The darkness was looking at me, amorphous, immense, eyeless, devoid of limits.
A fascinating idea that's steeped in atmosphere. Having recently finished The Pale King, this felt as though it was moving at a breakneck pace. I loved it. It got a little bogged down by some excessive exposition in the second half of the book. The narrator essentially gives you a run down of the scientific literature written about a planet and its curious phenomena. Whilst these sections are highly imaginative and well written in and of themselves, it very much feels like the emergency breaks get put on the otherwise fast paced story. Especially as it's just worked into it by the narrator being in a library recounting it all to you.
Still, that's nitpicking. A fantastic book.
The Pale King
Sometimes what's important is dull. Sometimes it's work. Sometime the important things aren't works of art for your entertainment, X.
Finished this one after starting it around the time of the last book thread. It's presented as a series of vignettes focussed around boredom and everyday tedium. Though there are reoccurring characters and locations, there's not really any overarching plot (linear or otherwise). I didn't enjoy it as much as Infinite Jest. However, it had a much greater emotional impact on me.
Halfway through, a person giving a presentation to new employees at the IRS says:
Only certain information is good... Your job, in a sense, with each file is to separate the valuable, pertinent information from the pointless information.
In some ways, I feel like this is an analogy for reading this book. There is a significant amount of writing in it that seems pointless. Not to an overwhelming degree, but its certainly a theme. Thing such as dense, textbook-esque explanations of tax procedure. Or an entire chapter made up of fragmented conversations, until one of them reaches an important point and its suddenly thrust into full focus. You could argue that it was the same for in Infinite Jest, but there that sort of stuff was usually relegated to the end notes. Here it's slap bang in the middle of the text.
It was my conclusion that, in reading the book, its the author's intention for you to take on the same role as the IRS employees and learn to filter out "valuable, pertinent information from the pointless information." And the fact that someone would write a book this way made me feel very... I don't know. I guess it could be described as third-person existential dread. Like, "who the fuck writes a book this way?" Maybe i'm overthinking it.
Still, it's the kind of thing you read and think: "I'm not surprised that the person who wrote this ended up committing suicide." I hope that doesn't sound callous or loathsome; I'm conflicted on whether it's a disrespectful thing to say. It's not meant to be, more an honest reflection of how it made me feel emotionally.
If you have the patience for it or have enjoyed Wallace's fiction in the past, I wholeheartedly recommend it.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Just over halfway through this. It's been a while since I read a book with an unreliable narrator and I'm very much enjoying. Some of the character dynamics remind me of the film 12 Angry Men, in that there's lots of inter-character conflict playing out in a small space.
I don't have much more to say on this one other than i'm excited to read on.
The Cold War
Another one that I'm halfway through. I picked this one up after OftenBen bumped kleinbl00's Geopolitical book post a month or so back. I'd actually been looking for a book that does the a similar thing for WW2 for a while, but settled for this.
It's interesting to see how often the US' attempts to instil the 'right' governments in places such as Chile and Guatemala led to the complete opposite, which they were then basically forced to support. It's also clever how the smaller powers would leverage the US and Russia to their own ends too.
It was eye-opening that figures like Mao and Che Guevara were seen as hero figures by their supporters not necessarily for their competence or their results, but simply as they represented 'revolutionary romanticism'. I think it draws parallels to the same sort of attitude that allowed Brexit to pass or Trump to be voted in. Not necessary because they're good or believed to be the right choice, but because they're a 'fuck you'.