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What are you reading?


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#1 dirac

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 11:19 AM

This is just another survey of what our posters have been reading this summer, dance related or otherwise. Recommend those you liked, warn us off the others.....

#2 perky

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 01:51 PM

I have read or am still reading a few books this summer including:

When The Astors Owned New York-Blue Bloods And Grand Hotels In A Gilded Age by Justin Kaplin
This era has always facinated me and the book focuses on one of the leading society families of the day

F.U.B.A.R America's Right-Wing Nightmare (I can't say what those letters stand for :flowers: )
by Sam Seder and Stephen Sherrill of Air America's Majority Report
This is a very funny book if you are of the liberal political persuasion.

I'm re-reading one dance book at the moment, Striking A Balance by Barbara Newman. Wonderful interviews with many facinating dancers.

And my latest read is a romance but don't let that stop you. It's called The Taming Of The Duke and it's written by Eloisa James who happens to be an english lit. professor at Fordham University. She writes with the same sparkling wit as the great Georgette Heyer.

#3 sandik

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 02:20 PM

F.U.B.A.R America's Right-Wing Nightmare (I can't say what those letters stand for :flowers: )


An acronym with a military origin, much like snafu.

F*cked Up Beyond All Recognition.

#4 papeetepatrick

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 02:33 PM

Lawrence Wright's 'the Looming Tower.' I'll have it in a couple of weeks. Al Qaeda, WTC.

#5 bart

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 02:43 PM

I'm re-reading one dance book at the moment, Striking A Balance by Barbara Newman. Wonderful interviews with many facinating dancers.

I'm re-reading Barbara Newman too -- but Grace under Pressure: Passing Dance through Time (2003), a discussion including teachers, choreographers, company directors, and repititeurs. I read this a year or so ago, and did plenty of underlining. But another year reading the posts on Ballet Talk has educatead me, and it's interesting to re-visit this book in the light of that. There are enough than insights and opinions to start off dozens of excellent Ballet Talk threads.

Just finished Thomas Ricks's Fiasco(Penguin), a deeply researched account of the run-up to to the Iraq war and its aftermath. I know we don't discuss politics here, though the title itself is a significant political statement. Ricks, a reporter for the Washington Post, makes use of 37,000 pages of official documents. He's conducted many inteviews and had access to a vast number of e-mails written home by American soldiers in Iraq.

I enjoyed Stephen Walsh's Stravinsky biography (2 volumes). The first volume covers his life and work through 1934. The second -- just published -- covers 1934 to 1974. Some of the music talk is rather technical -- though all the names and works are familiar. I would think that many of the musicians on Ballet Talk would enjoy this as well.

Then there's a long-planned summer re-visit to Proust, in the new translations (Penguin Classics). I'm now in the midst of volume 3, The Guermantes Way. Each volume has a different translator. From my point of view, each so far has been a marked improvement on the original Scott Moncrieff translations, even as revised by Enright. Some of the long sentences are as stunning in their line and beauty as the greatest Petipa/Balanchine adagio. I usually think of language primarily as a vehicle for meaning -- but, with this, I'm actually relishing the sensual experience of it all.

#6 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 04:33 PM

Well, I finally OD’d on Founding Father biographies and appear to be on something of a “speculative fiction” jag. I’m just finishing up Iron Council (the third volume in China Miéville’s Bas-Lag trilogy, along with Perdido Street Station and The Scar) and knocked off the first three of Terry Pratchett’s gazillion or so Discworld books (which are truly, hysterically funny if you’ve been exposed to anything in the standard-order fantasy oeuvre and have worked for any length of time in a bureaucratic organization, whether public, private or academic). I also duly marched through all three volumes of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, as well as Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash and Diamond Age and Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Anansi Boys. (Still can’t get through Cryptonomicon ...) I heartily recommend them all to anyone who likes this sort of thing. I suppose I’ll have to pick up something a bit more learned and respectable after Labor Day. Donald Kagan’s The Peloponnesian War is still lurking on the nightstand along with William Vollman’s Europe Central (which is really just too heavy to hold up in bed – I may have to dissect it into smaller units to get through it). Capote’s In Cold Blood is teed up on the iPod. (I do a lot of my "reading" via my iPod during my walk back and forth to work or when I'm ironing or washing the dishes.)

I’ve been tempted by Fiasco, Cobra II, The Looming Tower, Dying to Win and assorted related titles, but just haven’t had the heart to go there right now ... Recommendation: do read the official 9/11 report if you get the chance (and check out the excerpts from graphic novel (!) version on Slate). I never thought I’d have the opportunity to refer to a government committee report as a “page-turner” – but this one really is!

Bart: I was never able to get much past The Guermantes Way before I ran out of steam, despite really liking Proust – maybe I’ll try the new translations. I’ve been told that Proust’s French is actually much more straightforward and less elaborate than Moncreiff’s English.

#7 papeetepatrick

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 04:53 PM

Just read DeLillo's 'Cosmopolis' and started his earlier 'Libra.' Phenomenol novelist, read 'Underworld' some years back. I think 'Cosmopolis' is great, and think Ms. Kakutani's review was one of the most wrong-headed I've read from her. She wrote what was an extremely interesting piece on Franzen's autobio, in which the quotes couldn't be made up, so I can live without reading both this book and not bothering to catch up by finally reading 'the Corrections.' He really sounds bratty. Anybody that didn't have sense enough to keep from describing the WTC attacks as 'their terrible beauty' is pretty tacky.

#8 canbelto

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Posted 01 September 2006 - 07:31 PM

I took everyones advice and am reading Robert Caro's The Path to Power.

#9 dirac

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Posted 05 September 2006 - 03:16 PM

Thank you to everyone who’s posted so far. Keep them coming.

papeetepatrick writes:

Just read DeLillo's 'Cosmopolis' and started his earlier 'Libra.' Phenomenol novelist, read 'Underworld' some years back..


I have to get back to De Lillo – I haven’t read anything since Players and White Noise, which were both terrific, mainly because I don’t read as much fiction as I used to, unless you count certain biographies and memoirs.

Kathleen O'Connell writes:

I also duly marched through all three volumes of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, as well as Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash and Diamond Age and Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Anansi Boys. (Still can’t get through Cryptonomicon ...)


I read and liked Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle trilogy (the first volume, Quicksilver, is the best, the second is second best, and the third, System of the World, is a letdown - Stephenson has trouble wrapping things up). What is Pullman like?


Le Morte Darthur. A re-read.
The Ecstasy of Owen Muir by Ring Lardner, Jr.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.
A Dreadful Man, Brian Aherne’s biography of his friend George Sanders.
The new bio of Laurence Olivier by Terry Coleman.
T.S. Eliot’s adaptation of Murder in the Cathedral for the screen.

#10 Quiggin

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 11:19 AM

Just finished Roberto Bolano’s book of short stories "Last Evenings on Earth". Good though less so than "By Night in Chile". The narrator of By Night is a priest—in his youth he was a poet—going over the events of his life to himself, not quite taking in much of what is implied. Neruda and Pinochet are minor characters, and there is a great chapter about a seemingly innocent Opus Dei assignment. In "Last Evenings" the story of the Grub was a standout and, in another story, there is a long, very effective retelling of Tarkovsky’s great film Andrei Rubelov. Bolano’s tone is always perfection and carries you nicely over all sorts of rough expository terrain.

Will reread last summer’s H P Hartley’s sad and beautiful "Eustace and Hilda" about a dreamy and impractical brother and his overly practical sister—closely tied to each other—and a sort of Miss Haversham character they meet who changes their lives. A friend of mine—a great Jane Austen fan—has just returned E&H to me to keep himself from reading it a third time.

Also Elizabeth Bowen’s comedic "Death of the Heart", about Portia Quayne, who been left an orphan and is provisionally living in her half-brother’s unfriendly home in London. There is the great character of Eddie, the charming, bad boyfriend of all time, and there is a gruff maid named Machett who almost alone sees the truth of everything. It opens as many of EB’s stories do with an image of swans who swim with icy indignation.

#11 Helene

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 11:30 AM

Over the holiday weekend, I left my half-packed den in a state of disarray and finished (finally!) Anna Karenina.

Now back to Jared Diamond's Catastrophe.

#12 carbro

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 12:11 PM

Congratulations, Helene!

I've been dipping into Sarah Vowell's The Partly Cloudy Patriot, which makes me laugh and lets me feel smart (perhaps smug is the better word :dry: ) without challenging me. Smug and lazy? Oh, well.

Twinge of recognition: In the chapter, "Nerd Israel" (because the internet is a Promised Land for nerds), she quotes an anonymous post on Slashdot.org,

"Geeks tend to be focused on very narrow fields of endeavor. The modern geek has been generally dismissed by socity because their passions are viewed as trivial by those people who "see the big picture." Geeks understand that the big picuture is pixilated and thier high level of contribution in small areas grows the picture.. . "

She then elaborates,

Being a nerd, which is to say going too far and caring too much about a subject, is the best way to make friends I know. For me, the spark that turns an acquaintance into a friend has usually been kindled by some shared interest, like detective novels or Ulysses S. Grant. As a kid, I never knew what to say to anyone. It was only as a teenage musician that I improved my people chops.

Not to imply that anyone here ever needed to improve their "people chops."

#13 vagansmom

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 07:04 PM

Some contemporary novels:

The Confessions of Max Tivoli by Andrew Sean Greer - What a lovely book! It's a bit of a fantasy where a man is born physically old. His body grows younger, but his mind is chronologically normal. It sounds a little silly, but it's not. In fact, it's an homage to love over a lifetime despite the tragedy of having a body whose age doesn't match up to that of one's mind except for a brief few years in the middle of life. A very poignant book written poetically.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. It's the story of two young girls in China growing up in the 1800's. Another poetically written book, this one's about the special "laotong" contract entered into by the parents of these two girls. Very interesting historical novel. A bit of a mystery runs through it.

Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler. This one's a reread for me. I've read it twice before, the first time in a Russian history class in high school. Spine-tingling and sad.

With all the talk about Russian books on the other thread, I've decided to reread War and Peace by Tolstoy. I have read it once a decade since I was about 21. Now that I'm in my 50's, it's a good time. It's a good book to grow up with. I read it more for the young romances than anything else when I was in my 20's. I went on, with subsequent readings, to enjoy the historical perspective, the descriptive passages, and now the older people. In fact, I read about them with gusto! Whodathunkit way back when? :dry:

Nonfiction:

Engaging Autism: Helping Children Relate, Communicate and Think with the DIR Floortime Approach by Stanley Greenspan. This one was my required summer reading since I do floortime therapy with a few kids. Fascinating read for anyone interested in autism.

#14 Helene

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 07:56 PM

I've been dipping into Sarah Vowell's The Partly Cloudy Patriot...

Being a nerd, which is to say going too far and caring too much about a subject, is the best way to make friends I know.

And just today, I passed a man at work whose t-shirt read, "Talk nerdy to me."


(I was tempted to whisper, "Circuit board" as I passed him, but I can't do sultry for the life of me.)

#15 Bill

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 10:08 AM

I just finished Quartered Safe Out Here, a memoir by George MacDonald Fraser about his infantry service in Burma in WWII. Fraser wrote the Flashman historical/comic novels. This is a good read about a relatively little-known part of that war and also is very interesting as a coming-of-age story. Fraser was nineteen and was tapped to lead much more experienced soldiers.


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