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View Diary: Bookflurries-Bookchat: Desperadoes: Dangerous, Despicable, Fun or Redeemable? (184 comments)

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  •  Finished Barker's Regeneration (13+ / 0-)

    Trilogy which I loved. Before the night is over will have finished Erdrich's The Round House which is gripping and wonderful though liked  her The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse much more. To my mind, she's a fabulous American writer. My brother has just finished reading Sister Carrie and can't stop raving about it. Am tempted. Has anyone read it? As for books with characters I couldn't love.....there was not one person in Wolf Hall that I found likable.  Not one.

    •  Completely agree about the Regeneration (13+ / 0-)

      trilogy -- what a great marriage of theme and narrative.

      Likewise agree about The Last Report, a thoroughly engaging book.

      Some day I will read Sister Carrie but plan on reading Gatsby again first.

    •  ack! (14+ / 0-)
      As for books with characters I couldn't love.....there was not one person in Wolf Hall that I found likable.  Not one.
      I am so glad I steered clear of those books...winners or not, loved by many here or not.  I am just not able to read that kind of story anymore.  I have to have one character to like.  

      Join us at Bookflurries-Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

      by cfk on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 06:00:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I found 'An American Tragedy' had a rough power (8+ / 0-)

      to it, though the tragedy is ultimately sad and senseless.

      I'm sorry to hear that about Wolf Hall, but so many have recommended it that I'll have to see for myself. I can stomach a pretty bleak book, if it's well-written. And some say Bringing up the Bodies is better.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 06:14:11 PM PST

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      •  Bring up the Bodies (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cfk, Brecht, newdem1960, shari, jlms qkw, Portlaw

        is, I think better.  But to know Cromwell better, read Wolf hall first.  It's not all bleak because there is a twisted sense of humor running through it.

        Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

        by barbwires on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 07:06:20 PM PST

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      •  true, since Clyde Griffiths is such a..... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cfk, jlms qkw, Portlaw, Brecht

        ......insignificant person, a very ordinary guy.  It is tragic since he buys into the whole money and social status thing, but then so do many of us, even on this side of the political spectrum.  Irving Howe said that Clyde Griffiths is an example of not American collective greatness, but American collective smallness.

        "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

        by chingchongchinaman on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 10:04:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Irving Howe was right (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chingchongchinaman, cfk

          also senseless, in that despite his smallness, Clyde could have been okay if he'd just put in a little work, kindness and loyalty.

          I guess that's the point though. If you take the rat race too seriously, you become a rat.

          "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

          by Brecht on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 03:54:23 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  also if he had..... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Brecht, cfk

            ......accepted Roberta as she was, and didn't (metaphorically) throw her under the bus chasing after Sondra, who was unattainable anyway.

            "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

            by chingchongchinaman on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 04:30:10 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Notes from Regeneration Trilogy (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cfk, shari, alrdouglas, jlms qkw, Portlaw

      Regeneration by Pat Barker
      NY: Penguin Books, 1991
      ISBN 0-452-27007-3

      (107-108)  One of the paradoxes of the war - one of the many - was that the most brutal conflicts should set up a relationship between officers and men that was ... domestic.  Caring. As Layard would have undoubtedly said, maternal.  And that wasn't the only trick the war had played.  Mobilization.  The Great Adventure.  They'd been mobilized into holes in the ground so constricted they could hardly move.  And the Great Adventure - the real life equivalent of all the adventure stories they'd devoured as boys - consisted of crouching in a dugout, waiting to be killed.  The war had promised so much in the way of 'manly' activity had actually delivered 'feminine' passivity, and on a scale that their mothers and sisters had scarcely known.  No wonder they broke down.

      (183)  They talked for over an hour.   Near the end, after they'd been sitting in silence for a while, Burns said quietly, 'Do you know what Christ died of?'

      Rivers looked surprised, but answered readily enough.  'Suffocation.  Ultimately the position makes it impossible to go on inflating the lungs.  A terrible death.'

      'That's what I find so horrifying.  Somebody had to imagine that death.  I mean, just in order to invent it as a method of execution.  You know that thing in the Bible?  "The imagination of a man's heart is evil from his youth"?  I used to wonder why pick on that?  Why his imagination?  But it's absolutely right.'

      (195)  A dispiriting way to bring girls up, Sarah thought;  to make marriage the sole end of female existence and yet to deny that love between men and women was possible.  Ada did deny it.  In her world, men loved women as the fox loves the hare.  And women loved men as the tapeworm loves the gut.

      (216)  Without warning, Prior saw again the shovel, the sack, the scattered lime.  The eyeball lay in the palm of his hand.  'Yes,' he said.

      She would never know, because he would never tell her.  Somehow if she'd known the worst parts, she couldn't have gone on being a haven for him.  He was groping for an idea that he couldn't quite grasp.  Men said they didn't tell their women about France because they didn't want to worry them.  But it was more than that.  He needed her ignorance to hide in.  Yet, at the same time, he wanted to know and be known as deeply as possible.  And the two desires were irreconcilable.

      (222)  As soon as he started work at the hospital he became busy and, as Head had predicted, fascinated by the differences in severity of breakdowns between the different branches of the RFC.  Pilots, though they did break down, did so less frequently and usually less severely than the men who manned observation balloons.  They, floating helplessly above the battlefields, unable to avoid attack or to defend themselves effectively against it, showed the highest incidence of breakdown of any service.  Even including infantry officers.  This reinforced Rivers's view that it was prolonged strain, immobility and helplessness that did the damage, and not the sudden shocks or bizarre horrors that the patients themselves were inclined to point to as the explanation for their condition.  That would help to account for the greater prevalance of anxiety neuroses and hysterical disorders in women in peacetime, since their relatively more confined lives gave them fewer opportunities of reacting to stress in active and constructive ways.  Any explanation of war neurosis must account for the fact that this apparemtly intensely masculine life of war and danger and hardship produced in men the same disorders that women suffered from in peace.

      The Eye in the Door by Pat Barker
      NY:  Dutton, 1994
      ISBN 0-525-93808-7

      (43)  Mac was certainly a more effective opponent of the war than most, if only because he was not in love with suffering.

      (52)  Could she have plotted to kill Lloyd George?  Prior thought he understood how the powerless might begin to fancy themselves omnipotent.

      (112)  Anyway, they got me off to the station and they started pushing me around, one to the other, you know, flat-of-the-hand stuff, and they were all grinning, sort of nervous grins, and I knew what was coming, I knew they were working themselves up.  It's surprising how much working up the average man needs before he'll do anything really violent.  Well, you'd know all about that.'

      …'That's a very dangerous idea.  It comes quite close to saying that the willingness to suffer proves the rightness of the belief.  But it doesn't.  The most it can ever prove is the believer's sincerity.  And not always that.  Some people just like suffering.'

      (139)  'You must be wary of filling the gaps in your memory with … monsters.  I think we all tend to do it.  As soon as we're left with a blank, we start projecting our worst fears on to it.

      (142)  Sitting blindfold at the table, Head had been unable to locate the stimulus that was causing him such severe pain.  This primitive form of innervation they called the protopathic.  The second phase of regeneration - which they called the epicritic - followed some months later, and was characterized but the ability to make graduated response and to locate the source of a stimulus precisely…

      Inevitably, as time went on, both words had acquired broader meanings, so that 'epicritic' came to stand for everything rational, ordered, cerebral, objective, while 'protopathic' referred to the emotional, the sensual, the chaotic, the primitive.

      (146)  One began by finding mental illness mystifying, and ended by being still more mystified by health.

      (168)  'It's … ungraspable,' Manning said at last.  'I don't mean you can't grasp it because you haven't been there.  I mean, I can't grasp it and I have been there.  I can't get my mind around it.'
      NB:  trench warfare

      (230)  'It's odd, isn't it, how one can feel fatherly towards somebody, I mean, genuinely fatherly, not exploiting the situation or even being tempted to, and yet there;s this other current.  And I don't think one invalidates the other.  I think it's perfectly possible for them both to be genuine.'

      The Ghost Road by Pat Barker
      NY:  Dutton, 1995
      ISBN 0-525-94191-6

      (43)  Prior waited till the crowd cleared before going across to the main building to get washed, thinking, as he stripped off and splashed cold water over his chest and groin, that a deserted wash-room at night, all white tiles and naked lights, is the most convincing portrayal of hell the human mind can devise.

      (79)  'We have to die, we don't have to worship it.'

      (110)  Very few pleasures in sex are any match for a narrow bed and cool, clean sheets.  (A post-coital reflection if ever I heard one.)

      (115)  First-person narrators can't die, so as long as we keep telling the story of our own lives we're safe.  Ha bloody fucking Ha.

      (143-144)  'What do I think?  I think what you're saying is basically a conspiracy theory, and like all conspiracy theories it's optimistic.  What you're saying is, OK the war isn't being fought for the reasons we're told, but it is being fought for a reason.  It's not benefiting the people it's supposed to be benefiting, but it is benefiting somebody.  And I don't believe that, you see.  I think things are actually much worse than you think because there isn't any kind of rational justification left.  It's become a self-perpetuating system.  Nobody benefits.  Nobody's in control.  Nobody knows how to stop.'

      (174)  The other expression was the trench expression.  It looks quite daunting if you don't know what it is.  Any one of my platoon could have posed for a propaganda poster of the Brutal Hum, but it wasn't brutality or anything like that.  It was a sort of morose disgust, and it came from living in trenches that had bits of human born sticking out of the walls, in freezing weather corpses propped up on the fire step, flooded latrines.

      Whatever happens to us it can't be as bad as that.

      (175)  One of the things I like sexually, one of the things I fantasize about, is simply being fully dressed with a naked lover, holding him or her from behind.  And what I feel (apart from the obvious) is great tenderness - the sort of tenderness that depends on being more powerful, and that is really, I suppose, just the acceptable face of sadism.

      (207)  Though it might seem callous or frivolous to say so, head-hunting had been the most tremendous fun and without it life lost almost all its zest.

      This was a people perishing from the absence of war.  It showed in the genealogies, the decline in the birth rate from one generation to the next - the island's population was less than half what it had been in Rinambesi's youth - and much of that decline was deliberate.

      (224)  What pleased Rivers even more than the vanished smell was the hint of self-mockery.  The one expression you never see on the faces of the mentally ill.

      (241)  Too close to death ourselves to make a fuss.  We economize on grief.

      Behind the Lines/Regeneration movie
      Contrast the scene of electric probe to the mouth to cure "mutism" in soldiers to torture in "Zero Dark Thirty"

      Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

      by gmoke on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 08:34:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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