Corpsey

call me big papa
The sad thing is if Moby Dick had multiple sadistic murder scenes in it I probably would have read it by now.

Weirdly that's jogged my memory about A High Wind in Jamaica, a wonderful, sinister book.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
Oh the Soft Touch I always remember that one... where everyone keeps taking advantage of him. Got the guy from Trainspotting who dies in the film version I think?
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
I read Trainspotting as a teenager and the only things I can remember are Begbie cutting a hole in the turf with his pen knife and humping it and a bar maid squeezing her used tampon in a patron's drink.
 

catalog

Well-known member
Were any of us doing that? I know I wasn't.
No, youre right, no one was, that was my own thought. They are what i tihnk of when i think of great novels. But some of the discussion was talking about AP like its some amazing piece of literature, but to me, its really not. Thats kinda why i bought up the example of trainspotting as well, i see it as comparable. Trainspotting is better, for me, but the two are more comparable.
 

catalog

Well-known member
Moby dick is great, everyone should read it. I cant remember much about the soft touch film, apart from that it was really grim. They went for ‘real’ and it was too real. I think the danny boyle approach was probably the right one and closer to the irvine welsh spirit. I saw the play of trainspotting as well, when i was in school. I persuaded my mum to take me, it was in school time, so she asked if i could have the afternoon off. Im eternally grateful to her for that.
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
No, youre right, no one was, that was my own thought. They are what i tihnk of when i think of great novels. But some of the discussion was talking about AP like its some amazing piece of literature, but to me, its really not. Thats kinda why i bought up the example of trainspotting as well, i see it as comparable. Trainspotting is better, for me, but the two are more comparable.
I find myself drifting further and further from ranking novels and instead just enjoying them - or not - for what they are. I don't think AP's as good as Gravity's Rainbow, but very few novels are so it isn't much of a knock to me. There are a handful of people who can and have written something like that.
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
I'll probably end up ranking novels in another post at some point and completely contradict myself.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
One of Neil Stephenson's worst books (that I've read) is called The Diamond Age - there is a bit in it where he attacks, I suppose, moral relativism, or possibly just moral decline - anyway, he talks about how in late capitalism (a not very veiled dig at now) people became uncomfortable on insisting on moral absolutes, he basically says that people could say anything... as long as they didn't contradict themselves. And basically this becomes a polemic on the abandonment of morality and at the same time a defence of hypocrisy (in a sense anyhow). Er, so go ahead I meant.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
And fuck it, American Psycho is up there with Moby Dick or whatever... ok those books are old and have been vetted and filtered by loads of critics and hipsters etc but pure age doesn't mean you can't compare AP or Trainspotting.... ok bad choice cos perhaps (probably) Moby Dick is better than those books but in a list of 100 all time best ever unbeatable classics there will definitely be some that are not as good as American Psycho.
 

catalog

Well-known member
I'm actually all for the idea of just enjoying what you enjoy. The idea of a Canon is very limiting. I would put archie comics up there with moby dick. It's good you like ap, I just didn't think it was that good!

Did the recent reread do it justice version?

And yeah, any top list or whatever,
 

catalog

Well-known member
Seem to have left an Incomplete sentence...

Was gonna say any top list is always 'wrong' for me anyway, in terms of what they miss out. Those lists are really most handy for discovery of new shit
 

droid

Beast of Burden
Dunno if Id rank AP very highly in the great novel category. Its strength is in theme and social commentary and (though its been many years since I read it now) I dont recall the prose being particularly great, which is an essential in my mind.
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
I find stuff like The Canon somewhat arbitrary. I think it's useful to draw lines like that, but ultimately they don't really mean anything. You can't just go "x is objectively better than y" or "x directly caused y". It's too tangled and subjective.
 

jenks

thread death
I think the canon is only useful in terms of telling you the stuff that has lasted but it's arbitrary- down to prevailing tastes and ideologies- trying to make a canon on anything on the last thirty years or so is almost impossible - the test of time can be very harsh. In the early twentieth century George Meredith was hugely popular but almost no-one reads him now. John Donne languished out of favour for centuries before being reclaimed by TS Eliot and others. DH Lawrence was once slap bang in the middle of the canon and is now slipping outside. And, of course, there are plenty of voices that got left outside of the canon - the work Virago did to reclaim female writing was phenomenal but it's shocking to think it had to be done to reclaim these writers from the shadows.
And, in the end, once you done enough of your own reading, you develop your own canon - your compass by which you navigate the choppy literary waters. And that is fine - you can't like everything, nor should you, but trying to claim something as better is a fool's errand because i don't think there can be a true objectivity - a book read at twenty is a different proposition at 40 - i do think it is useful to be aware of the canon for the cultural capital but equally important is to realise it is no more than a gateway.
 

craner

Beast of Burden
For the record I'm reading Maoism: A Global History by Julia Lovell, which is what it says on the tin, though perhaps a bit odd in structure as it's not a chronological history, more tracing the pattern that is Maoism and how it's appealed and survived in a variety of contexts.
This is a brilliant book. I think the structure is fine.
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
This is a brilliant book. I think the structure is fine.
I'll be able to comment more when I get back to it. She covers such a wide range of territory it can be hard to discern the details i.e I found myself looking up what happened in China re. nationalists vs communists as she doesn't present it in the simple, digestible form you'd get in a more chronological history. I found myself looking it up - no bad thing.
 
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