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We sure didn't talk much this summer.

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  • Barbara Schmidt
    Did anybody read anything worth a note?
    Message 1 of 19 , Sep 5, 2003
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      Did anybody read anything worth a note?
    • Mark Brawner
      On Fri, 5 Sep 2003 08:40:36 -0700 ... I managed to finish Infinite Jest, finally. You didn t like it, as I recall. I was utterly smitten. What else? I just
      Message 2 of 19 , Sep 8, 2003
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        On Fri, 5 Sep 2003 08:40:36 -0700
        "Barbara Schmidt" <barbaras@...> wrote:
        >Did anybody read anything worth a note?

        I managed to finish Infinite Jest, finally. You didn't
        like it, as I recall. I was utterly smitten.

        What else? I just plowed through Frederick Barthelme's
        'Natural Selection.' Just 'okay,' I thought. 'Bob the
        Gambler' is much better. Last night I was reading Erica
        Jong's 'Fear of Flying'. She reminds vaguely of Bellow
        (the narrator's self-consciousness about/awareness
        of/commentary upon being at once Jewish, ridiculously well
        read, of cultivated artistic taste, et cet) only funny.
        Very funny at times.

        Other than that, mostly a truckload of nonfiction.
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      • agrimorfee
        ... We been very, very bad. 2, count em two book readings rotted away. Oh well, tant pis. Over the past few months, I fell in love with Tom Carson s
        Message 3 of 19 , Sep 8, 2003
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          --- In johnbarth@yahoogroups.com, "Mark Brawner" <markbrawner@z...>
          wrote:
          > On Fri, 5 Sep 2003 08:40:36 -0700
          > "Barbara Schmidt" <barbaras@y...> wrote:
          > >Did anybody read anything worth a note?
          >

          We been very, very bad. 2, count 'em two book readings rotted away.
          Oh well, tant pis.

          Over the past few months, I fell in love with Tom Carson's "Giligan's
          Wake", a work which I'm sure everyone here would love, too, if not
          already.

          My wife and I also immersed ourselves in "Harry Potter & the Order
          of the Phoenix". Then we got into Philip Pullman's 'His Dark
          Marterials' trilogy (probably to quel the angst and hype of the
          Potter book--not that it was bad, but this installment of HP was
          somewhat unsettling in the angry mood swings of its protagonist.)

          I also reread Vonnegut's "Cats Cradle", a copy inherited from my
          brother who read it only once, where it sat in my dilapidated car
          inherited from same brother, and despite getting soaked in Coca Cola
          after one outing, the dried-in-the-sun, soemwhat sticky and moldy
          copy whiled away the minutes that i sat waiting in the parking lot of
          Wal-Mart to pick up my wife from her job. Having completed the novel,
          I left it on my seat on the el earlier this month, in the hopes it
          could bring some cynical cheer to some other reader.

          That's the Chicago report.
        • matttrebelhorn@netscape.net
          agrimorfee wrote: Mark Brawner wrote: ... Well, I read Coming Soon!!! this summer. Not half as bad as I d
          Message 4 of 19 , Sep 9, 2003
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            "agrimorfee" <agrimorfee@...> wrote:
            "Mark Brawner" <markbrawner@z...> wrote:
            "Barbara Schmidt" <barbaras@y...> wrote:
            >>>Did anybody read anything worth a note?  

            Well, I read "Coming Soon!!!" this summer. Not half as bad as I'd expected, though disappointing in places.

            Nick Hornby's "How To Be Good". It isn't, particularly.

            Gaddis' "Agape' Agape" -- amazing, originally for radio, ramblings of an aged writer on death and the player piano.

            Right now, I'm on Flann O'Brien's "At Swim-Two-Birds". Several layers of meta- ; and pretty fun to boot. I think I picked up this name somewhere around here -- if so, thanks.

            Next up: House of Leaves/Universal Baseball Assn./Infinite Jest? Dunno, they're all stacked up next to my reading chair. Also thinking about Cortazar (80 Worlds or Hopscotch?); he was recommended to me a while back but I didn't have the time.

            Anyway, that's the last (and the next) few thousand pages.

            Matt

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          • Mark Brawner
            On Tue, 09 Sep 2003 09:43:43 -0400 ... Ah, I forgot -- I got halfway through CS!!! before my Infinite Jest obsession became all-consuming. I found it (CS!!!)
            Message 5 of 19 , Sep 9, 2003
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              On Tue, 09 Sep 2003 09:43:43 -0400
              matttrebelhorn@... wrote:
              >Well, I read "Coming Soon!!!" this summer. Not half as
              >bad as I'd expected, though disappointing in places.

              Ah, I forgot -- I got halfway through CS!!! before my
              Infinite Jest obsession became all-consuming. I found it
              (CS!!!) quite fun. You have to be in the mood, though, or
              you might find yourself agreeing with the Spayde review:

              "Barth has jammed his latest novel, Coming Soon!!!, so full
              of this arch, emptily alliterative, wised-up-to-no-purpose
              decorative language that reading it is a bother and a
              chore, even for presumptive postmods like me. On page one,
              in the course of the self-introduction of a character named
              Ditsy, we are asked to negotiate this paragraph:

              >All in good time, mon semblable et cet, which Yrs Truly
              don't happen to have a whole skiffload of just now. Anyhow,
              old Ditsy-Belle's a gal that likes her stories straight up,
              if you read me: Get things going, says I, then cut to the
              chase, or old Dits'll chase to the cut. Once upon a time's
              about as far as we'll go in the way of windup for your
              pitch. You say It was a dark and stormy night? We copy,
              mate: now on with the story, ess vee pee.<

              "And so on, and on and on, in the mouths of all the
              characters, and all the narrators, most of the time, for
              about 400 pages."

              If you *are* in the mood, you'll think the last comment
              above particularly absurd. Anyhow, I'm looking forward to
              finishing it. I wonder if I'll be able to get into it
              again without starting over...

              Mark
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            • matttrebelhorn@netscape.net
              Myself, I think Dits is great. Would that all of the narrators were as interesting to read/listen to. I was greatly entertained by the
              Message 6 of 19 , Sep 9, 2003
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                Myself, I think Dits is great. Would that all of the narrators were as interesting to read/listen to. I was greatly entertained by the "wised-up-to-no-purpose" bits, and bored stiff or disappointed greatly by the more straightforward, plot-y bits. The in-between things -- the structural, dueling-narrators-type stuff -- I found mildly amusing; not as compelling as LETTERS, but interesting enough.

                And, to me anyway, Barth seems to have a tin ear for music -- not really an asset in a story about, among other things, a brace of musicals...

                (like the old joke says: "Hey! I'm not a musician, I'm a drummer!)

                Matt


                "Mark Brawner" <markbrawner@...> wrote:
                >Ah, I forgot -- I got halfway through CS!!! before my
                >Infinite Jest obsession became all-consuming. I found it
                >(CS!!!) quite fun. You have to be in the mood, though, or
                >you might find yourself agreeing with the Spayde review:

                >"Barth has jammed his latest novel, Coming Soon!!!, so full
                >of this arch, emptily alliterative, wised-up-to-no-purpose
                >decorative language that reading it is a bother and a
                >chore, even for presumptive postmods like me. On page one,
                >in the course of the self-introduction of a character named
                >Ditsy, we are asked to negotiate this paragraph:
                >
                >>All in good time, mon semblable et cet, which Yrs Truly
                >don't happen to have a whole skiffload of just now. Anyhow,
                >old Ditsy-Belle's a gal that likes her stories straight up,
                >if you read me: Get things going, says I, then cut to the
                >chase, or old Dits'll chase to the cut. Once upon a time's
                >about as far as we'll go in the way of windup for your
                >pitch. You say It was a dark and stormy night? We copy,
                >mate: now on with the story, ess vee pee.<
                >
                >Mark

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              • Krzysztof Majer
                Yo! It really seems a long time since we last talked about anything, even distantly Barth-related! So thanks, Barbara, for starting this thread. I m ready to
                Message 7 of 19 , Sep 9, 2003
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                  Yo!

                  It really seems a long time since we last talked about anything, even
                  distantly Barth-related! So thanks, Barbara, for starting this thread. I'm
                  ready to chime in with some of the stuff I read over the summer. I'll start
                  with the best - John Kennedy Toole's "Confederacy of Dunces". Can't recall
                  who recommended it or where, but it was unlike anything I'd read previously.
                  I don't recall laughing out loud quite so often in years! Must be one of the
                  funniest books I've come across...

                  Next: I finally got down to reading "Neuromancer". It's been some time since
                  I took on any sf, and then it was either Philip K. Dick or our own Stanislaw
                  Lem, so it took some getting used to. With my liberal arts education, I
                  found some of the tech-talk really hard to place - but then maybe the point
                  of it is to make the reader's head spin with all the electro-digital
                  detail... My sf background is, as I said, rather limited - but Dick came to
                  mind often, as did old Pynch. I can't say I'm swept off my feet, although I
                  grant it's incredibly visual, the images haunted me for days... It's quite
                  dense, too; might merit a re-reading someday. Good stuff, all in all, I'd
                  say.

                  Next: some CanLit. Timothy Findley's "Famous Last Words". Hmmm... I like
                  Findley, I think "Not Wanted on the Voyage" is a true classic, Canadian or
                  not. My guess is he sets the bar too high in this one, though, tries to take
                  in too much at a time... There are some remarkable updates on historical
                  personages there, which make it all worthwhile - Ezra Pound, Wallis Simpson,
                  King Edward... The whole just doesn't seem to work too well together at the
                  end, I suppose. The style also bothered me, I think he managed to hone it
                  some for his later stuff.

                  Currently: more CanLit. Just started Thomas King's "Green Grass, Running
                  Water" and it promises to be excellent! I've only read some of his shorts so
                  far - they were some of the best pieces of Native American fiction I know.

                  Quick comments on stuff mentioned by others: I absolutely loved "At
                  Swim-Two-Birds"! Though I read that in Polish a few years ago, so I need to
                  go for the original sometime. "Coming Soon!!!" was fine by me, I even did a
                  translation of the Ditsy-narrated opening for our LitTrans classes last
                  year. Awfully hard to get all the puns - or even most of them - to work in a
                  translation... But that's a sidenote. I've stopped expecting JB to turn out
                  another SWF, GGB or LETTERS, so I just sat back, and - more often than not -
                  enjoyed the ride, the way I remember it. And: I'm sure I said it here
                  before, but Coover's baseball novel is tops. Ag will take it from here on
                  "House of Leaves", I'm sure, so I need not say it's mostly good stuff. Since
                  I began anyway, I'll just add that some parts of that (rather large!) novel
                  seem to be way better than others, and some I found pretty annoying
                  (theWhalestoe letters) or downright unbearable!!! (the Pelican poems).
                  Definitely worth a try for the remaining bits, especially The Navidson
                  Record. I'm a sort of Navidsom Record purist, I find, as far as HoL goes. :)

                  Greetings from Lodz,

                  .K
                • Mark Brawner
                  On Tue, 09 Sep 2003 13:21:34 -0400 ... Ditto. To say that all the voices sound that way made me suspect the chap reviewed the novel without reading it. ...
                  Message 8 of 19 , Sep 9, 2003
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                    On Tue, 09 Sep 2003 13:21:34 -0400
                    matttrebelhorn@... wrote:
                    >Myself, I think Dits is great.

                    Ditto. To say that all the voices sound that way made me
                    suspect the chap reviewed the novel without reading it.

                    >And, to me anyway, Barth seems to have a tin ear for music

                    Not sure if I'll end up agreeing here. I've only made it
                    to the Orientation scence, muscalwise. What was it struck
                    you as tinny?

                    >(like the old joke says: "Hey! I'm not a musician, I'm a
                    >drummer!)

                    [rimshot]

                    In my experience, that joke is usually directed *to* us
                    drummers. "He's not a musician, he's etc." But we're a
                    thick-skinned lot, on balance.
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                  • Mark Brawner
                    Sorry for the double-posts. I ve done it a couple times, now. I think something has changed in my reply function or something. Yo, Kris.
                    Message 9 of 19 , Sep 9, 2003
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                      Sorry for the double-posts. I've done it a couple times,
                      now. I think something has changed in my reply function or
                      something.

                      Yo, Kris.
                      ________________________________________________
                      Don't E-Mail, ZipMail! http://www.zipmail.com/
                    • Michael Fenger
                      Kris, I doubt that you really need more things on your list, but if you liked Neuromancer I suspect you ll like Neal Stephenson, especially Snow Crash and
                      Message 10 of 19 , Sep 9, 2003
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                        Message
                        Kris,
                         
                        I doubt that you really need more things on your list, but if you liked "Neuromancer" I suspect you'll like Neal Stephenson, especially "Snow Crash" and "Cryptonomicon". (He's also got a new one to be published here 23 September, "Quicksilver", which I'm eagerly awaiting -- another novel set in the early 18th century . . .)
                         
                        I've been remiss at my fiction reading this summer; read "Moneyball" by Michael Lewis, on the Oakland Athletics, and a biography of Bob Dylan, but have been working enough to want to be outside when I'm not working . . .
                         
                        best,
                         
                        mike
                        -----Original Message-----
                        From: Krzysztof Majer [mailto:kmajer@...]
                        Sent: Tuesday, 09 September 2003 10:57
                        To: johnbarth@yahoogroups.com
                        Subject: [johnbarth] Re: We sure didn't talk much this summer.

                        Yo!

                        It really seems a long time since we last talked about anything, even
                        distantly Barth-related! So thanks, Barbara, for starting this thread. I'm
                        ready to chime in with some of the stuff I read over the summer. I'll start
                        with the best - John Kennedy Toole's "Confederacy of Dunces". Can't recall
                        who recommended it or where, but it was unlike anything I'd read previously.
                        I don't recall laughing out loud quite so often in years! Must be one of the
                        funniest books I've come across...

                        Next: I finally got down to reading "Neuromancer". It's been some time since
                        I took on any sf, and then it was either Philip K. Dick or our own Stanislaw
                        Lem, so it took some getting used to. With my liberal arts education, I
                        found some of the tech-talk really hard to place - but then maybe the point
                        of it is to make the reader's head spin with all the electro-digital
                        detail... My sf background is, as I said, rather limited - but Dick came to
                        mind often, as did old Pynch. I can't say I'm swept off my feet, although I
                        grant it's incredibly visual, the images haunted me for days... It's quite
                        dense, too; might merit a re-reading someday. Good stuff, all in all, I'd
                        say.

                        Next: some CanLit. Timothy Findley's "Famous Last Words". Hmmm... I like
                        Findley, I think "Not Wanted on the Voyage" is a true classic, Canadian or
                        not. My guess is he sets the bar too high in this one, though, tries to take
                        in too much at a time... There are some remarkable updates on historical
                        personages there, which make it all worthwhile - Ezra Pound, Wallis Simpson,
                        King Edward... The whole just doesn't seem to work too well together at the
                        end, I suppose. The style also bothered me, I think he managed to hone it
                        some for his later stuff.

                        Currently: more CanLit. Just started Thomas King's "Green Grass, Running
                        Water" and it promises to be excellent! I've only read some of his shorts so
                        far - they were some of the best pieces of Native American fiction I know.

                        Quick comments on stuff mentioned by others: I absolutely loved "At
                        Swim-Two-Birds"! Though I read that in Polish a few years ago, so I need to
                        go for the original sometime. "Coming Soon!!!" was fine by me, I even did a
                        translation of the Ditsy-narrated opening for our LitTrans classes last
                        year. Awfully hard to get all the puns - or even most of them - to work in a
                        translation... But that's a sidenote. I've stopped expecting JB to turn out
                        another SWF, GGB or LETTERS, so I just sat back, and - more often than not -
                        enjoyed the ride, the way I remember it. And: I'm sure I said it here
                        before, but Coover's baseball novel is tops. Ag will take it from here on
                        "House of Leaves", I'm sure, so I need not say it's mostly good stuff. Since
                        I began anyway, I'll just add that some parts of that (rather large!) novel
                        seem to be way better than others, and some I found pretty annoying
                        (theWhalestoe letters) or downright unbearable!!! (the Pelican poems).
                        Definitely worth a try for the remaining bits, especially The Navidson
                        Record. I'm a sort of Navidsom Record purist, I find, as far as HoL goes. :)

                        Greetings from Lodz,

                        .K




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                      • agrimorfee
                        ... stuff. Since ... large!) novel ... poems). ... Navidson ... goes. :) ... Come to this group for more on HoL--- www.houseofleaves.com. Advise that you try
                        Message 11 of 19 , Sep 10, 2003
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                          --- In johnbarth@yahoogroups.com, "Krzysztof Majer" <kmajer@t...>
                          wrote:
                          > "House of Leaves", I'm sure, so I need not say it's mostly good
                          stuff. Since
                          > I began anyway, I'll just add that some parts of that (rather
                          large!) novel
                          > seem to be way better than others, and some I found pretty annoying
                          > (theWhalestoe letters) or downright unbearable!!! (the Pelican
                          poems).
                          > Definitely worth a try for the remaining bits, especially The
                          Navidson
                          > Record. I'm a sort of Navidsom Record purist, I find, as far as HoL
                          goes. :)
                          >


                          Come to this group for more on HoL--->www.houseofleaves.com. Advise
                          that you try the SEARCH in the archives before jumping in with a
                          specific question...some of the folks are quite snippy, but there is
                          some valuable insights that people have discovered--or think they
                          have discovered--in their reading of the novel. **there is more to
                          the Whalestoe Letters and the Pelican Poems than meets the eye** ;)

                          **also, see/hear www.p-o-e.com for info on Mark Danielewski's sister,
                          singer Poe, and her EXCELLENT album that was inspired by (and
                          influenced) HoL, "Haunted".
                          Good luck!
                        • Derik A Badman
                          Good recent reads... The Lost Scrapbook by Evan Dara (FC2). This was fabulous, long monologues that ran one into the other and rose in the end to an almost
                          Message 12 of 19 , Sep 10, 2003
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                            Good recent reads...

                            The Lost Scrapbook by Evan Dara (FC2). This was fabulous,
                            long monologues that ran one into the other and rose in the
                            end to an almost collective monologue about a town dealing
                            with toxic dumping by the company that employed most of the
                            people. Very interesting, well written.

                            http://fc2.org/books/dara/scrapbook/default.html

                            ---

                            Platform by Michel Houellebecq. He's become rather notorious
                            for comments about Islam and his explicit sexuality of his
                            novels, but this and his previous novel (The Elementary
                            Particles) are both fascinating social novels of the
                            contemporary world in all its harshness.

                            (God, I sound like a commercial!)

                            Also the works of Jean-Philippe Toussaint, who I have been
                            reading in French. Minimalist novels with a light humorous
                            touch. Loved "La Television" about an academic who, instead
                            of writing his book on Titian, becomes addicted to tv.

                            Derik.
                          • matttrebelhorn@netscape.net
                            ... And ditto that. ... It s hard to pin down, and on reflection, might actually just be an effect of Barth writing in character of amateurs who have been
                            Message 13 of 19 , Sep 10, 2003
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                              "Mark Brawner" <markbrawner@...> wrote:

                              >On Tue, 09 Sep 2003 13:21:34 -0400
                              >matttrebelhorn@... wrote:
                              >>Myself, I think Dits is great.  
                              >
                              >Ditto.  To say that all the voices sound that way made me
                              >suspect the chap reviewed the novel without reading it.

                              And ditto that.

                              >>And, to me anyway, Barth seems to have a tin ear for music
                              >
                              >Not sure if I'll end up agreeing here.  I've only made it
                              >to the Orientation scence, muscalwise.  What was it struck
                              >you as tinny?

                              It's hard to pin down, and on reflection, might actually just be an effect of Barth writing in character of amateurs who have been absorbed in early 20th-century musicals -- some of which are amateur themselves.

                              Whatever it was, I was always glad when they got to the end of the musical numbers.

                              Thanks for the wealth of advice on the books I'll be getting to soon -- especially House of Leaves. I have a feeling I'll need a little help...

                              -M.

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                            • agrimorfee
                              ... effect of Barth writing in character of amateurs who have been absorbed in early 20th-century musicals -- some of which are amateur themselves. ... musical
                              Message 14 of 19 , Sep 10, 2003
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                                --- In johnbarth@yahoogroups.com, matttrebelhorn@n... wrote:
                                > "Mark Brawner" <markbrawner@z...> wrote:
                                > It's hard to pin down, and on reflection, might actually just be an
                                effect of Barth writing in character of amateurs who have been
                                absorbed in early 20th-century musicals -- some of which are amateur
                                themselves.
                                >
                                > Whatever it was, I was always glad when they got to the end of the
                                musical numbers.
                                >

                                My biggest problem with the book was tha JB seems to get lazy midway
                                through, abandoning all conceits that he gives us in the first half
                                (the friendly rivalry of the Emeritus version vs. Hap's version of
                                events, the casual wacky linguistics of Hap, etc.), and has the gall
                                to point out how obvious it is to the Reader. Followed by a really
                                Tragic View of the Tragic View for all characters involved.
                              • Martin Skidmore
                                I can t begin to start listing what I ve read this summer, but I wrote a little about my favourite book recently here:
                                Message 15 of 19 , Sep 11, 2003
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                                  I can't begin to start listing what I've read this summer, but I wrote a little about my favourite book recently here: http://www.freakytrigger.co.uk/wedge/2003_08_01_wedge_archive.html#106227682169709338. It's Anagrams by Lorrie Moore.
                                  - Martin Skidmore
                                  -----Original Message-----
                                  From: Mark Brawner [mailto:markbrawner@...]
                                  Sent: 09 September 2003 19:10
                                  To: johnbarth@yahoogroups.com; johnbarth@yahoogroups.com
                                  Subject: Re: [johnbarth] Re: We sure didn't talk much this summer.

                                  On Tue, 09 Sep 2003 13:21:34 -0400
                                  matttrebelhorn@... wrote:
                                  >Myself, I think Dits is great. 

                                  Ditto.  To say that all the voices sound that way made me
                                  suspect the chap reviewed the novel without reading it.

                                  >And, to me anyway, Barth seems to have a tin ear for music

                                  Not sure if I'll end up agreeing here.  I've only made it
                                  to the Orientation scence, muscalwise.  What was it struck
                                  you as tinny?

                                  >(like the old joke says:  "Hey!  I'm not a musician, I'm a
                                  >drummer!)

                                  [rimshot]

                                  In my experience, that joke is usually directed *to* us
                                  drummers. "He's not a musician, he's etc."  But we're a
                                  thick-skinned lot, on balance.
                                  ________________________________________________
                                  Don't E-Mail, ZipMail! http://www.zipmail.com/


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                                • Mark Brawner
                                  Wow, that s your favorite book? I don t know what I thought you were going to say, but not that. I ll have to go check it out. I ve read her Self Help and
                                  Message 16 of 19 , Sep 11, 2003
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                                    Wow, that's your favorite book? I don't know what I
                                    thought you were going to say, but not that. I'll have to
                                    go check it out. I've read her "Self Help" and "Birds of
                                    America" and liked them both a lot.
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                                  • Rick Slade
                                    Thanks to this bunch, Infinite Jest made its way into my past this summer, playing its Infinite Jest on me. Wallace is profoundly talented, but didn t anyone
                                    Message 17 of 19 , Sep 12, 2003
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                                      Thanks to this bunch, Infinite Jest made its way into my past this
                                      summer, playing its Infinite Jest on me. Wallace is profoundly
                                      talented, but didn't anyone else feel cheated? I mean I was actually
                                      interested in those characters by the end of the book.

                                      From the department of good news department, I thought Fury,
                                      Rushdie's recentest, was stellar, and threw me back to Midnight's
                                      Children for the 20-year reread.

                                      Also went through most of Barth again this summer, SWF, GGB, Chimera,
                                      Letters, Sabbatical, Tidewater Tales (not quite finished) - I thought
                                      it most interesting how the Tales actually made me enjoy Sabbatical
                                      more than I did while reading it. It's as if Barth finished
                                      Sabbatical while writing Tales.

                                      Great to see everyone back.
                                    • Derik A Badman
                                      ... past this ... Wallace has a book on infinity coming on this fall. Derik.
                                      Message 18 of 19 , Sep 12, 2003
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                                        >Thanks to this bunch, Infinite Jest made its way into my
                                        past this
                                        >summer, playing its Infinite Jest on me.

                                        Wallace has a book on infinity coming on this fall.

                                        Derik.
                                      • agrimorfee
                                        ... actually ... That might be why it is called Infinite Jest! :)
                                        Message 19 of 19 , Sep 12, 2003
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                                          --- In johnbarth@yahoogroups.com, "Rick Slade" <Rick_Slade@m...>
                                          wrote:
                                          > Thanks to this bunch, Infinite Jest made its way into my past this
                                          > summer, playing its Infinite Jest on me. Wallace is profoundly
                                          > talented, but didn't anyone else feel cheated? I mean I was
                                          actually
                                          > interested in those characters by the end of the book.
                                          >
                                          >

                                          That might be why it is called Infinite Jest! :)
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