What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby VictoriaF » Sun Jun 09, 2013 9:46 am

"Camino de Santiago : Practical Preparation and Background" by Gerald Kelly.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby Blues » Sun Jun 09, 2013 10:06 am

"Murder at the Savoy", by Sjöwall and Wahlöö
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby ruralavalon » Sun Jun 09, 2013 10:54 am

The Lost Bank: The Story of Washington Mutual - The Biggest Bank Failure in American History, by Kirsten Grind. I haven't finished yet, only about 60% thru this book. Its readable and not overly technical, and seems very thorough and without an agenda.

For a less serious book, I am also reading The Glass Rainbow, by James Lee Burke, another mystery story set in South Louisiana.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby chaz » Sun Jun 09, 2013 12:19 pm

ruralavalon wrote:The Lost Bank: The Story of Washington Mutual - The Biggest Bank Failure in American History, by Kirsten Grind. I haven't finished yet, only about 60% thru this book. Its readable and not overly technical, and seems very thorough and without an agenda.

For a less serious book, I am also reading The Glass Rainbow, by James Lee Burke, another mystery story set in South Louisiana.

My Washington Mutual account is now with Chase!
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby protagonist » Sun Jun 09, 2013 12:51 pm

danieljquirk wrote:I read Shantaram a few years ago and it is sitting on my night stand again. The first page is stunning and it is hard to put down.



I'm 90% through it...chose it based on multiple recommendations in this forum. Very engaging and an incredible sensual vision of Bombay, India and her people.

My take is that it is, to some extent, an overly romanticized vindication of the author's own fascinating (though tattered) history. The main character (who evokes direct comparisons with the author) is too perfect for words, and that strains credulity. Do others have the same impressions? That said, like you said, it is a hard book to put down- well-written and fast-moving- with some amazing insights. The account of the Soviet-Afghan war and associated American policy particularly fascinated me as it confirmed a take recently expressed in a long conversation with an Afghan-Canadian friend of mine (exiled to Canada during that war) that I had never heard before. I'm enjoying it for what it is.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby randomwalk » Sun Jun 09, 2013 10:09 pm

I just finished Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Now reading The Blood of Heaven by Kent Wascom.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby market timer » Sun Jun 09, 2013 10:37 pm

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby chaz » Tue Jun 11, 2013 5:12 pm

"Wilderness" by Robert Parker.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby nisiprius » Tue Jun 11, 2013 6:59 pm

The Infiltrators, by Donald Hamilton. Good old series of junky thrillers featuring protagonist Matt Helm. Thought they were gone but they are being reissued (although the one I am actually reading now is a good old 1984 vintage Fawcett paperback). An interesting thing about the series is that I don't think they were ever published in hardbound, they were straight-to-paperback.

Matt Helm is, vaguely, an American counterpart to James Bond; that is, he belongs to some mysterious small U. S. government organization whose business is assassinations. The books always have bits of color in them about a) cars--in this one he's driving a sports car with a Wankel engine, though usually he likes big American cars; b) guns--always tossing in tidbits about like how stupid it is to be carrying a .357 Magnum pistol with a 2" barrel because 2" isn't long enough for it to reach full speed, etc. etc. c) Background color about New Mexico. d) A writing mannerism of starting sentences with the word "Well."

They tried to make a movie out of one of the books--I think it might have been entitled just "Matt Helm"--click, click, imdb, no, it was "The Silencers," starring Dean Martin as Matt Helm. It stunk.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby gkaplan » Tue Jun 11, 2013 8:47 pm

Actually, I think they made two Matt Helm movies. Not that I was counting. I never read the books.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby gkaplan » Tue Jun 11, 2013 8:52 pm

I just began Ngaio Marsh's Colour Scheme. Marsh sets her Roderick Alleyn books in England, at least the ones I have read so far; however, Colour Scheme is set in New Zealand, Marsh's home country, and appears to be a stand-alone mystery.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby Bungo » Wed Jun 12, 2013 2:19 am

I recently finished Case Histories by Kate Atkinson (disappointing), and am now reading Why Evolution Is True by Jerry Coyne.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby Fallible » Wed Jun 12, 2013 8:53 pm

Thanks to Valuethinker for his Topic tribute last month to Douglas Adams (and admiring posters VictoriaF, bpp, Default User BR, Live Free or Diehard, etc.), I’m finally reading Adams, starting with The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Am in love with the imaginings and with very character so far, but in particular, Ford Prefect. And I'm only on page 24. Don't know why (I guess this is what Adams does to you), but after reading that Ford ordered six pints of bitter, then told the barman, "And quickly please, the world's about to end," I feel like trying out that line on an unsuspecting waiter. Just to see...
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby protagonist » Thu Jun 13, 2013 9:26 am

Fallible wrote:Thanks to Valuethinker for his Topic tribute last month to Douglas Adams (and admiring posters VictoriaF, bpp, Default User BR, Live Free or Diehard, etc.), I’m finally reading Adams, starting with The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Am in love with the imaginings and with very character so far, but in particular, Ford Prefect. And I'm only on page 24. Don't know why (I guess this is what Adams does to you), but after reading that Ford ordered six pints of bitter, then told the barman, "And quickly please, the world's about to end," I feel like trying out that line on an unsuspecting waiter. Just to see...


Perfect! You also have to drink them all, you know. It's too bad you didn't read it a few weeks ago, in time to celebrate Towel Day. https://www.google.com/search?q=Towel+D ... e&ie=UTF-8
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby bengal22 » Thu Jun 13, 2013 9:59 am

Our Man in Havana by Graham Green

One of his "entertainment" novels that poke fun at the whole secret service genre(as well as Englishmen). Good movie as well(recently seen on TCM)
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby abuss368 » Thu Jun 13, 2013 2:10 pm

Warren Buffett - The Snow Ball - 900 + so it will take me a while.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby Fallible » Thu Jun 13, 2013 2:44 pm

protagonist wrote:
Fallible wrote:Thanks to Valuethinker for his Topic tribute last month to Douglas Adams (and admiring posters VictoriaF, bpp, Default User BR, Live Free or Diehard, etc.), I’m finally reading Adams, starting with The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Am in love with the imaginings and with every character so far, but in particular, Ford Prefect. And I'm only on page 24. Don't know why (I guess this is what Adams does to you), but after reading that Ford ordered six pints of bitter, then told the barman, "And quickly please, the world's about to end," I feel like trying out that line on an unsuspecting waiter. Just to see...


Perfect! You also have to drink them all, you know. It's too bad you didn't read it a few weeks ago, in time to celebrate Towel Day. https://www.google.com/search?q=Towel+D ... e&ie=UTF-8


I think it's too bad I didn't read Adams years ago. Thanks for the link, but maybe I should save it for later. It could be a spoiler since so far I don't know enough about the towel.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby chaz » Thu Jun 13, 2013 3:42 pm

"The Brass Verdict" by Michael Connelly.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby protagonist » Thu Jun 13, 2013 8:53 pm

Fallible wrote:
protagonist wrote:
Fallible wrote:Thanks to Valuethinker for his Topic tribute last month to Douglas Adams (and admiring posters VictoriaF, bpp, Default User BR, Live Free or Diehard, etc.), I’m finally reading Adams, starting with The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Am in love with the imaginings and with every character so far, but in particular, Ford Prefect. And I'm only on page 24. Don't know why (I guess this is what Adams does to you), but after reading that Ford ordered six pints of bitter, then told the barman, "And quickly please, the world's about to end," I feel like trying out that line on an unsuspecting waiter. Just to see...


Perfect! You also have to drink them all, you know. It's too bad you didn't read it a few weeks ago, in time to celebrate Towel Day. https://www.google.com/search?q=Towel+D ... e&ie=UTF-8


I think it's too bad I didn't read Adams years ago. Thanks for the link, but maybe I should save it for later. It could be a spoiler since so far I don't know enough about the towel.


Don't worry. I don't do spoilers. If anything, it will make you laugh more when you encounter it.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby Fallible » Thu Jun 13, 2013 10:16 pm

protagonist wrote:
Fallible wrote:
protagonist wrote:
Fallible wrote:Thanks to Valuethinker for his Topic tribute last month to Douglas Adams (and admiring posters VictoriaF, bpp, Default User BR, Live Free or Diehard, etc.), I’m finally reading Adams, starting with The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Am in love with the imaginings and with every character so far, but in particular, Ford Prefect. And I'm only on page 24. Don't know why (I guess this is what Adams does to you), but after reading that Ford ordered six pints of bitter, then told the barman, "And quickly please, the world's about to end," I feel like trying out that line on an unsuspecting waiter. Just to see...


Perfect! You also have to drink them all, you know. It's too bad you didn't read it a few weeks ago, in time to celebrate Towel Day. https://www.google.com/search?q=Towel+D ... e&ie=UTF-8


I think it's too bad I didn't read Adams years ago. Thanks for the link, but maybe I should save it for later. It could be a spoiler since so far I don't know enough about the towel.


Don't worry. I don't do spoilers. If anything, it will make you laugh more when you encounter it.


Thanks and you're right, no spoiler and I'll have my towel ready next year. BTW, what do you think of my plan to tell a waiter who takes my order, "And quickly, please. The world's about to end." I would say it as seriously as I could make it. :P
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby ruralavalon » Sat Jun 15, 2013 1:42 pm

Bad Monkey, by Carl Hiaasen. A tourist deep sea fishing near Key West reels in a severed human arm. A Sheriff's deputy is loses his job because of his unusual attack on his girl friend's husband, and becomes a restaurant inspector for the County Health Department (aka assigned to "roach patrol").
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby Blues » Sat Jun 15, 2013 1:44 pm

"The Abominable Man" by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. (Book 7 in the "Martin Beck" series.)
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby nisiprius » Sat Jun 15, 2013 5:53 pm

Drink to Yesterday, by "Manning Coles." Read it aeons ago, remembered it being good, have reread it and it is still good. It is the first of a long series of spy thrillers involving protagonist Tommy Hambledon, and they are really sui generis. I don't think I ever read more than the first two, but I am considering doing so. How to describe it? British understated humor. Wisecracking in the face of death and disaster. Laugh-out-loud (I did, anyway) lines like
"You getting scared now?" asked Hambledon. "I hope so. There's no loneliness like that of the only man in a party who's panicky. I am."
Actually it occurs to me to wonder if it served as a model for (or is part of the same genre as) things like the style of dialogue in screenplays like William Goldman's "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby Valuethinker » Sun Jun 16, 2013 3:48 am

nisiprius wrote:Drink to Yesterday, by "Manning Coles." Read it aeons ago, remembered it being good, have reread it and it is still good. It is the first of a long series of spy thrillers involving protagonist Tommy Hambledon, and they are really sui generis. I don't think I ever read more than the first two, but I am considering doing so. How to describe it? British understated humor. Wisecracking in the face of death and disaster. Laugh-out-loud (I did, anyway) lines like
"You getting scared now?" asked Hambledon. "I hope so. There's no loneliness like that of the only man in a party who's panicky. I am."
Actually it occurs to me to wonder if it served as a model for (or is part of the same genre as) things like the style of dialogue in screenplays like William Goldman's "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."


http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/c/manning-coles/

interesting I had never heard of him, until now.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby Valuethinker » Sun Jun 16, 2013 4:03 am

Fallible wrote:Thanks to Valuethinker for his Topic tribute last month to Douglas Adams (and admiring posters VictoriaF, bpp, Default User BR, Live Free or Diehard, etc.), I’m finally reading Adams, starting with The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Am in love with the imaginings and with very character so far, but in particular, Ford Prefect. And I'm only on page 24. Don't know why (I guess this is what Adams does to you), but after reading that Ford ordered six pints of bitter, then told the barman, "And quickly please, the world's about to end," I feel like trying out that line on an unsuspecting waiter. Just to see...


The Dirk Gently novels never quite reached the heights, but I thought they were funny... (there's been a recent TV series, one issue is Dirk is not a sympathetic character).

Adams had a constant problem with writers block. Like a lot of clever Brits (see Terry Nation, author of classic Dr. Who scripts like 'Day of the Daleks', 'Genesis of the Daleks', 'the Deadly Assassin' and the masterful TV series 'Blakes 7') he got swallowed up and spat out by Hollywood.

'Last Chance to See' was his favourite work, the one he was most proud of.

Some of HGTTG is quite local-- in jokes. Hotblack Desiato is an Islington chain of estate agents |(they still get complaints of having stolen their name from Douglas Adams-- reverse causation). Ford Prefect was the name of a popular car. The stuff about planning in the first book is right out of his wife's struggles with Islington Council (she was a planning barrister)-- keeping plans in locked filing cabinets etc and that line 'if you can't take an interest in local affairs'.

The Radio Series is well worth listening to if you can. The TV series was pretty good-- good acting. The movie-- the less said the better.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby Valuethinker » Sun Jun 16, 2013 4:04 am

Blues wrote:"Murder at the Savoy", by Sjöwall and Wahlöö


does the Marxist sociology come through? They were sociologists, very 1960s Swedish sociologists.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby Valuethinker » Sun Jun 16, 2013 4:09 am

nisiprius wrote:The Infiltrators, by Donald Hamilton. Good old series of junky thrillers featuring protagonist Matt Helm. Thought they were gone but they are being reissued (although the one I am actually reading now is a good old 1984 vintage Fawcett paperback). An interesting thing about the series is that I don't think they were ever published in hardbound, they were straight-to-paperback.

Matt Helm is, vaguely, an American counterpart to James Bond; that is, he belongs to some mysterious small U. S. government organization whose business is assassinations. The books always have bits of color in them about a) cars--in this one he's driving a sports car with a Wankel engine, though usually he likes big American cars; b) guns--always tossing in tidbits about like how stupid it is to be carrying a .357 Magnum pistol with a 2" barrel because 2" isn't long enough for it to reach full speed, etc. etc. c) Background color about New Mexico. d) A writing mannerism of starting sentences with the word "Well."

They tried to make a movie out of one of the books--I think it might have been entitled just "Matt Helm"--click, click, imdb, no, it was "The Silencers," starring Dean Martin as Matt Helm. It stunk.


The British writer who was good on guns is Gavin Lyall.

http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/l/gavin-lyall/

http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/l/gav ... honour.htm

his last series went back the roots of the British Secret Service before WW1.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby livesoft » Sun Jun 16, 2013 4:14 am

Just finished the almost 500 pages of Nate Silver's The Signal and the Noise. i'm a big fan of Bayesian statistics and you should be, too. :)

I now understand why all those poker players showed up on the forum in the last few years.
It's all about short-term opportunistic rebalancing due to a short-term change in one's asset allocation, uh, I mean opportunistic rebalancing, uh I mean rebalancing, uh I mean market timing.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby Blues » Sun Jun 16, 2013 9:20 am

Valuethinker wrote:
Blues wrote:"Murder at the Savoy", by Sjöwall and Wahlöö


does the Marxist sociology come through? They were sociologists, very 1960s Swedish sociologists.


In some books much more than others. (And I think their ideology became more pronounced as the series moves along.)

That said, in most instances I don't find it detracts from the story, though once or twice I had to laugh or shake my head at an unfortunate stereotyped characterization.

These books have held up very well over the intervening years, in my opinion, and are an excellent, down to earth peek into police work without all of the ridiculous heroics of the Harry Bosch books or the unbelievable steps and actions taken (by way of example) in the Wallander series.

By and large I like books that mimic reality and represent the protagonists as real people truly are. The hero is the one that overcomes his fear or limitations. The cases solved by imagination, inspiration, perspiration and the occasional healthy dose of luck or circumstance. Those ring much truer with my own experience and observation of such matters over many years.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby Valuethinker » Sun Jun 16, 2013 11:55 am

Blues wrote:
Valuethinker wrote:
Blues wrote:"Murder at the Savoy", by Sjöwall and Wahlöö


does the Marxist sociology come through? They were sociologists, very 1960s Swedish sociologists.


In some books much more than others. (And I think their ideology became more pronounced as the series moves along.)

That said, in most instances I don't find it detracts from the story, though once or twice I had to laugh or shake my head at an unfortunate stereotyped characterization.

These books have held up very well over the intervening years, in my opinion, and are an excellent, down to earth peek into police work without all of the ridiculous heroics of the Harry Bosch books or the unbelievable steps and actions taken (by way of example) in the Wallander series.

By and large I like books that mimic reality and represent the protagonists as real people truly are. The hero is the one that overcomes his fear or limitations. The cases solved by imagination, inspiration, perspiration and the occasional healthy dose of luck or circumstance. Those ring much truer with my own experience and observation of such matters over many years.


They weren't all universally good, but I had time for the Ed McBain novels-- the 87th Precinct.

Detective Carella was not a fully fleshed out character by any means.

But some of the better ones like 'Ice' and 'Sadie when She Died' had, I thought, something. I can't really comment from a police procedural style, but from a zeitgeist of the moment (NYC in the 70s and 80s) to me, they caught something. They became meditations on life in New York at that time.

http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/m/ed-mcbain/

Of course these became, in effect shows like Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue, Homicide: Life on the Street, and The Wire (more distantly those 2) and Law and Order (much closer). I believe McBain sued re Hill Street Blues which was the first (and, until Law and Order, the closest) but didn't get anywhere and eventually dropped it.

If you ever get a chance to see the Limey with Terence Stamp (director Stephen Soderbergh) about a British tough guy who gets let out of prison and goes to LA to find out what happened to his daughter, the plot is close to Newton Thornburgh's 'To Die in California' (a son dies, his farmer father from the midwest goes to find out what happened). With Stamp as the aging British tough guy (a role he played many times in shows and movies in the 60s and 70s) and Barry Newman as the aging American tough guy fixer for aging music supremo Peter Fonda, the roles are just perfect.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby Blues » Sun Jun 16, 2013 12:13 pm

VT,

Read most all of the older 87th precinct novels and enjoyed them very much. Some of the later ones, regrettably, were just awful, imho.

I've seen "The LImey" and agree, it was a good one.

I also very much enjoyed the shows you refer to, NYPD Blue, Hill St. Blues and The Wire. I must say that "The Wire" (especially) was exceptional in many ways, including what goes on both behind the scenes and in working on long term (wiretap related) investigations. Much of it resonated quite strongly with me, including the incredible stress, hardships, frustrations and occasional elation resulting from large scale international and domestic narcotics and money laundering investigations.
Last edited by Blues on Sun Jun 16, 2013 1:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby bearcub » Sun Jun 16, 2013 12:56 pm

The doors Unhinged by John Densmore
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby SurfCityBill » Sun Jun 16, 2013 1:57 pm

"Genghis: Birth of a Nation" Conn Iggulden

"Genghis: Lords of the Bow" Conn Iggulden

"Genghis: Bones of the Hill" Conn Iggulden

Stand alone books that form a trilogy of the life of Genghis Kahn about how a lone outcast united the many independent nomadic tribes of Asia to create one of the most feared and successful armies in history creating an empire from China to Hungary during the 1200's. Historical fiction heavily backed by research. Highly recommend.

-SCB
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby Fallible » Sun Jun 16, 2013 2:27 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
Fallible wrote:Thanks to Valuethinker for his Topic tribute last month to Douglas Adams (and admiring posters VictoriaF, bpp, Default User BR, Live Free or Diehard, etc.), I’m finally reading Adams, starting with The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Am in love with the imaginings and with very character so far, but in particular, Ford Prefect. And I'm only on page 24. Don't know why (I guess this is what Adams does to you), but after reading that Ford ordered six pints of bitter, then told the barman, "And quickly please, the world's about to end," I feel like trying out that line on an unsuspecting waiter. Just to see...


The Dirk Gently novels never quite reached the heights, but I thought they were funny... (there's been a recent TV series, one issue is Dirk is not a sympathetic character).

Adams had a constant problem with writers block. Like a lot of clever Brits (see Terry Nation, author of classic Dr. Who scripts like 'Day of the Daleks', 'Genesis of the Daleks', 'the Deadly Assassin' and the masterful TV series 'Blakes 7') he got swallowed up and spat out by Hollywood.

'Last Chance to See' was his favourite work, the one he was most proud of.

Some of HGTTG is quite local-- in jokes. Hotblack Desiato is an Islington chain of estate agents |(they still get complaints of having stolen their name from Douglas Adams-- reverse causation). Ford Prefect was the name of a popular car. The stuff about planning in the first book is right out of his wife's struggles with Islington Council (she was a planning barrister)-- keeping plans in locked filing cabinets etc and that line 'if you can't take an interest in local affairs'.

The Radio Series is well worth listening to if you can. The TV series was pretty good-- good acting. The movie-- the less said the better.



Valuethinker,

Thanks for the leads to further Adams reading, which I’ll pursue when I’m done with HGTTG (I’m in no hurry and already sorry it will end). Although I didn’t know about his wife’s planning work, I could understand that part from my early news reporting days covering city planning councils and appreciate how far Adams’s imagination and satire took it. From the sheer energy in what I’ve read so far, it’s hard to believe Adams could ever have writer’s block. Almost every sentence has me laughing when what begins with the extraordinary ends with the hilarious ordinary, such as during the terrifying destruction of Earth. “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.” Then there is this line, “The news was always heavily edited to fit the rhythms of the music,” which should remind us Bogleheads of the CNBC format - heavily tailored to fit the short-term rhythms of speculating. Character after character has a distinct personality and, so far, an unexpected trait (the most recent I've come across is the goofy philosopher Vroomfondel seeing "demands" where there are none). What fun and thanks again for your Topic on Adams. :beer

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby Bungo » Mon Jun 17, 2013 12:48 am

I recently finished Why Evolution Is True by Jerry Coyne. Good, readable, up-to-date summary of the many layers of evidence in favor of evolution. He spent too many paragraphs for my taste shooting down the creationists; to my mind the facts speak for themselves and there is no need to mention nonscientific competing "theories," no more so than we would expect a mathematical text to waste time addressing claims of circle-squarers and angle-trisectors. But this is a minor complaint. The science itself is laid out very clearly and persuasively, without overwhelming the general reader with too much jargon or detail.

Now reading Money by Martin Amis.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby Valuethinker » Mon Jun 17, 2013 3:59 am

Blues wrote:VT,

Read most all of the older 87th precinct novels and enjoyed them very much. Some of the later ones, regrettably, were just awful, imho.

I've seen "The LImey" and agree, it was a good one.

I also very much enjoyed the shows you refer to, NYPD Blue, Hill St. Blues and The Wire. I must say that "The Wire" (especially) was exceptional in many ways, including what goes on both behind the scenes and in working on long term (wiretap related) investigations. Much of it resonated quite strongly with me, including the incredible stress, hardships, frustrations and occasional elation resulting from large scale international and domestic narcotics and money laundering investigations.


Like all of us, maybe Ed McBain had lost his spark, but the demands of the fans and the publishers no doubt kept him at it. This happened to Conan Doyle-- he tried to kill of Sherlock Holmes, brought him back due to popular demand, but the stories never quite had the same energy.

I think The Wire was as close to 'realistic' tv drama as we are ever likely to get-- a really unique series. Hill St. Blues was pathbreaking and set the standard by which all the others were made-- NYPD Blue had a greater emphasis on the personal life of the characters who were more conventionally TV glamorous, it felt like Bochco just redoing Bochco. Homicide: Life on the Street was a personal favourite (I haven't tackled The Wire yet) in that the character of Frank Pendleton (lapsed Catholic trying to atone for his sin by tracking down murderers) was so compelling. The scripts varied (the network tried to make it more 'Law and Order' like to increase the ratings) and some characters never were fully fleshed out (oddly, just before it was cancelled, I thought the new characters were gaining traction, particularly Stu Geraghty, the Vietnam Vet Irish cop, and his partner, the woman played by Callie Thorne). But it was, overall, gripping television-- we basically watched the entire series (140ish episodes) as a boxed set over about 5 months.

Many of the themes and situations in the 1 hour (42 minutes w/o commercials) Homicide: LOTS format were picked up again and more fully fleshed out in The Wire. The struggle between the Cops and the family of Luther Mahoney (a drug dealer non one could touch) was in some ways implausible but the Mahoney family was all too plausible. Katherine Bigelow (ie Zero Dark Thirty) shot the final 2 parter which was gripping.

What TV allows you to do, which you cannot do in a movie, is tell complicated stories over many episodes. The conventional network format doesn't allow that, but HBO has allowed it (the Sopranos etc.). In the big 3 network days, it was really only soap operas that could do that.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby nisiprius » Mon Jun 17, 2013 9:12 am

Valuethinker wrote:In the big 3 network days, it was really only soap operas that could do that.
Not always. There were a fair number of significant network miniseries-es in the 70s and 80s. "The Winds of War" for one. The really really excellent "Studs Lonigan" for another. (And of course PBS; series like "A Town Like Alice" were, in my opinion, so much pure entertainment and so little uplift that they should "count." "I, Claudius" as well; yes, it's set in classical Rome but so is Ben-Hur.)
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby Blues » Mon Jun 17, 2013 9:15 am

VT,

We have some similar tastes in "cop shows". "Homicide", indeed, was excellent. To this day I still remember "Adena Watson".

(BTW, "Oz" was another great (very raw) show presented from the point of view of the inmates and staff in a correctional facility. Very powerful stuff.)

FWIW, I haven't found another cop show worth watching since "The Wire" ended. (Fortunately, I purchased the series on dvd for revisiting every few years as I have done with a few other exceptional series.)
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby Valuethinker » Mon Jun 17, 2013 9:46 am

Blues wrote:VT,

We have some similar tastes in "cop shows". "Homicide", indeed, was excellent. To this day I still remember "Adena Watson".

(BTW, "Oz" was another great (very raw) show presented from the point of view of the inmates and staff in a correctional facility. Very powerful stuff.)

FWIW, I haven't found another cop show worth watching since "The Wire" ended. (Fortunately, I purchased the series on dvd for revisiting every few years as I have done with a few other exceptional series.)


I haven't yet read the book Homicide that David Simon wrote upon which the series was based, but many of the characters were read-across from real life.

HBO also made a series of the book The Corner, which was about Baltimore seen from the perspective of the dealers and users. Haven't seen that.

About the only works which I know of which cover this sort of thing well are Richard Price (Clockers, Lush Life etc.). Caught the mania of the crack wars on America's streets.

Not sure I could take a realistic show about prison life ;-).

Adena Watson. Indeed. That and Luther Mahoney-- brilliant acting, the genius gangster laughing at the cops. I suspect Adena Watson is very real to life, the unclosed case that haunts the cop responsible. Late in the series they play with that, when they find the killer of a woman in the early 1930s, and find one of the cops who pursued the case originally.

I also thought the quota pressure on the cops, to turn red names into black ones on the board, was quite realistic. They resist the temptation to make the Captain, Yaphet Kotto, a totally sympathetic or understood character. And the whole recurring theme of promotion, where Kotto is first passed over in favour of a woman (Megan Russert) and then for a complete toady who had been sacked from homicide (Frank Gaffney).

I also liked that they weren't afraid to make black police officers unsympathetic: the prissy Colonel Barnfather and the machinations of Commissioner Harris, that lead to people being killed, in particular.

The notion that Giardelo (ie Kotto) was half Sicilian though was unlikely given his very dark skin colour (alluded to in one episode with his problems of dating professional black women)-- however the actor played the role so well that you forgave them that. When they brought in his son as a character that too seemed wrong, but the actor was so good that you forgave them for it.

It was almost as if they knew the series was in trouble with the network, so the last season they threw in everything but the kitchen sink, and sometimes it worked, brilliantly.

They had a way of writing in boring male characters for pretty women to fall for (Beau, and the other one, who lived on a houseboat) but at least they usually got rid of them to focus on the interesting characters: the women detectives(at least the Melissa Leo character, Terry Stivers, the Callie Thorne character), Megan Russert I thought was a pretty weak character). Also Pendleton and Lewis Meldrick (as the duality of the middle class black cop and the up from the ghetto black cop, who don't get on and have totally different methods of policing), the tortured rookie (Kyle Secor), the wiseguy (detective John Munch), the aging detective (Bollander-- Ned Beattie).

On cop shows I can't recommend many others. A few things:

- Sandbaggers with Roy Marsden (later inspector Adam Dalgleish) - masterful anti-James Bond series about a special unit set in the bowels of British Intelligence. PBS did run it. Really did feel what intelligence must be like-- bureaucratic infighting as vicious as the Russians. Kind of Le Carre without the gloss. To add to the spice, the writer was an ex intelligence guy and he and his light plane disappeared near the Russian coastline before the series finished.

- Life on Mars/ Ashes to Ashes - (the British ones) - cop falls into a coma, goes back in time to the 70s and then the 80s. Both the humour and the pathos of a modern cop confronted with 'old fashioned' methods of policing.

I know you got fed up with the novels, but both the Swedish TV series of Wallander, and the BBC Kenneth Branagh one, have their good points. Right now, Scandinavian crime is just huge over here: The Killing (again, like Wallander, a not totally sympathetic main character), The Bridge, Borgen (about a Danish woman Prime Minister).

Inspector Aurelio Zen was alas not renewed, the Michael Dibdin stories are classic, oozing the atmosphere of Italian corruption. But there's another one about a Sicilian cop-- Inspector Montalbano which is doing well.

The Marseilles Trilogy has been translated into English and that's a classic of French crime fiction.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Total-Chaos-Mar ... 1933372044
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby Blues » Mon Jun 17, 2013 9:54 am

VT, read the Price books mentioned. I considered them good reads but not necessarily exceptional (but for brief moments and passages).

Saw "The Corner" but not much about it comes to mind at the moment.

You'll have to let me know if you ever make it over to our little corner of the universe. We have a lot to catch up on. I'm buying. :beer
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby chaz » Mon Jun 17, 2013 11:16 am

"Fire Sale" by Sara Paretsky.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby randomwalk » Mon Jun 17, 2013 12:56 pm

I just finished The Blood of Heaven by Kent Wascom.

Now reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby david99 » Mon Jun 17, 2013 1:55 pm

I just finished reading VB6 by Mark Bittman. The VB6 stands for vegan before 6:00 pm. He says that he was overweight and pre-diabetic when his doctor told him that he should become a vegan. Since Bittman is a food writer, he didn't want to become a vegan so he came up with VB6. So he is a vegan until 6PM and then he eats whatever he wants after 6PM. Bittman says that he lost 35 pounds and saw all his blood numbers move in the right direction with this diet. I think that it's a pretty good book. I sort of eat this way in that I'm a vegan about 80% of the time and then I eat whatever I want the other 20% ---- I've lost 10 pounds with this approach, kept it off and I'm never hungry. I don't really crave junk food anymore either. I guess that this is my 80/20 balanced food portfolio. :happy
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby Blues » Mon Jun 17, 2013 1:59 pm

"The Locked Room" by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. (Book 8 of 10 in the series. I'm going to miss these characters when I finish.)
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby nisiprius » Mon Jun 17, 2013 8:03 pm

Valuethinker wrote:...The British writer who was good on guns is Gavin Lyall...
Thanks for reminding me. I read a number of his books some time ago and liked them a lot, I should return and see what else he's written. Oh, dear, what was the protagonist's name... French... Alain something. Too lazy to see whether I already posted about this but I recently read Greenmantle, by John Buchan. Hoo boy, is that a weird book. Reads right along, though.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby chaz » Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:15 pm

"The Hunter" by John Lescroart.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby Blues » Tue Jun 18, 2013 11:14 pm

"Cop Killer" by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. (The penultimate in the series.)
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby denismurf » Wed Jun 19, 2013 12:58 am

Accidentally just acquired 2 very different books about Nazi Germany.

I'm halfway through Into That Darkness by Gitta Sereny. The author logged 70 hours interviewing Franz Stangl, commandant of the Treblinka and Sobibor extermination camps, about his life and his personal journey to the camps, the flight to Argentina, and ultimately to prison.

Next up is Defying Hitler, a memoir by Sebastian Haffner, a German who fled to Great Britain in 1938. It's a compilation of Haffner's journals, edited and translated later by his son, that start with memories of WWI. Unfortunately, the memoir stops shortly after Hitler took complete power.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby Sam I Am » Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:35 pm

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Postby Blues » Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:34 pm

Sam I Am wrote:Just finished Back to Blood by Tom Wolf. Good read, but Wolf must have been getting paid by the word. Had to slog thru some loooonnnnngggggg booooorrrrrrinnnnnggg passages.

Sam I Am


I've got to say that some portions of that book, especially in the very early sections, had me laughing out loud to the point of tears.
My wife thought I was nuts so I had her read it as well. (I think it's even funnier for those that have lived there, worked in law enforcement and are familiar with the culture.)

I agree it could have been edited down some.
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