• da_zkep

Joyce Letters

Hi! This is a somewhat odd request, but does anyone know where I can actually like, buy James Joyce's COMPLETE letters, in particular the somewhat-elusive erotic letters he wrote to his wife? One of my other Joycean friends sent them to me in an email along with some Swift essays, but I'd like to actually own them, and I can't find them on Amazon =/ I have "Selected Letters" edited and compiled by Richard Ellmann but a lot of the ones I'd most like to own aren't in this selection.

Thanks in Advance,
blue eclipse

Et Tu, Babe Movie

Hi everyone,

I'm doing a project on Mark Leyner's Et Tu, Babe, and I'd like to see the movie.... but it is SO elusive! I can't find it anywhere. I was hoping someone in this community might have some advice or something... all I know is that it exists and was made in 1998 by Jefery Levy. Please let me know if you have any information! It would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance,


(no subject)

Neal Stephenson, who brought us the delightfully nerdy Snow Crash, should endeavor to write novels that cannot also be used as doorstops. Which is exactly how my copy of Quicksilver is usually employed.
I picked up his Cryptonomicon at the library last week, and, in a fit of masochism and impatience, finished it a few days later. Okay, so maybe I skimmed a few of those interminable 900 hundred pages.

Cryptonomicon is, unsurprisingly, all about codes. There are basically two parallel stories, told through a dizzy series of small snippets. I felt like I might get whiplash from cutting back and forth so rapidly. In one story, a group of cryptographers in World War II become embroiled in a conspiracy involving an unholy amount of gold. In the other, a group of computer nerds becomes embroiled in the same conspiracy fifty years later. And somehow they're all descended from the first group of cryptographers. Fair enough, if you're willing to suspend your disbelief. My patience ran out around the halfway mark.

Amazon.com's review claims that it's "...the hip, readable heir to Gravity's Rainbow," which implies that Stephenson is in any way comparable to Pynchon. I also compared the two, but it was more along the lines of "Wow, this is a pretty shoddy knock-off Gravity's Rainbow. How many more pages do I have left?" Despite the impressive size of Cryptonomicon, it's surprisingly small in scope. Essentially, there are math problems, a little sex, a lot of carnage, and an endlessly back-and-forth travelogue between London, Brisbane, Manila, and San Fransisco. Stephenson seems to be very interested in transportation, which could be a comment on the way that both people and information are transmitted from place to place, but I don't know that I'm going to allow him that much credit.

The bottom line, for me, is that the book was far too long. The story was stretched very thin, and the gaps were filled in with little math problems and charts. It wasn't terribly clever (nothing that he couldn't have cobbled together after reading Godel, Escher, and Bach), nor was it terribly interesting after reading essentially the same scene over and over again with only slight variations. I plowed through the last third of the book, determined to finish it, lest Stephenson win, but also curious to see if the ending would be at all satisfying. I was not surprised to find that it was tied up in a fairly neat little bow, but basically devoid of emotional impact. Or maybe I was just exhausted.

Bottom Line: it wasn't worth the effort or the eyestrain.
felix the cat

my first book (here)

My first post here. See if I get this right. . .

I came across this community because I was searching DeLillo, I think, though I haven't read DeLillo in years. I went through a period in college when I read almost all of his books in a row, in a rush, after starting with Underworld and crying all over the riff at the end. For a year or two, I think I thought in DeLillo. (Imagine if an author were an entire language.) (These days, I would want to live in the Republic of Aimee Bender.)

Anybody else mark places and times with books? I have particularly specific memories of the books I've bought in airports or in new cities. I just moved to New York this summer on a train with one suitcase and three smaller bags, and as soon as I got here, all free and untethered, a mild panic began to set in about the lack of printed matter in my room and all of the books I left behind. One of my first purchases here in the city was Kevin Brockmeier's The Brief History of the Dead , because I had just read a beautiful short story by him in this quarter's Oxford American that took me completely by surprise. Here's a quote from the short story, apropos to my panic of booklessness:

The heart of every house was the kitchen, the soul of every house was the bedroom, and the mind of every house was displayed with hooks and thumbtacks on the walls. But the conscience of every house, she believed - the conscience of every house was the bookshelves.

I just finished the novel last night. The novel, like the short story, rolls. It's the kind of book that sweeps you along in the strangest way. I wasn't sold at first, but it just kept unfolding in such a way that by the last third of the book, I had to finish it in one sitting. And now Kevin Brockmeier is forever the marker of my move to New York. It's kind of perfect, actually, because it's all about a city (though a different kind than this one). He takes the world and turns it just slightly off-kilter, so you recognize it, and it's altogether human, but it's changed. Wilder colors. Bigger hope, softer sadness. Something askew, but not in a "tricked you" way, because in the end it's always about the deepening of the characters.

There you have it.
Hello Crocodiles, good night!
anne bonny

david lipsky recommends david foster wallace

NPR has a great segment going where authors tell which book they'd shove into the hands of someone else. Today David Lipsky did a pretty neat on-air recommendation of David Foster Wallace's Consider the Lobster.

Here's the link (which for some reason isn't actually showing up as a link but if you cut and paste it should work):


xposted to hipsterbookbclub
Jacquelyn the younger

"Being things is rather better than doing things."

The Magnificent Ambersons, Booth Tarkington
Modern Library Best 100 Novels of the 20th Century - Book # 100
4 stars (out of 5)

The Magnificent Ambersons
is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to a bygone age; a time when there were only two social classes, "gentlemen" and "riffraff," where ascots were worn to dinner and the horseless carriage was considered a passing fad. Set in a growing Midwestern town at the end of the nineteenth century, Booth Tarkington's Pulitzer winner (one of two, in fact) is the story of George Amberson Minafer, the spoiled and arrogant heir to the family 'magnificence'. Once the most important family in the rapidly growing town, the Ambersons are oblivious to their increasing irrelevance, and as industrialization and democratization take hold, little Georgie finds himself stubbornly maintaining his self-importance in the face of a changing era.

In spite of George's utter nastiness at times, Tarkington has somehow managed to portray him as a sympathetic character.  As he bull-headedly marches through life defending the family name and honor, one cannot help but feel sorry for this anachronistic gentleman who believes that "being things is rather better than doing things." The disintegration of the Amberson way of life is inevitable but drawn out, and hot-headed young George manages to completely miss the foreshadowing that Tarkington skillfully employs.

The author creates conflict not only between George and the unworthy (just about everyone else), but also in the various subplots; George's tempestuous romance with the daughter of a local Henry Ford-like automobile engineer, his antagonistic relationship with his spinster Aunt Fanny, and his relationship to his doting, child-like mother. This secondary cast of characters is richly evoked, and their interactions are often heartbreaking. One of the most enjoyable aspects of The Magnificent Ambersons is Tarkington's clever dialogue, and his acerbic wit is amply sprinkled throughout the characters' various interactions. At times, the humor is laugh-out-loud funny, and will appeal most to readers who love the subtle cuts and parries of Gilded Age conversation.

I would likely never have picked up The Magnificent Ambersons had it not been included in the Modern Library's Top 100, and in fact was slightly surprised upon finishing the novel that it made the final cut (albeit barely, sliding in at number 100). While I found the book to be well-written, entertaining and evocative, I felt it lacked a more long-term resonance. While I thoroghly enjoyed it, I didn't find myself gripped by the book's ideas long afterwards. My only complaint was that the ending felt a bit abrupt. Regardless, Tarkington's ability to offer a subtle commentary on a vanishing era is likely part of the reason for his sustained relevance, and his influence on American Realist authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald is  obvious throughout the novel. I will most certainly be investigating more of Tarkington's work, and highly recommend that readers discover for themselves whether Georgie gets his "comeuppance."

x-posted to hipsterbookclub
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Jacquelyn the younger

(no subject)

I have started a new community, literal_libris! I have been unable to find a nonfiction community on livejournal, and so decided to start one myself. How empowering of me.

Feel free to join and post away, or just hang out on the sidelines to catch the plethora of thoughtful reviews, inspiring comments, and mind-bending requests. They'll be coming any minute now- all we need is, well, you.

(If this is an unacceptable post, I completley understand- though I did give this community some free advertising by listing it in the "cross-posting" segment of the below communities.)

x-posted to hipsterbookclub, thelunarsociety and community_promo
Jacquelyn the younger

(no subject)

Sometimes we read to escape where we are; other times, we wish to conjure a sense of place to enhance our experience of it. As a New Englander who spent some time in the South and now lives in the Midwest, the sense of place a book evokes is often very important to me. Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy is my bible of the Southwest;  Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain is quintessential Southern, and I can't imagine Morrocco or Egypt without conjuring Paul Bowles and Naguib Mahfouz.

I'm spending some time back home in Vermont in a couple of weeks, and was wondering if anyone had a suggestion for a "New England novel" (ironic, I know, that the New Englander is asking). I don't want something Puritanical (think Hawthorne),  though it doesn't necessarily have to be modern. I've read a lot of Irving and I'm thinking of The Cider House Rules, though I've broken the cardinal book-lovers' rule and saw the movie first.

Also:  what books are your "maps"  for a particular place, so to speak?

x-posted to hipsterbookclub
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kurt schwitters

(no subject)

Holy crap you guys! There are kind of a lot of people in this community! Let's get it going again!

So what's everyone reading? I'll start. Although the past couple weeks it's just been the New Yorker and the Believer next to my bed, I have read a couple of 5-star works lately I'd be happy to talk about.

1) Duchess of Nothing -- Heather McGowan
I was discussing this book with a friend last night, and I said to her the thing I really loved about it is how the protagonist's voice takes over you life while you're reading it. This book is ALL voice. There's no real plot to speak of, and the narrator is so incredibly self-absorbed that there are no characters except her and a little boy (who I sometimes suspected was imaginary). More of a long short story than a novel, this is one of those books I knew I was reading too quickly. The writing is magnificent and sometimes that is truly enough.

2) Black Hole -- Charles Burns
I read this one quickly, too. I have a tendency to blow through graphic novels, which I feel does an injustice to all the labor that went into them. I had a writing teacher in college who told us this anecdote about a guy coming up to him at a reading and saying, "I read your book in one night!" as if it was some sort of compliment, and my teacher was like, "Great. It took me six years to write it." Burns reputedly spent ten years writing "Black Hole" and publishing it in comic-book-sized installments. It's haunting and powerful but left me feeling very sad -- I think comic artists, like probably most artists, are pretty fucked up. Chris Ware has some serious daddy issues, and Charles Burns is terrified of vaginas (the "black hole" of the title, no less). The transition to adulthood, in Burns' world, is literally mutilating, and spares no one: geeks, jocks, babes, stoners, all eventually become "infected;" how they handle it is ultimately what makes each character who they are.

3) In Persuasion Nation -- George Saunders
Like Saunders' two previous collections, Pastoralia and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, this book has hits and misses. But the hits in IPN and real hits, particularly the title story, "Christmas," and "Jon," a story I've read probably 4 times but that never fails to get me at the end. Saunders explodes the omnipresence of advertising and consumerism to hyperbolic proportions; at the end of his stories (as in most of his better work) he brings it back to a reality even those of us who are not being advertised to with every footstep can relate to. He has so much heart, and through his own unique dialect creates the situation he has said is the goal of a short story: "Every sentence makes you want to read the next sentence." I'm a member of the Saunders Army, are you?
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