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-   -   Hey, can we have a rolling What Are You Reading thread? (http://forums.netphoria.org/showthread.php?t=186757)

Alice 01-29-2021 02:01 PM

Cormac McCarthy doesn't like Proust either. Speaking of which I've been making my way through the short stories of Breece D'J Pancake and he sure does make me wistful. Makes me miss the south too, which I suppose I knew would come with time

Alice 01-29-2021 02:03 PM

The rain slows, and for a long time I sit watching the blue chicory swaying beside the road. I think of all the people I know who left these hills. Only Jim and Pop came back to the land, worked it.
“Lookee at the willow-wisps.” Mom points to the hills.
The rain trickles, and as it seeps in to cool the ground, a fog rises. The fog curls little ghosts into the branches and gullies. The sun tries to sift through this mist, but is only a tarnished brown splotch in the pinkish sky. Wherever the fog is, the light is a burnished orange.
“Can’t recall the name Pop gave it,” I say.
The colors shift, trade tones.
“He had some funny names all right. Called a tomcat a ‘pussy scat.’ ”
I think back. “Cornflakes were ‘pone-rakes,’ and a chicken was a ‘sick-un.’ ”
We laugh.
“Well,” she says, “he’ll always be a part of us.”
The glommy paint on the chair arm packs under my fingernails. I think how she could foul up a free lunch.
Ginny honks again from the main road. I stand up to go in, but I hold the screen, look for something to say.
“I ain’t going to live in Akron,” I say.
“An’ just where you gonna live, Mister?”
“I don’t know.”
She starts up with her fan again.
“Me and Ginny’s going low-riding,” I say.
She won’t look at me. “Get in early. Mr. Trent don’t keep no late hours for no beer drinkers.”
The house is quiet, and I can hear her out there sniffling. But what to hell can I do about it? I hurry to wash the smell of turkle from my hands. I shake all over while the water flows down. I talked back. I’ve never talked back. I’m scared, but I stop shaking. Ginny can’t see me shaking. I just walk out to the road without ever looking back to the porch.

Alice 01-29-2021 02:03 PM

Perhaps this is more to the liking of you unwashed masses? Hmm?

FoolofaTook 01-29-2021 03:16 PM


ovary 01-29-2021 03:43 PM

that is one of my favorite stories. captures how the Appalachian mountains make you feel like all of time and history are compressed into the electric air

i also like the one with the serial killer pig farmer. pig guys are weird

Alice 01-29-2021 03:51 PM

He's so good. Been meaning to read him for a while and just finally got around to it. Haven't got to the pig farmer yet but yeah he's great at distilling the feel of that weirdo corner of the country into tight, painfully sad little stories. In the Dry is another one I really loved. That one and The Honored Dead both have this really cool looping feel to them where as soon as you finish you want to start at the beginning again and when you do you pick up the pieces you missed the first time around with context you only could have gained from reading it through once before

Alice 01-29-2021 03:52 PM

Got any similar recommendations? I can already tell his body of work is going to be over for me too soon and I'll be left wanting more. Ever read any Pickney Benedict?

ovary 01-29-2021 04:21 PM

looping is a good word to describe pancake's stories pacing-wise too. i think he was working on a novel when he killed himself but none of it's been published. think he was 27 when he did it like a rock star

i just read "Honey From the Lion" by Mathew Neil Null, which was great. Ann Pancake (no relation) writes similar stories to Breece. I like Breece better tho.

Shadaloo 02-01-2021 08:59 PM

Just finished Lovecraft County

Interesting enough premise but it ultimately didn't say or do much of anything apart from waggle its finger and remind us that racism is bad. Kinda disappointing in that regard. I was hoping for more in the way of actual commentary on how to reconcileor come to terms with the fact that someone who's work you admire is a fucking monster, but nope

Got a few more on my reading pile. Debating between Ursula K. Le Guin's Lathe Of Heaven, a Prince biography, some stories inspired by David Lynch.

Alice 02-05-2021 08:32 PM



Was thinking of rereading one of his novels but I'm doing this instead

slunken 02-05-2021 08:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alice (Post 4574103)


Was thinking of rereading one of his novels but I'm doing this instead

those are better than his novels imo

ovary 02-05-2021 09:31 PM

sounds like you can't handle a full dose of the faulk bro.

Alice 02-05-2021 09:35 PM

That’s a hell of a claim. His novels are among my favorites. But having just reread Barn Burning I can believe that someone would feel this way. It’s the only one of his short stories I’ve read before and it’s brutal. Last time I read it was in high school and I definitely didn’t appreciate it like I do now. Looking forward to the rest. I wish they were in chronological order tho

Alice 02-05-2021 09:37 PM

It’s hard to imagine his short stories topping As I Lay Dying or The Sound and the Fury for me at at least

Alice 02-05-2021 09:37 PM

But then again I’m due for a reread on both of those

Alice 02-05-2021 09:40 PM

Oh shit was that a callout

Alice 02-05-2021 09:41 PM

Either of you ever read Absolom? That’s the last of his big ones I haven’t got to

ovary 02-05-2021 09:47 PM

absalom absalom and go down moses are my favs. didnt really like sound and the fury. as i lay is the only major one i havent read. absalom is like the best as a novel i think and go down moses is his best writing IMO. what is your take on isaac in moses? hero or douche?

Alice 02-05-2021 09:53 PM

I thought that was a shorts collection too?

Alice 02-05-2021 09:54 PM

Either way I haven’t read it yet. Perhaps I’ve misspoken

Alice 02-14-2021 05:34 PM

Dry September is truly something else. It was awful to read. Made me feel things that I'm not sure writing has ever made me feel before. The real horror of this thing that people did and still do comes across in a way that history books and even photographs can't replicate. And it's all accomplished across the span of so few words. Will barely speaks but it's hard to imagine forgetting the impression his character made on me. If I ever had the chance to defend art from Plato and his stupid ideas about it this is the kind of thing I'd lead with. This feels unlike anything of Faulkner's I've read. I'm not sure what kind of reputation this story enjoys but I'd say it ranks among his best writing for me

Alice 02-14-2021 05:49 PM

https://southinblackandwhite.files.w...-september.pdf

Alice 02-14-2021 05:49 PM

In case my dumb post made you curious, you should read it rather than look up the wiki

Alice 02-14-2021 05:56 PM

"Most of the critical attention given to language in Faulkner’s novels and stories has been devoted to matters of style. Language, however, interested Faulkner as a subject as well as a technique; the theme of the dangers inherent in the misuse of language recurs throughout his fiction. He draws on the traditional belief that the moral and spiritual degeneration of a people is reflected in their language: injustice and hatred weights words with destructive connotations, and irresponsibility promotes the unthinking use of words. Once words become distorted and emotionally charged, they themselves contribute to prejudiced thinking and automatic reactions by the force they carry and by their power to block out individual distinctions. Faulkner’s characters are frequently guilty of using words in careless and destructive ways; more often than not, language is a negative force in his fictional world. But unlike Beckett and Pinter, Faulkner refuses to give up on language; he does not ask us to accept Benjy’s silence as a solution. He argues instead that man has a moral obligation to use his language truthfully and responsibly. Although the picture of man speaking that Faulkner represents is largely pessimistic, he does offer pieces of a model of language rightly used."

Alice 02-14-2021 05:57 PM

What say you of this, Netphorian readers? Have you given up on language or do you hold out hope yet?

Alice 02-14-2021 06:07 PM

Or do you rather reject the premise entirely?

ovary 02-14-2021 07:45 PM

that critic is being pretty classist. what was that written in the 60s or something? of course, faulkner is classist too so whatever

Alice 02-14-2021 08:01 PM

1977. I figured that would come up and I understand why it has. I'm not sure if I see it though, at least in this short excerpt. Is your position that the argument is inherently classist?

Alice 02-14-2021 08:22 PM

Of course there's always the danger of this kind of argument going in that direction. But I wonder if it's possible to suggest that there are destructive and irresponsible ways to use language without favoring the speech patterns of a particular group. I feel like maybe it is? And maybe certain recent changes in what used to be but is no longer considered acceptable use of language would support that idea? But it's certainly a complicated question that I don't feel is fully settled in my mind

Alice 02-14-2021 08:24 PM

All I am saying is give peas a chance

ovary 02-14-2021 09:04 PM

"He draws on the traditional belief that the moral and spiritual degeneration of a people is reflected in their language: injustice and hatred weights words with destructive connotations, and irresponsibility promotes the unthinking use of words."

sounds like "poor people" to me. like faulkner's snopes clan. tho faulkner would also put some slavers in the "destrictive/irresponsible" camp and some poors, like the mccallums, in the "moral and spiritual" camp.

i'm just not comfortable saying some uses of language are good and some bad and let ME tell you which is which. dont think faulkner would be comfotable with that either. he's just a storyteller.

also i feel like its kind of a boring claim. like "good people use good language, and bad people use bad language." like duh, right?

Alice 02-14-2021 10:01 PM

Yeah I get it. Is that necessarily the claim though? "Good" people can use language badly and vice versa. I guess I'd have to read further before I felt comfortable with the idea that the author is saying all that you're suggesting they are.

Either way what interested me most was the bit about Faulkner as as a believer in the possibility of "language rightly used" as compared to Pinter and Beckett and skeptics. I'm not sure I ever really thought about Faulkner that way. But then I see stories like The Tall Men or Shall Not Perish and I wonder what, if any of it, is actually him. He certainly strikes me as significantly more conservative than either Pinter or Beckett. But yeah I would agree that he seems far more interested in storytelling than in ideas. I guess maybe he was just really good at understanding and conveying the inner lives of people in ways that inevitably connect to those ideas, whether they were of interest to him or not

Alice 02-14-2021 10:02 PM

Better get that free JSTOR access and read up

Alice 02-14-2021 10:07 PM

I should read the Snopes trilogy too. Flem seems like a character I wouldn't mind more of

remd3 02-15-2021 06:11 AM

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0932551238...XCRFSZ2VR3MVQA

ovary 02-15-2021 11:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alice (Post 4574809)
Yeah I get it. Is that necessarily the claim though? "Good" people can use language badly and vice versa. I guess I'd have to read further before I felt comfortable with the idea that the author is saying all that you're suggesting they are.

Either way what interested me most was the bit about Faulkner as as a believer in the possibility of "language rightly used" as compared to Pinter and Beckett and skeptics. I'm not sure I ever really thought about Faulkner that way. But then I see stories like The Tall Men or Shall Not Perish and I wonder what, if any of it, is actually him. He certainly strikes me as significantly more conservative than either Pinter or Beckett. But yeah I would agree that he seems far more interested in storytelling than in ideas. I guess maybe he was just really good at understanding and conveying the inner lives of people in ways that inevitably connect to those ideas, whether they were of interest to him or not

I mean, who gets to determine when language is "rightly used?" I think that is my issue with the argument. One man's good is another man's bad. Faulkner knows better than anyone that language is an expression of perspective, and though he had certain political commitments himself, I don't think he would class his characters as either "using language well" or "misusing it." They're all just using language to express their own contradictory experiences. The excerpt feels dated because it's relying on older school critical apparatus aimed at deliniating "good and bad," rather than the newer school project of articulating how perspectives interact with each other.

Also, like so many literary-critical arguments, when you strip away all the posturing and big words and citations, the claim just isn't that interesting. "language can be used for good, or misused!" wooooaaahhh, no shit dude.

ovary 02-15-2021 11:06 AM

Think about the first chapter of Go Down, Moses, when they're talking about "Tomey's Turl" and you think it's a dog or a donkey or something and then it turns out that he's a fucking human being. And only half-black, and a blood-relation to the whites talking about him, at that. And then, later on, it turns out that Buddy and whatshisname the brother are like, the most progressive plantation owners in the whole damn county.

I just think that the genius of Faulkner is displaying/unraveling those kinds of like, fucked up knots of social interaction in the south. Everyone is so deeply implicated in the evil that it's too reductive to read him and be like "well, some characters use language in degenerate ways, and some use language in good ways."

slunken 04-27-2021 07:24 PM

Can't remember when I posted last. Read a bunch of Philip K Dick and which made me question reality. I felt he was much easier to understand once you can understand his life/biography.

Moved to David Foster Wallace (essays) because of people complaining about him online. I really liked his essay on the cruise ship which is probably what everyone knows him by. His essay on a county fair moved me to tears several times. https://harpers.org/wp-content/uploa...07-0001729.pdf

The stuff about TV and fiction bored me. Gonna try his short stories next.

Started "angels" by Denis Johnson and am glued to it. Early 80s white trash fiction. Is this how I find out I'm dumb?

run2pee 04-27-2021 09:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by slunken (Post 4578576)
Can't remember when I posted last. Read a bunch of Philip K Dick and which made me question reality. I felt he was much easier to understand once you can understand his life/biography.

Moved to David Foster Wallace (essays) because of people complaining about him online. I really liked his essay on the cruise ship which is probably what everyone knows him by. His essay on a county fair moved me to tears several times. https://harpers.org/wp-content/uploa...07-0001729.pdf

The stuff about TV and fiction bored me. Gonna try his short stories next.

Started "angels" by Denis Johnson and am glued to it. Early 80s white trash fiction. Is this how I find out I'm dumb?

Denis Johnson and DFW are two of my all time GOATS of all time

Try Gods Son and infinite jest (although feel free to skip anything very dry and technical about, e.g., tennis, since DFW’s obsessive indulgences tend to (for me at least) stall the otherwise thrilling electric darkness, at parts

slunken 04-27-2021 09:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Run To Me (Post 4578587)
Denis Johnson and DFW are two of my all time GOATS of all time

Try Gods Son and infinite jest (although feel free to skip anything very dry and technical about, e.g., tennis, since DFWs obsessive indulgences tend to (for me at least) stall the otherwise thrilling electric darkness, at parts

Gods son next for denis Johnson yea ? His work seems...spotty


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