Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Emperor's New Clothes!

I spun out The Brooklyn Follies so that I could finish it yesterday as a Christmas treat. It is a feelgood read and I fell in love with the characters. Auster doesn't need bells and whistles to impress the reader - he's simply a damn good storyteller.

Now am several chapters into The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud. Much hyped. On every best of the year list as you probably noticed.

I am so far completely underwhelmed by what I've read so far. I keep reaching for my editor's pencil to underline sentences where I think the writing is totally shitty! Long winded, with overly convoluted sentences and some strange choice of expression e.g.:
He was a failure at intimacy, if not at sex (he had no shortage of partners; but they were only shortly upon the scene.)
I would have got Messud to rewrite that nasty quasi-Victorianism! Was her editor snoring?

Nevertheless, dear reader, now that I feel better for this sound off, I will get back to it. It surely must improve.

Have also begun Norah Vincent's Self-Made Man: My Year Disguised as a Man which I think I will enjoy much more, and am finishing the last few stories in the latest Silverfish collection so I can pass judgement on the whole thing.

And you? What are you reading?

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

I got 5 books for Christmas. Am in the midst of Paolo Coelho's Like The Flowing River. And have The Tibetan Book of Living And Dying (Sogyal Rinpoche), The Inheritance of Loss (Kiran Desai), A Spot Of Bother (Mark Haddon) and The Year of Magical Thinking (Joan Didion) waiting for me.

Ted Mahsun said...

The Girl Who Played Go by Shan Sa... Beautiful language, too bad I can't stay awake long enough to read it. Zzzz...

Eliza said...

Sharon, I'm going through Silverfish 6 still (interspersed with Senu Abdul Rahman's Mental Revolution and - er - The Millionaire Next Door) and enjoying it very much. Will write one of my non-review reviews next week, hopefully. I have a mound of books to read this year, and a host of good resolutions!
Happy New Year and I hope no one got suspicious of your Christmas Turkey this year!

starlight said...

whoops, the comment above belongs to me.

Eliza said...

Sharon, I'm going through Silverfish 6 still (interspersed with Senu Abdul Rahman's Mental Revolution and - er - The Millionaire Next Door) and enjoying it very much. Will write one of my non-review reviews next week, hopefully. I have a mound of books to read this year, and a host of good resolutions!
Happy New Year and I hope no one got suspicious of your Christmas Turkey this year!

*cosmic freak* said...

I have ...

err, let me see,

Arundhati Roy's God of Small Things (which I started like, earlier this year then I got myself buying more books that leaves me half way through everything)

the more books consist of:-

Paulo Coelho's Like The Flowing River (which I had to sit down with a piece of paper and a pen)

Rani Manicka's The Rice Mother (until my sister took it cos it took me forever and she can't wait much longer)

From Majapahit to Putrajaya by Farish A Noor (I had to re read The Other Malaysia, so basically I'm halfway thru the first book and on the introduction page of the second book, heh)

The Essential Rumi: Translation by Coleman Barks (also, had to sit down and recite it outloud, rather than just reading it quickly and silently)

The Time Traveler's Wife (recently bought and reading it half way too)

I need TIME!!! and motivation. But most of all TIME!!! owh, and determination.

Sham said...

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts and just started on Arthur and George by Julian Barnes as well.....

Fei said...

Just Finished Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and Anita Desai’s The Zigzag Way, Both are really good read, I enjoyed them very much.

Am reading Ian McEwen’s The Comfort of Stranger, and Raymond Carver’s Call if You Need Me.

Anonymous said...

100 pages away from completion for Arthur and George currently, got a pile of books on the shelf to be read after.
Happy New Year and happy reading,
Uma

irene said...

Sharon -- is this a case of 'once an editor, always an editor'? *grin*

I just finished Dorothy L. Sayers' Strong Poison and am in between books at the moment. I have 35 titles to choose from (booty from the Big Bookshop & Payless Books warehouse sales). Spoilt for choice...

Jenn said...

I gave up on The Emperor's Children halfway through. I borrowed it and then bought a copy from Amazon (2nd hand) coz I'd renewed it twice and STILL cld not finish lol. Reading King's Lisey's Story and Ha Jin's Waiting. Does Ha Jin's writing sound like he thinks in Chinese, and then writes in English? or are his books translated?

wm said...

Plan to start on Climbing the Mango Tree - Madhur Jaffrey, after I've finished with Girl, Interrupted (Susanna Kaysen)

Sufian said...

I'm reading the hell out of my two Kerets. Starting Death of an Ancient King, Laurent Gaude (Prix Goncourt winner!), Voltaire's Bastard (John Ralston Saul). Thinking of buying two more books in Acma (26% off until the end of the year!)

Subashini said...

just finished hari kunzru's transmission, which is my first book by kunzru. i found his writing to be so impeccable as to be faultless; the preciseness of the prose is amazing. not a single unnecessary word. the story too, was intriguing - however, i still don't quite think i liked it. i don't know why... there's so much to like, and yet... couldn't feel much while reading it.

and now i've just begun ali smith's the accidental which is undeniably charming and refreshing... i'm enjoying it very much. hopefully i'll feel that way when it's over, too!

also going to attempt from majapahit to putrajaya soon. i bought the other malaysia and a friend bought majapahit, and the deal was to swap and save RM 40 per person. *grin*

Anna Akhmatova said...

My staple is non-fiction and am reading "The History of Modern Russia" by Robert Service.

Plan to reread "Skeletons On the Zahara"(based on James Riley's narratives) by Dean King and "Metro Stop Dostoevsky" by Ingrid Bengis this weekend.

Jane Sunshine said...

The Sea by John Banville, Kafka on The Shore by Murakami and Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky (finally!).

*cosmic freak* said...

I got my "from majapahit to putrajaya" for only 14 ringgit from a novel house in ipoh. cool huh? and also 1 ringgit for an old classic version of Catch 22.

You bring 100 ringgit to a novel house and you'll definitely be a very very happy person. hahaha.

Glenda Larke said...

I'd love to say that I am reading Christmas book presents, but alas, a downside of being an author is that you read an awful lot of your own work. Over and over and over again. My editor spent an hour on the phone with me last week discussing my present book, and now it's back to the computer to reread and change stuff.

And all the while there are all those lovely books out there saying read me, read me...

amir said...

I'm reading...what you gave me on Saturday.

The Glass City is good in the first half. Didn't care too much for the second part.

Also reading Planet Simpson. Quite good, cause I like The Simpsons. Got the book as a Christm,as gift two weeks before Christmas. usually read it on the ERL.

Am also re-reading some Alan Moore comics.

Cheers.

Chet said...

I just finished reading Paul Auster's Oracle Night. As I said in an earlier comment, he's a writer's writer. In Oracle Night, he weaves the craft of writing into the story, and takes the reader through his main character's attempts at various projects, including an outline of a screenpaly based on H G Well's The Time Machine.

Now I go back to another book I started reading recently, When Red Is Black by Qiu Xiaolong, about the murder of an author of a book banned in China.

bibliobibuli said...

i loved reading about your reads! a vicarious thrill ... and tremendous reassurance that i'm not the only loony around

i got just one book for christmas - the latest jamie oliver, from my sister, and just love it. books like this you don't buy for yourself ...

i can't put down "self-made man" - it's fascinating ...

cosmic freak - i didn't even know there was a novel house in Ipoh - do tell more! "catch 22" for rm1 is amazing!!

jane sunshine - that's three heavies ... you gonna drown??

irene - yeah the editor habit is hard to shake. i know something is wrong though when i reach for my pencil 'cos the prose isn't up to par. mostly that's how i read locally produced books!

(eliza - have you notes how many grammar errors there are in SNW6?)

jenn- i am sure i will make it through "the emperor's children" ... maybe it's just dangerous to read another novel so soon after one you have really loved ...

poor glenda ... hope that you find your way back to your book-pile when your manuscript is perfectly polished

amir - so interested in your feedback on "city of glass" ... wonder how you'd think it compared with the original ...

chet -it's taking great restraint on my part to not dive straightaway into another auster ... i have "oracle night" to read and am looking forward to it

lil ms d said...

i'm about to read 'we wish to tell you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families', the secrets of secrets (book on sufism) and yes, something ... bimbette-ish.

In Style magazine Jan 07.

am i forgiven?

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Sharon!

Just wanted to say a quick hello and Season's Greetings! Also, thank you for warning us about "The Emperor's Children", I'm so relieved I can scratch it off my TBR list! I have to wonder at the "Best of the year" lists sometimes...sigh

*cosmic freak* said...

sharon,

I started going to novel house in yik foong plaza ipoh when I was 10-11, my brother could get his x-men comics for 4 ringgit and I was into the whole archie and friends thing and also christopher pike's horror teen novels. that was then.

now, when I got back to ipoh for raya, my cousin took me to two novel houses, one is at the row of shops behind Jusco near Ipoh Garden, and the other one is in Ipoh Parade. You can also rent the books I guess, like you bought them at the noted price and you can return them back and they charged you for like 2-3 ringgit for the rent and return back the remaining money that you've paid after minus the rent charges.

the novel house have made me constructed a business plan of making a book cafe of my own, maybe when I have enough money. you can sit and have a coffee while reading the provided books and if you want, you can buy them or rent them. for the sake of encouraging people to read.

I'm still in my early 20s, have to work hard to save money for that I guess. heh.

bibliobibuli said...

ms d - the title of that book sounds very scary - what is it???

lotus - oh dear. i will pick it up again soon and give it a fairer chance. i wonder if i didn't take so kindly too it because i'd just been reading a novel i enjoyed so much. i might like it yet ...

thanks for telling us about novel house in ipoh. i used to live up the road in kuala kangsar and i'm sure it wasn't around then (the 1980's)... i used to be so desperate for books.

the book cafe idea is such a nice one ... i hope it becomes a reality for you

lil ms d said...

hi sharon!

it's about the rwandan crisis in the 90s. after reading beasts of no nation, have started reading a lot on africa. wooo, blows your socks off. i'm on te waitlist for david eggers 'what is the what' - another memoir on sudan.