Books - What are you reading?

Books - What are you reading?

Author
Discussion

coppice

5,963 posts

98 months

Monday 2nd March
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She certainly didn't get any talent from her uncle ....

MC Bodge

13,210 posts

129 months

Monday 2nd March
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Very interesting stuff, much of which I can relate to.

IanA2

2,433 posts

116 months

Monday 2nd March
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coppice said:
She certainly didn't get any talent from her uncle ....
Imo uncle was a good yarn spinner, not a great writer, but a good enough entertainer.

Niece on the other hand, is imo also a good yarn spinner, but I think, better writter

Laplace

1,041 posts

136 months

Monday 2nd March
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Ardennes1944 said:
Finished Chickenhawk last night. Written by a Vietnam Huey pilot. Normally only read books on WW1 and WW2 but this was a very good read I thought.
Working my way through that at the moment, very good so far.

Recently finished Sniper One which was excellent. One of the best war related books I've read for getting a true sense of what our lads went through in Iraq.

Also recently finished both Jason Fox - Battle Scars and Ant Middleton - First Man In. Foxy has certainly been through the wringer and I was glad to read how he got through it in the end. Ant came across a bit of a cock imo.

Picked up a few more used books from ebay to work through which should keep me going for a month or so. All recommendations from this thread thumbup


Edited by Laplace on Monday 2nd March 21:01

ElectricSoup

6,775 posts

105 months

Tuesday 3rd March
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Goaty Bill 2 said:
'Cancer Ward' Volumes one and two by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn
Translation: Nicholas Bethell and David Burg
Publisher: The Bodley Head, 1968

My first editions


These excellent first edition copies have been sitting on my shelf for some time and I finally got around to them.

A semi-autobiographical novel, set in winter/spring 1954/5, based upon Solzhenitsyn's experiences while being treated for cancer, in Tashkent, following his release from Gulag / sharashka and exile to South Kazakhstan.
(Solzhenitsyn's time in the sharashka is the subject of 'In The First Circle'.)

While the principal character, Kostoglotov, is the subject of much of the story, Solzhenitsyn explores many of the novel's characters in great depth; both the patients and the medical staff and even the cleaners. The patient's cancers, and how they cope, or not, with their circumstances, the lives the staff are forced to live, many of which are hundreds miles from their original homes.
Invariably there is a fair amount of dialogue between the patients on conditions in the Soviet Union and the principles of socialism and Marxism.

It includes a remarkable amount of detail on the various forms of cancer being treated and the treatments in use at the time, but for all the divergences (of sorts) to bring in the details of the various characters' lives and the treatments, the story holds together extremely well and flows easily from page to page.

Some readers have commented that they either found part 2 to be less interesting than part 1, or that they simply "couldn't get into it", but I suspect this is more often a result of a gap between reading the two parts.
The extended conversation between Kostoglotov and Shulubin in part two is especially note worthy.
I found the second part initially held my attention almost as well as the first, and improved rapidly to equal the first part, but would definitely recommend having both parts in hand before beginning.

As always, 'The Gulag Archipelago' excepted, Solzhenitsyn manages to give a clear insight into life in Soviet Russia without preaching, and regularly presenting the views and arguments of those that were much in favour of the state as it existed.
You're a Trooper, GB2.

Goaty Bill 2

3,102 posts

73 months

Tuesday 3rd March
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ElectricSoup said:
Goaty Bill 2 said:
'Cancer Ward' Volumes one and two by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn
Translation: Nicholas Bethell and David Burg
Publisher: The Bodley Head, 1968

My first editions


These excellent first edition copies have been sitting on my shelf for some time and I finally got around to them.

[snip for brevity]
You're a Trooper, GB2.
You must surely have read this one?
If by some chance you haven't, I can only imagine how much better it would be in Russian... so get to it biggrin


ElectricSoup

6,775 posts

105 months

Tuesday 3rd March
quotequote all
Goaty Bill 2 said:
ElectricSoup said:
Goaty Bill 2 said:
'Cancer Ward' Volumes one and two by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn
Translation: Nicholas Bethell and David Burg
Publisher: The Bodley Head, 1968

My first editions


These excellent first edition copies have been sitting on my shelf for some time and I finally got around to them.

[snip for brevity]
You're a Trooper, GB2.
You must surely have read this one?
If by some chance you haven't, I can only imagine how much better it would be in Russian... so get to it biggrin

Yes, about 30 years ago. By which I only mean to say that I barely remember it now.

Edited by ElectricSoup on Tuesday 3rd March 13:20

mariopepper

6 posts

3 months

Tuesday 3rd March
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Arch of Triumph

Blue62

4,793 posts

106 months

Wednesday 4th March
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I've just finished Erebus the story of a ship by Michael Palin. It's well researched and well written for anyone who likes history and adventure, I really enjoyed it and recommend it.

Goaty Bill 2

3,102 posts

73 months

Monday 9th March
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Diary of a Gulag Prison Guard
Diary and short stories by Ivan Chistyakov
Introduction: Irina Shcherbakova
Translation: Arch Tait
Published: Granta 2016



Exactly what it says on the label; A diary (plus three short stories at the end).
In the main, this is not a novel or story, simply diary entries by Ivan Chistyakov during his one year duty as an armed guard on the BAM (Baikal–Amur Mainline) railway during 1935/36.
His diary was lately donated to the Memorial Human Rights Centre, Moscow.
Chistyakov died in Tula Province 1941 while fighting the Germans.



"Our limitation is this: when you are confined in prison or in camp, the personality of the prison keepers interests you only to the extent that it helps you evade their threats and exploit their weaknesses. As far as anything else is concerned, you couldn't care less. They are unworthy of your attention. You are suffering yourself, and those around you who .are unjustly imprisoned are suffering, and in comparison with that sheaf of sufferings, which is too much for your outspread hands to encompass, what are these stupid people in their watchdog jobs to you? What are their petty interests to you, their worthless likes and dislikes, their successes and failures in the service?

And then later, too late, you suddenly realize that you didn't observe them closely
enough.

Without even discussing the question of talent, can a person become a jailer in prison or camp if he is capable of the very least kind of useful activity? Let us ask: On the whole, can a camp keeper be a good human being? What system of moral selection does life arrange for them? The first selection takes place on assignment to the MVD armies, MVD schools, or MVD courses. Every man with the slightest speck of spiritual training, with a minimally circumspect conscience, or capacity to distinguish good from evil, is instinctively going to back out and use every available means to avoid joining this dark legion. But let us concede that he did not succeed in backing out. A second selection comes during training and the first service assignment, when the bosses themselves take a close look and eliminate all those who manifest laxity (kindness) instead of strong will and firmness (cruelty and mercilessness). And then a third selection takes place over a period of many years: All those who had not visualized where and into what they were getting themselves now come to understand and are horrified. To be constantly a weapon of violence, a constant participant in evil! Not everyone can bring himself to this, and certainly not right off. You 'see, you are trampling on others' lives. And inside yourself something tightens and bursts. You can't go on this way any longer! And although it is belated, men can still begin to fight their way out, report themselves ill, get disability certificates, accept lower pay, take off their shoulder boards-anything just to get out, get out, get out!

Does that mean the. rest of them have got used to it? Yes. The rest of them have got used to it, and their life already seems normal to them. And useful too, of course. And even honourable.

And some didn't have to get used to it; they had been that way from the start."

- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago vol. 2, 1988 (T. Whitney translation)



Chistyakov it seems was one of the educated. A man with a conscience, he was disgusted by the job, the system and the majority of his superiors, but he had been conscripted and had little choice.
His short story 'The Hunt' is quite entertaining.

Edit: Correction on English edition publishing date


Edited by Goaty Bill 2 on Tuesday 10th March 14:15

K12beano

19,799 posts

229 months

Monday 9th March
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^^^ Fascinating!


Meanwhile - for something with the lighter side but some train wrecks too, I’m quite enjoying:



Does what it says on the tin!

ElectricSoup

6,775 posts

105 months

Tuesday 10th March
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Hadn't heard of Chistyakov's book before. Is it a pen name? Chistyakov roughly means "Clean".

Goaty Bill 2

3,102 posts

73 months

Tuesday 10th March
quotequote all
ElectricSoup said:
Hadn't heard of Chistyakov's book before. Is it a pen name? Chistyakov roughly means "Clean".
For clarity; it's not this chap; Ivan Chistyakov
(as I said above; the author of the diary did not survive the war)

The diary in question would have been donated sometime after the formation of Memorial Human Rights Centre in the 1980s.
Tait's translation dates from around 2016 (I've corrected the English edition publishing date above), so it is fairly recent.
First published in Moscow (Russian edition) 2014.


ElectricSoup

6,775 posts

105 months

Tuesday 10th March
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I see, thanks. Interesting.

droopsnoot

7,717 posts

196 months

Monday 16th March
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I've just finished "The Templar's Quest" by C M Palov, it really wasn't great. Another book written in what I'd loosely describe as a "fussy" way, with too many asides, too many little fill-in sentences that ram home a point that the reader can pretty much work out for themselves. Story itself wasn't too bad, baddies are searching for a long-lost artefact that will allow them some great power, goodies have a medallion containing a clue to locate it, a bit "Raiders of the Lost Ark" really, but more modern and more drawn out (which of course might be because it's a book, not a 100-odd minute film).

toasty

5,707 posts

174 months

Monday 16th March
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Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

Guy is a fireman who's job is to start fires, burning houses of people who've kept and hidden books where the rest of the world is sedated through television. A chance encounter makes him question his life and purpose.

Short and sweet.

K12beano

19,799 posts

229 months

Monday 16th March
quotequote all
toasty said:
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

Guy is a fireman who's job is to start fires, burning houses of people who've kept and hidden books where the rest of the world is sedated through television. A chance encounter makes him question his life and purpose.

Short and sweet.
Beautiful book - wonderful thought-provoker. I came to it via the original film which is now so dated, but I understand that there will be someone trying to murder that literary perfection with a new version of film or series - if you like that sort of thing.

Stedman

6,566 posts

146 months

Monday 16th March
quotequote all
Laplace said:
Working my way through that at the moment, very good so far.

Recently finished Sniper One which was excellent. One of the best war related books I've read for getting a true sense of what our lads went through in Iraq.

Also recently finished both Jason Fox - Battle Scars and Ant Middleton - First Man In. Foxy has certainly been through the wringer and I was glad to read how he got through it in the end. Ant came across a bit of a cock imo.

Picked up a few more used books from ebay to work through which should keep me going for a month or so. All recommendations from this thread thumbup


Edited by Laplace on Monday 2nd March 21:01
The circuit is great

Stedman

6,566 posts

146 months

Monday 16th March
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This was great.

Stuart70

1,982 posts

137 months

Monday 16th March
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I am reading the Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon at the moment. A mix of noir detective mixed with alternative history post WW2 of the Jewish state being based in Alaska.

Struggling to get into it at the moment (about 70 pages in) - has anyone else tried / liked it?