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Post Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 12:03 am 
 

bombadil wrote:I tried reading one once, can't recall which one it was.  Found it insanely boring.  Too much long-winded dialogue.  I prefer dialogue the way Hemingway and Bukowski wrote it.


"Oh, Jake," Brett said, "we could have had such a damned good time together."
Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me.
"Yes," I said. "Isn't it pretty to think so?"

Last lines of The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway


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Post Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 12:17 am 
 

Badmike wrote:
"Oh, Jake," Brett said, "we could have had such a damned good time together."
Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me.
"Yes," I said. "Isn't it pretty to think so?"

Last lines of The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway


Mike B.


A big fan of the noir writers of the 20s-40s, where the writers got paid by the word so editiors (especially Cap Shaw of Black Mask) would cut stories mercilessly down to the bare bones.  What resulted was some of the leanest, meanest, sparely bleak literature in history.  But undeniably great stuff!  Those guys could say more in one line spouted out of a Private Eye's mouth than some "fancier" writers could ramble on about with an entire page....

"When a man's partner is killed he's supposed to do something about it. It doesn't make any difference what you thought of him. He was your partner and you're supposed to do something about it"

Sam Spade in Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon

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Post Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 7:55 am 
 

If you like a pared-down style, I would v. much recommend the short stories of Raymond Carver.  Great stuff, perhaps sometimes a bit bleak, but well worth reading.


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Post Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 11:13 am 
 

red_bus wrote:If you like a pared-down style, I would v. much recommend the short stories of Raymond Carver.  Great stuff, perhaps sometimes a bit bleak, but well worth reading.


I'm a big Raymond Carver fan also. But he's definitely not for everyone.  Sometimes you finish one of his stories and just scratch your head and say huh.  But when he's on it's brilliant.

Mike B.


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Post Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 3:40 pm 
 

As for why the Potter stories were popular:

Rowling tapped into a rich mythology, language and literary tradition and made it accessible and immersing to younger readers and readers who do not usually read fantasy (female elementary school teachers, to name just one group).

Things that are common and well known to RPG gamers are new and wondrous to the uninitiated.  Rowling managed to string together a quasi-believable magical world and squeeze it into the traditional English boarding school story framework.

Some large flaws in logic...and not the way a gamer would have done things...but fun nonetheless.


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Post Posted: Thu Jul 26, 2007 10:57 am 
 

[Begin mini-rant]

Damn, do I hate creep bidders.  When you put in a dozen bids, each one minimum incrment + 1 cents apart, it's a fairly good bet that everyone knows what your last bid was.

When you do it extremely early on in the auction, it makes even less sense, as everyone knows what they need to enter to snipe you just before the auction ends 4 days from now.  :roll:

[End mini-rant]

  

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Post Posted: Thu Jul 26, 2007 6:09 pm 
 

WARNING!  NO SPOILERS, BUT SOME DISCUSSION OF THE LAST HARRY POTTER BOOK!


Finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Overall, I rate it at a 4 out of 5.

Rowling ended the series well.  Good thing, too, because she was repeating plot devices, re-hashing storylines and recycling old situations throughout the book.  She was clearly out of ideas.

A lot of people die.  I give Rowling credit for hard writing choices.

Rowling needs to work on writing action sequences.  She can't describe action and grows extremely fuzzy whenever some sort of struggle or combat starts.  

Too many times she makes up for this by having one of her characters get blinded or stunned by something, and then waking up in safety so another character can outline what happened.  Harry, for instance, must black out about six times during the story..."Wow.  What happened?"

Rowling even has one entire important chunk of storyline happen off-stage.  We hear about it later.  "It was amazing!" says Hermione.

In order to make the storyline work and make any sense, Hermione becomes a logistics genius.  She literally pulls plot devices out of her sleeves.

Part of Rowling's problem is that she is bound into the school-year formula of the series.  Several times she writes things like, "in the days and weeks that followed..."   Weeks?

Rowling held back on so many story points that she has to make major, chapter-long digressions...including two of the final four chapters, in the middle of the biggest action...to somehow explain how everything worked out and why.

The final action sequence is a nice example of run-on sentences and poorly worded drama.  Rowling focuses on exactly the wrong things.  

The epilogue is a nice example of clever-but-unclear writing.  

If Rowling had been an unpublished writer, rather than the 21st century's best selling author, her editors would have made her re-write many scenes.

The book does get good in the final chapters, when the major goodguy characters decide to start acting like real people instead of characters from some sort of fantasy cartoon version of A-Team.  (For six and a  half books, the evil characters are acting impossibly evil and no one seems to want to hurt them for it.  In fact, the only curses that really work are "unforgiveable.")

All in all, however, not a bad ending to a very imaginative collection of fantasy fiction.  Pruned down and edited, it should make a good movie.

One question I would like to have one of the story's characters ask:  

"God, dude, why don't you have, like, seven wands hidden all over your body?  I mean I would have, like, one million of those things!"  

Or:

"Whoa, dude, if a sword or a knife will work then why not try an Uzi?  You could, like, charm it so no one could see it and..."

Neville's story is the best one.

Mark   8)


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Post Posted: Thu Jul 26, 2007 6:33 pm 
 

Badmike wrote:
"Oh, Jake," Brett said, "we could have had such a damned good time together."
Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me.
"Yes," I said. "Isn't it pretty to think so?"

Last lines of The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway

Mike B.


I think Hemingway can run close to self parody sometimes  :D .  Especially read today.  But the romantic in me does like the Sun Also Rises.  I would also recommend, A Moveable Feast.  

On fantasy (or perhaps, mythology), I recently re-read some of the Ulster Cycle.  A good collection is in Marie Heaney's, Over Nine Waves.  Really great inspiring D&D stuff  :study:

Also nostalgic for me.  We had it in school for the first year!  Happy times.  :D


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Post Posted: Thu Jul 26, 2007 7:00 pm 
 

red_bus wrote:
I think Hemingway can run close to self parody sometimes  :D .  Especially read today.  But the romantic in me does like the Sun Also Rises.  I would also recommend, A Moveable Feast.  

On fantasy (or perhaps, mythology), I recently re-read some of the Ulster Cycle.  A good collection is in Marie Heaney's, Over Nine Waves.  Really great inspiring D&D stuff  :study:

Also nostalgic for me.  We had it in school for the first year!  Happy times.  :D


Hemmingway unfortunately has been parodied so much, his original stuff is hard to read without smiling at inappropriate parts.  I find myself doing much the same when reading pulp detective fiction of the 30s-50s.  You have to remember though at the time the writing styles were new and exciting...it's only through hacks that tried to borrow these styles that we come to disrespect the source material. If you can somehow "forget all you have learned" and adjust your mindset, it can be pretty powerful stuff.  Particularly a lot of the hard boiled writers of the time period (Hemmingway included).  

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Post Posted: Thu Jul 26, 2007 7:32 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:In order to make the storyline work and make any sense, Hermione becomes a logistics genius.  She literally pulls plot devices out of her sleeves.


I think you mean out of her totally-not-a-bag-of-holding. ;)

  

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Post Posted: Thu Jul 26, 2007 7:43 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:WARNING!  NO SPOILERS, BUT SOME DISCUSSION OF THE LAST HARRY POTTER BOOK!


Finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Overall, I rate it at a 4 out of 5.

Rowling ended the series well.  Good thing, too, because she was repeating plot devices, re-hashing storylines and recycling old situations throughout the book.  She was clearly out of ideas.


First, it will in interesting to see if Rowling is a one hit wonder (Harry Potter Series) or can do something else.  Writers like Katherine Kurtz, for example, get little respect in the community because all their written literature takes place in one selected milieu.  If Rowling someday is able to do something outside of the Potterverse respect for her could rise.  I'm going to go out on a limb and say it won't happen.  I bet if/when she does return to writing, it will be in the Potterverse. Then again, in ten years time, freed from the strictures of having to follow a formula or deal with the same characters, she might surprise everyone.

Second, what the hell ever happened to editors?  Do they spell check and nothing else nowadays?  There seems to be an unwritten rule, once you make the best seller lists editors keep their hands off and let you put out the most awful, over padded dreck ever.  Stephen King has needed a decent editior for almost 30 years now. Read a nifty tome like The Shining or Salem's Lot and compare it to overblown and bloated stuff like It or the interminable Dark Tower series.  Better yet, check out the best thing he ever wrote, the short story collection Night Shift.  Less is more, and you would think such a student of literature as King would realize this.  And if he had an editor, one who could gently nudge him back on track ("Stephen, do we really need this 60 page digression right in the middle of the novel?"), he might be able to bring in the page count to something readable.

I blame a lot of it on the general bloat in entertainment society...."More is better".  Which is why we have "supersized" meals, 2-hour season finales of shows, 3.5 hour feature length movies, DVD "extras" of 4-5 extra discs, and apparantly 800-1000 page stories that could have been told in half that just as well.

I keep thinking back to Cap Shaw and Black Mask magazine.  He would mercilessly chop the word count in the detective tales, both saving money (writers got paid per word in those days) and creating a terse style known as "hardboiled" that gave the literature of the time a gut punch effect that the more bloated literature nowadays fails to deliver. In the process, absolute classics such as Red Harvest, The Maltese Falcon (Dashiell Hammet), The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye (Raymond Chandler), The Killer Inside Me, The Grifters (Jim Thompson), Fast One (Paul Cain), and many others were produced.  Not a word is wasted, and the story is told expertly and efficiently.  I fail to see how a 700 page version of  The Big Sleep would have improved the story one iota...who needs to have 100 page digressions of Phillip Marlowe's journey into the dark side of California in the 30s. Hell, if it was written today, they would make him add a cute kid sidekick and a pet Shar Pei.

BTW, just found the Time Magazine's list of 100 greatest books ever online...was pleasantly surprised to find both Red Harvest and The Big Sleep there....

http://www.time.com/time/2005/100books/the_complete_list.html

Mike B.


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Post Posted: Thu Jul 26, 2007 8:25 pm 
 

Badmike wrote:Second, what the hell ever happened to editors?  Do they spell check and nothing else nowadays?  There seems to be an unwritten rule, once you make the best seller lists editors keep their hands off and let you put out the most awful, over padded dreck ever.


Oddly enough, as I was putting the book onto my shelf, I was thinking the same thing.  She went from the first three books, which were barely over 300 pages at the longest, to books that all broke 600 pages.  (Using the British page counts here.)

Badmike wrote:I keep thinking back to Cap Shaw and Black Mask magazine.  He would mercilessly chop the word count in the detective tales, both saving money (writers got paid per word in those days)


I think I've mentioned it before, but I've always wondered if some of the pulp writers (eg Lovecraft) wrote the way they did because they got paid by the word.  (Why describe something, when you can spend forever not describing it and get paid more for it?)

Kicking around somewhere I've got a book published by the University of South Carolina that consists of early (as in: pre-WWI) poetry and essays by Chandler.  The essays are surprisingly verbose compared to the things he'd later come to write.  I don't know if I'd call it that good, but it's certainly interesting, even if it doesn't feel like Chandler.

(Ah!  Here we go "Chandler Before Marlowe: Early Prose and Poetry", USC Press, 1973.)

  

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Post Posted: Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:35 pm 
 

Badmike wrote:First, it will in interesting to see if Rowling is a one hit wonder (Harry Potter Series) or can do something else.  Writers like Katherine Kurtz, for example, get little respect in the community because all their written literature takes place in one selected milieu.  

Stephen King has needed a decent editior for almost 30 years now. Read a nifty tome like The Shining or Salem's Lot and compare it to overblown and bloated stuff like It or the interminable Dark Tower series.  


    I respect Rowling.  Her Potter series is a seven-book juggernaught...even if she never writes anything else.  I think the respect of critics is overrated.  She has the respect that matters...book sales.

    It and the Dark Tower series are great examples of the need for an editor.  King meanders around It like he can't decide what story to write.  The book is actually irritating to read.  I have never been able to get through it all and I keep losing my place...which doesn't matter since the storyline is a wadded up mess.

    King's main characters are so transparently autobiographical that they get a bit hard to sort out....although King never hesitates to kill his literary self.  (In The Stand, I suspect that King is Larry, the one hit wonder pop star. The Stand is one of the 50% of King books in which the main character is not a writer.  However, even Johnny, the psychic in The Dead Zone is autobiographical in a different way.)

   For King at his best, read The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.

    My favorite part of King's writing is his writer's notes that often open and close his stories.  King's On Writing is one of my favorite books.


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Post Posted: Thu Jul 26, 2007 11:26 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:
    I respect Rowling.  Her Potter series is a seven-book juggernaught...even if she never writes anything else.  I think the respect of critics is overrated.  She has the respect that matters...book sales.

    It and the Dark Tower series are great examples of the need for an editor.  King meanders around It like he can't decide what story to write.  The book is actually irritating to read.  I have never been able to get through it all and I keep losing my place...which doesn't matter since the storyline is a wadded up mess.

    King's main characters are so transparently autobiographical that they get a bit hard to sort out....although King never hesitates to kill his literary self.  (In The Stand, I suspect that King is Larry, the one hit wonder pop star. The Stand is one of the 50% of King books in which the main character is not a writer.  However, even Johnny, the psychic in The Dead Zone is autobiographical in a different way.)

   For King at his best, read The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.

    My favorite part of King's writing is his writer's notes that often open and close his stories.  King's On Writing is one of my favorite books.


I remember a radio interview King did years ago. He was asked what he thought of his own writing and King replied that he wrote Salami. He tried to write good Salami, but Salami is Salami.

I find Rowling to be fairly low-grade Salami. No, I enjoy Salami, she is more turkey Bologni.

  

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Post Posted: Thu Jul 26, 2007 11:32 pm 
 

Just started the last Potter book. I admit to having enjoyed all of them, though they are a bit patchy. My only criticism is, as others have stated, they are so damned long. Now I don't mind a long book but....  Basically the Potter books are not cut out to be long books. The last two in particular could have 20% (at least) removed and still tell the same tale.
Rowling has become a victim of her own success in many ways (shame - I wish I was a victim with her bank roll!). Basically I imagine that as the best selling author in the history of the universe or whatever her publisher will simply print whatever she writes knowing that its runaway success is a given. This attitude does not, unfortunately, improve the books. But clearly noone at the publisher is going to want to be the one to hand the m/s back and say something along the lines of 'yeah great, lose the giant, a couple of redheads and 150 pages and you've got a deal'. You don't bite the hand that feeds you.


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Post Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2007 7:20 pm 
 

http://www.travellermap.com - very slick indeed.

  

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Post Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2007 9:29 pm 
 

megnelwil wrote:http://www.travellermap.com - very slick indeed.


WOW - now that is a wonderful thing indeed!!


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Post Posted: Sat Jul 28, 2007 4:38 am 
 

gyg wrote:
WOW - now that is a wonderful thing indeed!!


that is one seriously cool map! i never got the chance to pay traveller, but that map surely would be the dogs b's for anyone who does?

always looked a cool game, but the guys never wanted to shell out the cash to buy stuff to play it :)

ah well :)

Al



  


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Post Posted: Tue Jul 31, 2007 2:53 pm 
 

First Bergman, now Antonioni is dead  :(

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/6923785.stm

A shame.  A great director is no more.  My Acaeum sig. (before Orwell) was from Zabriskie Point - my favourite of his films.

:(


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Post Posted: Tue Jul 31, 2007 3:13 pm 
 

red_bus wrote:First Bergman, now Antonioni is dead  :(

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/6923785.stm

A shame.  A great director is no more.  My Acaeum sig. (before Orwell) was from Zabriskie Point - my favourite of his films.

:(

So is Antonioni's death an homage, a sequel, or a remake of Bergman's? :?

  
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