don't quite understand postmodernism, so they can't weed out the ones who sound convincing but really don't have any clue what they're talking about. Those are the source of the utter nonsense out there.

 

—Alorael, who thinks the real problem is that lit crit is not science. At the end of the day, no one can test all the hypotheses, so it's all hot air. It's like string theory, really, except string theory could conceivably be tested, and lit crit can't.

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Originally Posted By: RTPCSPQR
Warning: making things up ahead!

I think that much like the cutting edge of a new scientific field, postmodern deconstruction is really difficult stuff that requires those applying it to think in unfamiliar ways. Like quantum mechanics, this results in many things that to laypeople look like bogus insanity. If we were properly up to date on the jargon and the theory, it would be fascinating stuff.

The problem, though, is that I think even the people who think they understand postmodernism don't quite understand postmodernism, so they can't weed out the ones who sound convincing but really don't have any clue what they're talking about. Those are the source of the utter nonsense out there.

—Alorael, who thinks the real problem is that lit crit is not science. At the end of the day, no one can test all the hypotheses, so it's all hot air. It's like string theory, really, except string theory could conceivably be tested, and lit crit can't.


This. All of this. Sociology is applied psychology and literary criticism is applied sociology, and even pure psychology is on its training wheels as a science right now. Gilles Deleuze has some neat ideas but if I have to write one more essay about him my brain is going to leap out of my left nostril and take a plunge off the nearest rooftop.

For what it's worth, my experience of sociology professors is that they're quite aware of just how rigorous their work isn't.
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Originally Posted By: Thuryl
For what it's worth, my experience of sociology professors is that they're quite aware of just how rigorous their work isn't.


Now you know why physicists and other hard sciences consider sociology a soft science.

Edit to include a joke:

To draw a line, an engineer needs three points. Two to draw the line and one to verify the result.

A mathematician needs justs two points to draw a line.

A psychologist needs just one point to draw a line.

A sociologist needs no points to draw a line.
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Wow. After rereading that, my discombobulated state really shines through.

 

Anyway, some would argue that sociology isn't science. After all, it's not really experiment-driven, and much of it is descriptive rather than hypothetical, so it can't be falsified. But hey, soft science sounds better! I'm willing to give psychology the benefit of the doubt, although I think the truly scientific parts of it are going to end up rolled into neurobiology.

 

—Alorael, who thinks literary criticism is only applied sociology on good days, or possibly odd days that are not prime numbers. Quite often it's just ranting, or finding historical context, or literature appreciation masquerading as something more quantitative.

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Originally Posted By: Arancaytar
Quote:
Sociology is applied psychology and literary criticism is applied sociology, and even pure psychology is on its training wheels as a science right now.


http://xkcd.com/435/ http://xkcd.com/451/

(Don't mind me)


The second one is best. It is one of the few I have bookmarked. (Also: expulsion from the womb.)
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Too late for a new thread, as this isn't something I read, but some music I heard. Live music. Highly recommend a gal named Laura Marling (website eponymous (dot com) plus at myspace, also eponymous) and her backing band, especially Marcus (drummer/accordian/backup vocals). Great fun at the show, small venue (Lola's in PDX) and about 50 - 75 at the show. She was the final of 3 acts, all from England, over for a 3 week bus tour. Last chances are Seattle on Oct 1, and then Quebec or Toronto before they return to the islands via Aberdeen Scotland.

 

The first band, Mumford & Sons, was also phenomenal, with surprising sounds from a three piece. If I had to describe the vocals, it would be "dusky," but I suck at that game. Keyboards were good, and bass was great. In fact, all the string work was great from all three groups. The second group was Johnny Flynn, which I sadly found to be a little predictable. Still, enjoyable, but when bracketed thusly, it was obvious that they lacked some spark which was evident in the other groups.

 

Now, according to Laura, they are all feeling a bit logy, having shared a bus for 2 weeks, and being exposed to folks from Allston Mass all the way to SanFran and now points north, so actual quality may be better than I report. The three groups seem to be having great fun together, and seem like they are having a blast. They tore up the dance floor tonight, inspiring the dreaded hippies of Portland to shake those locks and stamp their Birks.

 

Quite a sight.

smile

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Originally Posted By: Jumpin' S'larty
Too late for a new thread, as this isn't something I read, but some music I heard. Live music. Highly recommend a gal named Laura Marling (website eponymous (dot com) plus at myspace, also eponymous) and her backing band.


Yeah, really, if you get the chance to see/hear this girl, do so. Laura Marling has probably one of the best voices I've heard in a long time, and she writes songs far older than her 18 years.
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Well, if nobody else is going to dredge this topic back up, I will! I like to see how it reflects the demographics to be found among Spiderweb gamers, and particularly like when a representative of a small demographic chimes in (though I myself am a member of the largest demographic in sci-fi and fantasy, namely weird people.) Anyways, the book I've recently read that people here would be most likely to know of is Darkly Dreaming Dexter. Immediately afterwards, I tried to watch the documentary movie Rivers and Tides, and am now truly freaked out by how Andy Goldsworthy, the artist who is the movie's subject, talks about his work in exactly the same way Dexter talks about killing people. The other things worth noting are Apex Hides the Hurt, probably the first book ever to use a stubbed toe as a metaphor for racism, and The Horrible Sufferings of the Mind-Reading Monster Hercules Barefoot; His Wonderful Love and His Terrible Hatred, whose title should give you some idea of how maudlin its insides are. Oh, and a quote collection, of which I will provide a sample: "Outside every thin woman is a fat man trying to get in."

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I'm giving Stephen King a second chance--actually, at this point, it's a fifth chance--with a book called Dreamcatcher that my school library put in a display of books appropriate to be checked out for Halloween. So far I'm not appalled, but we'll see . . .

 

P.S. As for whether there are any books I read without complaining about them, I just finished the Otherworld series by Tad Hamilton. I swear, never before have books 900 pages long made me wish they didn't have to end so soon.

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What do you not like about Stephen King? Maybe I can recommend a book of his that fits your style.

 

As for me, I just recently finished Duma Key by Stephen King and I found it a great book. His words are so descriptive, and it had great characters.

 

Now reading Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom.

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All I really know of Stephen King is his Dark Tower heptalogy, but in it, he's a funny kind of writer. He's an extremely good storyteller, but, by his own admission and as one sees very clearly in reading the series all at once, he is making it up as he goes along, without any real large scale scheme in mind. Maybe he doesn't exactly resort to deus ex machina, but he does frequently wrench his plot around quite violently.

 

The funny thing is that he does not seem to make all these plot lurches for ulterior motives, to force the story to go in some pre-ordained direction. It really seems as though he is simply not in control of his story, and it keeps bolting off in directions even he doesn't expect. As in real life and fairy tales, things often just happen, without being part of any obvious larger pattern.

 

In some ways that makes King's stories better, because you really never know what is going to happen next. It's entirely possible that a central protagonist could suddenly die, or lose an arm or something equally dire, in the middle of some random page. But it also means that King's stories are just missing one of the basic features of the novel genre, a feature that we usually take for granted. In many ways I think he is as good a writer as all the top highbrow people, and maybe better. But in one important way he is just not writing their kind of work at all.

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You're talking to the choir here.... smile

 

I love his work and have almost all his novels. I totally understand what you mean about his writing, it does have that feel that he's not in control of his story.

 

I find too that sometimes they end too abruptly, with not enough wrapping up of loose ends or an epilogue of the characters.

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I met the guy while I lived in Bangor. He was very intelligent, after all he's a BoSox fan, but he seemed very distracted all the time. It was like he was thinking a dozen things at once, only one of which had anything to do with the corporeal. It's been 20 years now, I imagine he's changed a little in the interim, but I've also not read one of his books in that time. I did read part of his first Dark Tower book, but lost interest somewhere around the time that some idiot brought a nuke back to the base camp. Maybe that was the end, I dunno, but that is the bit I remember. Anyhow, I'll try that series again, because as what SoT says is most always accurate, he might be even more scatterbrained now, and that would show in his writing.

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Originally Posted By: Impersonatin' Salmon
I did read part of his first Dark Tower book, but lost interest somewhere around the time that some idiot brought a nuke back to the base camp. Maybe that was the end, I dunno, but that is the bit I remember.

Um, I think that's The Stand....did a lot of people get the flu and die in the book?

A lot of people noticed his writing changed after he was hit by a van and had to go through rehab and all that. I imagine thinking that "I'm going to die" would change someone's style of writing / thinking.
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I read an interview somewhere (I'll post a link if I find it) where Stephen King admitted that he's written so much that he can't always remember some of the books he wrote 20 years ago. So every now and then he gets a surprise when he walks into a bookshop, or in the middle of an interview someone mentions a book title and he has to stop and think, "is that one of mine?"

 

Edit:

It was in the Onion: http://www.theonion.com/content/node/33676

 

Now I'm not even sure whether to believe it or not. My memory lends it credibility though... perhaps somewhat worryingly.

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