Good Books

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blindboy started the topic in Saturday, 2 Oct 2021 at 6:06pm

Bump

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blindboy Saturday, 2 Oct 2021 at 6:07pm

Whatever happened to the books thread. Go away for a while and standards slide!

But let me suggest the John Maynard Keynes biography "The Price of Peace". A great account of the life and work of one of the 20th Century's greatest thinkers.

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velocityjohnno Saturday, 2 Oct 2021 at 8:02pm

"Koombana Days" - thinking of asking for it as Christmas present. Some chapters free online to read.

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stunet Sunday, 3 Oct 2021 at 9:25am

Been dipping in and out of John Swartwelder's novellas. Hilarious stuff, as you'd expect from the OG writer for The Simpsons. If there's any criticism it's that the gags can get in the way of the storyline. Works best to read a few pages, get your daily serving of absurdity for the day, then walk out into the world.

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blindboy Sunday, 3 Oct 2021 at 9:28am

I am in a deprived state at the moment re-reading stuff from my bookshelves. Australia Post lost my last order and there is a very limited selection locally. I'm working on my shopping list for when I get to a decent bookshop. I will add that name to my list!

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etarip Sunday, 3 Oct 2021 at 10:04am

I’ve been rolling back through some older works:
Goodbye to All That, the autobiography of Robert Graves. He was a friend and contemporary to the better known WW1 poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. His accounts of trench warfare are often harrowing but also touchingly human. That’s led me to revisit those other poets as well. I toured the Somme battlefields in 2019 for the first time as part of some Postgraduate study. It’s deeply moving, and I found the poetry a personal adjunct to the raw mechanisms of military history.

Now rereading Wind, Sand and Stars by Antoine St Exupery. He was a pioneering aviator between in the 1920s and 30s, flying mail runs in North Africa and South America, and was killed on a reconnaissance flight in WW2. I know there’s a few plane / history buffs on these forums, so I’d recommend this for some insights into those early, high-risk, forays into commercial aviation. His descriptions of the desert and the high Andes are breathtaking.

I also recently reread Kim by Rudyard Kipling. A classic boys own tale of espionage and adventure during the Great Game in India / Pakistan / Afghanistan in the late 1900s. The language is archaic and some passages that can be hard work, but the story is timeless.

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Roystein Sunday, 3 Oct 2021 at 10:42am

Just finished "This is going to hurt" by Adam Kay. A humorous, interesting, and surprisingly moving read.

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arcadia Sunday, 3 Oct 2021 at 11:22am

Reading 'Wildhood' by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Kathryn Bowers. It describes the mental developments that occur during adolescence and early from adulthood in animals and people. This description makes the book sound as dry and unappealing as a bowl of weetbix sans milk, but the book is really engaging with some great case studies.
My enthusiasm for it is also influenced by the presence of a moody 15 year old lurking in a room that used to be occupied by my pre-pubescent son.

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freeride76 Sunday, 3 Oct 2021 at 11:51am

sounds interesting Arcadia.
just had a squizz on the website.

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Blowin Sunday, 3 Oct 2021 at 1:05pm

Found Heart of darkness for $1 at the local oppy as well as Master of the game by Sidney Sheldon for the same price. Both books seem to have always lurked on the periphery of my world and so now is the time.

Also been hammering my copy of Field guide to the birds of Australia by Graham Prizzy and Frank Knight. Just keeping it handy and flicking through in order to expand my bird ID skills. It’s pretty amazing how much you can retain through cursory page turning. This morning I correctly identified a beach stone curlew and if you’d asked me to describe it before I saw it I’d have zero idea. Just by repeatedly turning pages, not even consciously absorbing the information, I can see a bird and say….” That’s a such and such” , get home and confirm it. I love that shit.

I don’t reckon you can know too much about the natural world around you.

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Blowin Sunday, 3 Oct 2021 at 1:15pm

.

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blindboy Sunday, 3 Oct 2021 at 1:45pm

These three got me through a good slice of the lockdown all by Max Adams.
The King in the North: The Life and Times of Oswald of Northumbria
In the Land of Giants: Journey through the dark ages
Ælfred's Britain: War and Peace in the Viking Age

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overthefalls Sunday, 3 Oct 2021 at 2:40pm

Hey Blowin, I’d be interested in your response to Heart of Darkness. I had to read it at university and the lecturer initiated debate about whether Conrad was, in the words of African writer Chinua Achebe, a “thorough-going racist” due to his portrayal of colonialism. Let us know when you finish reading it.

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Hutchy 19 Sunday, 3 Oct 2021 at 2:50pm

Blowin - I saw two guys debating their top ten books of all time and Heart of Darkness made both their lists .

I heard their review which almost made me shiver . Conrad I think was from Belgium and are very nasty and cruel man by their accounts . I have no doubt the book is incredible well written but the story sounds too dark and distressing for me to consider it an enjoyable read .

I look forward to hearing your review .

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overthefalls Sunday, 3 Oct 2021 at 3:02pm

Hey Hutchy, Conrad was Polish but he wrote in English. He’s certainly a divisive literary figure. Don’t let others put you off reading Heart of Darkness; it’s masterfully written and thought-provocative. I’d be interested in your response to Conrad’s representation of colonialism.

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Hutchy 19 Sunday, 3 Oct 2021 at 3:41pm

I just posted this on another thread .

Overthefalls - There is great book that I can recommend that outlines this view . Sapiens - A Brief History of Humankind , Written by Yuval Noah Harari .

Part Three is called The Unification of Humankind . Imperial Visions is a chapter in this section .

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Hutchy 19 Sunday, 3 Oct 2021 at 4:32pm

Again from another thread .

Overthefalls - A quote from the book .

There are schools of thought and political movements that seek to purge human culture of imperialism , leaving behind what they claim is a pure , authentic civilisation , untainted by sin . These ideologies are at best naive ; at worst they serve as a disingenuous window-dressing for crude nationalism and bigotry ............ All human cultures are at least in part the legacy of empires and imperial civilisations , and no academic or political surgery can cut out the imperial legacies without killing the patient .

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stunet Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 9:04am

Quarterly Essay 82: 'Top Blokes' by Lech Blaine.

Worthy read for those who wonder about the place of class and larrikinism in modern Australia. More poignantly, how Scott Morrisson, a teetotalling, rugby union-playing, private schoolboy from Sydney's Eastern Suburbs that was parachuted into high-paying bureaucrat jobs via his dad's Liberal Party connections, and who, once he entered parliament, pretentiously quoted Bono in his maiden speech, then morphed into 'ScoMo', the rugby league-lovin', working class-admirin' larrikin with a Cronulla Sharks beanie on his head and a beer in his hand.

And how ScoMo gazumped 'Albo', who is of true working class stock - raised by a single mother on a disability pension in public housing - and who stuck by the Rabbitohs when they were kicked out of the comp, then worked hard to get them reinstated, and now sits on the board.

One authentic, one a shyster.

One successful, one confounded.

I imagine people will jump in with two line dismissals, but it's a much more complex analysis then what I can provide here. Great reading.

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freeride76 Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 9:06am

That is a great essay.

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stunet Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 9:12am

Isn't it? Watched a live video Zoom thing with him last night too. Didn't bring that much new material to the table, but kinda nice listening to a writer talk.

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Patrick Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 9:48am

Annapurna by Maurice Herzog.

Maurices account of an expedition to, and summiting of, an 8,000 meter peak in 1950. He and members of the French Alpine Club were the first to summit an 8,000 m peak.

The organisation and logistics is mind boggling (and a tad boring in the early parts).

Reading of places in Nepal where people had barely seen a white face before but that are now overrun with, and reliant econimically on, tourists was intriguing.

Finding a route to the mountain first, then a route to the top, then the retreat was incredible.

One of the best adventures I've read.

At the end I did think "why?".
They were a bit crazy.

I met a grandson or grand nephew of his while crossing the Thorong La Pass a few years ago.... while I was reading the book! That was pretty cool to be trekking around the mountain, reading the book about crazy French and then meeting a relative.

Over 50 people died, tourists and locals, in one snowstorm crossing the 5,000m pass a few years ago, which gives you an idea of the place and then imagine attempting the first 8,000 m climb with the limited knowledge, maps, equipment, weather forecasting and infrastructure in 1950.

He wrote it a year later.

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batfink Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 11:33am

Recently finished ‘The Premonition’. Factual account of a group of people in the US working on how to deal with a pandemic, and largely being ignored by the politicians. Their work goes back to G. W. Bush who read a book about pandemics and found out they had no plan and no idea. Different folks weave in and out of the story. Well written, easy read which I finished in a couple of days.

Currently reading ‘Breath’. No, not the Tim Winton classic, but a book about breathing, by James Nestor. Seriously interesting. One of the underlying premises is that the advent of farming and then more modern cooking saw Homo sapiens jaws become deformed which among other things has led to breathing problems. You can’t read the book without noticing every breath you take. Was never much of a mouth breather except during heavy exercise but this has made me consciously breathe through my nose, especially during exercise. Subtitle is ‘The new science of a lost art’.

You’d think we know how to breathe properly, but we don’t, it seems.

Can definitely recommend ‘Sapiens’, discussed above. Thinking I will give that a re-read soon.

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andy-mac Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 11:49am
batfink wrote:

Recently finished ‘The Premonition’. Factual account of a group of people in the US working on how to deal with a pandemic, and largely being ignored by the politicians. Their work goes back to G. W. Bush who read a book about pandemics and found out they had no plan and no idea. Different folks weave in and out of the story. Well written, easy read which I finished in a couple of days.

Currently reading ‘Breath’. No, not the Tim Winton classic, but a book about breathing, by James Nestor. Seriously interesting. One of the underlying premises is that the advent of farming and then more modern cooking saw Homo sapiens jaws become deformed which among other things has led to breathing problems. You can’t read the book without noticing every breath you take. Was never much of a mouth breather except during heavy exercise but this has made me consciously breathe through my nose, especially during exercise. Subtitle is ‘The new science of a lost art’.

You’d think we know how to breathe properly, but we don’t, it seems.

Can definitely recommend ‘Sapiens’, discussed above. Thinking I will give that a re-read soon.

Have read Breath by James Nester, very interesting and try to do session of Wim Hof every morning. Definitely positive impact whether placebo or not.
He has a good interview regarding book on Joe Rogan.

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Patrick Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 12:00pm

Ordered Breath the other day.

"One of the underlying premises is that the advent of farming and then more modern cooking saw Homo sapiens jaws become deformed which among other things has led to breathing problems."
Weston Price has book about this... he visited communities around the world at their juncture when the older generations were still eating traditiinal foods and their kids and grandkids were eating newly introduced processed foods.

In one generation jaws n noses n facial structures were noticably narrower. He was a dentist. Good book, lots of pics of the changes. Nutritional and Physical Degeneration is the title.

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san Guine Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 12:36pm

Read Breath last year and it changed my whole attitude towards breathing.
Have been doing my own personal experiment (non peer reviewed)with nose breathing. You have to focus this does not necessarily come easily.

Started off with bike riding (only 20km) with a 3km mild gradient climb at the end. Over a approx 1 month period went from mouth breathing my circuit to going hard at it only nose breathing.
I have now transferred this practice into surfing.

For the last year I have only been nose breathing in the surf even when I've had to duck dive 10+ waves in a row. Haven't yet tried it in anything bigger than head and a half, but feel really confident that when it does get solid I will be able to ventilate easily, inhaling and exhaling through my nose only.

Placebo? Maybe, but I can attest to my own increased energy levels and having much greater regulation over my breathing patterns.
Specifically, I can regulate my breathing in high oxygen demand situations and breathe far more slowly and deeply.

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batfink Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 1:01pm

Yes to Andy mac, Patrick and san guine.

Will definitely be incorporating it into my surfing. I think those difficult low period beach days can be some of the hardest paddling, and highest heart rate exercise I do. Will be much more conscious of my breathing.

Had a very interesting experience recently, over the October long weekend. Woke up tired and was tired as on the Sunday and Monday. Went for body surfs both days and my lungs seemed useless, just wasn’t getting enough oxygen. Couple of days later woke up feeling more refreshed and had a body surf and it was like I had an extra lung again.

Could have been a bit of hay fever, or fighting off a bug or any number of things but I’ve been thinking for a while now that there must be some preparatory breathing I should be doing to make sure the lungs are gathering the oxygen. The book has made me conscious of the need for carbon dioxide in your blood also to trigger the oxygen uptake, which the book goes into. Fascinating. So it might be much more complex than just doing some deep breathing beforehand (which I’ve done with unclear results)

I have been sleeping better the last few nights, just making sure that my mouth is firmly shut, but without tension.

Have also read Wim Hof’s book, which is also on my bed table still. Haven’t read anything that I hadn’t read before, and even without doing the breathing exercises he has changed my attitude to cold water.

May take up some Wim Hof breathing, after I’ve finished ‘Breath’.

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blindboy Thursday, 21 Oct 2021 at 10:33am

Picked up a copy of Currowan by Bronwyn Adcock the other day. It is her account of the fires on the NSW south coast. I am only reading a couple of pages at a time as it is still pretty raw but it reveals the denial, incompetence and sheer bastardry of those who failed to prepare, despite the advice of those most experienced and knowledgeable in the field. For our leaders to deny that reality for their political advantage is probably their most despicable behaviour of recent times, against strong competition.

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GreenJam Thursday, 21 Oct 2021 at 3:11pm

just finished 'In Plain Sight - an investigation into UFOs and impossible science' by Ross Coulthardt. Very good, but I know so many would just write this stuff off immediately, put it in the conspiracy theory basket. Ross is also well aware of that. He's no dill, a respected and award winning journalist, so you could say he has put his reputation on the line. It is a good factual read. There's no denying strange unexplainble things are going on, in my opinion anyway.

something I've come away thinking is that we should have no concerns about a future nuclear war, the MAD scenario, as it seems the more intelligent/equipped beings can just rock up and disable any nuclear devices as they please. They've done it before. Makes the mind boggle

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indo-dreaming Thursday, 21 Oct 2021 at 4:15pm
GreenJam wrote:

just finished 'In Plain Sight - an investigation into UFOs and impossible science' by Ross Coulthardt. Very good, but I know so many would just write this stuff off immediately, put it in the conspiracy theory basket. Ross is also well aware of that. He's no dill, a respected and award winning journalist, so you could say he has put his reputation on the line. It is a good factual read. There's no denying strange unexplainble things are going on, in my opinion anyway.

something I've come away thinking is that we should have no concerns about a future nuclear war, the MAD scenario, as it seems the more intelligent/equipped beings can just rock up and disable any nuclear devices as they please. They've done it before. Makes the mind boggle

Actually sounds interesting, i dont believe other life forms or UFO's have visited earth, but i still find all the talk around it real interesting, and just all the science around space travel and astronomy in general.

Last Indo trip someone had left all these astronomy magazines at my friends losmen/camp so i grabbed them when i headed to a more remote village to hang for another week or two as knew id have a lot of down time between surfs, i read these magazines back to back hours on hours of reading, so much of it just blows your mind.

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blindboy Thursday, 21 Oct 2021 at 4:56pm

There is a good article by Paul Davies on this issue on The Monthly Web site. I think you still get one freebie.

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blindboy Monday, 8 Nov 2021 at 9:21am

"Kissinger 1923-1968: The Idealist
Niall Ferguson
I picked this up off a remainder table for $15.00 and it was a bargain. It covers a huge slice of history from Germany in the 1930s through to the cold war and Vietnam. The author leans to the right and greatly admires Kissinger, but is meticulously accurate on the history so his opinions, when they occur, do not attempt to distort the record. This is probably the most authoritative source for the period and the events it covers. Cuba, Berlin, Vietnam and the intricacies of US politics. If you want to understand how a figure like Trump can come to control the Republican Party, Barry Goldwater's campaign is a good place to start and Kissinger's account of events at the convention, as well as the other records quoted, show that the extremism has been there for a long time.

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andy-mac Monday, 8 Nov 2021 at 9:55am

https://sidharta.com/author/Kerry_B._Collison

If you have an interest in Indonesia, he has some great historical fictional books.
Start with Merdeka Square.

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Blowin Monday, 8 Nov 2021 at 10:12am
blindboy wrote:

"Kissinger 1923-1968: The Idealist
Niall Ferguson
I picked this up off a remainder table for $15.00 and it was a bargain. It covers a huge slice of history from Germany in the 1930s through to the cold war and Vietnam. The author leans to the right and greatly admires Kissinger, but is meticulously accurate on the history so his opinions, when they occur, do not attempt to distort the record. This is probably the most authoritative source for the period and the events it covers. Cuba, Berlin, Vietnam and the intricacies of US politics. If you want to understand how a figure like Trump can come to control the Republican Party, Barry Goldwater's campaign is a good place to start and Kissinger's account of events at the convention, as well as the other records quoted, show that the extremism has been there for a long time.

I don’t have to read the book to know you are wrong. Trump controls the Republican Party because he is unbelievably popular and the Republican party crave the votes arising through that popularity.

Trump is popular because his narcissistic personality actually renders him anti establishment due to his inability to consider anyone more of a higher authority than himself. Trump became President because people thought he rejected neoliberalism. The fact that you consider this extremism shows once more that you have completely rolled over to love the US establishment. Sad but true.

The choice imposed on the US population was Hillary vs Trump. Bombs, entrenched corruption and neoliberalism vs a fake tanned weirdo who said women liked it when you grab them on the Pusey when you’re rich and powerful.

You chose the bombs and the mangled innocent children in the Midfle East because you oppose vulgarity.

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blindboy Monday, 8 Nov 2021 at 10:21am

No mate, don't bother with the book. It might upset your absolute certainty in your views.

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blindboy Monday, 15 Nov 2021 at 11:46am
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blackers Monday, 15 Nov 2021 at 1:22pm

No doubt. Funny but.

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stunet Monday, 15 Nov 2021 at 2:41pm

Great review, and confirms things any fan might already suspect about being a charming yet conceited narcissist. Brutal, yet fair, analogy about Ben Bradlee assigning Watergate to HST not Carl Bernstein and Nixon getting off the hook. I've got the collected works of his Rolling Stone's years, yet I think he's better doing ethnography - think 'Hell's Angels' - than politics.

Regarding high white notes, there's a few pages in the final chapter of 'Hell's Angels' that, for mine, are as powerful, penetrating, and creative as writing gets.

Describing Hell's Angels defending the US Army and beating up Vietnam protestors. "They are blind to the irony of their role as knight errants of a faith from which they have already been excommunicated."

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freeride76 Monday, 15 Nov 2021 at 2:50pm

I thought it was a terrible review that almost entirely missed the point of HST's great writing legacy and political journalism.

It read like cheap character assassination to me.

Not to mention HST details all his own character flaws and struggles with deadlines/inability to file in his own Autobiography Kingdom of Fear.

No doubt he was a rolled gold arsehole, but so was Hemingway.

That doesn't detract (or shouldn't) from the actual work they left behind.

I like HST's period of "straight" journalism - dispatches for the Observer, Scanlans Monthly and other periodicals before the Gonzo thing.

Also, the political journalism covering the 72 Pres Campaign.

Sure, he disintegrated under the weight of fame/drugs/narcissism but he left a helluva body of work.

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stunet Monday, 15 Nov 2021 at 3:00pm

You reckon the HST-standing-in-for-Bernstein/Woodward analogy is sound? i.e not serious enough to land a blow on Nixon.

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stunet Monday, 15 Nov 2021 at 3:01pm

Also...didn't sound to me like either the autobiographer or reviewer disliked HST's body or work, just applying nuance to a divisive figure.

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blackers Monday, 15 Nov 2021 at 3:04pm

I reckon you can separate the 2 things FR, great writer but a difficult man. I agree that the review was a bit on the picky side but it made me want to read the biog, so in its way it has done the job as intended.

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freeride76 Monday, 15 Nov 2021 at 3:09pm

it's probable HST didn't have the skill set for Watergate, but his relentless reporting on Nixon may have been equally as valuable at bringing Nixon's malfeasance to the public attention.

Nixon is a weak example to use if you want to dismiss his political journalism, imo.

The way he tied that strain of American political life beginning with the Riots at the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968 to the Hells Angels to Nixon was brilliant.

No-one chronicled that chaotic and violent period of time better.

In a sense only a person of his character traits could have: he had all those violent and sociopathic traits within him, which were reflected in those political and social realities.

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freeride76 Monday, 15 Nov 2021 at 3:17pm

Some of his best writing on Nixon, achieves a poignancy when he recognises himself, or the beastlier aspects of himself in Nixon.

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blindboy Monday, 15 Nov 2021 at 5:57pm

I read Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail as it came out in Rolling Stone. A formative experience! He wasn't Woodward or Bernstein but he wasn"t trying to be. If they were photo realists he was trying for Picasso......and getting there!

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Vic Local Monday, 15 Nov 2021 at 6:03pm

"I read Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail as it came out in Rolling Stone."
Ha Ha, and I thought I was old!!

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freeride76 Monday, 15 Nov 2021 at 6:51pm

The other massive dimension missing from the Review is any mention of of HST's humour.

He was an extremely funny, acerbic writer, and fits firmly into that American tradition anchored by HL Mencken and Mark Twain.

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san Guine Wednesday, 17 Nov 2021 at 8:27am

Enjoy the writings of Jack London, especially the Iron Heel (written in 1908 foreshadowing the rise of fascism) and Sea Wolf (a rollicking good yarn). He had some very questionable ideas (eg. belief in eugenics), politically was a Socialist, but wrote with a similar clarity as Hemingway.

Also, love Steinbeck; Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden and my favourite Cannery Row...

Hemingway was a very flawed individual, but For Whom the Bell Tools, Farewell to Arms and The Old Man and the Sea are all excellent books of the contemporary (ish) US literary canon

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freeride76 Wednesday, 17 Nov 2021 at 9:40am

My fav Hemingway is the posthumously published Islands in the Stream.
It's concerned with the sea, set in Cuba and the Caribbean.

He wrote it in 1950, as a series of short stories, the last one, which was hived off and published as The Old Man and the Sea, which won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Islands in the Stream was published in 1970, 9 years after he put a gun to his head in Idaho.

Incidentally HST wrote a great piece about Hemingways last days, entitled "What Lured Hemingway to Ketchum" published in 1964.

HST also put a gun to his head, in 2005.

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mcbain Wednesday, 17 Nov 2021 at 9:46am

There is a good Hemmingway documentary on SBS on demand at the moment. That man lived a life. The amount of suicide in his family is interesting as well - and his thoughts about it.

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Constance B Gibson Wednesday, 17 Nov 2021 at 7:29pm

I concur somewhat with you on 'Islands In The Stream', FR76. Well, with 'Bimini', the first story, anyway. His finest writing for mine, along with some of his earlier short stories.

A fairly devastating read.

As for HST...I can see why journalists that hunker to be writers (like the man, himself) dig him. And I like both his Fear & Loathings. The more succinct one, the better. It's fucking hilarious, for one.

Personally, I like writers that give journalism a go. For example, The Armies Of The Night. For mine, THE example of so-called 'new journalism' from the 60s. Mailer's later The Fight is worthy also.

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freeride76 Wednesday, 17 Nov 2021 at 8:23pm

Well we are on opposite sides of a feud there.

I reckon Capote was far superior and In Cold Blood was a masterpiece that Mailer never came near.

The Fight is readable ; a lot of Mailer's writing is barely readable.

he had a self pitying/fame hungry side that made his New Journalism very unattractive. To me anyway.