Page 72 of 167 FirstFirst ... 2262707172737482122 ... LastLast
Results 1,066 to 1,080 of 2497

Thread: What's the last book you read?

  1. #1066
    The Drama Queen of Pretentiousness! Ms. Shart O'Nay's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Here. In My Head
    Posts
    927
    Donna Tartt's The Secret History. I think I picked it up on recommendations from various forumzers, but I have to say I was unimpressed with the novel. Tartt makes the most glaring college-level creative writing workshop mistake: telling rather than showing. "Francis was the type of person who x, y, and z'd." "I don't recollect the conversation very well, so I'll sum it up for you here." The absolute worst was the epilogue (this one's verbatim): "I suppose nothing remains now but to tell you what happened, as far as I know, to the rest of the players in our story." For an author who clearly knows what a deus ex machina is, I hardly think it was wise to use that same tactic--in a narrative mode--to conclude your novel! The main reason I found this frustrating was that, in terms of developing characters, she relied on a great deal of shorthand, which meant that the stakes were low; I never really gave a shit whether her players lived or died, were caught or got off scot-free. Moreover, this flaw diminished the potential suspense of the novel--we know what happens from the first page, but the fact that the reader is constantly reminded that "years later, character x would be this way" leaves little room for an increase in tension.

    It was more or less an entertaining read, and I should take it for what it is--a murder mystery with literary pretensions--but even if I do that, it was about 200-250 pages too long, and ultimately read like a far less interesting version of Highsmith's "Talented Mr. Ripley." But hey, I'm on holiday, and I liked not having to think too hard, so that worked out.

    On to the new Hollinghurst novel!

  2. #1067
    A Matter Of How You See It Kala's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,388
    The Hypnotist

    With a story line that includes grizzly serial murders, insanity, incest, suppressed memories, and revenge this much-hyped Swedish thriller drew me in from the beginning -- but after a while there were too many subplots to follow and too many timelines that just didn't add up. About 2/3rd's of the way through the book I started having flashbacks of reading The DaVinci Code.

  3. #1068
    Quote Originally Posted by Ms. Shart O'Nay View Post
    Donna Tartt's The Secret History. I think I picked it up on recommendations from various forumzers, but I have to say I was unimpressed with the novel. Tartt makes the most glaring college-level creative writing workshop mistake: telling rather than showing. "Francis was the type of person who x, y, and z'd." "I don't recollect the conversation very well, so I'll sum it up for you here." The absolute worst was the epilogue (this one's verbatim): "I suppose nothing remains now but to tell you what happened, as far as I know, to the rest of the players in our story." For an author who clearly knows what a deus ex machina is, I hardly think it was wise to use that same tactic--in a narrative mode--to conclude your novel! The main reason I found this frustrating was that, in terms of developing characters, she relied on a great deal of shorthand, which meant that the stakes were low; I never really gave a shit whether her players lived or died, were caught or got off scot-free. Moreover, this flaw diminished the potential suspense of the novel--we know what happens from the first page, but the fact that the reader is constantly reminded that "years later, character x would be this way" leaves little room for an increase in tension.

    It was more or less an entertaining read, and I should take it for what it is--a murder mystery with literary pretensions--but even if I do that, it was about 200-250 pages too long, and ultimately read like a far less interesting version of Highsmith's "Talented Mr. Ripley." But hey, I'm on holiday, and I liked not having to think too hard, so that worked out.

    On to the new Hollinghurst novel!
    In Tartt's defense, she's writing from Richard's POV as he reflects on what happened, which makes "telling rather than showing" appear as a more deliberate choice. "Telling rather than showing" is also not necessarily a bad thing, either:

    "The notion that showing is good and telling is bad is a misleading oversimplification. Each has its place...Scene and summary--showing and telling--create a rhythm for the dance of fiction."
    -Jerome Stern, Making Shapely Fiction, p. 219

    Now as to whether Tartt used it effectively, that's where we can agree to disagree! A lot of the clumsiness can be attributed to Richard's retelling and not Tartt herself. Some can see that as a cheap safety net for Tartt, but I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and say her "showing instead of telling" was by design. And for me, it was effective.

  4. #1069
    Tens Across the Board Banjee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Miami Beach
    Posts
    3,127
    Quote Originally Posted by Ms. Shart O'Nay View Post

    On to the new Hollinghurst novel!
    Exciting! That's on my "to read" shelf. I'm on a bit of a Hollinghurst break, though. I haven't fully recovered from The Folding Star. I'll read The Spell and The Stranger's Child next year.

  5. #1070
    Loves ponies. Hates phonies. Regina Phalange's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    9,659
    I think the end of The Secret History works because I think it reflects how Richard was just so exhausted with the whole situation he just wanted to be over and done with the story. It reflected his disillusionment with his friends. He went into minute detail at the beginning when he was in awe of them, but when he was sick of them and what happened, it was "yadda yadda yadda". It felt more real to me because that's what happens when you tell an emotional story: you start off excited, but wear yourself out and get caught up in the sadness towards the end.

  6. #1071
    The Drama Queen of Pretentiousness! Ms. Shart O'Nay's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Here. In My Head
    Posts
    927
    I think these are fair points, and I obviously concede that I'm in the minority for not enjoying the novel (only one person I've known who's also read the book felt similarly--everyone else gushed, which was why I picked it up--these are opinions I trust!). I do think the telling-rather-than-showing was done ineffectively, for me, primarily because it seemed, in short, to enable cardboard-cutout characterizations and to diminish the suspense of, well, what basically amounts to a murder mystery. For example:



    The Stranger's Child is fantastic so far. Only about 100 pages in, but I'm really enjoying the almost Victorian feel of it. Something like Forster there, or maybe Brideshead Revisited. A very different book to The Line of Beauty, though that's admittedly the only other Hollinghurst I've read.

  7. #1072
    fluid, affectionate, chaste, mature Mackerel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    1,201
    Just finished Game of Thrones - !!! ordering clash of kings now.

  8. #1073
    see a sea anemone devnull's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    1,253
    Did you love it? (rhetorical question. Obviously you did if you're ordering book 2! Ahhhh, who are your favorites? Best scene? And
    )

  9. #1074
    fluid, affectionate, chaste, mature Mackerel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    1,201
    Quote Originally Posted by devnull View Post
    Did you love it? (rhetorical question. Obviously you did if you're ordering book 2! Ahhhh, who are your favorites? Best scene? And
    )

  10. #1075
    Strangerer Rum 509's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    2,197
    Just finishing up Sense and Sensibility, the second half was much better. This was her first book so I plan on reading others, and her Wiki looks interesting too. That's for today.

    But I need a change of pace, so A Visit From the Goon Squad is next. I asked for books for Christmas, saying any NYT bestsellers would be fine, but when asked to narrow it down, I came here.

  11. #1076
    Quote Originally Posted by Carhole View Post
    I just finished the first one, too:

  12. #1077
    Denn alles Fleisch, es ist wie Gras Malike-pakile's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Berlin
    Posts
    1,002
    Robert Musil- The Confusions of Young Torless
    A very good read. Makes me want to read The Man Without Qualities, too.
    But I just don't have the 30 spare years!

  13. #1078
    see a sea anemone devnull's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    1,253
    This Game of Thrones talk makes me so happy.
    spoiler for first book

  14. #1079
    see a sea anemone devnull's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    1,253
    Quote Originally Posted by Rum 509 View Post

    But I need a change of pace, so A Visit From the Goon Squad is next. I asked for books for Christmas, saying any NYT bestsellers would be fine, but when asked to narrow it down, I came here.
    I love this one! Happy reading.

  15. #1080
    safely on a cloud tully's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    magic house
    Posts
    1,971

    Icon15

    So should I read Game of Thrones? How would you describe it?

    Just about to start The Art of Fielding and super pumped for that!
    ... here i am!

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •