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658004 Posts in 9261 Topics by 3396 Members Latest Member: - vlozan86 Most online today: 60 - most online ever: 494 (Jul 01, 2007, 02:59:53 PM)
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Author Topic: Current reading material?  (Read 228592 times)
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Akhliber
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Posts: 65


« Reply #75 on: Aug 05, 2004, 02:26:01 AM »

I recently started Lamb by Christopher Moore, which isn't bad so far.  I've never read anything else of his.  Should I?
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"We are larger than this prison.  We must not shrink to fit its little walls."
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giant_robot7
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Posts: 15


« Reply #76 on: Aug 05, 2004, 03:32:56 AM »

I've become a huge fan of Calvino from reading Cosmicomics and Invisible Cities.
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leslie
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Posts: 311


« Reply #77 on: Aug 05, 2004, 05:20:36 AM »

Calvino's Difficult Loves is the Calvino that got me all smitten, that book ranks right up there with Brautigan's Trout Fishing In America and Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love for me.

Ugh, this is the part where I cop to reading a lot of poncey non fiction stuff.

Currently I'm reading DFW's Oblivion
Carl Honore's In Praise of Slowness : How A Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed
Arthur Danto The Abuse of Beauty
Thomas Malone The Future of Work
Michael Haines A Population History of North America
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Stiletto Elephant
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Posts: 62


« Reply #78 on: Aug 05, 2004, 11:10:43 AM »

Fortress of Solitude was interesting, but a little disappointing, somehow.

Maybe if racial issues had been more of a feature of my life, I would understand it better. But I've always lived in 90% black neighborhoods (myself being white) and it never really seemed to matter that I was in the minority.

So I'm left wondering why Dylan let it get to him so much. It doesn't quite add up to me.

Oh well.
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mike
Andrew_TSKS
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Posts: 39426


« Reply #79 on: Aug 05, 2004, 12:30:20 PM »

i'm very excited to read fortress of solitude, but haven't gotten around to it.

oh, and count me in on the tribe of delillo not-getters. i tried reading underworld... enjoyed the opening story about the baseball game, then it totally lost me. i think i got through 200 pages and then gave up. i still have it though... maybe i'll try again someday.
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I just want to be myself and I want you to love me for who I am.
terror firma
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Posts: 215


« Reply #80 on: Aug 05, 2004, 12:46:59 PM »

if anyone wants to read a book where nearly every sentence is a joke (and a good one), pick up WIGFIELD right away. its written by steven colbert, paul dinello, and amy sedaris all of strangers with candy fame, and it is easily the funniest book i have ever read, and that's including some choice vonnegut and the liner notes to every nation of ulysses album.
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perry
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Posts: 393


« Reply #81 on: Aug 05, 2004, 01:59:57 PM »

I finally read (the ineffable) Life of Pi (Yann Martel) recently and am currently reading The God of Small Things (Arundhati Roy) and An Instance of the Fingerpost (Iain Pears) simultaneously, between the bus and home.  Also, I recently read several books from The Great Brain series of children,Aeos books (John Fitzgerald) to keep my mind limber.

In a brief defense of David Foster Wallace, it strikes me that his braggadocio and posturing are not some kind of pathological dick-measuring or self-definition in the endless genera of the hip of the world, but rather some kind of attempt to establish a literary context for what he considers lost in the tide of, well, he does a nice job stating it himself (regardless of the degree to which I think he is being honest) here:  http://neugierig.org/content/dfw/ffacy.pdf

With regard to Don DeLillo, I read Great Jones Street a couple weeks ago, and it strikes me that his real weakness is that he is too much of a Platonist about the writing thing; he has little regard for his characters- who all talk the same way- and only uses them as props to move his concepts forward, never letting the concepts take on any flesh.  The payoff of the book (and really the only reason to read it, in my opinion) is the last twenty pages where the concept he has woodenly propelled through the book finally gets some kind of life.  It,Aeos actually quite redeeming the way he does it (but maybe not enough for my taste).
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william
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Posts: 493


« Reply #82 on: Aug 05, 2004, 02:16:07 PM »

Quote
his real weakness is that he is too much of a Platonist about the writing thing; he has little regard for his characters- who all talk the same way- and only uses them as props to move his concepts forward, never letting the concepts take on any flesh.


Bam! Thats exactly it. I'm with my man Jean-Francois Lyotard on this one. Down with metanarratives. Ru-fi-o! Ru-fi-o! Ru-fi-o!
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justinh
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Posts: 3083


« Reply #83 on: Aug 05, 2004, 02:59:19 PM »

Quote from: "william"
Quote
his real weakness is that he is too much of a Platonist about the writing thing; he has little regard for his characters- who all talk the same way- and only uses them as props to move his concepts forward, never letting the concepts take on any flesh.


Bam! Thats exactly it.


i was just going to voice my agreement, too.  it's the same issue i have with pynchon (i've only read the crying of lot 49, though).
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Maaik
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Posts: 15119


« Reply #84 on: Aug 05, 2004, 05:28:39 PM »

Quote from: "justinh"
Quote from: "william"
Quote
his real weakness is that he is too much of a Platonist about the writing thing; he has little regard for his characters- who all talk the same way- and only uses them as props to move his concepts forward, never letting the concepts take on any flesh.


Bam! Thats exactly it.


i was just going to voice my agreement, too.  it's the same issue i have with pynchon (i've only read the crying of lot 49, though).


I can see that.  I've made it about 2/3 of the way through White Noise and a couple things made me put off finishing it.  One was the actual deadly cloud of chlorine smoke that overtook Conyers, Georgia last month, but the other was--and I think this was mentioned earlier--the truly unnatural dialogue between some of the characters (primarily Murray).

Not all of his dialogue is like that though, and I think that he does have an understanding of the way that people actually communicate with each other (primarily more professorial/adult types.  The Gladney children all sound like little adults).

The Crying of Lot 49 though, I really love, and I think it's because Pynchon does what DeLillo doesn't do in that he really creates an alternate reality rather than just dropping his concepts into our tidy little existence.  The incredibly dense paranoia and feverish pace of the book were really compelling.  Frankly though, I'm frightened to death of his other books.  I can't imagine having a two ton postmodern bomb like I surmise Gravity's Rainbow would be dropped in my brain.  That'd hurt.  Like Joyce-ean hurt.
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Roque
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Posts: 166


« Reply #85 on: Aug 05, 2004, 06:57:38 PM »

Quote from: "Maaik"
Quote from: "justinh"
Quote from: "william"
Quote
his real weakness is that he is too much of a Platonist about the writing thing; he has little regard for his characters- who all talk the same way- and only uses them as props to move his concepts forward, never letting the concepts take on any flesh.


Bam! Thats exactly it.


i was just going to voice my agreement, too.  it's the same issue i have with pynchon (i've only read the crying of lot 49, though).


I can see that.  I've made it about 2/3 of the way through White Noise and a couple things made me put off finishing it.  One was the actual deadly cloud of chlorine smoke that overtook Conyers, Georgia last month, but the other was--and I think this was mentioned earlier--the truly unnatural dialogue between some of the characters (primarily Murray).

Not all of his dialogue is like that though, and I think that he does have an understanding of the way that people actually communicate with each other (primarily more professorial/adult types.  The Gladney children all sound like little adults).

The Crying of Lot 49 though, I really love, and I think it's because Pynchon does what DeLillo doesn't do in that he really creates an alternate reality rather than just dropping his concepts into our tidy little existence.  The incredibly dense paranoia and feverish pace of the book were really compelling.  Frankly though, I'm frightened to death of his other books.  I can't imagine having a two ton postmodern bomb like I surmise Gravity's Rainbow would be dropped in my brain.  That'd hurt.  Like Joyce-ean hurt.


I don't what the shite either of you are talking about. I assume you're kidding about the Lyotard reference. DeLillo could be considered a Platonist it the very loose sense, sure, in a fair amount of his work. But what?! Pynchon!? These are the not attacks that can withstand, you know, actually reading Pynchon. Even once you kids swim in the Marianas-deep end of Gravity's Rainbow, you'll know that the man has a way with words, and isn't just curling with Big Ideas, let alone anything as asenine as metanarratives.

/////
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And so it was that Pooh discovered that his friend Tigger was merely the representative of a reactionary class, and needed to be overthrown.
Maaik
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Posts: 15119


« Reply #86 on: Aug 05, 2004, 08:46:30 PM »

sorry  
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Wasim
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Posts: 16


« Reply #87 on: Aug 05, 2004, 08:58:49 PM »

H2G2 is pretty awesome. I haven't really read a novel in awhile, but instead have been reading plays. Waiting for Godot by Beckett is great, at least in my opinion.
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Roque
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Posts: 166


« Reply #88 on: Aug 05, 2004, 09:19:47 PM »

Quote from: "Maaik"
sorry  
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         \/


Hah, my microrant was aimed at justinh (who has the budding DeLillo 'issue' with Pynchon) not at you. I just wanted to point out that while Pynchon can get ridiculous (see M&D), he still seems to care a tad more about prose style. Don't get me wrong, though: Nabokov he isn't.

/////
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And so it was that Pooh discovered that his friend Tigger was merely the representative of a reactionary class, and needed to be overthrown.
Roque
Registered user

Posts: 166


« Reply #89 on: Aug 05, 2004, 11:57:21 PM »

Quote from: "Wasim"
H2G2 is pretty awesome. I haven't really read a novel in awhile, but instead have been reading plays. Waiting for Godot by Beckett is great, at least in my opinion.


Yeah, it was all right. All right as in the greatest play of the twentieth century. There are a couple people, I suspect, who share your opinion. In his own words, he said what he was going for ...

Quote from: "Sam B."
What I am saying does not mean that there will henceforth be no form in art. It only means that there will be a new form, and that this form will be of such a type that it admits the chaos, and does not try to say that the chaos is really something else. The form and the chaos remain separate. The latter is not reduced to the former. That is why the form itself becomes a preoccupation, because it exists as a problem separate from the material it accommodates. To find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist.


He found the form in WFG & that's his legacy. It was important because the form was a mold that had gone unbroken for a long, long time.

/////
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And so it was that Pooh discovered that his friend Tigger was merely the representative of a reactionary class, and needed to be overthrown.
justinh
Registered user

Posts: 3083


« Reply #90 on: Aug 06, 2004, 01:54:22 AM »

Quote from: "Roque"


Hah, my microrant was aimed at justinh (who has the budding DeLillo 'issue' with Pynchon) not at you. I just wanted to point out that while Pynchon can get ridiculous (see M&D), he still seems to care a tad more about prose style. Don't get me wrong, though: Nabokov he isn't.

/////


i won't get into whether or not pynchon is a platonist, because frankly my understanding of plato is rather dim at this point.  I was mostly referring to the way he deals with characters.  in tcol49 the characters don't really have much personality, and don't really evolve as characters, but seem to be devices to explore all these other ideas.  of course they have some personality, but i don't think there is much of a focus on that aspect.  and yeah, the ideas are interesting, but in the end i'd rather spend my time reading things that deal more with character development than strictly the exploration of ideas.  so yeah, his prose is fine with me, it's the lack of character development that turns me off, personally.
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Tad
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Posts: 54


« Reply #91 on: Aug 06, 2004, 07:04:00 AM »

You know, I didn't think Waiting for Godot could actually be that good.  And then I read it.  My previously held opinion was fairly well shattered.  

And as for this Pynchon/DeLillo discussion, I've only read one work but each of these folk however I didn't appear to have similar issues with either Pynchon or DeLillo.  I read Crying of Lot 49 several years ago so I can't very well remember the specifics, but as for White Noise, I didn't have the problem with artificial dialogue that seems to be a recurring criticism (amongst other things) here.  Perhaps, by introducing the book with one of the most surreal regularly occurring events imaginable (and by this, I mean the Freshman Orientation chapter), I was inured to the strained dialogue or characters like Murray.  Because while Murray's grandiloquence is patently strained, I could find analogues to Murray in people I have dealt with or listened to within the past couple of years.  But moreso than that, it seems to me that to abstract Murray's dialogue is to make it even more absurd--and perhaps that is ultimately how one must make their judgements?  So, when I read the book I didn't make concerted efforts to look at Murray's dialogue in relation to reality.  Therefore, I wasn't particularly thrown by any of it.  This may stem from my deficiencies as a reader.  

I understand however, that Murray's character was concentrated too specifically on Murray.  Ultimately, it didn't bother me as it ha a number of others.
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Maaik
Registered user

Posts: 15119


« Reply #92 on: Aug 06, 2004, 07:20:01 AM »

Quote from: "Tad"
And as for this Pynchon/DeLillo discussion [lots of stuff, just look up] Ultimately, it didn't bother me as it ha a number of others.


I like you Tad.  See, here I find myself caught by the criticism trap in that, you know, I like those books and I enjoy reading them while I'm reading them.  It's only hindsight that fuels critical BS.

So in the same way that on some days Don Cabellero's calculated pounding is just better than The Mountain Goats' relative simplicity--and just as often vice versa...

What was I talking about?
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Jacob_Evans
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Posts: 258


« Reply #93 on: Aug 06, 2004, 07:23:43 AM »

I'm in the middle of "Even Cowgirls Get The Blues", which may be the best thing I've read in quite awhile.  I bought "Very Old Bones" by William Kennedy a few days back at the Goodwill.  I'll start on that soon enough, I suppose, though I have about two dozen books I've purchased over the last six or eight months that I either never read ("Invisible Man") or that I read half of ("The Lovely Bones") and then promptly put aside and never pick up.  It's a sickness.
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TheNames
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Posts: 567


« Reply #94 on: Aug 06, 2004, 11:30:24 AM »

Quote from: "giant_robot7"
I've become a huge fan of Calvino from reading Cosmicomics and Invisible Cities.

Same Here.
cosmicomics is one of the few books i've read that i really hoped would never end. He's a dream.
I just finished Vaclav Havel's "Temptation" and Bohumil Hrabal's "Closely Watched Trains."  Both of which were excellent. i've got a czech fetish. i just started "The Heart Of A Dog" by mikhail bulgakov and i've got lots of milan kundera and ivan klima lined up.
Has anyone read koestler's trilogy of "sleepwalkers" "the act of creation" and "the ghost in the machine"? I read darkness at noon and loved it, but im not sure if i'm ready to embark on the 2000 pages of the trilogy yet.
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I'd be dead.
william
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Posts: 493


« Reply #95 on: Aug 06, 2004, 02:49:27 PM »

Quote
I don't what the shite either of you are talking about. I assume you're kidding about the Lyotard reference. DeLillo could be considered a Platonist it the very loose sense, sure, in a fair amount of his work. But what?! Pynchon!? These are the not attacks that can withstand, you know, actually reading Pynchon. Even once you kids swim in the Marianas-deep end of Gravity's Rainbow, you'll know that the man has a way with words, and isn't just curling with Big Ideas, let alone anything as asenine as metanarratives.


Firstly, i was only concurring about the point on DeLillo. I haven't read Pynchon yet (though I do intend to). Secondly, no I'm not kidding about the Lyotard reference, though i was using it in a metaphorical rather than literal sense, mainly because he sprang to mind whilst I was reading White Noise. In The Postmodern Condition, Lyotard argues that the world has grown tired of overarching narratives which seek to explain everything and make everyone else part of the bigger picture (Marxist theory, for example, sees all of humanity as working towards a final goal of the perfect society. The various epochs which we have been through [e.g. feudalism, capitalism etc.] are reduced to mere stages in our development towards the sublime end point of history). The problem with metanarratives is that they crush individuals into an amorphous gloop. Lyotard's Postmodernism, with its attitude of acceptance towards a whole plethora of narratives and stories is, at root, an attempt to claw back the value of the individual.
   In light of this analysis, I think that my reference to Lyotard works. As Perry notes, all his characters talk in the same stilted way and I found DeLillo's character develoment limited at best, sacrificed to the concepts he was pushing. I'm all for overarching stories in books, but I'd far rather see better developed characters as they hold my interest a lot more.

Ps: asinine is an unfortunate word to spell incorrectly.
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swilkes
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Posts: 1032


« Reply #96 on: Aug 06, 2004, 03:50:01 PM »

Quote from: "william"

In The Postmodern Condition, Lyotard argues that the world has grown tired of overarching narratives which seek to explain everything and make everyone else part of the bigger picture (Marxist theory, for example, sees all of humanity as working towards a final goal of the perfect society. The various epochs which we have been through [e.g. feudalism, capitalism etc.] are reduced to mere stages in our development towards the sublime end point of history). The problem with metanarratives is that they crush individuals into an amorphous gloop. Lyotard's Postmodernism, with its attitude of acceptance towards a whole plethora of narratives and stories is, at root, an attempt to claw back the value of the individual.


I'm not following this thread as well as I should, especially since I'm a cheerleader for Team Pynchon, but I don't know if I like this Lyotard's thesis that "the world has grown tired" of PoMo cosmologies, when he means *he* has grown tired of them. Personally, I still get a kick out of huge fictional tomes with massive, encyclopedic themes.  Ulysses, Gravity's Rainbow, Underworld, etc.  Oh yes!

And I'm not too concerned about realistic dialogue, or fully-formed characters, because that's such a recent concept in the history of literature.  Try finding a fully believeable character and realistic dialogue in Voltaire, or Apuleius.  If it's not there, it's not important to the story the author wants to tell you.
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Andrew_TSKS
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Posts: 39426


« Reply #97 on: Aug 06, 2004, 03:57:43 PM »

Quote from: "swilkes"
And I'm not too concerned about realistic dialogue, or fully-formed characters, because that's such a recent concept in the history of literature.



be that as it may, it's my favorite thing about reading, and i'm sure i'm not the only person who feels that way. i've always felt that an emphasis on plot is not really all that necessary to telling a great story. i'm far more interested in how people think and interact with each other than any "great" themes.

so yeah, maybe that makes me a poor appreciator of the classics, but i like what i like, and delillo (at least thus far) ain't it.
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Roque
Registered user

Posts: 166


« Reply #98 on: Aug 06, 2004, 04:28:14 PM »

Quote from: "Andrew_TSKS"
Quote from: "swilkes"
And I'm not too concerned about realistic dialogue, or fully-formed characters, because that's such a recent concept in the history of literature.



be that as it may, it's my favorite thing about reading, and i'm sure i'm not the only person who feels that way. i've always felt that an emphasis on plot is not really all that necessary to telling a great story. i'm far more interested in how people think and interact with each other than any "great" themes.

so yeah, maybe that makes me a poor appreciator of the classics, but i like what i like, and delillo (at least thus far) ain't it.


To each his own. But I advise opening up to the world beyond verisimilitude. It is, after all, fiction that we're talking about here. Valuing something because of its conceptual place in the history of literature is also something I kinda advise against. You're free to like whatever you like, except under the Shah or something, but as my freshman football coach ironically said w/r/t blow, "Don't knock it 'til you try it!" And trying it means trying more than one work of the offending style or by the offending author--which your "at least thus far" suggests you'll do.

You talk about "plot" and "'great' themes" practically in the same breath. Of course neither is the be-all, end-all, but neither should characterization--or anything else--be. I think you're  better off if can enjoy, for instance, Chekhov and Pushkin equally. Mametspeak isn't what I'd call "realistic" but how can you not appreciate it for that very reason? (Well, maybe it really is just a love-it-or-hate-it thing.)

/////
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And so it was that Pooh discovered that his friend Tigger was merely the representative of a reactionary class, and needed to be overthrown.
william
Registered user

Posts: 493


« Reply #99 on: Aug 06, 2004, 04:30:37 PM »

Quote
I don't know if I like this Lyotard's thesis that "the world has grown tired" of PoMo cosmologies, when he means *he* has grown tired of them.


Ah, but thats just it. The book's full title is The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, and this is just what it is: a report. Lyotard was commissioned, in fact, by the government of Quebec to investigate into the then current state of knowledge in the world (the book was published in 1984). He discovered that in practical terms, metanarratives were becoming less and less useful (and so, less and less used) in modern (or rather, postmodern) discourse. One should note that Lyotard was writing to reflect the world. He was not saying that
Quote
huge fictional tomes with massive, encyclopedic themes
were a terrible thing. I was merely picking up on Lyotard's findings as a metaphor for my own views on DeLillo's writing. As for
Quote
huge fictional tomes with massive, encyclopedic themes
, I'm actually all for those, but I think that the stories and the characters should fit together, so that the world of the novel isn't just shoe-horned uncomfortably into the story. I actually think that Joyce manages this in Ulysses because the characters are well developed, even from the first line they jump off the page: 'Stately, plump Buck Mulligan', for example.[/u]
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