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Nov. 20th, 2011

X-Files Rain


Yuletide Signup

I'm not sure anyone is still watching this community but just in case, I'd thought I'd post this here. Yuletide sign-ups end today at 8 pm est so it isn't too late to add The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson to your offers or even to your requests. It's a wonderful novel set in an alternative universe where Western Europe has been depopulated by the Black Death, leaving the world free of its cultural and political influences.

If you are interested in writing for this fandom and you haven't read the novel yet, let me know by leaving an anon comment. I'll figure out a way to get you a used copy of this book. I own several. It's widely available so if you can afford it, you can purchase your own, or borrow a copy from a library. You can probably download it onto a tablet, too, but I know nothing of such things.

The Alchemist by E.Patterson
"The Alchemist"
fanart by E.Patterson

Nov. 21st, 2008

X-Files Rain


The Years of Rice and Salt: Reading Schedule

So I have made up the long awaited reading schedule for our new selection, The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson. It is an alternate history of the world that takes as its point of departure the annihilation of the entire population of Europe and its culture from the Black Death in the thirteenth century.

As there are ten books, I have conveniently created a reading schedule using those divisions.

Books 1 and 2: November 21 to November 30.

Books 3 and 4: December 1 to December 7.

Books 5 and 6: December 8 to December 14

Books 7 and 8: December 16 to December 21

Holiday break: December 22 to January 1

Books 9 and 10: January 2 to January 12.

"We always meet in the bardo," B explains to K during one of these extraterrestrial interludes. "We will cross paths for as long as the six worlds turn in this cycle of the cosmos. We are part of a karmic jati" -- that is, a "subcaste, family, village."

If reincarnation were true, who in your life would you identify as being part of your karmic jati, your group that rises and falls together, and why?

What do you think about Robinson's use of the concept of reincarnation as a literary device, to tie together the 600 years of history he must re-envision?

Anyone can post here who is a member, and comments are open. I hope some of you will join in.

Quotation is from Laura Miller's review of the novel at Salon.com.

Nov. 18th, 2008

X-Files Rain


Finally, I am done!

I must be the slowest reader on the planet, or at least in this book group. I wish I could say it was worth the effort but The Brothers Karamazov was not at all what I expected. I thought the ending in particular was just bad. Those three chapter long arguments from first the prosecutor, then the defense attorney, drove me batty. I confess, I skipped those chapters. After finding out that Mitya was going to be found guilty anyway, what was the point? All of the suspense was gone. Very annoying. The book did have some lovely moments of real spiritual transcendence but I thought they all took place early in the book. I thought Dostoevsky took the easy way out by making the bastard son with the mental defect the killer. I also don't see why Ivan thought he was to blame for the murder of his father. If everyone who wanted someone dead, and expressed that to a murderous wacko, was to be found guilty of the murder, there would be a lot more people in jail, or at least in hell. Not that I believe in hell. I was not impressed with the acclaimed translation, either. I thought the paragraphing in places was ridiculous. Or maybe I should say, the lack of paragraphs.

One more thing. Did you notice how guilt always leads to brain fever and certain death? So annoying...

There will be a schedule posted for our next book, The Years of Rice and Salt shortly. I have started it, come up with some discussion questions, and think it will be a fun read, especially compared to TBK. I hope some of you will join us.

Oct. 2nd, 2008

X-Files Rain


Read Banned Books

September 27 to October 4 is the ALA's Read Banned Books Week. I meant to post something earlier in the week, but I confess I completely forgot about it. There were a number of choices at satismagic's icon post, many of them less controversial than The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which, after all, was condemned for racism. I don't understand why parents want to censure their children's reading. I mean, I do, I just don't agree with that approach to parenting. When I was twelve, my mother gave her signed permission to the Northridge branch of the Los Angeles Public Library for me to take out any book I chose to read. She trusted me to guide my own intellectual development. If you want to judge for yourself whether or not Twain's book is racist, I found an online version at the electronic text center of the University of Virginia.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Aug. 31st, 2008



Life of Pi

At least a couple of us are done with this book. I thought I'd post some of the questions from the back of the book, although they seem like odd questions to me.

1. In his introductory note Yann Martel says, "This book was born as I was hungry." What sort of emotional nourishment might Life of Pi have fed to its author?

2. In the Author's Note, Mr. Adirubasamy boldly claims that this story "will make you believe in God," and the author, after researching and writing the story, agrees. Did Pi's tale alter your beliefs about God?

Back later with my responses, after others have a chance . . . but I'll say two things about the questions:

a. It seems odd that the questions don't distinguish between "the author" in the "author's note"--clearly a fictional character--and the author who wrote the book.

b. These questions have a faux-naif schoolteachery for-your-enrichment quality that makes me grit my teeth. But I'm too lazy to make up my own questions, and these may be good enough to get discussion going.

Jul. 13th, 2008



Life of Pi

I have 100 pages to go; Wendelah1 has about 150.  I'm only ahead because she's letting me use the book right now.  Wendelah1 is loving this one, and I'm liking it, though I'll probably do some nit-picking later.  I know at least one person is planning to catch up with us, so I won't say too much right now--just that the tiger's name is a stroke of genius, and the book would be totally different if his name were different.  More about that later.

Jun. 28th, 2008



Life of Pi Schedule

 Wendelah1 talked to me about a schedule for Life of Pi by Yann Martel... the book has three parts, each about 100 pages long.  So...Part 1 by next Saturday (July 5),  Part two by July 12, and part 3 by July 19?  Let us know if you're planning to read this one.

Jun. 25th, 2008

X-Files Rain


Our Next Selection: Life of Pi by Yann Martel

I am continuing my reign as the book_reading czar. Since the other two actively posting members have already finished The Brothers Karamazov, we are going to start another book. A shorter book.

Those of us who want to struggle on through TBK can continue to post about that if we like. Everyone else can go get a copy of Life of Pi. It won a Booker Prize. It is on many best of lists, although not on EW's list of The New Classics. Their so-called critical experts preferred The Da Vinci Code.

Okay, so let's get reading. This book is so short, most people can probably read it in a weekend. By the way, posting is open to all members, so you all can just jump in anytime.

Also, if Pi isn't for you, I am nearly certain the next selection will be The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson, so go ahead and get a head start.
X-Files Rain


An Onion Wordie

This is a little gift to the group. Since I still haven't finished the book (fail, fail, fail) I thought this was the best commentary I could provide under the circumstances. I hope you like it. If you click on the image, it takes you to the site where it was created. You can also create one for yourself.

Jun. 7th, 2008



The brothers

Well, I finished The Brothers Karamazov.  So I'm going to try to pull together a few thoughts, without giving away the plot to Wendelah1 and the legions of others who may be working on finishing the book.

It appears that the brothers represent Russia and its fate.  (Toward the end, one of the characters virtually announces this.)  Mitya (Dmitri) represents the heart of Russia--passionate, impulsive, aspiring to the height of honor while sinking to the depths of degradation.  Ivan represents the new liberal Russia--educated, progressive, atheistic--a type of Russian whom Dostoevsky mistrusted and despised.  Alyosha represents the piety and optimism of the Russian heartland--wellspring of the Christianity that Dostoevsky hoped would save Russia.  And Smerdyakov... well I dunno, I'll come back to him later.  

Alyosha is Dostoyevsky's hero; the opening note "From the Author" says so.  But Alyosha is never given much to do; most of the plot focuses on Mitya.  Still, Alyosha is in on a number of the most moving scenes.

Wendelah1 is unhappy about all this because the only character she identifies with is Ivan.  And Ivan is allowed to have a lot of the most interesting speeches in the book.  But I think Ivan's life is meant to show the consequences of turning one's back on Christianity.

More later . . .

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