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Somewhat Off-Topic: What have you been reading lately?


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Just finished "Dracula" by Bram Stoker.  It's SO MUCH MORE gruesome than film versions.  Almost too much for me but kept me engaged.   Now I've started "A Moveable Feast" by Ernest Hemingway.  I love this portrayal of artists life in Paris in the 20's.

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Just finished Are Snakes Necessary by Brian DePalma and Susan Lehman.  It's a crime mystery novel.  I would give it two stars out of five.  Sort of like some of his movies, tends to wander around a lot, especially the middle half.  But I did finish it.  Would not recommend it though.

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I recently finished Funny Girl.  No, nothing to do with Barbra Streisand.  It's a novel by Nick Hornby, whom some of you may know as the author of Hi FidelityAbout a Boy,  and numerous other works,  several which have been made into films.

Funny Girl follows the story of a very smart, very pretty working class girl from Blackpool who goes to London to make her fortune. She wants to be a comedian, her idol is Lucille Ball.  But her beauty and sexy appearance get in the way, lots of people want to hire her, but not as an actress, never mind a comedian.  They think she should be a show girl, that type of thing.

The book has a fun setting,  almost all the action takes place in swinging London in the 1960s.  The girl, Barbara - who soon changes her name to "Sophie" -  finally gets a break when she goes for an audition for a new BBC sit-com.  Her quick wit and her insights into what would make the sit-com script better win her the lead role in the show, and the rest of the tale takes off from there.

If you enjoy reading books set in that era, you'll probably like Funny Girl.  I found it a very easy read, like all Nick Hornby's works it just zips along, it's very engaging and entertaining.  My one quibble, and this applies to all Hornby's novels I've read,  is that it starts out very strong,  but around the middle of the story it loses its energy a bit.  I've always thought Nick Hornby is a good writer,  but that he often has trouble knowing how to end his novels  (for instance, Juliet, Naked,  another one of his novels that was made into a film, has a very interesting story-line, but it sort of fizzles out towards the ending...)

Still,  Funny Girl is an entertaining fast read, and its allusions to British 1960s pop culture is a plus for those of us who enjoy such things.   I wouldn't be at all surprised if this one were made into a movie too, at some point soon.

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I mostly only read non fiction & especially Hollywood stories, whether about an actor, director or studio. I often pick these up in used bookstores because frankly, many of them are stinkers-just horribly written fanboy pap. I'm currently trying to slog through: 

s-l1600.jpg

Note the order of wording on the cover...telling. Much of this book contains movie plots & Fonda's role in it. Why is this important to include? Can't we watch the movie for ourselves or simply read the plot description on wiki? In these descriptions, the author often confuses Fonda the actor with his charactor's name!

The book does tell a bit about Fonda's life, but you've got to dodge the pompous wording at every turn. Devin McKinney is the guy at the party who enjoys hearing himself talk while no one listens. How about these nonsense gems:

"Henry's run for his life carries us clear back to the marquis, the first runner-finding trouble, fleeing trouble, running toward safety, toward danger, an open sky, a new world."

"Identifying detail is expunged, until the screenplay is as potted and inert as the dwarf palm in an executive's office."

"It cuts into fresh veins of sentiment and nostalgia, releasing gushers of love and cash....the play softens and expands, like a prosperous gut, to serve the new mood of the Americans audience." 💩

Or these fragments of sentences; "But as the star rises, the animal recedes. The blackout ends, the revue rolls on, and that Fonda is gone. Good-bye my fancy! Farewell, jackal."

"His performances of these years do not come from nothing." 😳 Whaa?

The only one impressed by this writing is the author, to this reader it's just unnecessary and distracting from what may be an interesting story of Henry Fonda's life. One of the elements of good writing is knowing how to get your point across succinctly. This book is poorly written, a boring mess to be avoided.

 

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On 11/5/2021 at 4:25 PM, Toto said:

Just finished "Dracula" by Bram Stoker.  It's SO MUCH MORE gruesome than film versions.  Almost too much for me but kept me engaged.   Now I've started "A Moveable Feast" by Ernest Hemingway.  I love this portrayal of artists life in Paris in the 20's.

Been meaning to read Dracula for years.  I have read A Moveable Feast and other than the account of the time Hem and F. Scott Fitzgerald went on a road trip together, didn't care much for it.    But that story alone is probably worth it alone to read it.

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I love the very atmospheric "A Moveable Feast" too, TOTO.  

I just finished Madelon Bedell's  "The Alcotts--  Biography of a Family".    Hard to imagine a more fascinating American family than the Alcotts, with their infusion of old New England's May family and Quincy family, courtesy of Abby May Alcott,  (Louisa May's mother).    As usual, Bronson is a mixed bag and doesn't come off that well-- his mix of egotism and inexplicable refusal at crucial times to "work" to support his family, is off-putting, to say the least.  But Emerson,  Thoreau et al found something to like in him, ha.

Love the complex dynamics.  Like "Jo" in her semi-autobiographical "Little Women",   Louisa all her life was ambivalent about younger sister May, the artist ("Amy" in "Little Women". )

I used to think that "Laurie Laurence" in "Little Women" was based mostly on that mysterious young Pole, Ladislaus  ("Laddie") that Louisa met in Europe.    This book disabused me of that--  charismatic Laurie was a composite of several young men who played significant roles in Louisa's life.

Was she in love with Laddie, with whom she tarried in Paris?   Tantalizing mystery... 

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14 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

I mostly only read non fiction & especially Hollywood stories, whether about an actor, director or studio. I often pick these up in used bookstores because frankly, many of them are stinkers-just horribly written fanboy pap. I'm currently trying to slog through: 

s-l1600.jpg

Note the order of wording on the cover...telling. Much of this book contains movie plots & Fonda's role in it. Why is this important to include? Can't we watch the movie for ourselves or simply read the plot description on wiki? In these descriptions, the author often confuses Fonda the actor with his charactor's name!

The book does tell a bit about Fonda's life, but you've got to dodge the pompous wording at every turn. Devin McKinney is the guy at the party who enjoys hearing himself talk while no one listens. How about these nonsense gems:

"Henry's run for his life carries us clear back to the marquis, the first runner-finding trouble, fleeing trouble, running toward safety, toward danger, an open sky, a new world."

"Identifying detail is expunged, until the screenplay is as potted and inert as the dwarf palm in an executive's office."

"It cuts into fresh veins of sentiment and nostalgia, releasing gushers of love and cash....the play softens and expands, like a prosperous gut, to serve the new mood of the Americans audience." 💩

Or these fragments of sentences; "But as the star rises, the animal recedes. The blackout ends, the revue rolls on, and that Fonda is gone. Good-bye my fancy! Farewell, jackal."

"His performances of these years do not come from nothing." 😳 Whaa?

The only one impressed by this writing is the author, to this reader it's just unnecessary and distracting from what may be an interesting story of Henry Fonda's life. One of the elements of good writing is knowing how to get your point across succinctly. This book is poorly written, a boring mess to be avoided.

 

That writing is horrible.  You just know that the author thought he was SO CLEVER coming up with those ridiculous metaphors.  He had to crudely wedge them into his prose just so he can show everyone how clever he is.  These sentences are reeking in smugness. 

I cannot stand flowery writing with bad metaphors and vapid buzzwords. 

I could only get through the first couple of chapters of a biography on Orson Welles called Orson Welles, Volume 1: The Road to Xanadu, because it was so boring and drowning in minute details that nobody could possibly care about.  For example, the author felt that it was necessary to give us the complete biographical background on one of Orson's elementary school teachers.  Who cares?! The only information that was even remotely interesting was when Welles became an orphan at 15 and lived on his own in Europe. 

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8 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

You just know that the author thought he was SO CLEVER coming up with those ridiculous metaphors.  He had to crudely wedge them into his prose just so he can show everyone how clever he is.  These sentences are reeking in smugness. 

We have a couple of those on this board. 🙄

 

 

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I am reading story openings, blurbs and other miscellany which has accumulated on my fuzzy's computer. His basic greed runs deep and he has a very low completion ratio when writing on spec. These snippets are as far as the stories reached before being abandoned. I may be doing this for a while because he has slightly over one gigabyte of such files which were backed-up but have not been opened in eight years or more.

 

 

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I'm reading "My Cousin Rachel" by Daphne du Maurier who also wrote "Rebecca".  This is a dark, gothic tale filled "with passion.  I think Du Maurier is a great storyteller and I can't put it down.  "My Cousin Rachel" was made into a very good film with a young Richard Burton and "Rebecca" was made into a famous film directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

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17 hours ago, SansFin said:

I am reading story openings, blurbs and other miscellany which has accumulated on my fuzzy's computer. His basic greed runs deep and he has a very low completion ratio when writing on spec. These snippets are as far as the stories reached before being abandoned. I may be doing this for a while because he has slightly over one gigabyte of such files which were backed-up but have not been opened in eight years or more.

 

 

SansFin, I just wanted to clarify:  the "haha" emoticon I clicked for your post  ( quoted above) was not given in any disrespectful way.  I do not think you'd take it that way, but just wanted to make sure.

I am often tempted to post that "laugh/haha" emoji after your posts because you write in such a clever and entertaining way,  your posts often make me laugh.  

ps:  I gather your fuzzy is an aspiring writer.  Completion, as anyone who's attempted to write is all too aware,  is at least as difficult as beginning  (which has its own share of difficulties to face, whether it be a blank page or a blank screen.)

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1 hour ago, Toto said:

I'm reading "My Cousin Rachel" by Daphne du Maurier who also wrote "Rebecca".  This is a dark, gothic tale filled "with passion.  I think Du Maurier is a great storyteller and I can't put it down.  "My Cousin Rachel" was made into a very good film with a young Richard Burton and "Rebecca" was made into a famous film directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

I love Daphne Du Maurier and went through a phase,  more years ago than I care to remember, when I read several of her works.   Of course Rebecca, her deservedly most famous novel, was among them.  Recently my daughter finished Rebecca. She called me up to discuss it, and we were on the phone for an hour !  So much to say about it.  My problem was, although I've read the book,  I've seen the Hitchcock film as well, several times to my one time reading of the novel.  So I kept mixing up plot points of the film with the book.  ( the problematic death of the title character being the main one.)

Du Maurier had a dark vision of the world.  I remember several of her short stories left me feeling disturbed.  And you're probably aware she wrote the story  on which Hitchcock based The Birds.

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Actually, I came across an old compilation of the old RIP OFF PRESS comix and have been tripping down memory lane with Mr. Natural, Wonder Warthog,  and the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.  ;) Been more than 30 years since I last read it.

Sepiatone

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53 minutes ago, misswonderly3 said:

SansFin, I just wanted to clarify:  the "haha" emoticon I clicked for your post  ( quoted above) was not given in any disrespectful way.  I do not think you'd take it that way, but just wanted to make sure.

I am often tempted to post that "laugh/haha" emoji after your posts because you write in such a clever and entertaining way,  your posts often make me laugh.  

ps:  I gather your fuzzy is an aspiring writer.  Completion, as anyone who's attempted to write is all too aware,  is at least as difficult as beginning  (which has its own share of difficulties to face, whether it be a blank page or a blank screen.)

I have been told that I am a very funny person. "But looks are not everything" is commonly added to the comment.

I thank you for your kind words. I attempt to write in a light-hearted way and so the "ha-ha" emotie is most often appropriate. I reserve serious tones for technical issues. I have a great disconnect between speaking and writing. Using voice-to-text software produces results which look odd. I adhered to style sheets and model sentences when re-learning to write to overcome the oddness and subconsciously adopted the style as my own. 

One of my little fuzzy's income streams is freelance writing to transform technical reports into plain language or create speeches and presentations for conferences under contract. He finishes all of those within the allotted time so that he will be paid. He is a short story author also in four genres of fiction with publication credits in national magazines and sells reprint rights in international markets. It is this fiction work which creates the snippets I am exploring. He is: "seat of the pants" writer who begins with an opening situation and then sees where the story goes. It is sad to say that the great majority of them do not engender stories which he considers worth writing. His average for several decades has been to write at least one opening each and every day and completing and selling a story every six years. 

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1 hour ago, misswonderly3 said:

I love Daphne Du Maurier and went through a phase,  more years ago than I care to remember, when I read several of her works.   Of course Rebecca, her deservedly most famous novel, was among them.  Recently my daughter finished Rebecca. She called me up to discuss it, and we were on the phone for an hour !  So much to say about it.  My problem was, although I've read the book,  I've seen the Hitchcock film as well, several times to my one time reading of the novel.  So I kept mixing up plot points of the film with the book.  ( the problematic death of the title character being the main one.)

Du Maurier had a dark vision of the world.  I remember several of her short stories left me feeling disturbed.  And you're probably aware she wrote the story  on which Hitchcock based The Birds.

She wrote "The Birds"!  I had no idea.  Amazing.  Yes - there's a big plot difference between the book and film "Rebecca".  "Rebecca" is one of my very favorite films, however, I prefer the plot in the book regarding the death of Rebecca.  I'm sure they were nervous about leaving this plot point in the film.

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36 minutes ago, Toto said:

She wrote "The Birds"!  I had no idea.  Amazing.  Yes - there's a big plot difference between the book and film "Rebecca".  "Rebecca" is one of my very favorite films, however, I prefer the plot in the book regarding the death of Rebecca.  I'm sure they were nervous about leaving this plot point in the film.

To conform to the Production Code Max would have had to be killed or at least arrested.

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A Del of a Life by David Jason

I think Jason is unknown to US audiences while being a national treasure in England.  My mother-in-law bought me this book so i have to read it, but i like Jason, and It's Only Fools and Horses is one of my favorite TV shows and one that i'm constantly quoting, have watched many times through, and have introduced to many of my american friends.  He's already written two autobiographies, but this is another book of anecdotes and funny stories of his life in showbusiness.  It reads as though this was dictated to print, but it's a very easy read from a kind comedic legend,

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On 11/27/2021 at 3:51 PM, misswonderly3 said:

I recently finished Funny Girl.  No, nothing to do with Barbra Streisand.  It's a novel by Nick Hornby, whom some of you may know as the author of Hi FidelityAbout a Boy,  and numerous other works,  several which have been made into films.

Funny Girl follows the story of a very smart, very pretty working class girl from Blackpool who goes to London to make her fortune. She wants to be a comedian, her idol is Lucille Ball.  But her beauty and sexy appearance get in the way, lots of people want to hire her, but not as an actress, never mind a comedian.  They think she should be a show girl, that type of thing.

The book has a fun setting,  almost all the action takes place in swinging London in the 1960s.  The girl, Barbara - who soon changes her name to "Sophie" -  finally gets a break when she goes for an audition for a new BBC sit-com.  Her quick wit and her insights into what would make the sit-com script better win her the lead role in the show, and the rest of the tale takes off from there.

If you enjoy reading books set in that era, you'll probably like Funny Girl.  I found it a very easy read, like all Nick Hornby's works it just zips along, it's very engaging and entertaining.  My one quibble, and this applies to all Hornby's novels I've read,  is that it starts out very strong,  but around the middle of the story it loses its energy a bit.  I've always thought Nick Hornby is a good writer,  but that he often has trouble knowing how to end his novels  (for instance, Juliet, Naked,  another one of his novels that was made into a film, has a very interesting story-line, but it sort of fizzles out towards the ending...)

Still,  Funny Girl is an entertaining fast read, and its allusions to British 1960s pop culture is a plus for those of us who enjoy such things.   I wouldn't be at all surprised if this one were made into a movie too, at some point soon.

I'm glad you mentioned this one. I've been thinking about reading it, specifically listening to it during my commute, but I wasn't so sure I'd like it so I've been pushing it to the bottom of the list in favor of other titles. Now, I'll definitely give it a try. 

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