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janey
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123120 posts
Fri May-12-06 05:36 PM

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"Another dumb book post"


  

          

Yesterday, someone asked me for a list of my top ten books and I started to laugh. I was like, on what subject? But she just wanted some book recommendations and wouldn't pin me down. I can *kind of* do this for fiction, but non-fiction is too wide an area, even though I do give her some non-fiction recommendations here.

In some cases, I found on these boards what I'd written about the books, so some of what is posted below has been seen here before, in some cases more than once.

Then I thought, well, you know, if I took all this time to make a book recommendation list, I might as well post it.

Follow up with yours, and let's make this an archivable thread by describing the book(s) you recommend, rather than simply naming them.

~~~~~

This list changes from day to day. I have runners up that I could argue in favor of or substitute in for almost any of these and still feel like I haven't scratched the surface, but these are the ones that jumped out at me while I was having my coffee this morning and pondering the question.

~~~~~

Fiction

**The Goldbug Variations, by Richard Powers (or maybe Plowing the Dark)

What's great about Powers is that he always takes more than one story line, usually seemingly unconnected, and ultimately binds them together really strongly and deeply. His first book, Three Farmers On Their Way To A Dance, is a good example of this. So is Plowing the Dark.

Sometimes it's not directly two different story lines but different times in the same story, but times so far removed that they seem irreconcilable. Gold Bug Variations is a good example of this.

Sometimes he takes the same story and emphasizes different aspects of it. Well, okay, here I'm thinking of The Time of Our Singing and the themes of music and race, but this one could also fall into either of the preceding categories.

So he makes you see how disparate ideas and seemingly unconnected stories all work together.

I sometimes feel as though reading his work enriches my life because he gives words to intuitions that I've had that I haven't had words for. Sometimes I think he has identified emotions or responses that I felt but couldn't articulate. So I actually believe that I am a more whole person emotionally than I was before I started reading his writing, and that is an extremely unusual experience for me with respect to a novelist. I think mostly what I get from books is recognizable and known emotion, or imparted intelligence/knowledge. I don't think any other writer has actually enriched my life in this way.

***The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell

Russell is an anthropologist and a cradle Catholic who converted to Judaism. She wanted to write about the meeting of two cultures that have nothing in common and the role of faith in such a meeting and the only way she could do this is to set her book in the future and include space travel, because every culture on Earth is permeated by Gap and Starbucks. So she brings her anthropology background and her thoughtful exploration of faith to this, her first (and best) novel. The story is fun (including the idea that the only organization with the will and the funds to undertake space exploration is the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), who have a long and dark history of exploration already, lol) and compelling (and beautiful and ugly and sad and uplifting and a lot of things), but what's really going on here is the question of the role of God in one's life, and what does it mean to your faith if you feel as though you have been abandoned by God. It's a kind of modern day Dark Night of the Soul, but it completely sneaks up on you.

***The Names of the Dead, by Stewart O'Nan

This is the first book I ever read that made me think that Vietnam War lit would have anything to add to my life. This is the story of a man in search of himself, a man struggling to be a good man and a whole man and a good father and so forth, and also struggling to assimilate or work through his experiences in Vietnam. It also has aspects of thriller/mystery, which keeps the plot moving along.

***The Human Stain, by Philip Roth

I could never quite get why people raved so much about Roth until I read The Human Stain. It has passages of some of the best writing I've read in recent years, and it's sad and it's thought-provoking and it's funny. The film could never match the book because of the nature of film. The book is written from a particular point of view -- the perennial Zuckerman, who looks at Coleman Silk and thinks about how Silk's life happened to move in the paths that it did. This is a FAR cry from just telling Silk's story, which the film more or less purports to do. In the book Zuckerman is always saying to himself things like: So I thought about what it would have been like or what would have motivated him.... And that makes it very moving in a really quiet and lovely way. But there are also just hysterically funny passages. And the characters are drawn so vividly. There are other books of Roth's that I like a lot, but to my mind nothing measures up to this.

***Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell

This book is like those Russian nested dolls. You open one and there's another, and you open that, and there's another one. Cloud Atlas is six nested stories, all different genres, all very lightly connected thematically. Story A begins and abruptly stops in the middle, and then Story B begins and, again, abruptly stops halfway through. Same with C, D and E. Then you get all of Story F, then the last half of Stories E, D, C, B, and A. Sounds gimmicky and very complicated. And yes, it's a gimmick, but it works. And yes, it's complicated but the stories are so different that they're easy to keep track of.

So then, past the structure, the substance of the book is really remarkable. It's about bondage and freedom and how we bind ourselves and how others enslave us and where true freedom lies. And there are portions of it that are really so beautiful and sad that you'll cry. There aren't a whole lot of books that make me cry, although I think every one that exists is on this list.

***The Last Samurai, by Helen DeWitt

Not about Japan and only about samurais in the respect that the son uses Seven Samurai as a model for searching for his father.
It's about what makes a worthwhile life or a life worth living.
And it's about the value of granting an individual autonomy over his/her own existence and what, if anything, we can responsibly do to aid a person who is in distress without compromising their autonomy.
And it's about what it means to look for your father, and who is a father, and what is it to have a father.
And it's about brilliance and the limitations of brilliance.

***The Known World, by Edward P. Jones

Again, a book with interwoven plot lines and shifting times. Apparently this structure works for me. The writing is magnificent and the story is heartbreaking. It's a family saga, but it's not like any you have ever read before. In part because the story deals with Black families who owned slaves around the time of the Civil War. It is haunting and beautiful and dreamlike and razor-sharp.

***The Secret History, by Donna Tartt

This one is strange. I don't exactly know how it fits into this list. I'm not even sure exactly what it is that makes me love this book so much. Maybe it's because it evokes the environment of my own college experience so well even if the events are so dramatically different. If you read this and like it, I also recommend Bret Easton Ellis's book The Rules of Attraction. There are a lot of connections between the two, including some rather direct allusions in The Rules of Attraction to people and events in The Secret History, and there is some thought that Ellis helped Tartt write her book much in the way that Capote helped Harper Lee. Tartt of course denies this vehemently, but I still believe it.

***The Map of Love, by Ahdaf Soueif

This is another book that tells more than one story and winds it together perfectly. Here, it's two love stories that take place years apart in Egypt. One is the story of a British woman at the turn of the century and the Egyptian man she falls in love with, and the other is the story of her great-granddaughter, a New Yorker, who falls in love with an Egyptian man in about the late 1970s. They're tied together by a third woman, Egyptian, who is observer and narrator and translator, and whose life we see in part as well. The backdrop of the love stories is the political climate in Egypt and the various difficulties of the Middle East vs. the West, especially as reflected in interpersonal relationships.

~~~~~

Non Fiction

***Causing Death and Saving Lives, by Jonathon Glover

Glover is a moral philosopher with excellent credentials. This book raises the question, first, whether we can consciously and intentionally create a coherent moral philosophy about killing. In other words, is morality rational? and Is it possible to have a non-contradictory moral philosophy on this question?

Then he discusses how such a philosophy would be grounded. Like, do we object to killing on the basis of "sanctity of life"? on a sense that killing is *always* inherently wrong? on a belief that killing is wrong but can be outweighed by other principles (and if so, what would those principles be?) or on the basis of a general principle that it is better to increase happiness in the world? or on other principles?

Then he applies the question to various issues surrounding killing, ranging from: war, assassination, capital punishment, abortion, contraception, infanticide, euthanasia, suicide, you name it.

It is mind blowing. And engaging. And completely accessible. I STRONGLY recommend it. Not because he tells you what to think, not at ALL. He just describes ways of thinking and then tests them for contradictions and for utility.

And these issues are very important. It's true that most of us don't have to come face to face with many of the practical questions he raises, like for instance, I don't have to myself wonder whether I should be a conscientious objector if drafted to serve in a war. On the other hand, we all hold opinions on all of these questions, and it is good for us, as human beings, to think through all of our opinions to see where they lead and how strongly we hold them.

***Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder

The biography of Paul Farmer. Farmer is a doctor (specialist in infectious diseases) and anthropologist who has undertaken the treatment of AIDS in Haiti and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in Russia (and elsewhere), and who looks at disease as social/cultural ill and poverty as the single most significant factor in healthcare issues. He makes a powerful case in his own writings for a radically new picture of the politics of health and the allocation of resources, and this book is a great introduction to him and his writings, because he tends to disappear in his own books. His own story is very much worth reading. He scoffs at the idea of "sustainable" programs (i.e., AIDS prevention to the detriment of AIDS treatment) and just tackles what is in front of him with all his force and determination. In the offices of his non-profit org, one of his co-workers has a little sign posted that says "If Paul is the model, we're fucked." And that's a good reminder. I mean, this book could totally inspire you or it could make you throw your hands in the air and think that if you can't give everything, the way the Farmer does, there's no point in trying. But Farmer, via Kidder, would say with Gandhi that everything you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.

***Love Thy Neighbor, by Peter Maas

I'd already been reading about genocide when I ran across an essay by Maas in The New Killing Fields, and I was so shaken by some of the things he wrote that I immediately sought out and read this one. It ranks among the most moving accounts of current issues, right up there with We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families.

***War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, by Chris Hedges

Hedges is a really interesting guy. He did most of a theology graduate degree at Harvard Divinity School and then became completely disillusioned and became a war correspondent. So he thinks and writes about issues from a perspective that most war correspondents don't have. This short book helps frame the issue that my cat Boo keeps asking about: Why is there war?

***White Like Me, by Tim Wise

Wise is a hero of mine and his columns (available at www.timwise.org and his recent article on PETA at http://www.lipmagazine.org/~timwise/animalwhites.html ) are incredibly smart, sharp and insightful. His thinking is really clear and he articulates his message powerfully even while he writes in a remarkably accessible manner. White Like Me crystallized a lot of my own thinking and put concepts into words for me in ways that I can get my arms around. I think this is one of the best books on white privilege out there (and there are more and more every day, thank God). He writes about his own history and that of his family and he doesn't pull any punches on any of them. I think it's really important for white people to know that there are in fact other white people who are committed to social change and to have someone like Wise as a role model.




~~~~~

Breathe and know you're breathing.

  

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Topic Outline
Subject Author Message Date ID
thanks...
May 13th 2006
1
You might like Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides
May 15th 2006
10
      Middlesex is amazing and i loved The Virgin Suicides
May 19th 2007
51
A question about Paul Farmer that I never bothered to research
May 13th 2006
2
He's married....
May 15th 2006
3
      Exactly
May 15th 2006
5
           well and plus he was practically homeless while growing up
May 15th 2006
6
                I don't know if you know how ridiculous that last statement is
May 16th 2006
14
                     Are you a doc?
May 16th 2006
15
                          He's closely aligned with Brigham & Women's in Boston
May 16th 2006
16
                          Third year med student
May 16th 2006
21
                               I think that;s what we're saying
May 16th 2006
23
                                    Thanks
May 16th 2006
24
                                    Well, I will say if you are interested in trying to provide universal he...
May 17th 2006
25
                                         Yeah I guess there's a dual reason
May 17th 2006
26
                                              I just started reading
May 30th 2006
27
                                                   You've convinced me, thanks for reminding me
May 31st 2006
37
                                                        I LOVE that Anne Fadiman book
May 31st 2006
39
                                                             Thanks, janey
May 31st 2006
40
                                    *ears perk up*
May 20th 2007
53
i'm FINALLY starting Secret History
May 15th 2006
4
I named my imaginary baby Henry
May 15th 2006
7
i just read one of the funniest lines i've ever read in any book
May 15th 2006
11
      Oh yeah, most definitely
May 15th 2006
12
I just started it, and am thoroughly enjoying it
May 30th 2006
31
      okay, and I've told you before
May 31st 2006
32
           you hadn't told me specifically
May 31st 2006
33
                you MUST do it sequentially
May 31st 2006
34
I just started the Glover
May 15th 2006
8
I just took it really slowly
May 15th 2006
9
      I'm already reading paragraphs over 3 times
May 15th 2006
13
my list...
May 16th 2006
17
Gilead came this -----><----- close to making my list
May 16th 2006
18
      a powers post?
May 16th 2006
19
           by the way, re: Gilead
May 16th 2006
20
                RE: by the way, re: Gilead
May 16th 2006
22
RE: Another dumb book post
May 30th 2006
28
Yesterday, a friend of mine returned the copy I loaned him
May 30th 2006
29
      well I adored them both
May 30th 2006
30
I've already read two books this week
May 31st 2006
35
I just finished...
May 31st 2006
36
Check post #37 for some "medically" themed fiction and non-fiction
May 31st 2006
38
another word on The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
Jun 15th 2006
42
      I believe that's reading for an International Health class
Jun 15th 2006
43
           no -- should I?
Jun 15th 2006
44
                I'm not sure yet
Jun 16th 2006
45
                     I finished The Spirit Catches You this morning.
Jun 16th 2006
46
some of my favorites
Jun 01st 2006
41
^
May 18th 2007
47
I just checked out The Road and Little Children from the library
May 18th 2007
48
Roughly halfway thru The Road, and I'm ready to slit my wrists.
May 31st 2007
57
3/4 of the way through Lolita
May 18th 2007
49
booksz!
May 19th 2007
50
RE: Another dumb book post
May 20th 2007
52
just finished Cloud Atlas, gotta talk about it (spoilers!)
May 31st 2007
54
Mitchell's books ranked & very briefly described:
May 31st 2007
56
I finished "A Fighter's Heart" by Sam Sheridan last month
May 31st 2007
55

2nd2Nun
Member since Oct 27th 2004
783 posts
Sat May-13-06 12:22 AM

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1. "thanks..."
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

I appreciate you taking the time to give us your thoughts. I've been looking for some good books to pick up lately. Right now I'm trying to get through The Corrections (it's almost a chore, but I'm determined to finish it), then I have On Beauty by Zadie Smith to read.

  

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janey
Charter member
123120 posts
Mon May-15-06 01:57 PM

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10. "You might like Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides"
In response to Reply # 1


  

          

I think of it in connection with The Corrections because I think they may have been published around the same time. I liked Middlesex better than The Corrections.

A lot of people felt like The Corrections was disappointing or a drudge to read because the characters weren't very sympathetic. I felt that way about Confederacy of Dunces, less so about The Corrections (which I liked), and not at all about Middlesex.


~~~~~

Breathe and know you're breathing.

  

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jasonprague
Member since Sep 29th 2005
1900 posts
Sat May-19-07 07:20 AM

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51. "Middlesex is amazing and i loved The Virgin Suicides"
In response to Reply # 10


          

you by chance know what Euengides is up to regarding a new book?

and with The Corrections - i liked it but it seemed to drag on for too long with no chapter breaks and shit like that...

"The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting." - Kundera

  

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JungleSouljah
Member since Sep 24th 2002
14987 posts
Sat May-13-06 11:50 AM

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2. "A question about Paul Farmer that I never bothered to research"
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

Does he have a life outside his work? Because if he has a wife and kids and great relationships with all of them AND he does everything else that he's so well known for in the medical community, then it really is game over.

I don't know anybody in medicine (who actually cares about global health care) who wouldn't love to be Farmer, but for most of us it just doesn't seem very realistic if you want to have a family and a life outside of your work.

______________________________
PSN: RuptureMD
http://hospitalstories.wordpress.com/

The 4th Annual Residency Encampment: Where do we go from here?

All you see is crime in the source code.

  

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janey
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123120 posts
Mon May-15-06 11:48 AM

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3. "He's married...."
In response to Reply # 2


  

          

but his life is his work.

I have a vague recollection that his wife is involved in the work as well, but I would have to reread Mountains Beyond Mountains, which I plan to do, but AIDS and Accusation was just re-issued and I want to read that first.

It's true. "If Paul is the model, we're fucked." Not everyone can be Paul Farmer. But Paul IS the model for each of us doing what we can. It's just that abilities and inclinations vary widely among people.

~~~~~

Breathe and know you're breathing.

  

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dr invisible
Member since Sep 19th 2002
3467 posts
Mon May-15-06 12:46 PM

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5. "Exactly"
In response to Reply # 3


          

>>It's true. "If Paul is the model, we're fucked." Not everyone can be Paul Farmer. But Paul IS the model for each of us doing what we can. It's just that abilities and inclinations vary widely among people.

I have this conversation a lot. The guy went through med school without really being there and spending time in Haiti (i think he was in Haiti at the time?) His intellect among other things is obviously off the charts so too simply think you replicate it is a fool's errand. Its more about the movement to action, the overcoming of inertia...

  

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janey
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123120 posts
Mon May-15-06 12:56 PM

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6. "well and plus he was practically homeless while growing up"
In response to Reply # 5


  

          

They were camping out in a boat with no water or electricity.

Maybe I'm overstating it slightly but you know, whatever.

And he only needs like four hours of sleep a night.

So in the face of that, what do I do? Do I say, oh, I can't be Paul Farmer, I may as well just give up?

Farmer himself would smack you silly.

Yeah, he was spending his medical school years practicing in Haiti.

  

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JungleSouljah
Member since Sep 24th 2002
14987 posts
Tue May-16-06 01:13 PM

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14. "I don't know if you know how ridiculous that last statement is"
In response to Reply # 6


  

          

To go through med school for four years and spend the majority of that time practicing in Haiti of all places. I'll have to read the book.

Advocacy isn't really my thing, but I let myself get pretty heated when I see medical atrocities and health disparity. But then I tell myself I don't need to go to Haiti or Africa to do something... we have medical issues here in this country to deal with.

______________________________
PSN: RuptureMD
http://hospitalstories.wordpress.com/

The 4th Annual Residency Encampment: Where do we go from here?

All you see is crime in the source code.

  

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dr invisible
Member since Sep 19th 2002
3467 posts
Tue May-16-06 01:26 PM

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15. "Are you a doc?"
In response to Reply # 14


          

Read the book. His medical education is crazy and unique and not a result of Janey's imagination or mine.

  

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janey
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123120 posts
Tue May-16-06 01:53 PM

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16. "He's closely aligned with Brigham & Women's in Boston"
In response to Reply # 15


  

          

spends a part of the year there, a part of the year in Haiti, and a part of the year where else there's need.

Really, really -- read the book.

  

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JungleSouljah
Member since Sep 24th 2002
14987 posts
Tue May-16-06 04:30 PM

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21. "Third year med student"
In response to Reply # 15


  

          

I can't take a month off for a wedding this year, let alone spend the majority of my medical education down in Haiti.

I didn't mean to say it was ridiculous as in "you guys must be wrong". My future father-in-law is an anestesiologist, same age as Farmer. Things were a bit different back then. You could get away with that sort of stuff. I think things are a little more restricted and mandatory these days.

I'd love to read his books, I just don't have the time. Wedding + 3rd year of med school = not a lot of free time for reading.

The man is definitely an inspiration and I'd love to do some of the work he's doing, I just don't think it's feasible for every physician. Like I said, I'm more than happy to keep doing what little I can here in Chicago. My first priority is getting universal healthcare in this state, then the country. I'll let Farmer take care of the Haitians.

______________________________
PSN: RuptureMD
http://hospitalstories.wordpress.com/

The 4th Annual Residency Encampment: Where do we go from here?

All you see is crime in the source code.

  

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dr invisible
Member since Sep 19th 2002
3467 posts
Tue May-16-06 05:09 PM

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23. "I think that;s what we're saying"
In response to Reply # 21


          

It cant feasibly be done. But it was done. And doing things in Chicago is exactly the same spirit.

I'm an MPH student - health services research. Lots of friends in med school so I see a lot of what you go through. Good luck.

  

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JungleSouljah
Member since Sep 24th 2002
14987 posts
Tue May-16-06 06:11 PM

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24. "Thanks"
In response to Reply # 23


  

          

I've got lots of classmates with MPHs. I've been toying around with the idea of getting one. Especially if I decide to do emergency medicine and want to pursue academic research. Any advice?

______________________________
PSN: RuptureMD
http://hospitalstories.wordpress.com/

The 4th Annual Residency Encampment: Where do we go from here?

All you see is crime in the source code.

  

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dr invisible
Member since Sep 19th 2002
3467 posts
Wed May-17-06 09:22 AM

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25. "Well, I will say if you are interested in trying to provide universal he..."
In response to Reply # 24


          

an MPH in health services/management could be very useful not so much for the degree itself (an MD is pretty damn substantial!) but the knowledge and networks. I've learned a ton about the economic side and the research needed to start to make sense of the health care delivery system. Even just as a doc trying to understand the forces that will drive/shape your career, medically and financially, this sort of thing is helpful. As you know, lots of the healthcare disparity and access issues won't be fought in the individual practices but on a much larger scare and the MPH puts it in that context. However, ultimately and sadly, the battle is political.

If you are interested in the clinical side of researc for population based health, obviously, epidemiology would have some relevance.

Inbox me if you questions.

  

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JungleSouljah
Member since Sep 24th 2002
14987 posts
Wed May-17-06 11:20 AM

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26. "Yeah I guess there's a dual reason"
In response to Reply # 25


  

          

Partly for the knowledge of how public health actually works and partly for the epi/research side of things.

I'll take you up on that inbox.

______________________________
PSN: RuptureMD
http://hospitalstories.wordpress.com/

The 4th Annual Residency Encampment: Where do we go from here?

All you see is crime in the source code.

  

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janey
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123120 posts
Tue May-30-06 07:47 PM

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27. "I just started reading"
In response to Reply # 26


  

          

Mountains Beyond Mountains again. I'm about a hundred pages into it. And I once again wholeheartedly recommend it. Farmer's own writing may satisfy you more, but this is a wonderful introduction to his thinking and how he came to it.

www.pih.org

  

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JungleSouljah
Member since Sep 24th 2002
14987 posts
Wed May-31-06 02:55 PM

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37. "You've convinced me, thanks for reminding me"
In response to Reply # 27


  

          

I have to tell my fiancee to pick that up for me. She buys the books, I take care of music and films.

And if you ever want some 'medically' themed books to read, I'm your man. In fact, I'll give you three of my favorites right now.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down - Anne Fadiman

I feel like I've mentioned this before... in fact, I'm betting you've already read it, but if not, you really should. It's an amazing look at how western and eastern cultures often clash in this country and how modern medicine is sometimes very ill-equipped to deal with the legitimate health practices of other cultures. It's essentially the story of young Hmong girl who has epilepsy and clash between her family and her doctors.

A Case of Need - Michael Crichton (under his pseudonymn of John Hudson)

A nice piece of fiction looking at the abortion controversey in the 70s from the perspective of a pathologist caught in the middle. I haven't read it in a while, but my fiancee picked it up off my shelf and finished it in a few days. It's a pretty quick read.

The House of God - Sam Shem

A satire/parody along the lines of Catch-22 but in a hospital setting. Some great characters and morbid hospital humor. I find it interesting that it still holds a great deal of truth 30 years after it was written.

The Residents - David Ewing Duncan

Duncan is a journalist who's wife decides to go back to medical school and do her residency after they've already had three kids. He gets a lot of interns and residents to talk candidly about the hell they're going through and went through. One of the best parts of the book is when he visits a resident who he had seen a few years earlier as an intern and how much the physician's demeanor and perspective on medicine has changed.

This all seems weirdly deja vu-ish to me. Like I've typed this out before. Oh well. Maybe someone will read it and find it interesting.

______________________________
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http://hospitalstories.wordpress.com/

The 4th Annual Residency Encampment: Where do we go from here?

All you see is crime in the source code.

  

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janey
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Wed May-31-06 03:36 PM

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39. "I LOVE that Anne Fadiman book"
In response to Reply # 37
Wed May-31-06 03:42 PM by janey

  

          

I've given it as gifts a few times.

I'm trying to think where I've heard of Duncan -- I think his name is just eerily similar to a writer whose work I like.

For medical, of course, Paul Farmer's work, but also:

Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science -- by Atul Gawande -- Gawande is a New Yorker writer, and this book is a collection of his essays, many of them originally printed in the New Yorker. It's delightful.

and one I'm forgetting the name of right now, but which is lovely. A doctor born in India emigrates to the U.S. and ends up on the leading edge of AIDS treatment in this little town in the midwest. There are these correlations between the isolation he feels as an Indian in the US, and that felt by his patients, most of whom are gay, in this little town. Damn, I wish I could remember the guy's name. I'll let you know if I do. It's really worth reading.

**edit: The book is My Own Country, by Abraham Verghese, and it's Tennessee, not the midwest. lol

  

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JungleSouljah
Member since Sep 24th 2002
14987 posts
Wed May-31-06 05:14 PM

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40. "Thanks, janey"
In response to Reply # 39


  

          

I'll definitely give those a look.

______________________________
PSN: RuptureMD
http://hospitalstories.wordpress.com/

The 4th Annual Residency Encampment: Where do we go from here?

All you see is crime in the source code.

  

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kurlyswirl
Member since Jul 13th 2002
16693 posts
Sun May-20-07 10:25 PM

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53. "*ears perk up*"
In response to Reply # 23


  

          

I'm seriously considering going back to school for an MPH as well, maybe a PhD. I want to do research, maybe teach. I'm leaning toward health/social behavior, or maybe epidemiology. Where do you go to school, if you don't mind me asking?


>I'm an MPH student - health services research. Lots of friends
>in med school so I see a lot of what you go through. Good
>luck.


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


kurly's Super-Duper Awesome DVD Collection:
http://www.dvdaficionado.com/dvds.html?cat=1&id=kurlyswirl

  

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Deebot
Member since Oct 21st 2004
26680 posts
Mon May-15-06 11:58 AM

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4. "i'm FINALLY starting Secret History"
In response to Reply # 0


          

I read like the first 15 pages yesterday. I'm sure i'll like this one alot. Can't wait until i have the time to read as long as i want

  

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janey
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Mon May-15-06 12:56 PM

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7. "I named my imaginary baby Henry"
In response to Reply # 4


  

          

after the Henry in that book, lol.

  

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Deebot
Member since Oct 21st 2004
26680 posts
Mon May-15-06 07:16 PM

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11. "i just read one of the funniest lines i've ever read in any book"
In response to Reply # 7


          

"Was it Bud?"
"I think so."
"Or Bill. Bill Hundy is good."
"I believe it was Bud," I said.
"What did you think about that old blue jay?"
I was uncertain if this referred to Bud or to a literal blue jay, or if, perhaps, we were heading into the territory of senile dementia.

LOL. That has an Ellis-like directness to it.

  

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janey
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Mon May-15-06 07:25 PM

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12. "Oh yeah, most definitely"
In response to Reply # 11


  

          

Much later in the book there's an exchange in a town hall meeting that will have you rolling on the floor.

  

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johnny_domino
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Tue May-30-06 09:55 PM

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31. "I just started it, and am thoroughly enjoying it"
In response to Reply # 4


  

          

what nefarious plot are those wacky kids up to though?

  

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janey
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Wed May-31-06 10:45 AM

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32. "okay, and I've told you before"
In response to Reply # 31


  

          

that right after you read The Secret History, you should read Bret Easton Ellis's Rules of Attraction, right?

  

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johnny_domino
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Wed May-31-06 10:48 AM

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33. "you hadn't told me specifically"
In response to Reply # 32
Wed May-31-06 10:49 AM by johnny_domino

  

          

but I'm now adding it to my library request list

  

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janey
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Wed May-31-06 11:00 AM

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34. "you MUST do it sequentially"
In response to Reply # 33


  

          

I caught the cross references because I've read The Secret History so often. Someone new to the book would need to read them sequentially in order for them to jump out, I think.

  

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DrNO
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Mon May-15-06 01:39 PM

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8. "I just started the Glover"
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

really good so far. I don't like the actual text though, it's tough to read.

_
http://youtube.com/watch?v=4TztqYaemt0
http://preptimeposse.blogspot.com/

  

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janey
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Mon May-15-06 01:52 PM

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9. "I just took it really slowly"
In response to Reply # 8


  

          

I appreciated the time he took to examine assumptions and hypotheticals. I was actually surprised by how accessible I found it. And then I'd get all exercised over some issue or other that he raised.

It has really helped me in understanding my own positions on various issues.


~~~~~

Breathe and know you're breathing.

  

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DrNO
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Mon May-15-06 08:35 PM

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13. "I'm already reading paragraphs over 3 times"
In response to Reply # 9


  

          

_
http://youtube.com/watch?v=4TztqYaemt0
http://preptimeposse.blogspot.com/

  

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49parallel
Member since Jun 06th 2003
1145 posts
Tue May-16-06 03:36 PM

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17. "my list..."
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

maybe not ten...but here goes:

richard powers, the time of our singing

see everything that janey wrote about powers. she's right. powers novels aren't so much about their plots, but about the ideas or concepts that those plots help to elucidate. the stories he tells (normally several connected ones in each novel) get at multiple aspects of these ideas/concepts. in the time of our singing he's examining race in the u.s. and he does so by talking about music and time. for me it struck an emotional chord that no other work of fiction has been able to. powers is also an incredible wordsmith. it is fairly common that i'll read a passage from one of his novels, and then i'll have to re-read it several times before i go on because of how beautifully it's written.

russell hoban, riddley walker

this is a post-apocalyptic tale that takes place in what used to be the u.k., and it describes little bands of human communities that have degenerated to the point that they've almost "lost" language. the story is written from the perspective of one of these humans, and so it's written in a sort of phonetic, made-up language that's hard to make sense of for 30 pages or so, but then gets easier to figure out (though i've read the novel about 5 times and there still are a host of words i can't figure out. there is a glossary at the end, which helps a lot). the premise is that the humans have this vague memory of a nuclear holocaust, but to them it represents a certain divine power that they know they've lost, but yearn to recover. to do so they turn to a certain text unearthed from the ruins of westminster cathedral, which they can't quite decipher because it's written in english. it's an absolutely fantastic story, full of danger, intrigue, and an itinerant band of puppeteers/high priests, but in the end the novel is about language, interpretation and misinterpretation, and the real power that words have.

midnight's children, salman rushdie

i love rushdie's playful writing style and his imaginative and fantastical re-shaping of history. this one tells of the birth of india.

marilynne robinson, gilead

this is a sad and beautiful memoir of an elderly minister near the end of his life, written for his young son to read after he's grown up. the novel explores grace, forgiveness, and happiness, but always in connection with unresolved, brooding sadness. what also makes this novel amazing is robinson's economy of words: she doesn't waste any.

umberto eco, foucault's pendulum

i love this novel for how smart it is, and how dumb it makes me feel. and also for the crazy, wildly entertaining story it tells.

j.m. coetzee, waiting for the barbarians

i'm not a huge coetzee fan. i like his stuff, but always think it falls short of the hoopla that surrounds everything he writes. this one, however, "grabbed" me. it's a chilling, sobering story that examines the thin, thin line between civility and barbarism, care and abuse.

dbc pierre, vernon god little

i couldn't put this one down. it read like a simple page turner, but in the style of delillo's white noise, if that makes any sense. what i didn't realize was that as i was turning the pages i was becoming deeply emotionally vested in the story. i desperately wanted - needed - a certain outcome to happen. and in the end i was strangely embarrassed at what i was rooting for. and i was also really, really angry at the absurdity and stupidity of the world in which we live.

  

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janey
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Tue May-16-06 03:53 PM

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18. "Gilead came this -----><----- close to making my list"
In response to Reply # 17


  

          

I'll be reading those among yours that I haven't.

Did you know that there's a Richard Powers post here? Devoted solely to Powers. Okcomputer is looking for recommendations. I basically copied what I said to him into this thread.


~~~~~

Breathe and know you're breathing.

  

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49parallel
Member since Jun 06th 2003
1145 posts
Tue May-16-06 04:00 PM

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19. "a powers post?"
In response to Reply # 18


  

          

i didn't know. (i've been away for a bit.) i'll take a peek at the archive.

i figured gilead must have almost made it on your list. two minutes ago i realized that i mistakenly left delillo's underworld off of mine (but i'm too lazy to go back and add it!).

i'd already planned to go out and get the ones on your list that i hadn't read yet. thanks for the recommendations!


"I maintain with clemency and munificence" -- J-Live

  

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janey
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Tue May-16-06 04:23 PM

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20. "by the way, re: Gilead"
In response to Reply # 19


  

          

They're not really related in any way that I can think of, but if the timbre of the narrative in Gilead worked for you, you might really like Plainsong by Kent Haruf, which was a finalist for the National Book Award one year.

  

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49parallel
Member since Jun 06th 2003
1145 posts
Tue May-16-06 04:41 PM

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22. "RE: by the way, re: Gilead"
In response to Reply # 20


  

          

alright, i'll check it out.


"I maintain with clemency and munificence" -- J-Live

  

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okaycomputer
Member since Dec 02nd 2002
8090 posts
Tue May-30-06 08:07 PM

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28. "RE: Another dumb book post"
In response to Reply # 0


          


>***The Last Samurai, by Helen DeWitt
>
>Not about Japan and only about samurais in the respect that
>the son uses Seven Samurai as a model for searching for his
>father.
>It's about what makes a worthwhile life or a life worth
>living.
>And it's about the value of granting an individual autonomy
>over his/her own existence and what, if anything, we can
>responsibly do to aid a person who is in distress without
>compromising their autonomy.
>And it's about what it means to look for your father, and who
>is a father, and what is it to have a father.
>And it's about brilliance and the limitations of brilliance.


I should be finishing this book after work tonight. I've loved every single page I've read so far. I cannot even imagine how DeWitt even began to write something this gigantic.

My favorite parts were with the young Ludo and Sybilla writing as if she accidentally turned him into a genius. Ludo's diary of his trip to school was hilarious and heartbreaking all at once, absolutely my favorite section.

I borrowed the book from the library, but I'll be buying this on my next trip to the book store. It's a book that I suspect I'll read quite a few times.

  

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janey
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123120 posts
Tue May-30-06 08:41 PM

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29. "Yesterday, a friend of mine returned the copy I loaned him"
In response to Reply # 28


  

          

He hated it. Couldn't get past page 100.

Yet this friend adored Cloud Atlas. So he's still willing to trust my recommendations.

  

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okaycomputer
Member since Dec 02nd 2002
8090 posts
Tue May-30-06 09:02 PM

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30. "well I adored them both"
In response to Reply # 29


          

so you're batting 1.000 in my book.

I'm looking forward concentrating more on The Time of Our Singing now. I've started it, but I've been focusing on Last Samurai.

The Known World has been on my "to read" list for a while. I'll pick that up sometime soon.
_________________________________

American League...You've been Pap-Smeared!

06.04.05 RADIOHEAD BOSTON MA

  

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DrNO
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Wed May-31-06 01:51 PM

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35. "I've already read two books this week"
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishimia, it's pretty good, and Tapping the Source by Kem Nunn which was fantastic.
Now I'm almost done The Manticore.

_
http://youtube.com/watch?v=4TztqYaemt0
http://preptimeposse.blogspot.com/

  

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WirlieGirlie
Member since Nov 04th 2003
474 posts
Wed May-31-06 02:25 PM

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36. "I just finished..."
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

Child of God by Lolita Files. It was great. It had incese, homosexuality, drug abuse, sex abuse. I loved every page!
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0684841436/qid=1149101994/sr=2-3/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_3/103-8294940-1437444?s=books&v=glance&n=283155



I also recommened The Darkest Child by Deloris Phillips.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1569473781/sr=8-1/qid=1149101922/ref=pd_bbs_1/103-8294940-1437444?%5Fencoding=UTF8

And Caucasia by Danzy Senna
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1573227161/qid=1149102033/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/103-8294940-1437444?s=books&v=glance&n=283155

Smiling DECREASES wrinkles!

  

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JungleSouljah
Member since Sep 24th 2002
14987 posts
Wed May-31-06 02:57 PM

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38. "Check post #37 for some "medically" themed fiction and non-fiction"
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

if anyone's interested.

______________________________
PSN: RuptureMD
http://hospitalstories.wordpress.com/

The 4th Annual Residency Encampment: Where do we go from here?

All you see is crime in the source code.

  

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janey
Charter member
123120 posts
Thu Jun-15-06 02:46 PM

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42. "another word on The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down"
In response to Reply # 38


  

          

I started to re-read this yesterday when I realized that I was too close to finishing the book I'd been working on to justify taking it to work. I figured I would read a little during my regular read times and then turn back to the other one at home.

Nope.

It's addictive.

I'm 130 pages into it and there's no turning back.


~~~~~

Breathe and know you're breathing.

  

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dr invisible
Member since Sep 19th 2002
3467 posts
Thu Jun-15-06 04:17 PM

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43. "I believe that's reading for an International Health class"
In response to Reply # 42


          

I may take. Good to know. Somone gave me Samuel Shems Mount Misery to read. I know you mentioned House of God. Read this?

  

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janey
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123120 posts
Thu Jun-15-06 06:37 PM

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44. "no -- should I?"
In response to Reply # 43


  

          

I'm open to any good reading as you all know.

  

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dr invisible
Member since Sep 19th 2002
3467 posts
Fri Jun-16-06 09:20 AM

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45. "I'm not sure yet"
In response to Reply # 44


          

I just finished class for the summer. The reading begins today. And The Last Samurai is on the list. I'll get back to you on the Shem.

  

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janey
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123120 posts
Fri Jun-16-06 12:05 PM

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46. "I finished The Spirit Catches You this morning."
In response to Reply # 45


  

          

You know it's gripping if it takes me 24 hours to read a 300 page book, lol.

  

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King_Friday
Member since Nov 22nd 2002
3087 posts
Thu Jun-01-06 10:51 PM

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41. "some of my favorites"
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY - Theodore Dreiser

This is my favorite novel. I can't think of another author who has taken apart the "american dream" as well as Dreiser did in this book. The story of Clyde Griffiths as he goes from poor, small town nobody to working in his rich uncle's factory desperately hoping to become a somebody is a long and sad journey we know is doomed from the start. Griffith destroys himself trying to fit into the image of success that's been laid out before him and it only gets worse as it goes along, especially when he falls in love with a rich girl while dating a poor girl who--of course--becomes pregnant. I can't recommend this one highly enough (sounds awfully depressing though, doesn't it).


THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN - Mark Twain

I doubt it's necessary to remind anyone of the story here. This book is an essential and that's all there is to it. Every once in a while it's accused of being racist by a lot of middle class liberals totally lacking in historical perspective. It's not racist of course, it's actually anti-racist. That's what's so great about it. Huck's decision not to return Jim into slavery, saying he would rather go to hell than send Jim back into that is one of the greatest moments in book history (book history?). Yep.


JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE NIGHT - Louis-Ferdinand Celine

This one's about a fellow named Bardamu. . . and his misadventures during the first world war. . . and also his time in a french colony in africa. . . there's a brief trip to america. . . and then he becomes a doctor for the poor back in france. . . you know, all the hot spots of world suffering. . . (this last doctor to the poor part provides some of the most memorable moments in the book). . . Celine begins the novel with biting, completely cynical humor. . . but as it progresses. . . the character seems. . . less able to make light of the whole thing. . . he's still pessimistic. . . but it isn't funny anymore. . . I love this book. . . and Celine's unique use. . . of. . . ellipses. . .


THE RAGAZZI - Pier Paolo Pasolini

Before he was a filmmaker, Pasolini was a poet and novelist. This novel, like much of Pasolini's poetry and his early films, tells the story of a group of young people living in the slums in Italy. They steal scrap metal in order to survive or turn to more severe types of crime. Most of the time they wander around drunk and get into trouble. There's prostitution, a parent gets stabbed by their child, other children play games where they pretend to burn each other at the stake. It's a portrait of the so-called "sub-proletariat". It was condemned as obscene when it was first released in 1955 (so you know it's good).


IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK - James Baldwin

What moves me most about James Baldwin is his compassion. I don't know if any other writer tapped into the psychological trauma of racism the way James Baldwin did. He sees the way racism affects its victims but also the ways in which it destroys the racist too. One feels even in his "anger" at injustice there is more sorrow than actual anger. . . or at least sorrow is the starting point.

If Beale Street Could Talk tells the story of young black couple seperated by prison walls. Tish, the girl, is pregant and outside. Fonny is in jail for a crime he didn't commit. Baldwin shows the way this affects the couple and their working class families. It's a very moving story. A must-read for sure.


BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ - Alfred Doblin

You might describe Doblin as a cross between James Joyce and Bertolt Brecht. Like Joyce, he gives you stream-of-consciousness inner monologues mixed with sounds heard in the characters' environment. . . There's glimpses of news reports thrown in and a few lines here and there from a popular song. And like Brecht, Doblin tends to let you in on what's going to happen before it happens. He also has Brecht's class consciousness. This novel follows Franz Biberkopf as he is released from prison completely disoriented and feeling like all the buildings are going to topple over on him. Determined to go straight and avoid a life of crime, Franz gets odd jobs selling things on the street or door to door. But he soon finds he can't escape the underworld, and before long he's a pimp for his prostitute girlfriend and he's part of a gang of thieves. As he sinks deeper and deeper into all of this his psychological state begins to crumble. It's a pretty chilling book when you get right down to it. If An American Tragedy is the story of a man destroying himself on the way up, then Berlin Alexanderplatz is the story of a man destroying himself (or being destroyed) on the way down.

  

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akon
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26987 posts
Fri May-18-07 11:45 AM

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47. "^"
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

.
http://perspectivesudans.blogspot.com/
i myself would never want to be god,or even like god.Because god got all these human beings on this planet and i most certainly would not want to be responsible for them, or even have the disgrace that i made them.

  

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ZooTown74
Member since May 29th 2002
43582 posts
Fri May-18-07 08:06 PM

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48. "I just checked out The Road and Little Children from the library"
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

______________________________________________________________________
Ay, yo Pete
There's a girl on the phone...

  

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ZooTown74
Member since May 29th 2002
43582 posts
Thu May-31-07 12:30 PM

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57. "Roughly halfway thru The Road, and I'm ready to slit my wrists."
In response to Reply # 48


  

          

Good read

But depressing as fuck
______________________________________________________________________
(I REPEAT)
... and all that could have been...

  

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crow
Member since Feb 23rd 2005
4034 posts
Fri May-18-07 11:07 PM

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49. "3/4 of the way through Lolita"
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

Finally gotten around to reading it and love it for the most part, I think the language does get excessive as you can tell that vlad there liked to show of his second language.

Story is great but might of been able to be trimmed down. Still highly recommended:

Next up:
As I Lay Dying- Faulkner
Crime and Punishment-started but never finished

__________________________________

*Note to self: Add Sig*

  

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rob
Charter member
23209 posts
Sat May-19-07 12:29 AM

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50. "booksz!"
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i got to cosign on Cloud Atlas, the Known World, and War is a Force that Gives us Meaning. and Foucault's Pendulum and Midnight's Children...and almost anything from Baldwin. some of my favorite books ever.

new recs?

+Nonfiction+

"The Greater Common Good" - Arundhati Roy (1999): about the resistance to dam-building in the Narmada Valley. It sort of bridges the gap between her essay/speech collections available from South End (of which I would really recommend "War Talk" and parts of "An Ordinary Person's Guide to Imperialism"...they're much more brilliant in spots but necessarily scattered) and the narrative of "The God of Small Things". It's short (50-60 pages), and a terribly relevant commentary on democracy and public works. I really enjoy reading Roy's shorter stuff in between books to help me contextualize things. I'm reading Bolano's "The Savage Detectives" right now...and some of her thoughts on economics and social spheres in neoliberal cities are helping me get my grips on Mexico D.F. (Has anyone read Paz's books on India?)

"Augustine: A New Biography" - James O'Donnel (2005): I just love his approach to writing and thinking about history. He seems much less concerned with getting entangled in the scholarship surrounding Augustine and the period and more concerned with telling a story. He's able to avoid getting mired in notions of "the end of the roman empire" or "the early church" or "the dark ages" and help us put things in perspective.

"We Say No" - Eduardo Galeano (1992): News pieces and essays from 60s, 70s, 80s...about/from (mostly) all over S. America. it's friggin brilliant. Some of the articles are about encounters with iconic figures like Pele, Che, and Pu Yi. My favorites were "God and the Devil in the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro" and "Ten Frequent Lies or Mistakes."

"Pedagogy of the Oppressed" - Paolo Friere : buh. at the very least there's a lot to *discuss*


+Poetry+ (I'm going to assume people know to read Rillke and Saul Williams here)

"The Artist's Daughter" - Kimiko Hahn (2004) - Hahn toys with?experimentswith?embraces?employs? things like diary fragments and emails along with more conventional poetry . In her other works she uses more traditional Japanese forms (kinda) too. There's something there about *identity*, but the bottom line for me is it's damned good poems. This is sort of a hinge/cornerstone piece for me...with themes carrying over from "Mosquito and Ant" (which i think most critics like better) and on to "The Narrow Road to the Interior." bits of medical trivia, murder mystery, etymology, mother-daughter relationships, relationships with men..."Reckless Sonnets" are the highlights to me....I'd quote...hmmm...this is just hard to explain. The part of me that likes the movie "Secretary" might like this, but there's also much more substance than that too.

"The Woman Who Died in her Sleep" - Linda Gregerson (1996) - I'm just going to cut and paste "An Arbor"

1.

The world’s a world of trouble, your mother must
have told you
that. Poison leaks into the basements

and tedium into the schools. The oak
is going the way
of the elm in the upper Midwest — my cousin

earns a living by taking the dead ones
down.
And Jason’s alive yet, the fair-

haired child, his metal crib next
to my daughter’s.
Jason is nearly one year old but last

saw light five months ago and won’t
see light again.


2.

Leaf against leaf without malice
or forethought,
the manifold species of murmuring

harm. No harm intended, there never is.
The new
inadequate software gets the reference librarian

fired. The maintenance crew turns off power one
weekend
and Monday the lab is a morgue: fifty-four

rabbits and seventeen months of research.
Ignorance loves
as ignorance does and always

holds high office.


3.

Jason had the misfortune to suffer misfortune
the third
of July. July’s the month of hospital ro-

tations; on holiday weekends the venerable
stay home.
So when Jason lay blue and inert on the table

and couldn’t be made to breathe for three-and-a-
quarter hours,
the staff were too green to let him go.

The household gods have abandoned us to the gods
of juris-
prudence and suburban sprawl. The curve

of new tarmac, the municipal pool,
the sky at work
on the pock-marked river, fatuous sky,

the park where idling cars, mere yards
from the slide
and the swingset, deal beautiful oblivion in nickel

bags: the admitting room and its stately drive,
possessed
of the town’s best view.


4.

And what’s to become of the three-year-old brother?
When Jason was found
face down near the dogdish — it takes

just a cupful of water to drown —
his brother stood still
in the corner and said he was hungry

and said that it wasn’t his fault.
No fault.
The fault’s in nature, who will

without system or explanation
make permanent
havoc of little mistakes. A natural

mistake, the transient ill will we define
as the normal
and trust to be inconsequent,

by nature’s own abundance soon absorbed.


5.

Oak wilt, it’s called, the new disease.
Like any such
contagion — hypocrisy in the conference room,

flattery in the halls — it works its mischief mostly
unremarked.
The men on the links haven’t noticed

yet. Their form is good. They’re par.
The woman who’s
prospered from hating ideas loves causes

instead. A little shade, a little firewood.
I know
a stand of oak on which my father’s

earthly joy depends. We’re slow
to cut our losses.





I'm not even going to bother with fiction right now. that's too hard.

  

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jane eyre
Member since Jan 16th 2007
715 posts
Sun May-20-07 01:32 AM

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52. "RE: Another dumb book post"
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3 Fiction

1. The Street of Crocodiles. Bruno Schulz. Translated by Celina Wieniewska.
Sometimes the book is published under the title Cinnamon Shops, but I think it's usually billed as TSOC. The translation is a feat in and of itself. TSOC is a "collection" of longish-stories about Bruno's childhood, written from a child's point of view....not strictly autobiographical but not made-up, either. More memoir-ish. It's an incredible book-- mythological, imaginative, particular, innocent, a little claustrophobic but "big" at the same time. I haven't read anything like TSOC. Schulz is a rare talent. A writing god. I think some would say that his prose is like poetry, but I don't think he's aiming to write poetry. He stays true to the beat of the prose and shows that a lot of magic can happen in a sentence.

2. Jane Eyre. Charlotte Bronte.
My favorite novel ever. I read Jane Eyre a year or so ago. I was convinced that Jane Eyre could be nothing but a very bad book. I imagined it'd be about as exciting as reading Aphra Behn or Phyllis Wheatley or Mary Rowlandson whining about her baby. I was wrong. All in all, it's a sheer delight to read. I love the novel the most for it's imperfections.

G.K. Chesterton says this about Jane Eyre:

"'Jane Eyre' is in itself so monstrous a fable that it ought to be excluded from a book of fairy tales. The characters do not do what they ought to do, nor what they would do, nor, it might be said, such is the insanity of the atmosphere, not even what they intend to do... The scene in which Rochester dresses up as an old gipsy has something in it which is really not to be found in any other branch of art, except in the end of the pantomime, where the Emperor turns into a pantaloon. Yet, despite this vast nightmare of illusion and morbidity and ignorance of the world, 'Jane Eyre' is perhaps the truest book that was ever written. Its essential truth to life sometimes makes one catch one's breath. For it is not true to manners, which are constantly false, or to facts, which are almost always false; it is true to the only existing thing which is true, emotion, the irreducible minimum, the indestructible germ....It would not matter if George Read stood on his head, and Mrs Read rode on a dragon, if Fairfax Rochester had four eyes and St John Rivers three legs, the story would still remain the truest story in the world. The typical Brontë character is, indeed, a kind of monster. Everything in him except the essential is dislocated. His hands are on his legs and his feet on his arms, his nose is above his eyes, but his heart is in the right place."

3. The Book of Disquietude. Bernardo Soares. (Fernando Pessoa).

It's hard to say who wrote this book but I'll give credit to the heteronym known as Bernado Soares.

"Fernando Pessoa, strictly speaking, doesn't exist."-- Alvaro de Campos.

Alvaro de Campos happens to be one of Pessoa's heteronyms, too. I recommend TBOD because Pessoa is a fascinating guy. Usually books are supposed to be all about the writing, yes? But TBOD is also about authorship. More than anything, TBOD invites people to think about authors and truth and trust...about the lines separating fiction and non-fiction and what or who "makes it so". Identity is a big thing in this book and thankfully, exploring identity isn't a cliche venture in Pessoa's world. TBOD is a philosophical-diaryish impression about everday life. I say impression (which is almost too "strict") because there's not any kind of narrative to gel TBOD together into a cohesive beginning middle or end. TBOD is different structure-wise, but not to be reactionary or rebellious. More so to be genuine. It's a sensitive book and Pessoa doesn't resort to cheap tricks to write it. I sometimes read this book by opening up to any given page and stopping when I feel like it.


1 Non-Fiction

Strong Democracy. Benjamin R. Barber.
It's a nice mix of political theory and pragmatism and it's all about participatory politics. This book helped me to stop being so apathetic. In a sense, the book puts out the idea that a responsible citizen is someone who has a sense of his responsibility for others and for their community. Ofcourse, Barber's got a way to get people to feel invested in performing their civic duties. The citizen that's apart of strong democracy kind of brings up a moral question but I don't think Barber ever explicitly poses it as one. I'm glad he doesn't. He simply offers a solution in a practical manner. SD re-distributes power to "we the people" without proposing a system of government that's unfamiliar or unconstitutional.

1 Poetry

De/compositions: 101 Poems Gone Wrong. W.D. Snodgrass.
Sondgrass re-writes famous poems the "wrong" way. It's a demonstration about poetry (what poetry does, rhyme, meter, metaphor, blah blah) without being text-booky like Sound & Sense. It's also funny. Which is an achievement. Funny isn't usually something people would think of if they had to learn about poetry.

Few things grieve me more than bad poetry. Most poets have written a bad poem or two and Snodgrass shows how come poems go bad. I consider what he's done a public service. I also like the book because it shows that rules and form aren't always the enemies of poetry. Free verse isn't always the hand-maiden of the creative flow. Imagine that.

Thank you Snod.

  

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Deebot
Member since Oct 21st 2004
26680 posts
Thu May-31-07 12:55 AM

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54. "just finished Cloud Atlas, gotta talk about it (spoilers!)"
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***Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell
>So then, past the structure, the substance of the book is really >remarkable. It's about bondage and freedom and how we bind >ourselves and how others enslave us and where true freedom lies. >And there are portions of it that are really so beautiful and sad >that you'll cry. There aren't a whole lot of books that make me >cry, although I think every one that exists is on this list.

wow, extremely well said janey

my opinions....

-The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing : A+

Yeah, I'd say it's quite an accomplishment when you can make someone who NEVER cries reading books (like myself) start to well up a little bit...not from a tragic happening, but from pure truth and beauty in the literature.

-Letters From Zedelghem : A+

Probably my favorite part of the book. Contains Mitchell's best writing imo. I was getting Lolita flashbacks during parts of the 2nd half...I gotta admit though, at first I didn't buy Frobisher's suicide, thought it tried too hard to force some tears, and then I thought about it more and decided that wasn't the main goal....it's about the peculiarity of Frobisher's character and his beliefs. "Cloud Atlas Sextet holds my life, is my life, now I'm a spent firework; but at least I've been a firework." And the material about war and his brother Adrian was great.

-Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery : B

Smart and a page-turner, but doesn't have many truly great moments like these other stories in the book imo

-The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish : A+

Probably my 2nd favorite part of the book. Easily the best comedy..you could tell Mitchell had a blast writing this. And I love what it says about old age and freedom.

-An Orison of Sonmi-451 : D

The glaring weakness of the book imo. I just couldn't get into it, probably due to the fact that the writing style is so boring compared to every other story in the book.

-Sloosha's Crossin' An' Ev'rythin' After : A

I usually hate slang writing like this, but it worked, and the story was just too good. Contains some of the very best moments of the book for sure.

"One day" was only a flea o' hope for us.
Yay, I mem'ry Meronym sayin', but fleas ain't easy to rid."

-Overall : A

Has anyone read anything else by Mitchell?

  

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janey
Charter member
123120 posts
Thu May-31-07 11:35 AM

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56. "Mitchell's books ranked & very briefly described:"
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Cloud Atlas is the best, hands down.
Then comes Ghostwritten, which has a similar disconnect in the chapter structure, except it's one chapter per character and no going back. (Luisa Rey is in this book)
Then, Black Swan Green, which is a much more straightforward narrative (a coming of age story), except that there's no direct flow from one chapter to the next, so you can still see that it's Mitchell who wrote it. Also, there are significant father issues in the book, which long-time Mitchell fans are aware of.
Finally, Number9Dream, which works for some people but not for me. The father issues predominate here, and there is a blurring of lines between reality and dreams, and many people say the book reminds them of Murikami (which is probably why I don't like it as well).

For Cloud Atlas, surprisingly, the only one that I had trouble with was Zedelghem, until I got it that the book is also about how we enslave ourselves. Then I appreciated it better.



~~~~~

It is painful in the extreme to live with questions rather than with answers, but that is the only honorable intellectual course. (c) Norman Mailer

  

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tappenzee
Member since Sep 28th 2002
19839 posts
Thu May-31-07 09:39 AM

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55. "I finished "A Fighter's Heart" by Sam Sheridan last month"
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Really good book, kept me intrigued and is out at the perfect time, what with MMA taking off the way it is.

It's all about understanding the mind of a fighter: why he does it, what keeps him motivated, his daily routine, and how addictive fighting is. His journey takes him through Thailand with the Muay Thai guys, through Brazil with some of the best MMA fighters in the world, Iowa where he trains with the UFC's Team Miletich, and to Southern California where he hangs out and trains with an up-and-coming young boxer. He also touches on dog fights and cock fights, and parallels them with humans.

I'm also starting on these three books:

The Omnivore's Dilemma - I'm only a few chapters in, but I never thought I'd be so fascinated by corn production.

On the Road With the Ramones - Haven't picked this up yet, but this is the next one I'm gonna tackle. Written by their tour manager, it's sure to give some insight on the greatest American band of all time.

Rise and Fall of the Five Families - The most comprehensive book on La Cosa Nostra ever written. This one's coming to me in the mail soon. Got it off Amazon for 5 bucks. It's a beast of a book, around 800 pages long. Can't wait to crack this one open.

  

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