What Are You Reading?

There are currently a slew of “holiday gift guides” recommending books to give to others or to put on your own wish lists. It seems like many of these are comprised of the latest best sellers or new releases from the major publishing houses and I often think that most lists like these are marketing ploys rather than sincerely useful suggestions. Of course there are some good exceptions, but usually the best recommendations are more personal. Perhaps you can get some ideas from the readers here at LitKicks or offer your own picks.

Have you picked up a new read lately or are you revisiting an old favorite? What’s next on your list? Tell us: what are you reading?

76 Responses

  1. Chasing Vermeer”Chasing
    Chasing Vermeer

    “Chasing Vermeer” is a young adult book and the perfect break from all the nuttiness of this season (blah) and all the nutty political talk (blather). I loved “From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” as a kid and this is written in that vein – kids trying to solve a artsy mystery, funky yet real adult characters who don’t puke all their feeeeeelings and rage in every chapter…

    Great to read aloud. Great break.

  2. Jesus’ Son, et. al.So, I’m
    Jesus’ Son, et. al.

    So, I’m reading Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson. It’s a collection of short stories fueled by a narator who seems to be high through every story. Johnson can certainly write and there is a jazzy, Kerouacian feel to many parts of the book. But the constant drug-type-thing (to paraphrase Stone Temple Pilots) is kind of lost on me. It’s ok. Perhaps a nice stocking stuffer.

    I finished Diary by my good friend and confidante, Chuck Palahniuk. Here’s the quick review — Not as good as Fight Club but much better than Survivor. And, I must say that Will Tupper is my hero. Will, a LitKicks regular, ended up in the book. Nice job.

    If anyone is interested in buying me any books, how about The Pugilist at Rest by Thom Jones or The Beach by Alex Garland or Kiss Me, Judas by Wil Christopher Baer. That would be nice of you. Or you could just send me money. Even better.

  3. ‘From the Mixed-Up Files’ …
    ‘From the Mixed-Up Files’ … great book! I don’t know ‘Chasing Vermeer’, but if it involves running away from home and hiding out in a museum, I’m definitely interested. What’s it about?

  4. It’s not that I’m reading
    It’s not that I’m reading it…

    …it’s more like I’m carrying it around in my bag with lots of good intentions of reading it:

    Danger on Peaks, by Gary Snyder. I’m up to page 20 or so, and I’m using the business card of the marketing assistant from the publishing company as a bookmark.

    From what I’ve read so far, it’s really rather excellent, but then, Snyder is a favorite of mine. Full review to follow shortly, because I’m going to finish it this week, I swear.

    But really, who has time for reading when there are so many other things to do, like driving around the city and staring in wonder at the atrocities people call Christmas decorations?

  5. The check is in the
    The check is in the mail…


    So, I really liked Choke. Which of Chuck’s books should I read next? I’m thinking…Diary.

  6. Bill:I highly recommend Fight

    I highly recommend Fight Club. I would then recommend Diary. I was quite disappointed by Survivor so I would hold off on that one.

  7. Kierkegaard’s Fear and
    Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling

    I believe this is essential for anyone who aspires to live by spiritual principles. Kierkegaard discusses the story of Abraham, the father of faith, who prays and prays for twenty years for a son, and God finally delivers Isaac, but then commands Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham obeys. But, at the last minute, God sends angels: “psyche, just kidding,” and Isaac is saved. The extraordinary point about the story is that killing his son went against every instinct in Abraham’s being, it was so radical and absurd, and yet Abraham had the strength and courage to obey, simply because he believed it was God’s will. This reminds me that sometimes the “right thing” to do will make no sense to me, will defy all reason absurdly, and be against all my deepest held beliefs. And, in doing that absurd thing, it becomes an exercise of faith, blind faith. Who among us has that kind of faith?

  8. Desolation AngelsDesolation
    Desolation Angels

    Desolation Angels — Jack Kerouac. Perhaps his saddest book if you’re asking me.

  9. Great book. along with
    Great book. along with ‘Either/Or’, another Kierkegaard classic everybody should read.

  10. kilgore: Sounds like you’re
    kilgore: Sounds like you’re getting a lot out of this one — is there anything specific that prompted you to read it? I think it’s very common to have those nagging feelings that don’t logically make sense but feel very certain. I think most have that kind of faith, they just may never get the opportunity to test it.

    brooklyn: “Everybody should read” — those are the kinds of qualifiers that tend to cross books off of my list.

  11. I think that the proper
    I think that the proper preparation and introduction period is key when getting ready to read such a book. I have been known to carry around books for up to 6 months just so they’re familiar with my routine. Once I’m sure they’ve accepted the environment, we move on to the next level.

  12. Yes, very cool about Will
    Yes, very cool about Will Tupper. Maybe someday soon Chuck P. will write a book titled “Singlemalt”. We can only hope. Have you now read all of his work? Are there other authors you’ve been turned on to because of Mr. Palahniuk? Just curious …

  13. I seem to recall reading an
    I seem to recall reading an article recently that mentioned ‘Chasing Vermeer’. What made you decide to pick this one up? I wonder … do you often need to “cleanse your palate” so to speak with a book that’s completely different than what you would normally choose (or something that’s sort of a softball — not to say that your choice is necessarily either of those two things, naturally)?

  14. I think I agree with you
    I think I agree with you about that one being the saddest. I’m trying to decide which Kerouac book to read next. I’ve read Desolation Angels, Big Sur, Dr. Sax, On The Road, and the Dharma Bums. Can you recommend one?

    I’m going to read Diary by Chuck Palahniuk and then another Kerouac novel.

  15. I don’t know … I started
    I don’t know … I started reading that once but couldn’t get into it. To try again, well, that would take a leap of fai…

    oh … right.

  16. Kathy Acker, 1990I find
    Kathy Acker, 1990

    I find myself going back to Kathy Acker’s In Memoriam To Identity (1990, Grove Press) for both sanctuary and inspiration. The former may seem a bit odd, as I am not sure that Acker ever wanted to offer any sense of sanctuary to anyone at any time. Her writing challenges the fundamental tenets of narrative construction itself, and does not allow for any rest stops along the way (to say nothing of the challenging content of the book). However, I remember reading an interview with her in which she said that she did not want to write a book in which she told the reader what to think. This is where I do find a sense of sanctuary in her, a sense of freedom. Perhaps those two feelings are contradictory, but in Bush’s America I do not think so. To allow–to force–readers to make their own conclusions, often (I hope) against what is comfortable and familiar, this seems to me to be the essence of freedom, literary and otherwise. This is a very liberating book, and I highly recommend it.

  17. I thought the film version of
    I thought the film version of Fight Club was much better than the book, i.e., more coherent.

  18. hold on, hold ON – a Litkicks
    hold on, hold ON – a Litkicks regular got into one of Palahniuk’s books? wha’? the? heLL? tell me more.

    oh, by the way malty, saw “Jesus’ Son” recently on le DVD…le yawn…hope the book’s a bit better.

  19. Richard BrautiganOnce again I
    Richard Brautigan

    Once again I find myself reading Revenge of the Lawn and The Abortion. After that, I may finally read Moby Dick. Sounds thrilling.

  20. Windblown WorldJack Kerouac’s
    Windblown World

    Jack Kerouac’s Journals 1947-54.

    What I assume is the first of the volumes of Kerouac’s journals, edited by historian Douglas Brinkley.

    Starts out in November 1947, as Kerouac is making the decision to finish the Town and the City. I kind of skimmed this part, as quite a great deal of it is just the mindwandering of a self-important 24 -year-old Artiste. I guess biographically it might be interesting as to Kerouac’s development as a writer, but otherwise it’s just his daily like, how much he suffers as an artist, how many words he wrote, etc. Kind of boring.

    This is most of the first half of the book.

    But then we get the 1949 journals, in particular the ‘Rain and Rivers’ notebook, which documents one of his cross-country trips. Read this and you will find yourself recognizing sentences and passages directly out of ‘On the Road’ like the part about crossing the Mississippi River on a ferry to Algiers, and sketches of scenes, like driving across Texas with Dean and Mary Lou. And a lot of other writing that is just as excellent that didn’t make it into the book. This is worth the price of admission.

    However, a dissappointing book overall. Granted, it is hard to judge an edited volume of journals without having seen the original undedited source material, but I have to wonder; why did Brinkley not include the first 1947 road trip, really the genesis for the whole On the Road concept? Were they not made available to him? Are they planned as a volume of their own?

    Apparently Kerouac didn’t just keep one journal. He seems to have kept multiple going at the same time, for different purpooses (worklogs, road journals, random scribbling) and so the overlapping chronology must have been a pain to edit into a coherence, but I found myself at times frustrated with the editing. Even though I don’t know the source material, it still feels at times like there’s stuff missing, and for a prodigious writer like Kerouac, 7 years of journals edited to 371 book pages seems skimpy to me. I mean, maybe they were trying to keep it a certain length so as not to scare people off, but come one, someone buying a book of his journals has got to be enough of a fan that they could only want more, not less.

    Ah well, for a more literary review of the book, read Gerald Nicosia’s review in the San Francisco Chronicle (though I’ve gathered he has some bones to pick with the Kerouac estate that don’t make him the most unbiased reviewer – he goes to town a bit on the editing choices).

  21. I Know Why the Caged Bird
    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

    Hello! This is my first post 🙂

    I have actually never read this before, and I’m sure I’ll be scolded for never having picked this up.

    I found this at the Salvation Army for $.50 and decided it was about time to start.

    Maya Angelou is FANTASTIC. I don’t exactly agree with a lot of what she says nor can I relate to most of her struggles, but she truly is an amazing writer. And I don’t think that even does her justice.

    This book, so far, is sad, yet funny. The only part that I can relate to is the humor in the tragedy. Even if you can’t agree with what she’s saying or relate to her personal experiences, she is well written enough that anyone can walk in her shoes and feel her pain just by reading her words.

  22. I have read the first couple
    I have read the first couple of chapters of Fear and Trembling. I really liked it, but the demands of everyday life led me to set it down. I remember that it got me wondering, is there a good and evil beyond what God desires, or is God’s desire the definition of good simply because God is God? I just ran across my copy, think I’ll read it next. Merry Christmas to me. Thanks kilgore.

  23. That’s right. I’ve gotta let
    That’s right. I’ve gotta let the book adjust to me and my crazy ways, because really, it’s so zen and I’m so… not.

  24. Several ThingsRight now I am
    Several Things

    Right now I am working on finishing “Action Poetry” which I am absolutely loving. I am in a perpetual state of reading “Mister God, This is Anna” by Fynn which I have read over and over again many times and will continue to do so because I wring something new out of it everytime that I read it. It is one of those books that is different every time that you read it because you are different everytime that you read it. I sincerely recommend it for anyone of any age. I am also trying to work through Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment”. I haven’t gotten very far, not because it isn’t interesting (because I think it is) and not because it isn’t well-written, because it is written beautifully. I just keep getting side-tracked, that’s all. After that I’ll be working my way through the classics: Walden, The Count of Monte Cristo, Pride and Prejudice, etc. I am also working bit by bit through Kerouac’s Mexico City Blues anthology. At first I didn’t like it very much because I couldn’t feel the words, but when I stopped trying to feel the words and started feeling the beat, the words came to me.

  25. Ms. Crackah:I only read Fight
    Ms. Crackah:

    I only read Fight Club, Diary and Survivor. Haven’t read the others. Well, Chucky P. did point me in the direction of Jesus’ Son and he’s apparently a fan of Amy Hempel, but I haven’t checked her out. I think your pal Jamelah didn’t like Hempel, if I recall correctly. And I think I do. Yes, a book based upon the life and times of singlemalt does seems interesting. Perhaps I’ll call the Chuckster up and put a lil’ bug in his ear. Or better yet, write it myself. Heh.

    Brother Vinny:

    Apparently, chuckpalahniuk.net had a contest and the winner got to have one of the characters in Diary named after him. Will Tupper was the winner and, by God, Will Tupper is in the book. I heard the movie Jesus’ Son sucked worse than the Expos (you know I had to throw in a Canadian reference). Anywho, the book is all right. Not great.


    You must have seen the movie before you read the book. ‘Cuz it wasn’t better. ‘Nuf said.

  26. It’s not that I don’t like
    It’s not that I don’t like Amy Hempel, it’s more that I just don’t get the point of Amy Hempel. She writes well enough, it’s just that when I get to the end of one of her stories, I kind of feel like, “Um, so?” I guess this means that I’m not a fan. Of course, I’m not a fan of Chuck Whatshisname either, so there you go.

  27. I just wanted to say to
    I just wanted to say to singlemalt that I love Jesus’ Son, the book and the movie. The book is better, in my opinion. Right now I’m reading Rick Moody, and if you like Johnson you might like him 🙂 his book The Ice Storm became the movie, The Ice Storm, and if you liked the movie even just a little bit, you will love the book. That’s all. Take care!


  28. Hey Billectric:I would
    Hey Billectric:

    I would recommend Tristessa as your next read. It’s short, it’s sweet and it’s equally as sad as Desolation Angels.


  29. Hey! I love Brautigan… but

    I love Brautigan… but I never read The Abortion: Historical Romance etc. etc.; would you recommend it? My fave is In Watermelon Sugar. I’m so excited that someone else likes him!


  30. Paul AusterHey AllHope
    Paul Auster

    Hey All

    Hope everyone is well. This is my first time here and I just wanted to mention a book that I would recommend to anyone that likes to read…aka all of you 🙂

    And if you enjoy post-modernism, you will really enjoy this book, it’s not too wacky, I promise.

    The book is City of Glass, by Paul Auster, and I guess it’s the first book of a three volume triolgy, though apparently the three books aren’t exactly related to each other in plot, only as fragments that together relate to some idea.

    If you’ve read this before please tell me what you thought of it! I just finished it and am still in a daze. (Not to be sixth-gradish or anything, but it was sooooo good.)

  31. I am not one to harm anyone’s
    I am not one to harm anyone’s sensitivities and I don’t want a flame war but Jim Uhls wrote a damn good screenplay but he didn’t develop the woman’s character enough but who knows what the suits cut out. Also I read Fight Club on the bus and the subway in a day, not the best place for reading but when I tried to read it again, it was flat. I saw the movie on TV four or five times before I read the book, so possibly I was conditioned and nothing new could sink in.
    This was a topic here already I believe about good books making bad movies, e.g., Catch-22 comes to mind, and vice versa being true.

  32. It’s good to see ‘Action
    It’s good to see ‘Action Poetry’ on your list! These other selections are pretty excellent too. I’ve been through all of these books, and it looks like you’re in for some good reading.

  33. I’ve already written about
    I’ve already written about this book a lot on LitKicks, so I don’t want to repeat myself except to say that ‘City of Glass’ was one of the most astounding (and mystifying) reading experiences I can remember. Definitely go ahead and tear through the next two books in the trilogy — they won’t clear anything up but I think they’ll keep you captivated.

  34. Welcome to LitKicks … and
    Welcome to LitKicks … and this book seems like a good choice to introduce yourself with (I say ‘seems’ because I never actually read it myself, but maybe I should).

  35. I haven’t read this one yet
    I haven’t read this one yet … I think I overdosed on the Kerouac Apocrypha with the last edition of the letters, and I’m not sure I’m ready to jump into the journals anytime soon. It does sound like an interesting read, though. About Gerry Nicosia, yeah, he is in a major long-running feud with the Kerouac estate (who appointed Douglas Brinkley as Editor) and I’m only impressed that he didn’t rant about the alleged evils of the Kerouac estate more in his article. Or maybe he did and they edited it out.

  36. How They Get You!It was a
    How They Get You!

    It was a featured book at the library. A coffee table book on Yemen. Very few words, awesome pictures. I figured it would make a great Christmas gift for Jamelah’s father so headed off to Amazon to find the book. I figured it was going to be way expensive because of the quality photography. But, I was able to find a brand new one at a discount so dropped into my basket and was heading for the checkout process when up on my screen popped, “those who bought the book you have just purchased also bought…”

    I looked to see what they were. Big mistake. I wound up buying 3 more books on Yemen. Now I’m committed to reading them. I am half way throught he first one Motoring With Mohammed (nonfiction) by Eric Hansen. If you are an On the Road kind of reader and like travel books, you’ll enjoy it. Otherwise, maybe not so much. I am really finding it light and a fun read. It begins with a shipwreck on a small deserted island just off the coast of Yemen in the Red Sea. The seafarers expect immediate rescue but it doesn’t happen as they expect. When the rescue finally does take place the author buries his journals on the beach (they are rescued by Eritrean traders in a very small sailboat travelling to Yemen to sell goats. So the boat is already quite full and not have room for the rescued’s belonings except the bare essentials.) 10 years later the author realizes what a treasure he has in his lost journals. They are packed full of stories and details he can’t get back nor quite rememeber perfectly. So, he travels to Yemen to try to get to the island and see if he can find his journals. He has interesting experiences there. His writing is lighthearted and fun to read. Knowing some about the culture of the Yemenis I think he accurately records his treatment and experiences in his foiled attempts to make progress getting to the island. That’s what I’m reading now.

    What I want to get and don’t have … are just for fun.

    1. I want to read The Chronicles, Vol. 1 by Bob Dylan. I can get it at a good price at Amazon and I’m tempted to just buy it there. I’ll just have to be strong and not be tempted to look further than this book when I make my purchase.

    2. When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops by George Carlin. If I weren’t a Carlin fan I’d want to read this anyway, just because of the title.

    As you can tell, right now I’m not in a very serious mood.

  37. Hey Tina,I might read City of
    Hey Tina,

    I might read City of Glass next. I know brooklyn loved it. Welcome to LitKicks.

    By the way, I have friends who live in DG. I’m in a north burb. Nice to meet you.

  38. warrenweappa:That’s what I

    That’s what I mean. I think if you see a movie before you read the book, the book loses a lot of its magic. You know what’s coming and how its going to end. Having said that, I did like the movie, just not as much as the book. I thought the book’s ending was much better than the movie’s.

  39. Well, you’ve got me curious
    Well, you’ve got me curious about City of Glass now. So far I have a list of 3 books to read. Diary, another Kerouac book as yet undetermined), and City of Glass.

  40. Yeah, I skipped the first
    Yeah, I skipped the first half of the book because I just didn’t really care about the musings on Art of a 24-year-old Kerouac, which are pretty much the same musings any 24-year-old Artiste has on his art. I’ll read one of the bios again if I want to hear about his daily life.

    But the second half, especially Rain and Rivers, has writing that is equivalent to anything in On the Road or Desolation Angel or Visions of Cody, just his pure joyful exhuberance when stopping in a small North Dakota town on a snowy night during a cross-country Greyhound trip, watching to families and loner cowb oys over a big mug of coffee. (Though maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but I am not finding his tendency to romantacize the lives of the small town folk, the blacks, the Mexican immigrants as endearing as I used to. I still like that optimistic quality in his writing, and again maybe its age, but I’m not as willing to believe that these people are somehow happier with their simpler, poorer lives than the rest of us.) But it’s pretty good stuff nonetheless.

  41. Denis Johnson is pretty cool,
    Denis Johnson is pretty cool, I recomend Already Dead, reminded me of Pynchon’s Vineland.

    – oh and did you notice Johnson’s cameo in the Jesus’ Son movie? He’s the guy with the knife in his eye, Jack Black pulls it out.

  42. You should definitely read
    You should definitely read the rest of trilogy, the final story is pure game playing fun.

    I reading another Auster book at the moment – Moon Palace, don’t know what anyone else thinks of it but for the first 150 pages I was really disappointed, then all of sudden I had a massive epiphany and now it’s top.

  43. shamatha, that was a good
    shamatha, that was a good review by Gerald Nicosia in the link you provided. thanks.

  44. There was a play or something
    There was a play or something here in town based on I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I didn’t see it, but some friends of mine said it was good.

    And about the Salvation Army – I have found so many good books there, and at flea markets, garage sales, thrift stores, etc. It’s wonderful.

  45. Mmmmmmm….pork chops…..Of
    Mmmmmmm….pork chops…..

    Of course, as you probably know, that title is a reference to the concept that Jesus freed us from the Old Testament laws.

  46. It doesn’t involve running
    It doesn’t involve running away but does involve investigating art, both in books and a museum. Frankly, I think it is more about how misfits learn to align themselves with each other. That is spoken from a misfit point of view, btw.

    In choosing this book we really wanted something light and delicious yet mildly thought-provoking. It hits on some larger themes such as patterns in life and communication. I usually do select books like this to read as much I glean from the Internet and other media sources is dark and intricate. Did authors forget how to be fascinating? This book fits the bill.

  47. It’s nice to meet all you
    It’s nice to meet all you guys, and I’m glad that some of you have already read or want to read City of Glass. Thank you all for your comments, now I will definitely read the rest of Auster’s “trilogy” and Moon Palace, as was recommended. And it’s nice to know that someone knows DG! singlemalt: nice to meet you, too.

    Hope all is going well. It was nice hearing from all of you!

  48. I just wanted to say that The
    I just wanted to say that The Count of Monte Cristo is one of the best books that I’ve read. I was so intimidated by it when I started reading it (because it’s so long), but I couldn’t put it down. I hope you enjoy it!

  49. Hey, Dave!Just stumbled upon
    Hey, Dave!

    Just stumbled upon your comment here. Thank you – I really don’t know what to say. I was very lucky to win that silly contest at Chuck Palahniuk’s website.

    True story that I might have told here, before: I finally got to meet Chuck, this past October at a signing in Ann Arbor. I got there approximately 150 hours early, thinking that it was going to be a much bigger thing than it was. There was a pretty good turn out, but certainly not as many people as I thought would be there.

    I was third in line, only because I got out of line and walked around Ann Arbor for a while.

    So, anyway. I get up to the front of the line, tell Chuck who I am. And for those of you who’ve not read “Diary” yet, the character of Will Tupper is BALD. B-A-L-D. No hair at all. And I’d discussed this with Chuck in a bit of past correspondence, telling him how I was young and had enough to worry about without the entire world thinking that I was already BALD.

    Chuck thought this was very funny. But we’d never met in person before, so he had nothing to go on. For all he knew, I looked like Telly Savalas.

    In his imagination, I might have looked just like Patrick Stewart.

    So, I get up there, and tell him who I am. And his partner was with him (although it was not spoken of – it was very, very obvious who this person was). And when he finds out that I’m Will Tupper, he got just the best, most confused look on his face.

    He looked at me, and says “Hey. You’re not bald!”

    And Chuck laughed. And I laughed. And everyone laughed. And it was good.

    And I was no longer as permanently psychologically scarred by the entire encouter as I’d planned to be.

    So, it was good. If you’re interested also, Dave (although you have no real reason to be!), I am also a character in the nonfiction memoir “Please Don’t Kill the Freshman” by teenage lit-author sensation Zoe Trope.

    And I am thanked in the second edition of “I Was A Teenage Dominatrix” by the writer, Shawna Kenney.

    AND, there’s a character, “William Tupper,” in Stephen King’s book “Needful Things.” But that is not, to the best of my knowledge, having anything to really do with me.

    Oh, and I’ve got a short story in this thing called “Action Poetry.” I think that’s what it was called… I don’t remember who published it, though. 🙂

    Thanks again though, man. You absolutely, totally have made my day.

  50. It Has To Be DaviesAnything
    It Has To Be Davies

    Anything by Robertson Davies, an influential professor and eccentric writer, will be on my wish list this year. I’ve read the musical happenings in A Mixture of Frailties, and I’ve dipped the shards of my soul into Fifth Buisness, and right now I’m feeling nostalgic with “For Your Eye Alone,” which is a collection of Davies letters that he has sent to friends and collegues from 1978 to 1995. I can’t seem to put it down as Davies absolutely has me entranced with his pools of insight. I drown inside of them and I recommend that you blindly jump in as well.

  51. When I first read Richard
    When I first read Richard Brautigan, it was three books in one (Revenge of the Lawn, The Aborton, and So the Wind Won’t Blow it All Away). I couldn’t put down The Abortion. I haven’t read a lot of his work, but what I have, I’ve enjoyed tremendously.

  52. Whoah – dude – are you, like,
    Whoah – dude – are you, like, some sort of time-travelling demonic madman that just ends up in various books through history? Are you in the friggin’ bible too? Did you meet Jesus?

    Crazy, man… cool stories though.

  53. See, now you’ve got me
    See, now you’ve got me wanting to jump on the bandwagon and put you in one of my stories.

  54. Ah-ha! I’ve been thinking
    Ah-ha! I’ve been thinking about getting a KA book for awhile, and have taken this as a recomendation. I’m gonna check it out–thanks for sharing!

  55. Milan Kundera!I like to share
    Milan Kundera!

    I like to share good things. Milan Kundera is a very good thing. His novels are just so much fun! They’re entertainment, philosophy, and a history lesson all rolled into one; though all three are often skewed and re-interpreted by the author (who frequently takes part in his own novels) and told in Kundera’s esoteric way, which always makes you sit and go uh-hmm…

    I recomend The Unbearable Lightness of Being or Immortality, but anything with MK’s name on it should be a treat, and ’tis the season for treats, yeah?

    Happy Holidays and Merry Reading!

  56. MilarepaThe life of Milarepa

    The life of Milarepa — an interesting biography of a famous Buddhist. Good read — flys — I just finished Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut.

  57. OK Will, you are officially
    OK Will, you are officially freaking me out. Too cool to be in all of these books. You’re kind of like Forrest Gump.

    I seem to recall writing on the old message boards about how Chuck was making eyes at me and I was like “lay off dude” and he was all like “you might like it, sport.”

    You kind of get the drift of the exchange. He is a decent guy. You can check out one of the last literary encounters on the old message boards to read the whole story.

  58. I’ve a friend, a kind-of
    I’ve a friend, a kind-of friend, I guess, who said to me once that I was like, “The Courtney Love of Literature.”

    Meaning, I always seem to be… associated with greatness. There’s always greatness… in my vacinity. And yet my own personal output, by comparison to the greatness in my periphery, is small-scale at best.

    Dave, I’ve heard more than two stories about Chuck putting the moves on readers of his. But do you have a link to where you posted the story about your encounter with him? I’d love to read it… if only I could find it.

    I’d forgot one book I’d been mentioned in: Stoker Award Winner (I think winner. If not winner, at least nominee) and Soft Skull Press writer Nick Mamatas put out a small press book of his short stories and nonfiction called, “3000 MPH In Every Direction At Once.”

    And lit-kid Zoe Trope was asked to write the intro to it. And so she did, writing a story about a late-night phone call she and I had where she couldn’t pronounce Nick’s last name and we both laughed until we cried.

    Really. You had to be there. But that’s just one more book where I’ve been close to greatness.

    Where I’ve been in greatness’s “posse,” if you will.

    And I am the kid that “Harry Potter” is based on. I forgot that one, too.

    I am really, really, really looking forward to Chuck Palahniuk’s next book, “Haunted.” I think, based on the short story “Guts” of his that’s already been published in Playboy, and will be part of “Haunted,” that this book will mark Chuck’s second breakthrough.

    What he did with “Fight Club,” I’m willing to bet is about to happen again. Only this time, far grosser than before :).

    And PS to jim vinny – I am not (I don’t think) a time-travelling, “demonic madman,” as you so eloquently put it. I am, however, part of the secret society called The Illuminati. I just, as you might expect (it being a secret) can’t talk about it.

    And PPS to Billectric – I thought I was the main character in all your stories already. You certainly have been in mine. How else do you think I’ve gotten published in “Penthouse Forum” so many times?

  59. Kundera is my favorite writer
    Kundera is my favorite writer of the right now. I don’t think anyone does it better. As you said he has a way telling a tale but packs in so much philosophy I can’t just race through his work. Not only is he a slower read for me (I usually gallop through whatever I’m reading) because of his philosophical input, but he also absolutely has a way of turning a phrase. For me, he is not a good writer, but a “great” writer. I guess “time” is the determiner of whether or not a writer is a Great Writer.

    I have read The Unbearable Lightness of Being. My next Kundera book is Immortality. Looking forward to it very much.

  60. Jung and Theodore SturgeonI
    Jung and Theodore Sturgeon

    I just read a book of short stories by Ted Sturgeon called ‘Beyond’. I’ve started the next ‘e pluribus unicorn’ which is just as good. There’s something exceptional about Ted Sturgeon. Hack brilliance, what we all wish we had. I’ve been reading a fair amount of short things lately including Brautigan’s ‘Lawn,’ Donald Barthelme, some SJ Perelman essays, etc.

    Also I’m reading volume 10 of the complete Jung. (there must be more’n 20) not that I know shit about psychology. But this one talks about unconscious, the undiscovered self AND, most importantly, UFOs.

  61. I really enjoy Kundera …
    I really enjoy Kundera … however friends of mine seem to find him a litte cold, the call me a darn post modern monkey. And oh how that hurts.

  62. I don’t know about Sturgeon
    I don’t know about Sturgeon or UFO’s, but I am really glad to see S. J. Perelman show up on somebody’s list. He’s an amazing humorist, but I don’t hear his name mentioned much.

  63. I love it when you find
    I love it when you find something when you were looking for something else. I was in the bookstore looking for guides to East and South Asia, and right next to it was a book on etiquette for when you are in the Phillipines. I ended up reading that too. I don’t know what use I’d ever have for that book in the future, but it was still fun to find it.

  64. So Many ChoicesI had been
    So Many Choices

    I had been disgruntled because college was getting in the way of my delightful book reading. When I wanted to read my frivolous novel I was stuck reading some 400 page university book. But now I am out of school for at least half the next year. I’m going to go back and read books I’d wanted to for a while. I want to read some classic Dostoevsky and some Hemingway. I’m going to read Siddartha. I’m going to read some new Jay McInerney (a book about the publishing industry but I think a lot of his past books have been about) and other 80s literature. Yippee!

  65. Alright Billl, have you given
    Alright Billl, have you given away too much here? Have you revealed the entire plot to me? Have you given away the ending? Drat you Bill! I hate when that happens. ah heck, I’m gonna read it anyway.

    I’m with you Andeh, I love when I stumble over something and find I loved it more than what I had been looking for. For me, books are the eternal source of joy/or something like that, anyway.

  66. Well, Moon Palace is my
    Well, Moon Palace is my favorite Paul Auster book out of the 4 or 5 I’ve read. City of Glass was pretty good. Isn’t there a graphic novel version out there?

    books as furniture in boxes. books as sustenance.
    books as everything that litters the floors that isn’t from the already wilting christmas tree.

  67. The Disappearance of the
    The Disappearance of the Universe

    ‘The Disappearance of the Universe’ by Gary Renard.

    For a while I’ve sensed we are creating our realities, for some purpose. Also, that there is only one ‘being’ rather than each of us being separate.

    It reminds me of my favorite book – ILLUSIONS, by Richard Bach.

  68. Desolation AngelsI’ve always
    Desolation Angels

    I’ve always felt that Big Sur was Kerouacs saddest book.Of all his books that I’ve read,Desolation Angels, On the Road, Tristessa,The Dharma Bums, Big Sur is the only one I’ve never re-read.

  69. I always figured we were part
    I always figured we were part of each other, but all seperate beings. I mean, I look around me, and, some of the stuff happens in life, I think, I hope I’m not creating all of this reality. Sounds a good book. Hope it’s not hard to find.

  70. I posted this a long time ago
    I posted this a long time ago on Litkicks and just thought I would add it here:

    When I read Palahniuk’s short story Guts, one part almost instantly reminded me of something I had read in Hemingway’s book of short stories called In Our Time. Not the subject matter, but the literary device.

    It was Hemingway’s short story, “Cat In the Rain.” There aren’t a lot of adjectives cluttering the story. In fact, there aren’t a lot of adjectives cluttering the entire book.
    So a green table in the rain really stands out.

    A cat is trying to get out of the rain by going under a table of an outdoor cafe. “…a cat was crouched under one of the dripping green tables,” writes Hemingway, and later, “The table was there, washed bright green in the rain…”

    The picture is so clear in my mind, that wet green table. It stands out because it is alone in color and texture.

    Now, in the story “Guts” when Palahniuk described the inside of someone’s intestines as seen through the transluscent skin, what stands out in my mind?

    “You can see a long bright-orange ball. It’s the kind of horse pill vitamin my dad makes me take, to help put on weight.”

    Again, it’s a color and a texture, alone and surrounded by the terse prose. I see it so clearly.

    Cool how that works.

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