Nick Wilczynski's picture
Nick Wilczynski from Greensboro, NC is reading A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin January 30, 2012 - 2:20pm

I spent a while staring at the Oddesy wondering how to properly classify it.

But, Cervantes was a Spaniard, he lived while the Spanish were conquering the Americas.... I mean....he wasn't a Moor.

And the Native American thing, Moon, it isn't like the Cherokee people invented gambling. But Africans have been pwning at music for centuries now.

And everyone knows Asians are the smart ones.

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R.Moon from The City of Champions is reading The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion; Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schimdt PH.D; Creating Characters by the editors of Writer's Digest January 30, 2012 - 2:13pm

You're right... The Asians are the smart ones, but those Indians (the ones whose lands we're blowing up) are coming up in record numbers. Maybe they didn't invent it, but they certainly found a way for white Americans to buy into it. 

I think this sums it all up: 

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Nick Wilczynski from Greensboro, NC is reading A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin January 30, 2012 - 5:07pm

@J.Y.

nkwilczy - I saw the Shadow! With the animated Nepalese or Cambodian or whatever knife. Bit the guy on the hand.

I still love that movie, yeah, all that stuff was awesome. The Shadow stood head and shoulders over any of the Batman movies of the 90's, it got me listening to casstte tapes of the original radio show.

To this day I see Jack Donaghy and I think "Who knows the evil that lurks in the hearts of men?"

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postpomo from Canada is reading words words words January 30, 2012 - 8:58pm

From Thomas King the Truth About Stories

“Do the stories we tell reflect the world as it truly is, or did we simply start off with the wrong story?”

“But give this a thought. What if the creation story in Genesis had featured a flawed deity who was understanding and sympathetic rather than autocratic and rigid? Someone who, in the process of creation, found herself lost from time to time and in need of advice, someone who was willing to accept a little help with the more difficult decisions?”

“What if the animals had decided on their own names? What if Adam and Eve had simply been admonished for their foolishness?

“I love you, god could have said, but I’m not happy with your behaviour. Lets talk this over. Try to do better next time.”

“What kind of world might we have created with that kind of story?”

“Unfortunately, by the time we arrived in the wilderness, broke and homeless, the story of being made in god’s image, of living in paradise, of naming the animals must have gone to our heads, for while we weren’t the strongest or the fastest or the fiercest creatures on the planet, we were, as it turned out, the most arrogant.”

“God’s Chosen People. The Alpha and the Omega. Masters of the Universe.”

“It is this conceit we continue to elaborate as we fill up our tanks at the gas station, the myth we embrace as we bolt our doors at night, the romance we pursue as we search our guidebooks for just the right phrase. The lie we dangle in front of our appetites as we chase progress to the grave.”

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razorsharp from Ohio is reading Atlas Shrugged January 30, 2012 - 9:48pm

As important as the Bible and Hebrew mythology is, I would say that Greek mythology is equally important and influential. Take Shakespeare, for example: if you don't know the fundamentals of both these mythologies you'll be looking at the footnotes quite a bit. But he does tend to bring up Greek and Roman mythology a bit more than he throws around Biblical references.

If the Persians and Egyptians had a more efficient writing system, I'm sure their mythologies would be equally, if not more influential. Also, imagine how much different things would be if the Library of Alexandria had never burned down.

I believe Thomas Aquinas' reliance on Greek philosophy has already been mentioned in this thread but I think it's worth noting again. Although the Biblical mythology had the greatest influence on western theology, it was the Greeks who gave us pretty much everything else; from story structure to critical theory to logic.

Liana's picture
Liana from Romania and Texas is reading Naked Lunch January 30, 2012 - 10:34pm

I fell so behind with this thread...
If we got to race and stuff, can I just say I'm a siamese and husky mongrel? I'm trying to be diverse here.

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jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like January 30, 2012 - 11:05pm

Redheads of any race are better than anyone else. Just sayin' is all.

Liana's picture
Liana from Romania and Texas is reading Naked Lunch January 30, 2012 - 11:29pm

And just to clarify something 100 posts back... I never said we have to keep running away from the past, but before we blast it as useless, we look at it and see if we're might not find something there in the time capsule. That's all.

I for one won't claim that the present has all the answers. Just watch reality tv and you'll be craving some good old days.

Redheads are supposed to disappear in a few decades. Endangered and needin love!

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jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like January 30, 2012 - 11:37pm

I was addressing what Derrida said, not attributing that notion to you.

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jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like January 30, 2012 - 11:40pm

And I've heard something like that about redheads before. Is it just a gene that tends to lose out or something? Why don't you ever see redheaded couples? Why are we so obviously better than everyone else but people still don't like us? The color of our hair? C'mon. That's even less significant than race.

R.Moon's picture
R.Moon from The City of Champions is reading The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion; Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schimdt PH.D; Creating Characters by the editors of Writer's Digest January 30, 2012 - 11:44pm

I love me a redhead... 

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postpomo from Canada is reading words words words January 31, 2012 - 5:29am

@JY - I loved redheads until I went out with one...

@Liana - Blast the past isn't a call to do away with it (at least not as far as I'm concerned), but not to enslave oneself to it. The idea of a canon is in a sense tying us to a specific idea of literature. It's helpful in understanding later works (like Greek myths and Shakespeare) and being culturally hip (like knowing which Baldwin is which), but the flip side is that it can also be limiting.

I'm not arguing against it, but as this thread has developed, and we now know that Elvis hated the Beatles because they were Egyptian, I'm starting to think that I'm less interested in studying the canonical books of western literature that I haven't read, and more interested in exploring post-colonial and world literature. In no small part this is because I've already studied English Lit, so I have a foundation for it already. If I didn't, I'd probably be far more interested in reading the Odyssee, the Bible front to back.

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PopeyeDoyle from Rio Grande Valley, TX is reading Chronology of Water January 31, 2012 - 7:46am

I'm starting to think that I'm less interested in studying the canonical books of western literature that I haven't read, and more interested in exploring post-colonial and world literature.

Obviously read whatever you want, but understand that even post-colonial literature is heavily influenced by the Canon and is best enjoyed when you have a background in it.  Borges is best understood if you have a strong background in The Bible, Plato and Godel.  Frantz Fanon, if you have a background in Marx, Sartre, and by extension, Hegel, Smith and Rousseau.  Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart is influenced by Yeats, The Bible, and by his hatred of Conrad.  So in the end, you might not like the Canon, but you can't really escape it. 

avery of the dead's picture
avery of the dead from Kentucky is reading Cipher Sisters January 31, 2012 - 7:52am

"more interested in exploring post-colonial and world literature."

I think that is a good use of your time!!  Let me know where you decide to start.  I'd like to look into more world literature myself. 

Utah's picture
Moderator
Utah from Fort Worth, TX is reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry January 31, 2012 - 7:55am

While I think I will attempt to speckle my reading with more canonical work.  Not just North American stuff, but a more rounded selection.  Two years ago I read Garcia Marquez for the first time and realized what a huge mistake it had been to never read him before.  Today I am finishing up my first book by Kundera and feel the same way.  I like the experience of seeing with these authors' eyes.  They make me realize that my lifelong love of horror and noir is not paltry or lurid, but it is also less than everything.  And as a writer they make me think, "Wow, how the fuck did they do that?"  It's nice to again read an author and experience awe at their accomplishment. 

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aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. January 31, 2012 - 7:57am

@JY--fire crotch.

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aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. January 31, 2012 - 7:58am

This thread makes me feel stupid when it's back on topic.  All I can say is, "Um, I read all the Stephen King books, they all link to the Dark Tower, duhhhh".

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Utah from Fort Worth, TX is reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry January 31, 2012 - 8:00am

King is his own canon.  Perfectly legitimate conversation, Danny.

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avery of the dead from Kentucky is reading Cipher Sisters January 31, 2012 - 8:05am

"It's nice to again read an author and experience awe at their accomplishment."

I feel like I want to say, "Amen" to that. 

And Stephen King isn't shit.  I think his character development is top notch. 

razorsharp's picture
razorsharp from Ohio is reading Atlas Shrugged January 31, 2012 - 8:07am

Well, it's near impossible to read every canonical work (I only say "near" because I wouldn't be surprised if there's some 90 year old professor somewhere who has accomplished this task). I haven't read Moby Dick, The Illiad, Don Quixote, or The Divine Comedy; just to name a few. Most discussions about the canon are going to have those types of holes in them because those discussing it can't be well versed in every single piece of work that's brought up.

The one nice thing about discussing the canon is that it helps you prioritize your reading list.

Utah's picture
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Utah from Fort Worth, TX is reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry January 31, 2012 - 8:08am

For a guy who has a really hard time ending a story, he writes a really good one.  You won't hear me bash King.  He might not be the greatest literary genius of all time, but I think he also doesn't get the credit he's due.  He writes some of the best movies I've ever seen in my head.

PopeyeDoyle's picture
PopeyeDoyle from Rio Grande Valley, TX is reading Chronology of Water January 31, 2012 - 8:08am

I'm hipsterish on Stephen King.  I just like his old-school stuff.  Wait, is that hipster or OG?

Utah's picture
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Utah from Fort Worth, TX is reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry January 31, 2012 - 8:09am

Depends how OG you go.  Pre-85 is hipster.  Post-85 can be either.

Utah's picture
Moderator
Utah from Fort Worth, TX is reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry January 31, 2012 - 8:09am

*I meant "depends how old-school you go"

avery of the dead's picture
avery of the dead from Kentucky is reading Cipher Sisters January 31, 2012 - 8:12am

I really appreciate Hearts in Atlantis by King.  I think it is some of his best writing. 

razorsharp's picture
razorsharp from Ohio is reading Atlas Shrugged January 31, 2012 - 8:14am

A lot of the works we discuss in regards to the canon belong there because of their vast influence rather than their individual brilliance. As the best selling author of his time, I wouldn't be surprised if one day people argued about whether King belongs in the canon.

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PopeyeDoyle from Rio Grande Valley, TX is reading Chronology of Water January 31, 2012 - 8:16am

@Avery - The story or the whole collection? I haven't read it so I'm looking for recommendations.

@Utah - If I legit like pre-1985, ironically like 1985-1991, and don't like post-1991, what would that make me?  Take your time.

@razor - Maybe, but I do think that King has some legitimately brilliant work.  The Shining is masterful at creating suspense, and The Body is one of the best stories I've ever read on the trials of growing up.  It's beautiful.

avery of the dead's picture
avery of the dead from Kentucky is reading Cipher Sisters January 31, 2012 - 8:21am

Hearts in Atlantis is a singular book.  It is true that there are sort of "sub stories" in it, but they all connect and should be read as one book.  And I recommend it highly. 

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Utah from Fort Worth, TX is reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry January 31, 2012 - 8:26am

@Popeye - that makes you a classicist with a bit of an asshole streak.

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aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. January 31, 2012 - 8:28am

I practically grew up on Stephen King.  The Shining still freaks me out because my name is Danny, those little girls make me pee my pants. I can't wait to read his sequel to it, "Dr. Sleep" about an adult Danny Torrance. For all the shit King gets, he does have an amazing imagination. I may not have loved his last few novels but The Stand is epic, it's Stephen King does the bible. The Dark Tower series is western/romance/sci-fi/psychological horror/fantasy all in one. Then there are just some of his short stories which stick in your head with their simplicity like "The Raft" or "The Mist".  The Mist is awesome because it's about groupthink and how crazy people can get when they think the world is ending rather than the monsters outside, it's the monsters inside the store in the people that are scary. I liked the movie, I think that lady played Mrs. Carmady really well. The ending however pissed me off.

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PopeyeDoyle from Rio Grande Valley, TX is reading Chronology of Water January 31, 2012 - 8:28am

@Popeye - that makes you a classicist with a bit of an asshole streak.

Yah, that's about how I'd describe myself.

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Utah from Fort Worth, TX is reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry January 31, 2012 - 8:34am

LOL

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razorsharp from Ohio is reading Atlas Shrugged January 31, 2012 - 8:34am

@Popeye - I'm reading Norwegian Wood right now and there's a character in it that only reads books by authors who have been dead for at least thirty years. He says he's not opposed to the contemporary, he just doesn't have time to wade through both the good and the bad, whereas by sticking to the established classics that are tested by time everything he reads is good. Is that kind of what you were getting at?

Utah's picture
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Utah from Fort Worth, TX is reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry January 31, 2012 - 8:35am

@Popeye - I thought we were talking hypotheticals...

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razorsharp from Ohio is reading Atlas Shrugged January 31, 2012 - 8:36am

You probably were, I kind of took that quote out of context.

PopeyeDoyle's picture
PopeyeDoyle from Rio Grande Valley, TX is reading Chronology of Water January 31, 2012 - 8:38am

@Utah - We were talking hypotheticals until you perfectly described me.  Get out of my head!!!

@Razor - That's a lot better way to describe my thoughts than anything I've said in this thread....How is that book anyway?  I've been wanting to read it.  Watched the movie, but it bored me to tears.  I really love Murakami though.

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postpomo from Canada is reading words words words January 31, 2012 - 8:51am

@Popeye - I hear you - I've read Borges, Llosa, Garcia Marquez, Cortazar, Bolano & Infante in the last couple of years, and as with anything out of a culture with which I'm unfamiliar, it is going to be an exercise in learning how much I don't know.

I lived in Japan for a couple of years, so Murakami is much more accessible for me than my neighbours to the South of the neighbours to the South.

I've also gone through South Asian literature, mostly Rushdie & Mistry but others as well. I have friends from Mumbai, which helped, but not knowing Bollywood culture left me in the dark about much of the Satanic Verses.

More recently, my interest has turned to native literature - Thomas King, Tomson Highway, Joseph Boyden and Leslie Marmon Silko are the ones I most enjoyed (Green Grass, Running Water by King should be canonical & Three-Day Road by Boyden is simply a fantastic piece of storytelling).

King is part of the canon of horror, which is founded on Shelley, Stoker, Poe and Lovecraft.

I would probably read more King if the bastard didn`t publish a book every other month.

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PopeyeDoyle from Rio Grande Valley, TX is reading Chronology of Water January 31, 2012 - 8:56am

All those authors you mentioned are awesome (except haven't read any Mistry or the native literature authors - any good?), and definitely pick up some Octavio Paz whenever you circle back to Latin America.  I really wish more people would read world literature - then I'd have someone to talk to about it.  I'm definitely down for a world literature book club selection sometime soon...

Also - for the horror canon - I don't think you could leave off Shirley Jackson or Algernon Blackwood.

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Utah from Fort Worth, TX is reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry January 31, 2012 - 8:58am

@popeye - I would second that.

Liana's picture
Liana from Romania and Texas is reading Naked Lunch January 31, 2012 - 9:03am

I admit I never read King, but I like the movie The Shining!

Probably I need to learn how to build suspense so I should start reading me some.

Yeah I had some crushes on some redheads along the way but it never went anywhere. But to make the gene stronger don't they need to pair up with other redheads? I'm sure science will develop something before the gene dies out.

I third the idea of awe. That's IT, that's what I'm  looking for when I read something. I want to feel awe. Even for that one sentence that blows me away. For that matter, the awe can come in many ways, and I'm sure King has his way of doing it. Actually I remember when I read The Foundation Trilogy by Asimov, there was this awesome twist at some point involving the Clown and the Mule. I still remember the sentence that revealed that the Clown was in fact the Mule. Aaaaanyway. I should go back to reading some good science fiction. But just so you know, Lucas ripped off Foundation Trilogy when he made Star Wars, and he never admitted it.

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avery of the dead from Kentucky is reading Cipher Sisters January 31, 2012 - 9:17am

"I'm sure science will develop something before the gene dies out."

Why? 

Also - I want to randomly bring up Peter Straub, for no good reason.  He wrote some bad books.  But he also wrote a few short stories that disturbed me...forever.  I don't find him horrifying, I find him disturbing, at his best. Ghost Stories also disturbed me.   Wait...he wrote that, right? 

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aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. January 31, 2012 - 9:21am

I also have to say a few Dean Koontz books are good.  He knows how to write sociopaths well and he does have a good voice for dialogue as much fun as people poke at him for being a second rate King.

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PopeyeDoyle from Rio Grande Valley, TX is reading Chronology of Water January 31, 2012 - 9:25am

Ghost Stories also disturbed me.   Wait...he wrote that, right?

If by "Ghost Stories," you mean, "Ghost Story," yes he wrote that ;)

@alien - Please don't bring Koontz into the horror canon...He's not a second-rate King.  He doesn't even compare to King.

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aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. January 31, 2012 - 9:28am

Koontz is more thriller than horror. Although there were a few of his books that were creepy.

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avery of the dead from Kentucky is reading Cipher Sisters January 31, 2012 - 9:28am

Yes, I meant Ghost Story!  Sorry.  I obviously don't Google before I write these things. 

PopeyeDoyle's picture
PopeyeDoyle from Rio Grande Valley, TX is reading Chronology of Water January 31, 2012 - 9:28am

@Alien - Which ones would you recommend? 

aliensoul77's picture
aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. January 31, 2012 - 9:29am

Popeye is just mad because Olive Oil cheated on him with Bluto.

PopeyeDoyle's picture
PopeyeDoyle from Rio Grande Valley, TX is reading Chronology of Water January 31, 2012 - 9:30am

Popeye is just mad because Olive Oil cheated on him with Bluto.

I have a vague recollection that you made this exact same joke like a month ago. Then I told you that it was the wrong Popeye and then you said, oh, and that was the end of that conversation.

avery of the dead's picture
avery of the dead from Kentucky is reading Cipher Sisters January 31, 2012 - 9:31am

I recommend the one about the really smart dog. 

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aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. January 31, 2012 - 9:32am

Actually I like his series character books like Christopher Snow in "Fear Nothing" and "Seizure the Night", it's about a guy who has that skin condition where he can't go out in the sun so he only goes out at night and finds out about these creatures.  His girlfriend is a radio DJ.

Also the Odd Thomas books about this guy who "talks to dead people" but more sees them and they lead him to solve their murders which sounds pretty cliche but the stories always end up really weird like one guy they lead him to can walk into portals between worlds.