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What books are you reading right now?

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Posted on Nov 14, 2012 4:24:28 PM PST
carnola says:
Just received Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus for my birthday--it was on my wishlist due to E. Self's many comments on Mann. Have never read any of his books, so it's added to my backlog.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2012 5:19:03 PM PST
Edgar Self says:
Good luck with Thomas Mann's "Doctor Faustus", Carnola. In time I hope you'll tell us your impressions of it.

Posted on Nov 22, 2012 6:12:28 PM PST
K. Beazley says:
For those who may be familiar with his work, the death of the author Bryce Courtenay has just been announced. He died at 11PM at his Canberra home from stomach cancer. He was 79.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2012 2:39:00 PM PST
Eutychus says:
Thanks, K. Beazley.

I've enjoyed Courtenay's work for some years. I was introduced to him by a friend who used to live in Oz. On subsequent visits to home the friend supplied us with additional B.C. volumes, and another friend from the Gold Coast, who travels to the U.S. about once a year, filled in other gaps.

Courtenay's work, while quite original, is a pleasant reminiscence that seems to combine elements of Melville, John Jakes, and BC's compatriot, Nobelist Patrick White. Thanks again for posting this.

Posted on Nov 23, 2012 7:48:53 PM PST
Edgar Self says:
Laurel Fay's "Shostakovich, A Life" from the top, reading slowly. Well-researched, factual, a bit short ono insights, but good at rehearsing the facts and circumstances of the life. Notes, index, and list of persons make up amost a third of the book.

Posted on Nov 24, 2012 11:37:06 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 24, 2012 5:57:54 PM PST
I am currently reading two works: C.V. Wedgwood's 'The King's War, 1641-1647' and 'Shogun' by James Clavell.

'The King's War, 1641-1647' by C.V. Wedgwood covers -- in fine detail, I might add -- the events that took place shortly before and during the first English Civil War. At this here present time, I have read ~ half of the text contained within the said work.

The rather lengthy novel (>1100 pages) entitled 'Shogun' by James Clavell is an epic tale of feudal Japan in the year 1600. The story is based on the later life of English navigator William Adams, who is commonly believed to be the first person from said nation to visit Japan. Adams died in May 1620 (just a short time over twenty years after his arrival in Japan), never having returned to his native land.

Posted on Nov 29, 2012 12:21:31 PM PST
I am reading Chris Fujiwara's "The World and Its Double: The Life and Work of Otto Preminger."

Posted on Dec 4, 2012 7:18:52 AM PST
I am reading Mark Zuehlke's "On to Victory: The Canadian Liberation of the Netherlands, March 23 to May 5, 1945."

Posted on Dec 4, 2012 11:10:52 PM PST
reading 'L.A. Noir' by John Buntin. It''s an interesting look at the interplay between the police and the underworld in mid-century Los Angeles. It really lets you see where Raymond Chandler and James Ellroy got their inspiration, but being an Angeleno I love reading about the history of this city.

Posted on Dec 5, 2012 8:16:07 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 5, 2012 11:33:10 PM PST
K.J. McGilp says:
Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks. I read this four years ago but it's one of those books well worth reading again.

Posted on Dec 9, 2012 1:38:04 PM PST
Andrew Roberts's "The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War."

Posted on Dec 16, 2012 2:55:38 PM PST
I am reading David Burnie's "Get a Grip on Evolution."

Posted on Dec 22, 2012 6:13:00 PM PST
hello All,
I am glad to see that this thread is still going.
I have just finished James Hollands 'Dambusters"a re-telling of the famous exploit in W.W 2.He spends more time on the background and developement of the "bouncing bomb" then Brickhill does but then Brichills book is over 50 years old.
Imagine flying a Lancaster bomber at 60 feet,in the dark over water!With the Germans shooting at you.The bomber had a wingspan of 104 feet!
With regards,

Posted on Dec 22, 2012 10:04:37 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 23, 2012 9:15:03 AM PST
John Spinks says:
Christmas has brought me a new Google Nexus 7 tablet and I've been loading it today with a lot of free classics from the Kindle Store: Mark Twain, Jack London, Robert Louis Stevenson, Herman Melville, Henry David Thoreau, Wilkie Collins, Victor Hugo and the like. It's truly amazing that we can carry a whole library around in our hands these days.

When I was in undergrad school I had a modern drama course that had a whopping tome of an anthology to lug around. It was edited by Block and Shedd or some such. We students called it Block and Tackle because it weighed a ton. Being a lower classmen at the time required that I park in the bottom lot with a considerable hill to climb up to the class buildings. I developed strong legs in those young days hauling old Block and Tackle. Nice memories.

(I see that Block and Shedd comes in at 1198 pages in hardback on Amazon, saying it's 4.4 lbs. They weighed a ton at least!)

Posted on Dec 23, 2012 7:12:08 AM PST
B. A. Dilger says:
Just had copy of Will Durant's "Caesar and Christ" arrive. It goes into a mix of books I alternate with. Arthur C. Clarke's "City and the Stars" and several collections of short stories are in the list.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2012 10:53:00 AM PST
B. A. Dilger says:
Mr. Pomfret----Good to hear from you again. Any snow for the holiday:-) It's a gray, drizzly day here. So I'm reclining on a heated vibrator pad someone presented me with, and reading "The City and the Stars" by a scientist who retired to Sri Lanka, I believe. You got my post that the ' Bounty' went down off our Carolina coast? It got the Civil War ironclad Monitor as well. I've deep sea fished out that way but got back. Hope you have a well-deserved holiday though I'm not sure what is practiced there. Later.---B.A.Dilger

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 1:06:09 AM PST
Hello Mr Dilger,
I am currently recuperating in a hospital after major surgery for cancer.The cancer is Malignant Melanoma which unfortunately is very prevalent in Australia.The surgeons say that the operation was quite successful but it has meant a 2 month sojourn in hospital with about another month to be spent in Rehabilitation.I have just finished David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas which is one of the best novels I have read in years.I am also working my way thru Shelby Foote's Civil War,which I read for the sheer pleasure of the writing style,though the content is grim.
Yes the Bounty went down,fortunately with no loss of life,not a bad way for a gallant ship to go rather than the breakers yard.Ave Atque Vale BOUNTY.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 1:35:30 AM PST
Eutychus says:
Mr. Pomfret,

We hope you will improve and continue into good health as much as possible. I've enjoyed your many posts. The Bounty series has been a particular delight of historical interest, and now again with the updates.

Glad you enjoyed Cloud Atlas. It shouild make an interesting movie.

Just FYI, the American Civil War has long been a special interest. I lived in tghe South during the years of the Civil War centennial, partly to experience and research that era. In a novel-in-progress, I incorporate, though set in modern times, a legend and some tradition from the Civil War era.

I've enjoyed studying and returning to Foote's excellent books over the years. In each of my 3 volumes of the series, I've jotted in the text the beginnings of each section as it can be located on the audio reading of the books. I've also dovetailed the work with a fine treasure of a book, the official U. S. Military Atlas of the Civil War. It opens to the size of one of the original volumes of the OED, and has hundreds of maps, well-marked and keyed to clarify locales, movements, actions, personnel, etc. There are both full- and half-page maps and insets. I cross-referenced these many maps to discussions in Foote, and vice versa, noting in the books the corresponding maps.

My publisher (editorial contact, actually) has suggested that such a key might make a convenient little volume to go with the other books, and the recording. Maybe it would; we shall see. Civil wars always seem so heightened in their tragedy, futility, non-necessity. Yet, if events, even history, are any indication, they'd seem to be popular. I think they're popular, like all wars, primarily among the non-combatant leaders who hope to profit from them, materially or idealistically. That such conflict could occur in a nation supposedly dedicated to unity shocked, and still shocks, those dedicated to each side of the desire for political and personal freedom.

Again, sir, we wish you the best in yhour recovery during this new year.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 2, 2013 12:20:24 AM PST
Hello Eutychus,
Many thanks for your kind words,I really appreciate them.
I once did a trip to the U.S,I casually mentioned to my hosts that I was interested in the Civil War.....well I was rushed off my feet after that,passed from one enthusiast to the next and managed to see many but not all of the major battlefields.It was a wonderful time.It also backed up a theory of mine that if you go to any country and show some knowledge of and interest in their history many doors will open for you.But perhaps I state the obvious.
I think one of the enduring fascinations of your War was the fact that you were still a nation in the could have gone either way....but the result made you what you are.Otherwise how long would you have had to wait for a 13th Amendment?.It also gave you a vision to look mean result.
Yes the atlas is a very good idea.Something handy,with photographs.You could not go wrong.
I will be continuing with the "Bounty" series soon,as most historians have got it seriously wrong...IMHO!
With Regards,

Posted on Jan 3, 2013 5:11:49 PM PST
Due to the recent passing of Pundit Ravi Shankar, I ordered and received his autobiography 'My Music, My Life'. It is a large, beautifully formated paperback that is the most lavishely illustrared book I've seen in a long time. It inludes intricate Hindu art, a chapter on all instruments Indian, and closes with a basic guide to the sitar. In all of this is a very detailed and moving account by Shankar of his life and that it entails.
Highly recommend for anyone interested in this great man's life and the wonderous music that is his heritage.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2013 5:20:34 PM PST
Dear Greg Pomfret
I am genuinely sorry to read of your battle with melanoma, and so glad that the surgery was successful. What an awful way to spend a few months. Did not know about melanoma and Australia. Having grown up in Florida we were exposed to sun, sun as little kids. Now after many years in Los Angeles it's not much different and I've my fair share of melanomas removed, mostly from my head. Weird. But nothing to rival what you went through.
Do stay well and keep reading!
Best to you

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 12:23:34 AM PST
Hello Bonnie R Beduhn,
Many thanks for your kind words of support.Unfortunately there is what is called a black hole in the ozone layer that hovers over a part of Antactica and it is a big black hole!Nobody knew this when I was young so we all got a tan but are now dying in considerable numbers.Generally the climate is somewhat similar to Florida.At the moment we are under seige by numerous bush fires(forest fires)There is currently about 130 fires burning in my state alone.Temperatures have reached about 105 degrees F or 44 degrees celsius which we use.Inland the temperatures have reached 112F so it has been jolly hot!
Just updating my "Bounty" series.The ship that went down of Cape Hatteras was the American Bounty built for the Marlon Brando film.The Bounty in which I sailed was the replica built for the Mel Gibson film.Fortunately she still sails in Hong Kong harbour.My condolences for the missing sailors families.It is curious that at the beginning of my series that I compared the two.The Brando replica carried "royals"which is factually correct for the pre Bligh Bounty but when Bligh was appointed Master and Commander of Bounty he decided that she was overmasted and ordered them removed.The Gibson Bounty sailed under t'gallants alone which is accurate.It meant that the top hamper was considerably reduced thank goodness!
once again,many thanks.

Posted on Jan 12, 2013 6:11:08 AM PST
I am reading Neil Young's autobiography. Waging Heavy Peace
It's like reading that letter he sings about on "Harvest Moon":
" of these days I'm gonna sit down and write a long long letter to all of the good friends I've known...".
It's nice to be invited into his circle of friends and read along with them, but there is one drawback: a whole lot of thanking this or that person for this or that and long parts that go something like: "X is just such a great person, always loving and caring" etc. etc. --- really redundant to me, but still on the whole I like the book.
The best part of it to me is when he writes about his own song writing and what music he likes.

Posted on Jan 13, 2013 5:03:49 AM PST
Thomas E. says:
Almost halfway through "Cloud Atlas" by David Mitchell. It's a strange but fascinating book, made up of six narratives each with their own style. They are loosely connected so far, but I imagine their connections will tighten considerably later. The second story is about Robert Frobisher, a young, English composer down on his luck who spends his last money to meet Vyvyan Ayrs, a halfway famous Belgian composer, and try to become his assistant. Together, they compose an orchestral work called "Der Todtenvogel", which is soon premiered in Krakow and receives a Rite of Spring-like reception.

Posted on Jan 14, 2013 3:12:44 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 15, 2013 7:06:38 AM PST
Figaro says:
First, Greg Pomfret it's great to "see" you back on the forum. Allow me to add my best wishes that all is going well.

Recently did Paul Fussell's THE GREAT WAR AND MODERN MEMORY in one of my reading groups. Focused heavily on Graves, Blunden, and Sassoon, Fussell's passion for this most heartbreaking of subjects occasionally gets cross-threaded between considering he War's impact on the development of literary sensibility (and there are some astute comparisons to the literature of the Second War in which he was a participant) and its impact on broader, popular culture. In a revealing Afterward to the 25th Anniversary Edition, Fussell admits that he would have been better off dispensing with the "lit crit" -- Northrop Frye was his great influence -- and making it more of a personal retrospective through the lens of his own combat experience in WWII. Worth a look nonetheless. His memoir of that conflict, WARTIME, is also worth a go.

Recently finished a delightful account -- a personal memoir, really -- of an interesting side episode of the immediate aftermath of WWII, Gordon McGowan's THE SKIPPER AND THE EAGLE. After the War, Germany's military assets were distributed among the victorious Allies. McGowan, a career United States Coast Guard officer, was dispatched to Germany to refurbish, outfit, crew, and sail back to the US the Eagle, a sailing bark that had been a Kriegsmarine training ship. It's a warm and affecting story of interesting and eccentric characters, McGowan's travails in refurbishing and outfitting the vessel, his friendship with a German navy officer who brought a trained crew to help sail the Eagle, the integration and effectiveness of his multinational crew, and the sailing voyage to New York, the high point of which was traversing a hurricane between Bermuda and the US. It's a cracking good story for all you sailing buffs -- incredible professionalism. The ship became the training vessel for the US Coast Guard Academy (and may still be). A "feel good" story.

Ran across Raymond Butler's FIGARO'S FLEET that, very indirectly, ties military history to music. It turns out that Beaumarchais, an ardent supporter of American Independence, was quite the international operative: front companies funneling arms to the Americans, clandestine meetings with Benjamin Franklin, etc. He'd be right at home today.

Best Wishes
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