Monday, July 2, 2012

books

Swann's Way by Marcel Proust - I only read a third of this, actually, before I couldn't take it anymore. If this guy had anything at all interesting to talk about he would be the most amazing writer I've possibly ever encountered, and for certain ten-page increments that were even vaguely relatable I did believe that. But the rest of the time he's an infuriatingly whiny spineless narcissist recounting his spoiled upper-crusty childhood experience in the kind of excruciating detail (Proustian recall became a common phrase for a very good reason) that, again, is astoundingly wonderful when applied to something of interest, but when not, causes my brain to slowly boil. If any of the later volumes of In Search of Lost Time, or even later bits of this volume, are less painful, please let me know, because I really want to read anything in which his stunning talent with words is put to good use...

Machine of Death - Collection of short stories on the theme of what the world would be like if there existed a machine that could tell you how you would die. Free at the link! Many of the stories were pointedly amateur (I didn't realize until I read this how easy it is to tell bad fiction writing from good fiction writing...) but they were weirdly addicting nonetheless and I finished them all despite my intention to just read a few for book club. Some had fantastic premises, most were just ok.

Transit of Venus: 1631 to the Present by Nick Lomb - Huh, I guess I still haven't blogged about the transit. Mental note. Anyway, I read this book before hand, which goes through all the history and explains the science behind it and the scientific importance (it was how they measured the solar system originally), all with countless stunning photographs. It made viewing the actual transit much more enjoyable; without appreciating the significance I'm sure five minutes at the eyepiece would've satiated my interest. Highly recommended except for the fact that there won't be another transit until 2117...

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