June 2002 Archives
Hey, gang. Here is a suggestion for the October reading.
Descent into Hell by Charles Williams. He was a friend of CS Lewis. It is a curious little book and can tend to be a little preachy. But it is a great example of its genre (a popular one for its time): the spiritual shocker. It was suggested to me by a professor at my seminary. Who is game?
Has anyone started Noir yet? I got about 1/2 way through it so far. I like it.. I think Rich might have converted me to SciFi!
The person you love and the person who loves you are never the same person.
At the end of the book, Shannon gives Shane her identity in order to allow him to start a new life. What do you think of the ending? Is Shannon's act selfless or a means of setting herself free of her own identity? After finishing Invisible Monsters, did you learn anything about yourself from it? Why do you think Palahniuk wrote this book?
Considering that there hasn't been any activity on yesterday's discussion topic so far, I'm thinking that one week is more than enough time to spend on a title. This will be the last discussion topic I'll be posting for Invisible Monsters, and I'll create a modified list of operating procedures for book blog sometime next week.
As Barbara quoted several posts back, one of the themes in Invisible Monsters is "beauty is power like money is power like a gun is power." What do you think of this statement? Do you agree or disagree with it? Why or why not? Can you relate this theme to your own personal experiences? What are some of the other themes?
By the end of Invisible Monsters, we've been subjected to so many plot twists and turns that it's hard not to walk away from it without a severe case of whiplash. Brandy is Shane. Seth is Manus. Evie was a man. Shannon shot herself. What's your take on all the nothing-is-as-it-seems stuff? Too many twists? Just right? Did you figure any of them out before the truth was revealed?
In particular, how did you feel about Palahniuk's handling of the Seth/Manus deception? When the narrator reveals Sean's true identity, we aren't given much of an explanation for it other than that she couldn't tell us about it earlier. Could the author have written it in a different way to make the reveal more satisfying/surprising?
By the way, I have a feeling I'll be posting my questions earlier and earlier each night. School has already kicked my ass and it's only Tuesday.
TITLE FOR AUGUST?
Hey y'all, I've been hoodwinked into… er, I mean… I'm pleased and thrilled to be your Book Blog moderator for August! Which means it's my turn to suggest a book. Let me throw out this foursome and see what kind of responses we get…
The first two are ones I've been wanting to read for awhile, but haven't gotten around to yet (translation: you've probably already read them -- darn!): A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole and Walter Percy (416 pages), and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (656 pages). These last two are books that I haven't yet read by a couple of my favorite authors; since they aren't quite as popular as the first two, I'm guessing we'll probably be going with one of these: Flesh and Blood by Michael Cunningham (466 pages), and While England Sleeps by David Leavitt (284 pages).
Please weigh in with your thoughts!
Since I'm dirt dog tired tonight, let's try an easy topic.
What did you think of the characters Palahniuk created? Were they believable? Which character did you like the most and why? The least? Was Shannon a reliable narrator? Which character do you think had the most impact on the story?
Your Take on Invisible Monsters
Let the games begin!
Since Invisible Monsters employs a kind of hyper-narrative that's probably new to anyone who hasn't read Palahniuk before, I thought we'd start off easy by sharing general impressions of the overall book. What do you think of the work as a whole? Is there anything in particular you like or dislike about the writing? Have you read any other books written in a similar style? Is the writing style integral to the telling of the story or could it be handled more effectively in another way?
I just purchased my copy of Noir from Amazon. Just so everyone knows, the book is out of print. If you can't find it at your local new/used bookstore or library and decide to go with Amazon, you'll have to purchase it from one of their Marketplace Sellers. As of right now, there are 10 copies of the hardcover and 30 copies of the paperback available which is more than enough to meet the demand of our little book club.
Please note that buying through a Marketplace Seller is sort of like buying from a seller at eBay. The transaction is safe since Amazon guarantees your purchase, but it takes a little bit longer for the item to reach you since the seller is usually a regular person. If it takes him/her a few days to get to the post office, it adds to the delivery time. My purchase from today is supposed to take 4-14 days to arrive, so you might want to buy early in order to have enough time to read it before the next discussion starts.
And, if you buy from Amazon by using one of the links on this site, I get a little commission on your purchase. It's not really a way for me to make money since it comes in the form of an Amazon gift certificate, but it does help offset the wads I spend on books which in turn leaves me some cash to pay for this web site. :)
Help for Moderators
In thinking about discussion questions for Invisible Monsters, I've been doing a little bit of research on running a book club. The following links should be helpful for our future book hosts:
from the Seattle Public Library
from the New Hanover County Public Library (Wilmington, NC)
I also found out today that our illustrious member Suzy is also currently in both face to face and online book clubs. I asked her for suggestions on how to get our group going and she had some good ones. So...
- The first rule of bookblog is you will participate in bookblog.
- The second rule of bookblog is you will participate in bookblog.
- The third rule is the moderator will post at least one discussion question per day (except weekends) in an entry and the participants will respond in the comments.
- The fourth rule is if a member comes up with another discussion question, that member will post it in an entry and the participants will respond in the comments.
- The fifth rule is the discussions start on the 15th of the month or the next Monday if the 15th falls during a weekend.
- The sixth rule is no shirts, no shoes.
- The seventh rule is discussions will go on for as long as they have to.
- The eighth and final rule of bookblog is if you're a member of bookblog, you have to moderate (click here for the moderator's responsibilities; e-mail me to sign up).
If you don't get why the first two rules are the same, then you've never seen Fight Club, a movie based on the Palahniuk book of the same name.
You may be wondering why we won't be having discussions on weekends. Weekends are slow Internet days since most folks are busy doing other things. Besides, everyone needs time off...even from blogging.
Next Month's Title
Okay, I finished Invisible Monsters last night, and will be able to discuss it when it all starts up.
Since I'm responsible for next month's book, I thought I'd float a few authors and titles here to make sure I'm not going to be assigning stuff people've already read and are bored with.
So, first: how many here are familiar with Neal Stephenson? His Snow Crash, The Diamond Age and Cryptonomicon are all great material, but I fear they're so widely known that there won't be any surprise. Let me know if any of these hold interest - I'm leaning toward Snow Crash if it's relatively new here.
Failing that, Jack Womack's Terraplane and/or Elvissey are also great reading: time-travel novels in a post-cyberpunk world, but Womack does a lot of playing around with linguistics, so he can be trying to get the hang of at first.
And if all else fails, I have Noir by K.W. Jeter (get the paperback). Dark, dark, dark SF book. Not as sardonic as Invisible Monsters, but can make the grodier scenes in IM look tame.
Actually, now that I think about it, Noir is likely to be the least-known and best-appreciated of the above titles. If there are no objections or rootings for any of the above, that's what I'll go with.
Please comment! :-)
Authors Like Palahniuk
So I was browsing the "official" Chuck Palahniuk web site which has a lot of good links and information on the author but is complete crap in terms of design. (It's obvious it was built by a fan and I can only hope Palahniuk didn't know what he was getting himself into by okaying the project.) Besides learning the author's last name is pronounced paul-ah-nik, I also found out that buying a t-shirt gets you a raffle ticket for a chance to win having a character in his next book named after you.
If you like Palahniuk, the web site suggests also checking out the following authors:
Steve Aylett [Slaughtermatic]
J.G. Ballard [The Atrocity Exhibition]
Albert Camus [The Stranger]
Douglas Coupland [All Families Are Psychotic]
Don DeLillo [White Noise]
Bret Easton Ellis [American Psycho]
Alex Garland [The Beach]
Amy Hempel [Reasons to Live: Stories]
Nick Hornby [High Fidelity]
Denis Johnson [Fiskadoro]
Jay McInerney [Bright Lights, Big City]
Jeff Noon [Nymphomation]
Irvine Welsh [Trainspotting]
Kirsten, my buddy at work, has also finished the book and wasn't too thrilled by a lot of things in it. I'm really looking forward to starting the discussion.
Mary has assigned me to moderate August, and I want to run something by you all. I'm tempted to choose Don Quixote, as I've never read it and it was recently proclaimed the best novel in history, but it's long. Really long. 940 pages long.
As I'm a book junkie and have no life, this is not an issue for me. What about the rest of you? Do you want to tackle something that long so soon? Or should I choose something else?
And Mary, we really can do only fiction? Damn.
So following Mary's well-deserved bitch-slap ("He's actually excited about the club despite his lack of posting and commenting thus far."), I'm finally stopping in to say hey and introduce myself, although I've been lurking here, reading the other stuff and getting to know you all.
I am definitely excited about this book club, equally because of the first selection and because of this group. I'm psyched about getting to know everyone and discussing and debating the book.
Brief background: I'm 24, I both go to grad school and work full-time as a web producer, and my vice is gambling (thanks Mary!). Um, what else? I have favorite authors and books in the way that I have favorite films and favorite bands/artists. That is, I can't really narrow my likes to an author or a film or a band because there's too much stuff I really dig. Recently I've read Umberto Eco, Phillip K. Dick, and Henry James, and I own every one of Bret Easton Ellis' books. But I feel bad just mentioning them since there are so many other authors I like. I'm also really into creative nonfiction, from literary journalism (like In Cold Blood) to various essay collections.
Okay, I think that's everything. I'm about an eighth of the way into Invisible Monsters and it's kicking ass so far. I actually haven't read Fight Club but it is one of my favorite films, which I think can be attributed to the author's influence. So far Chuck Palahniuk reads a lot like Bret Easton Ellis. A lot of the criticism BEE gets is for that style; I've read reviews that call his writing sloppy, the reviewer accusing him of not being able to write, when of course his style is extremely intentional and very carefully written. Is this anyone's first time reading something in this sort of hyper-narrative, post-brat-back style? What do you think?
Hi, my name is Jeff, and I'm a book-a-holic. *group responds in unison: "Hi, Jeff!"* Actually, I go through cycles with books, as I guess I do with everything else; I'll be, like, a total book junkie for a few weeks or so, unable to put a book down, staying up until the wee hours night after night to squeeze more reading in, and then moving on without interruption to another book… lather, rinse, repeat (I just totally stole that from Palahniuk). But then, for no apparent reason, I'll seemingly lose my passion for reading and get caught up in other things for a few weeks, until I pick up a book again and think, "Geez, I'm in freaking heaven when I'm reading! What was I thinking being away from you for so long, paperback? Will you forgive me for forgetting about how much I love you, hardcover?" (O-kay, so that was a little over the top. Alright, more than a little. But you catch my drift.) Anyhow, if you're a part of this book blog, I'm guessing you can relate.
(But wait... there's more!)
About me: I'm a 41-year-old single guy, I live in the very southernmost part of chi-chi Westchester County (but don't be fooled -- I'm in the part that's just barely beyond the Bronx), and I used to be a copywriter for a big deal NYC ad agency until I got laid off a few months ago on account of the world going to shit and the economy slumping worse than Gary Condit's campaign manager's career. (Can we say "shit" on your book blog, Mary?) On other fronts, I'm into architecture and design, I've loved cars since before I can remember, I enjoy music too much, usually, to be able to listen to it and work at the same time, and I live for movies. Oh, and I've got a dog, too; I *heart* Buster.
Okay, back to books: my current favorite is Michael Cunningham's A Home at the End of the World; I would give anything to write so simply/powerfully. Blew. Me. Away. Enjoying Cunningham as much as I did inspired me to go on something of a gay writers' kick, and so I've recently finished stuff by David Leavitt (extraordinary), Paul Lisicky (good), and Paul Russell (grim); I also just started Christopher Rice's A Density of Souls. I'm a sucker for potboiler thrillers by people like Tom Clancy (crap style, but interesting plots and details) and Ridley Pearson (uneven, but occasionally good). Other recent pop favorites include Donald Westlake's The Ax and Howard Roughan's The Up and Comer, both of which are hilarious and beautifully written. In non-fiction, I've read most of C.S. Lewis's Christian apologetics (although it's been a while, and I've yet to read any of his fiction -- I know, I know, I must read Narnia and Wardrobe!), and I recently finished David McCullough's John Adams (sleepy) and Edmund Morris' The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (fabulous -- I can't wait to start his Theodore Rex). I've never really gotten into fantasy (e.g., Tolkien & Co.), but to me, being part of a book club (which I've never done before, BTW) is about reading things that I might not otherwise consider, so I'm quite enthusiastically up for pretty much anything. (Yes, anything.)
Which brings me to Invisible Monsters: I'm only about 50 pages in, but so far, I am loving this book -- mostly because of the way CP seems to so freely abandon convention in order to let the writer in him come out to play. Fun, fun, fun. This is my first Palahniuk novel, so thanks, Mary, for turning me on to him. And even more thanks for going to the time and trouble of organizing this and getting us started. (You rock!) I'm looking forward to blogging with y'all in the coming weeks and months, and getting to know you as well as your literary likes and dislikes. Oh, and thanks for slogging through all this hooey about me!
Deadlines; A Navigation Tip
Okay. I think we're a go on reading a book by the middle of the month and saving the discussion for the end of the month. I've added the dates over on the left by the book image as a reminder to everyone.
Recently, Andy and I were talking about the blog format. (He's actually excited about the club despite his lack of posting and commenting thus far.) He thought that the discussions might be a bit easier to read if the page was laid out more like a bulletin board with the main post at the top and all of the comments on the same page below it (rather than in a pop up box like it is now).
Tonight, I finished building the individual entry pages and realized Andy's suggested format is already built into the site. If you click on the "link" below each post, it will take you to a page for that entry. The comments and a form for adding a new comment are on the same page below the entry. The gray box above the post houses a little navigation bar for scrolling through the entries or returning to the main page.
Whichever way you prefer to read the posts and comments, it's there for you. Thank you, Movable Type!
Let's see...just have to build the monthly pages. Then there are those few lines of code to fix on the category pages. Of course, I need to get the moderators to pick their books for the upcoming months. And I should also work on the random pic thingie. Well, the site will get done one of these days.
How's the Reading Going?
I'm wondering how the progress is going on Invisible Monsters. I know Kate's finished it and several others have started. Its story has a lot of twists so I don't want to spoil it by giving too much away before everyone's had a chance to get into it. Invisible Monsters is actually a pretty easy read so it shouldn't take anyone more than a few days to get through. Palahniuk uses short paragraphs and doesn't seem to know many very big words.
I'm thinking that maybe we should set a date for discussing each book. Like, we could give everyone until the 15th of the month to read a title then spend the last two weeks discussing it.
What do you think?
I am Suzy, and I am a procrastinator. At least with this introduction. But, I am here now.
So important info about me and books. I love them! As someone else said, I love words - reading them and writing them. My reading tastes are wildly diverse. I am always reading some new book. My tastes in fiction include anything but romance, and non-fiction taste leads towards history and biography, and I always have one current book on buddhism or philosophy going as well as some poetry. My favorite author? Well I have so many. Barbara Kingsolver, Margaret Atwood and Toni Morrison are always top favorites as are classics Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice) and George Eliot.
I have nothing else to say at the moment - just wanted to get this initial post out of the way nefore I got too far behind. Looking forward to reading the book and discussing it!
Hey there bookworms. I am Barbara in Asheville, NC. I am 42, majored in English Lit at a teeny tiny college for women and my license plate reads "UNNCMBRD."
I love words. There is great joy in a gracefully turned phrase or a crisp, original image. Unfortunately, seems like I forget too much of what I read. For example, I really enjoyed Memoirs of a Geisha when I read it over 2 years ago, but I couldn't tell you the name of a single character...
My taste in material is not terribly sophisticated. Having moved from Chicago 3 years ago, I have been reading a lot of "southern" writers. (though I still don't understand what, exactly, defines a "southern" writer.) I read for entertainment, escape, and education. The book I most recently finished is The Jew Store, by Stella Suberman. My appetites change...I have read all of Magaret Atwood. I went through a Call of the Wild adventure phase. I get hankerin's for salacious true-crime stuff from time to time. I have inadvertantly read some Oprah picks and liked them. (a lot) A good autobiography can wreak havoc with my weekend plans. And I have failed dismally in my repeated attempts to get through Look Homeward Angel by Asheville's most celebrated son, Thomas Wolfe.
I have no idea what I am in for with this club...or with Mary's 1st selection. For such long standing friends....we have wildly different views/attitudes/lifestyles. Hmmm. At least I know we won't be bored. Looking forward to beginning the book tonight and disecting it with all y'all.
My Favorite Book
While we're waiting for everyone to read a chunk of this month's book before discussing it, I thought I'd follow suit and write a quick post about my favorite, Wuthering Heights. Between school assignments and my own free time, I think I've read it about 10 times.
Besides being a well-constructed story, I think I'm drawn mostly to the whole love/hate theme. In Heathcliff and Cathy's world, there isn't much differentiation between the two because they both love what they hate most and simultaneously hate those they most love. There isn't much of a fine line between those two themes in this story.
Secondly, I'm also fascinated by the characters. Cathy is probably one of the most complex female literary characters of the day and Heathcliff is, well, hot. Ever see the first Wuthering Heights movie from 1939? Laurence Olivier nails the character and is, well, very hot.
a short selection
Wanna read a book about online communities?
I have not read it, but teh people I know who have I trust to look for quality stuff.
So, the idea has been suggested that I perhaps should post a list of books that seminarians are reading. First, I would like to clarify...there is a difference between what is assigned and what I like. Occasionally the two worlds overlap, but only occasionally. Then again...by the time I am done with this educational experience, I just may be a one trick literary pony.
Now, the selected list for people interested in Christian devotional stuff...and I am making the assumption that the majority of people on this blog are fairly erudite...is something you guys may like. (Sarah and Rich are to contain their laughter. I have been pushing them to read this stuff for years.)
New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton is a great place to start. He is a very orthodox Christian thinker. This means he is not conservative in teh political sense. Christains, I believe, have a fairly radical social viewpoint. Thomas Merton is like this.
Life of the Beloved: Spirtual Living in a Secular World by Henri Nouwen: again, another orthodox thinker. This book was written especially for teh non/de-churched. It is not an attempt at evangelism. It is a book written specifically to one of Nouwen's friends, a Jew, Fred Bratman.
Life on the Vine: Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit in Christian Community by Philip D. Kenneson is a great book for Christains...adult education kinda thing. I recommend it highly. It is a light treatment of Aquinas/Aristotle and the Virtues. You need not be aquainted well with either philosopher to get the point, though if you have some working knowledge of what these guys mean by the "virtues," your ability to dialogue about teh book would be expanded. So, um, there.
Non-Nominallychirstian books I dig:
Last Night's Fun, by Ciaran Carson
The Count of Monte Cristo, by A. Dumas
any poetry by Whitman
fiction by Charles de Lint is excellent brain fodder
and that should do it. Praises be the literary goddess for allowing me to share my thoughts online. Pax.
I finished the book today. Holy crap. I feel like my brain just went a couple rounds with Mike Tyson..
Hello everyone. Thanks to the evr-growing community of blogites, my will is slowlty being bent to the corporate. So, here I blog. Thanks to Mary for letting me come play. Thanks to Rich for leading me astray.
Um, for those interested in reading or writing poetry/prayers with a multi-faith focus, do not hesitate to visit prayers.blogspot.com
Our beloved Rich has been published there. Huzzah!
Okay, lemme get this book we are reviewing and see how it goes.
So, i guess I should be a wee more forthcoming with the personal information. Um, I am 32, live in Chicago with two fat cats and a roomate. I just finished my first year of seminary at Seabury Western just north of Chicago in Evanston. It is far too good a fit at this point. Love it.
I am also a constant reader. Lately things from school have been keeping me busy, but I am hoping this summer break will lend a little spice to the reading list. Still, if anyone is interested in what the first year seminarian has to read, or likes to read, I am happy share.