What are you reading?

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Warren
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Warren » 29 Sep 2019, 00:23

Ellie wrote:
28 Sep 2019, 21:41
Longtime Grylliaders will remember my critiques of Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, which contained a level of scorn only possible when one has not read the book and never intends to. :lol: :lol: :lol:

I hadn't thought about that in years, but I checked out three books from the library today (recommended by different sources but all variously related to poverty) and EVERY SINGLE ONE had a blurb from Ms. Ehrenreich on the jacket. I feel like when I read these, I will be giving her a point somehow, and she'll totally know that she is getting back at me :lol:
Point by point, nickle by nickle...
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Jennifer
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Jennifer » 18 Oct 2019, 14:33

I'm currently about 2/3 of the way through "Rhett Butler's People," which according to the dust-jacket cover is "The authorized novel based on Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind" (read: "the Mitchell estate hired a writer in 2007 so they could cash in on MM's legacy before the copyrights and things expire"). It's basically the story of Gone With The Wind (book version, not movie), told mainly from Rhett Butler's perspective, with other viewpoint characters including Belle Watling; Belle and Rhett's illegitimate son; Rhett's sister; Melanie Wilkes; Ashley Wilkes; a handful of other peripheral GWTW characters and a few more invented from whole cloth for this book. I bought this a couple weeks ago at a thrift store which, as of that visit, had at least three perfect-condition hardcover-with-dustjacket copies of "Rhett Butler's People" for sale in its book section.

Of course, the main problem with GWTW (book or movie) is that by modern standards, its attitudes toward slavery and racial equality are not just appalling, but completely irredeemable. You can't even make excuses like "Well, of course Mitchell was racist by modern standards, but by the standards of her day she wasn't bad" ... no, even by the dismally low standards we'd expect of a genteel white-lady granddaughter of the Confederacy writing in 1920s Atlanta, Mitchell's views of race and the Ku Klux Klan in GWTW were atrocious (which is precisely why the 1939 movie expunged so much of it). There's one line in the book -- background information from Mitchell the Author/Narrator, not a comment made or thought by any specific character -- mentioning white Southerners' justified hatred for the "Yankee schoolmarms" who after the war came south to teach the n-words how to read.

Mitchell was a hell of a lot better regarding the matter of women's rights -- she herself was an early wave feminist, pro-suffrage before 1920, and all that -- and the parts of the book which are not-horrifying today include a comedy of manners deconstructing how ridiculous and downright vile the Old South's standards of "proper female behavior and decorum" were. GWTW's Rhett Butler is standard-bad for his day regarding slavery and race in general, but MUCH better than his day (and every other character in the book) regarding women and how they should behave and be treated -- though, again, by modern standards he remains pretty appalling.

However, in Rhett Butler's People, Rhett is portrayed not merely as "pretty good by the standards of his day," but basically as an enlightened early 21st-century American man who just happened to spend his entire life living amongst members of the late antebellum rich white planter class, somehow. (If RBP's Rhett were to join this forum today, and discuss such basic matters as "Slavery: good or bad?" or "Universal adult suffrage: yea or nay?" I don't think he'd say anything we'd find objectionable, whereas GWTW's Rhett most assuredly would.)

I'll admit I am enjoying the scenes that are identical to scenes from GWTW, only told from Rhett's perspective, and the scenes with other major GWTW characters portrayed recognizably ... but FAR less admirably than they were in the original book, let alone the movie. And so far, for all that I can't help eye-rolling at how modern and enlightened and all-around-admirable this 1860s white Southern maverick was, I do admire the cleverness required for the author (Donald McCaig) to retrofit such horrifying GWTW events as "Rhett admits he 'killed a nigger for being uppity to a white lady'" and "Rhett helps the entire Atlanta Ku Klux Klan get away with a murder raid" to make them palatable for modern audiences. (The black man he killed, for example, was his beloved childhood friend who was a "free colored" man even in slave days; the man had been falsely accused of attacking a certain woman, and Rhett shot him to give him a quick death rather than the slow torturous one the lynch mob would've given him. When the lynch mob got to the jail and realized the prisoner was dead they were furious that they wouldn't get to have their sadistic fun, and almost lynched Rhett instead, but Rhett saved himself with the argument that of course you can't expect a southern gentleman like him to not kill a nigger who'd been uppity to a lady. So the lynch mob made do with merely desecrating the man's corpse in barbaric ways -- and Rhett secretly saw to it that the man's widow and children were well provided for.)

This book is completely free of the slavery and slave-owner apologias Mitchell wrote -- in GWTW, the narrator mentions how supposedly, selling a slave "down the river" was considered rude and vulgar among white slaveowners, and polite society would ostracize you if you did, whereas RBP denies and deconstructs the hell out of that -- Rhett's own father would separate slave families purely out of spite, and even Ashley's father John Wilkes (super-noble as portrayed in GWTW) has cruelly and coldly broken slave families not for reasons of sadism, but sound practical matters of prudent plantation management. Ashley in GWTW mentions that his family's slaves weren't whipped or otherwise mistreated; in RBP, Rhett''s seemingly innocent questioning forces Ashley to remember that his father didn't need to whip disobedient slaves -- because he sold them instead. More than a few mentions of slave sales, slave auctions and slave trades, and Rhett's father is so cartoonishly evil that I'm reluctant to criticize him for fear of sounding like "C'mon now, even racist slave-labor-camp plantation owners with a mean streak weren't THAT bad."

But I'll say this: I've no doubt that for every evil thing Rhett's dad the slaveowner did, there actually was a slaveowner (more than one) who did just that to someone back in the day .... but I think it would've been difficult to find any one individual man who'd managed to personally do EVERY evil thing to his slaves and his own legal white children, that Rhett's dad manages to do before he finally kicks the bucket in this book.
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Jennifer
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Jennifer » 19 Oct 2019, 06:08

Finished the book. Jesus, that sucked. I take back whatever good things I said about it.
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Number 6
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Number 6 » 20 Oct 2019, 11:32

Andrew wrote:
23 Sep 2019, 12:22
JasonL wrote:
23 Sep 2019, 10:10
The Golem and the Jinni moves slowly but is trying to do something. It has American Gods themes of immigrants brining with them their myths to the new world and can all the myths and people survive. It has occasional episodes of beautiful writing. It’s worth a read/listen.
I've had that on my list for a while, but something about it has always made me find other things to read instead. Maybe I'll move it up the list.
This thread inspired me to pull the book from one of the dustier corners of my kindle and give it a go. I like it a lot so far, but as JasonL said, it's a slow burn. I usually enjoy a leisurely pace, but I am starting to wonder when the author is going to hit the go pedal.
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JasonL
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by JasonL » 29 Oct 2019, 11:00

I'm pretty sure We Are Legion / We are Bob series is the most autistic sci fi. Easily more autistic than the Martian / Artemis Andy Weir books that formerly held the slot.

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Painboy
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Painboy » 29 Oct 2019, 12:12

JasonL wrote:
29 Oct 2019, 11:00
I'm pretty sure We Are Legion / We are Bob series is the most autistic sci fi. Easily more autistic than the Martian / Artemis Andy Weir books that formerly held the slot.
I read the first one, and while it was cute at times the good ideas seemed to dry up about half way through. Never really thought about continuing the series.

Also it's yet another sci-fi story where the US mysteriously becomes an anti-technology theocracy for no apparent reason (I mean other than the author's desire for the contrivance).

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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Eric the .5b » 29 Oct 2019, 15:56

Painboy wrote:
29 Oct 2019, 12:12
JasonL wrote:
29 Oct 2019, 11:00
I'm pretty sure We Are Legion / We are Bob series is the most autistic sci fi. Easily more autistic than the Martian / Artemis Andy Weir books that formerly held the slot.
I read the first one, and while it was cute at times the good ideas seemed to dry up about half way through. Never really thought about continuing the series.

Also it's yet another sci-fi story where the US mysteriously becomes an anti-technology theocracy for no apparent reason (I mean other than the author's desire for the contrivance).
Blame Heinlein for doing it once back in 1940 and the idea sticking around.. And the Moral Majority for freshening it up for a couple generations of SF writers. (I'm sure Trump hasn't helped, but I'll bet that's populated the filler stories in Analog with fascist dystopias more than theocratic ones.)
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by JD » 30 Oct 2019, 12:47

How to Talk Dirty and Influence People: An Autobiography, by Lenny Bruce. It's pretty funny, as you might imagine. It drags a bit in the middle during the description of his obscenity trial, although there's some definite amusement value in how, while the authorities were trying Bruce for saying "cocksucker", they had to say "cocksucker" in the courtroom about a hundred times. But it's most interesting for the historical aspect - you can see how Bruce's career kind of bridged from the vaudeville era to the modern comedy era and covered a whole lot of social changes (can you imagine a comedian getting arrested on obscenity changes in San Francisco today?)
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Hugh Akston » 30 Oct 2019, 13:01

JD wrote:
30 Oct 2019, 12:47
(can you imagine a comedian getting arrested on obscenity changes in San Francisco today?)
No, today they would be arrested on hate speech charges.
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 30 Oct 2019, 14:18

Bruce is the patron saint (or patron sinner) of modern standup comedy. Yes, there were other comedians moving at roughly the same time from the traditional model of an ex-vaudeville comic telling jokes someone else wrote, usually as the emcee between musical acts or on variety shows. Mort Sahl, Shelly Bergman, Bob Newhart, etc. were among the new comedians who were writing their own material and increasingly were doing acts that were the main attraction and that weren't "just jokes," but Bruce more than anyone else paved the way and paid the price. I think I read that book back in college and, as I recall, it alternates between actual biographical anecdotes and bits from his act.

I've been re-reading William Goldman's Adventures in the Screen Trade in which he offers his greatest truth about the movie business: nobody knows anything. Good stuff.

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Re: What are you reading?

Post by thoreau » 30 Oct 2019, 16:36

After seeing a production of Philoctetes I decided to read some Sophocles. I like Electra more than Philoctetes, but I admire both plays. Electra's emotions are fun.
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 30 Oct 2019, 16:45

thoreau wrote:
30 Oct 2019, 16:36
After seeing a production of Philoctetes I decided to read some Sophocles. I like Electra more than Philoctetes, but I admire both plays. Electra's emotions are fun.
Mourning becomes her, or so I'm told.

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Warren
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Warren » 06 Nov 2019, 10:33

I just paid full retail for Edward Snowden's book.
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Jadagul
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Jadagul » 06 Nov 2019, 15:13

Warren wrote:
06 Nov 2019, 10:33
I just paid full retail for Edward Snowden's book.
You know the Feds probably get all the money, right?

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Warren
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Warren » 06 Nov 2019, 16:28

Jadagul wrote:
06 Nov 2019, 15:13
Warren wrote:
06 Nov 2019, 10:33
I just paid full retail for Edward Snowden's book.
You know the Feds probably get all the money, right?
Maybe, but they'll have to show their ass to get it.
Say what you will about Trump, before he fired White House counsel McGahn for not firing Mueller, McGahn put a lot of libertarianish justices on a lot of benches.
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