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3:01 AM
@CDR The book I've read most often (although this isn't quite the same thing) is Peace, by Gene Wolfe.
3:22 AM
@CDR I don't have a single answer to that question. The novels I tend to try to re-read every few years are Eliot's Middlemarch and Austen's Emma. I enjoy Shakespeare's plays—his reputation is earned. Poets? Almost anybody from the English Renaissance, Wyatt through Milton; particularly Wyatt, Donne, Spenser, Sidney, Louck (or Lok, or Luck, or Lock, or Locke—spellings vary), Jonson.
Among Indian writers, Anita Desai's later novels (In Custody). Nissim Ezekiel. Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance. My favorite reference work on Indian music is still Bhatkhande's हिन्दुस्तानी संगीत पद्धती (*The System and Method of Indian music) in all its four-, five- or six-volume glory. The Mahabharata, though there's no good translation.
What's yours?
@PeterShor I have not heard of Gene Wolfe. Thanks for the recco. I shall look him up. (My dog just informed me he is very familiar with wolf genes.)
3:38 AM
Books, for me, fall into three categories: strong dislike (for books that I personally choose to read, <%1), pleasantly enjoyed (most), and Very Good (~%5). I don't rank them within categories and there are far too many books in the Very Good category to list; I've forgotten titles in there over time. Plus if someone asks me for recommendations I'm equally happy to use the books in the middle category.
@bobble What was the book you read most recently that you'd put in the Very Good category?
3:50 AM
Witchmark, by C. L. Polk.
Gay romance chasing down a mystery in Magic London, driven by a guy who just wanted to be a good doctor and accidentally found himself investigating a murder.
4:21 AM
@bobble Thanks! I'll recommend it to my gay book club.
The last novel we read was Justin Torres's Blackouts, which I enjoyed.
The romance is... uh, not top billing, didn't realize I arranged the sentence that way. There is a major, and sweet, relationship arc, but the investigation takes up more page space.
Also it's first of a series
@bobble oh okay. I'll read it before recommending it, then, and that'll give me a sense of whether it's gay enough for the club.
If you want gay novels and the definition of "gay" includes "ace" I would point you towards Loveless, which is a university coming-of-age story where the main arc is the MC figuring out her ace-ness
Speaking of, I often read the same book as a (straight) man I know, so we have the pleasure of chatting about it later. We recently read Pym's Excellent Women. Well, a re-reading for me, but his first time through. As we were chatting, I mentioned that one of the characters, Wm Caldicote, is clearly coded gay. My interlocutor said he never picked up on that. I thought the failure to pick up obvious clues was fascinating. I guess that's the origin of gaydar.
@bobble I'll take a look. The club is all gay men, mostly in their sixties ... at first blush, it doesn't sound like their speed, but we'll see.
1 hour later…
5:54 AM
@CDR Picking favorites is hard :) Especially when you read a lot of different genres or styles; Lord of the Rings might be my favorite epic fantasy, but Hogfather might be my favorite humorous fantasy, while Shadow Over Innsmouth might be my favorite horror. Picking favorites per style is easier than a favorite "overall".
...although Monstrous Regiment might actually be placed higher than Hogfather. See, picking favorites is hard.
Overall might be Good Omens.
6 hours later…
11:45 AM
@bobble Speaking of novels with ace characters, I think that in Josephine Tey's mystery novel A Shilling for Candles, the victim is ace and her husband (one of the suspects, incidentally) is gay. Of course, given when it was written, she doesn't state this explicitly, and it's fairly easy to read it and completely miss this.
11:57 AM
@verbose Gene Wolfe is a very literary science fiction writer. However, Peace, my favorite book of his, is not really science fiction (and saying what genre it's in might be a spoiler).
12:19 PM
And Peace is a book where you can read it and completely miss the central conceit.
2 hours later…
2:11 PM
@CDR I wonder whether we could turn that into a meta question.
2:29 PM
@CDR Based on what I reread, I would need to say Shakespeare's plays. I have reread almost nothing that isn't by Shakespeare, except Marga Minco's novella Het bittere kruid (which is in Dutch and probably has not been translated into English).
2 hours later…
4:11 PM
@bobble @verbose @Mithical @PeterShor @Tsundoku - Thanks to your suggestions, I suppose I'm no longer in need of things to read. I've read a few of them, but most of them are new.
@verbose - my favorite book is An Equal Music. Not sure why, though.
@Tsundoku - good idea. I can post it later, but if you'd like to go ahead and ask it, please do.
4:31 PM
Q: Why is Gatsby's house described as "ancestral"?

CDRIn chapter 8 of The Great Gatsby, Nick explains says: His gorgeous pink rag of a suit made a bright spot of color against the white steps, and I thought of the night when I first came to his ancestral home, three months before. The lawn and drive had been crowded with the faces of those who gue...

2 hours later…
6:06 PM
@PeterShor Is it about a clock?, he asked, mischievously.
@CDR That is a fantastic novel. I love it too. I should have included Seth along with Desai and Mistry among my favorite writers of Indian origin. We do actually have one question about it. Nothing at all about Desai or Mistry, alas. Topic challenges, perhaps?
@PeterShor I have enjoyed reading Josephine Tey. I have a full set of her novels ... and she's quite free with the queer characters. Spoilers follow. In Brat Farrar, the eponymous Brat is bisexual, or at least trade; he gets picked up by Alec Loding, the gay neighbor who's his accomplice in the central plot. Quite a novel, with fratricide and themes of incest thrown in.
More Tey spoilers. Then there's To Love and Be Wise, in which transvestism plays a central part.
Not a spoiler. Speaking of individuals with fervid imaginations, Hitchcock made a movie version of A Shilling for Candles. It was called Young and Innocent. I think the innocent part refers to the gay husband, and the young part to the schoolgirl who hides him from the rampaging cops on his tail.
6:25 PM
@verbose I haven't see the movie of A Shilling for Candles, but in the book, the schoolgirl helps hide the victim's houseguest from the rampaging cops. The gay husband is also innocent, but he doesn't need to hide (being a lord, and thus immune from arrest unless there is overwhelming evidence against him).
@PeterShor oh you're right, of course. It's been very long since I read the book and/or saw the movie (and those two events were themselves quite far apart in time), so I'm mixed up. Any Hitchcock movie is worth seeing, however, so if you get a chance, grab it.
Another interesting thing about Shilling from Candles is that the American edition has been completely de-Semitized. The original has a Jewish character, but the American editors removed his ethnicity, leaving the reader to assume that he is from some obscure Eastern European country.
oh cool! I think I have the American version ... I'll've to check.
And then compare with archive.org
I assume that the American editors thought the original was anti-Semitic. (Almost all the British characters are indeed anti-Semitic, but in my opinion, the book as a whole makes a statement against anti-Semitism.)
I was just gonna reply to the 'doku that the amount of re-reading I do has declined precipitously over the years as I have grown to realize that in my advancing years, I need to spend my time reading the stuff I still haven't read instead of indulging in the sentimentality of going back to stuff I've read already. But now you're tempting me to attempt a full-scale re-reading of Tey.
6:35 PM
To put my above comments into perspective, A Shilling for Candles contrasts the way the police treat suspects, the various suspects being a Jew, a penniless ordinary citizen, the leader of a religious cult, and a British lord.
Ah, good ol' Josephine Tey. For a while there The Daughter of Time had me convinced Richard III had been framed. Then it dawned on me that I'm as unqualified to opine on that subject as people who insist on claiming Shakespeare was (take your pick) Bacon, Marlowe, Oxford, Queen Elizabeth I, Emilia Bassano Lanier, etc. are to opine on textual scholarship, so ...
Speaking of re-reading, I've just started rereading Elizabeth Hand's novel Waking the Moon, to see if my suspicious about the ending are correct. If I can't verify or disprove them, I'll post a question about this on Lit.SE.
Let the moon sleep, dammit
I tend to think of myself as being reasonably well-read, but I'ven't even heard of the majority of the authors/novels referenced in this thread: Polk, Wolfe, Hand, the novels Mith mentions (besides LotR and Good Omens), Minco ... sigh. Ars longa, vita brevis
6:55 PM
@verbose Probably you haven't heard of them because most of them are fantasy/science fiction. You can't read everything. Similarly, while I've heard of Desai and Mistry, I haven't read any of their books, and I haven't even heard of Ezekiel. I've read many of Seth's books, but not An Equal Music.
@PeterShor Of course you've heard of Ezekiel! You wrote a whole entire answer on him. 'Twould be quite a feat ...
Thanks for your kind words. You're right, I have a deaf ear when it comes to SFF. Dunno why, just don't get into it the way so many of my friends do.
Q: Why is Mr. Bennet "prodigiously proud" of Wickham?

MithicalOver the course of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Bennet makes several references to how much he likes Wickham: 'He is as fine a fellow,' said Mr Bennet, as soon as they were out of the house, 'as ever I saw. He simpers, and smirks, and makes love to us all. I am prodigiously proud of hi...

@CDR The book I enjoyed the most in the last year or so was Ovid's Metamorphoses. I read it in the David Raeburn translation (Penguin, 2004). Still mesmerizing and entertaining after 2,000 years.
@Bookworm don't have it in me to write up an answer rn, but: Mr Bennet is being sarcastic. He loathes Wickham.
@verbose Monstrous Regiment and Hogfather are both Terry Pratchett novels. "The Shadow over Innsmouth" is, technically speaking a novella, by H. P. Lovecraft. I haven't heard of a bunch of the books mentioned either :)
@verbose I mean... that much I can guess. ;)
7:09 PM
@GarethRees Ooh nice. I've not read that translation! I shall poke around to see if I can get it from a library. I have enough translations of Ovid that if I buy another, I'll have to toss one I already have. I tossed my Fitzgerald translations of the Greek epics some time ago to make room for Emily Wilson's.
I was hoping for an answer that focuses on the role that Mr. Bennet plays in the novel as a whole and his general style of communication, of which these are an example, and the effect on the reader of including those statements.
@Mithical touché
7:50 PM
@Mithical yes, that’s the sort of answer the question calls for, that I don’t have in me to write rn 🙃 but it’s a popular book and a good w, so I bet it won’t be very long before it gets answered
8:02 PM
@verbose - That's actually the question that made me read the book! I'd read A Suitable Boy in January 2023, and had mixed feelings about it, but then that question got bumped and reminded me to check out his other stuff. (I don't think I realized it was your answer.) I think the reason I liked it was that you could see Seth's enthusiasm and love for music throughout the book. I also liked seeing an Indian author write about white characters.
@CDR Seth made his name as an Indian author writing about white characters: The Golden Gate, very funny and creative. IIRC the dedicatee of An Equal Music, violinist Philippe Honoré, was Seth's partner at the time he wrote the book, though they have since broken up. They released a lovely CD of the music featured in the book.
8:30 PM
And if you're looking for a good book on Indian classical music, I suggest Amit Chaudhuri's Afternoon Raga. Lemme see if I can find his description of the sound of a tanpura.
Not Raga, Raag it seems. Oh well. I can't find the passage rn, and although I know exactly where my copy of the novel is, I can't access it until tomorrow at the earliest (more likely the day after), so it will have to wait. Sorry!
1 hour later…
10:01 PM
@CDR That q&a had a history that I consider somewhat puzzling. The question went up, but it was a difficult one about an obscure novel, and got only a couple upvotes I think. Because of the difficulty, I saved it for later, and didn't come back to it for more than a year. Then I finally answered it and the answer got no love at all.
Like, I'm not sure anyone even read it. It got no votes or comments for a long time. Then more than two years later, I think the Russian translator of Seth posted a comment as an answer, which bumped the q. That spurred OP to come back and upvote/accept my answer, I think, and then the answer got a flurry of upvotes.
It is the most delayed Revival badge I have ever got, I think.
@CDR Do I lose my Literature license if I pick Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban? It's the series that got me to interact so much with the Sci Fi SE community, way back before new Lit SE even existed. That said, yes, I also can't pick one favorite, there are so many good ones.
@b_jonas I think that is the best novel in the series. But then, I like dogs.
Alternately Stanisław Lem, Kiberiáda, original title Cyberiada, translation by Murányi Beatrix. Preferably the older 1987 edition, but mostly because of nostalgy, the new edition hadn't existed when I first read it.
1 hour later…
11:19 PM
Q: What is dispiriting about Charlotte Street and the name Meyerburg?

verboseIn Cold Comfort Farm, Flora encounters and has a trying conversation with Mr Mybug in a café. As she is leaving he gives her his card, which she puts into her purse unread: It was not until she glanced at Mr Mybug's card in the candle-light of her own room that she discovered that his name was n...


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