Stories: Life in Books

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  • Ben Austin,

    Phew. Because once the new Copyright Act is passed all created works dissolve on the cessation of the author.





    Was that poor taste?

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 885 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Not poor taste, but what's this cessation thing?

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    So it goes...
    some of the books that made a big impression on me in my teens & 20s,very much by then an experienced scifict/fan reader, were works by Kurt Vonnegut including 'Cat's Cradle' . I still look for Kilgore Trout references (they turn up as a kind of hommage in a surprising number of stories & books in the genre...)
    Kurt Vonnegut is dead.
    Haere e hoa, haere ki to tini i te raki-

    'so it goes.'

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Did someone mention Carlos Castenada?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 901 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Colonel Kilgore no less in Apocalypse Now. As for Carlos, who cares the real or no, he really made me think and when you study shamanism anthropologically, some of his stuff stacks up, but the metaphysical stuff (always dangerous territory) is kind of interesting, especially concerning The Nagual.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Riddley Walker,

    always with the Nagual.

    AKL • Since Feb 2007 • 890 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Think of me as a spider's web my friend and you are the fly.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Riddley Walker,

    why that is very reassuring mssr merc.

    AKL • Since Feb 2007 • 890 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    It's OK, I'm just using The Second Attention to Stop The World.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • hamishm,

    There's a bit in Foreskins lament where Foreskin tells someone why the new blokes are different (might even be F's catechism) and he says "We've been Vonnegutted". It was true for me, I can never see the phrase "Breakfast of Champions" without smiling.
    The story from one of Trouts books, that I love concerns red-haired aliens who come to earth. The communicate by tap-dancing and farting. Unfortunately the first person they try to talk to is a drunk in a bar and since they are 2 inches tall, he thinks their leader is a match and trys to strike him on the side on a matchbox.
    So it goes.

    Since Nov 2006 • 345 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    The story from one of Trouts books

    Hah. Yes. The brilliant Kilgore Trout. I remeber the farting & tap dancing alien.

    Have you read Venus on the Halfshell by Kilgore Trout himself (not sure who really wrote it, but it wasn't Vonnegut)?

    Since Nov 2006 • 2073 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    Gah! He's gone! So sad.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2073 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Have you read Venus on the Halfshell by Kilgore Trout himself (not sure who really wrote it, but it wasn't Vonnegut)?

    Yes Sir! Later editions were credited to Philip José Farmer.
    Remember the quadruple amputee who achieved more with his remaining appendage than most manage with a full set of limbs? And Ralph Von Wau-Wau, the playboy detective who was really a German shepherd . . .

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3475 posts Report Reply

  • hamishm,

    That sounds like Farmer and I vaguely remember something about Ralph the GS.
    Farmer was very popular when I was at University but seems to have faded away. He may have died which can be limiting for a writer. What was his Cowboy story featuring Satan who had a 50% bonus in the trouser department? "The Jungle Rot Kid on the Prod"? Maybe.

    Since Nov 2006 • 345 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    I've never enjoyed Iain M Banks all that much - the Culture leaves me cold, and The Algebraist got just plain boring - but I am hooked on Iain Banks, ever since I read what has to be the best first line ever, in The Crow Road.

    "It was the day my grandmother exploded."

    Fantastic.

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1307 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    I always enjoyed Kurt Vonnegut's writing -__Slaughter House Five__ was relevant to me as my Dad was a navigator on a Lancaster during the war, and had bombed Dresden.

    It really is a small world - our next door neighbour - Mr Alpatoff - had been on the ground in the outskirts of Dresden - outside the range of the suffocating firestorms but close enough to have been rendered deaf by the bombing. He had been saved by lying in a ditch during the time the bombs fell (which was a period of several hours) and when he crawled out he was completely deaf and concussed. He said the bodies of those who'd not survived had no marks on them, except for some had a little blood around the nose or mouth, and many had been left naked by the blast.

    I saw Kurt Vonnegut go into Munro's Bookstore, in Victoria when I was about 12 or 13. I coundn't believe it was really him, up there in Canada, but he looked exactly like he did in his photographs and was even wearing the same black raincoat he'd been wearing in some of the photos... I didn't say anything to him. As it turned out, he'd been in town on his way up the island to rescue his son Mark, who'd been diagnosed as schizophrenic and was in a very bad way. Mark Vonnegut - who recovered and later became a distinguished shrink - wrote a fascinating first hand account of his descent into madness, entitled Eden Express.

    Kurt Vonnegut is one of the only modern novelists I ever read with much interest or pleasure - I know from his interviews he wasn't that keen on being alive anyway, but I'm sad to see him go just the same.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Dyan, that is a brilliant post, you can write. I have always been fascinated by Lancasters, especially the tail gunner, (the whole 9 yards, their ammo clip was 9 yards long and if they came back with an empty clip, they'd gone the whole 9 yards...) or so I was told by an old fellow at Motat on open day inside a bomber, I think it is a Lancaster, when you sit in them you realise how crazy the whole proposition was.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    I know from his interviews he wasn't that keen on being alive anyway, but I'm sad to see him go just the same.

    Seems like he went when he was ready to go. We should all be so fortunate. Great post Dyan, thank you.

    the best first line ever, in The Crow Road.
    "It was the day my grandmother exploded."

    That is nice 'n succinct.
    Somewhat wordier, the opening line of Anthony Burgess's Earthly Powers:

    "It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me."

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3475 posts Report Reply

  • Kim Wright,

    Ismail Kadare - I'm reading a couple of his works at present. He's Albanian (apparently they have 29 letters in their alphabet and the few that I know are excellent linguists...) and his writing is connected to the 'Kanun' - the Albanian blood vendetta that has captured the Northern Albanians for centuries.

    Wierd but cool.

    Malta :-( • Since Apr 2007 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Felix Marwick,

    Well in the world of weird opening lines in novels Peter F Hamilton has surely made a stellar contribution.

    "Suzi crapped the Frankenstein cockroach into the toilet bowl, then pushed the chrome handle halfway down for a short flush."
    THE NANOFLOWER.

    Out of the 600+ books I own none have an opening sentence that can top that. I keep buying more in the chance that I will find one.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 194 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    I bought Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle at Hard to Find Books in Onehunga yesterday. Which by the way is entirely worth the drive from the city: it's the kind of glorious rabbit warren I could spend a day in just browsing.

    Boing Boing has a festival of Vonnegut linkage up, but all you techy people will know that by now...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1557 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    Damn it for no post editing, but Merc, I've just read a pretty good book on NZers in Bomber Command by Max Hastings, called Night after Night. Just came out in paperback.

    Some hair-raising stuff in there. One pilot was pinned in his seat by G-forces in a crashing, spiralling bomber with only one wing left. Eventually the remaining wing fell off, the plane stopped whirling as it fell, and he was able to get up, jump out the side window and parachute down to safety.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1557 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Thanks Sam F, yep that's the stuff, my Dad's Uncle was shot down twice, the second time in flames (red eyed caterpillar badge, rare). Apparently the tail gunners were young and small because to exit the bubble when in trouble you had to pivot backwards on full extension and drop backwards through the tiny gap (with your parachute), most didn't get to do this. It is said that after a particularly bad mission, they simply hosed the plane out...
    I'll look for the book. Hard To Find is great, so is the K'Road one. Jason in Lorne St. is also quite good, prices are creeping up though.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    __The Algebraist__ got just plain boring

    i battled through the first 150 pages... and read it out of sheer determination.

    as i reviewed it (briefly) on object dart, much of it was a waste of pages.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2026 posts Report Reply

  • Malcolm,

    You know, I thought for a while it would be great if we could get a summary of this thread as a kind of geek / intellectual reading list.

    But then I found my secret life being steadily exposed by other people's reading choices. Heinlein, The Stainless Steel Rat, The Illumuninatas Trilogy, Robert Graves, Joe Haldeman, Kurt Vonnegut, Ursule Le Guien, Tolkien, Ian (M) Banks, and the rest.

    How long have you lot been spying on me?

    Since Apr 2007 • 69 posts Report Reply

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