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Old 01 July 2018, 04:21 PM
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Richard W Richard W is offline
Join Date: 19 February 2000
Location: High Wycombe, UK
Posts: 26,440

I've not actually finished any books in June that I didn't already mention... Odd, as I feel like I've had plenty of time to read.

This is partly because I've started reading Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson, which is 900+ pages long and the first in a trilogy (The Baroque Cycle) that are all more or less the same size. It's got a theme rather than a plot, which is the early days of the Royal Society, the quarrel between Newton and Leibniz over who invented calculus, and 17th-century English and European politics in general, in particular the run-up to the Glorious Revolution. There is an awful lot in it!

The main characters are fictional (although I did just have to look up whether Daniel Waterhouse really was the founder of MIT - he's not, and the institute he's founding at the start isn't MIT) but a lot of the supporting characters are real. The history is rather exaggerated for swashbuckling and comic effect but it's well enough researched that it gives a general impression of believability, with some modern in-jokes added too. Lots of action set-pieces and historical philosophical musing. It jumps about in time a bit and switches between different groups of related characters - who I'm assuming will also appear in the follow-ups; I don't know yet how far this one is going to get in resolving the overall quarrel, or how much more history he might try to fit in. On the down side it's quite episodic and sometimes seems like just a string of events happening without a lot of reason. (But then, some of that is the history...)

So I've been reading that for most of the month, and haven't finished it yet. It's fun, so not a difficult read, but quite dense too. I have the rest of the series, and if I read them straight after this I suspect I won't read much else next month either.

The only other thing I started is Blood and Guts in High School by Kathy Acker, which is interesting but hasn't gripped me enough yet to have got far into it, what with its somewhat avant-garde punk structure. It's not very long though, so I'll finish it before starting the next Baroque one.

The funny thing is, I'd thought I had seen a plagiarism scandal involving Kathy Acker a couple of years ago, in which somebody noticed that she'd "borrowed" large chunks of another book without crediting them, and then had tried to pass it off as a form of referential quotation or literary collage when challenged. But she died in 1997, long before I saw this story. So either it was a rehash of some old scandal (which doesn't seem to be mentioned anywhere obvious, and must have been resolved without damaging her reputation), or I was confusing her with another similar writer. But I thought I remembered Acker because I almost read some of hers (probably this one, I guess) back in sixth form when I was reading people like Bret Easton Ellis, Jay McInerney and Tama Janowitz. Acker was also published by Picador at the time but I think I decided she looked a step too far for me at that point. So now I'm wondering if I misremembered the author I was looking at then, too. But I can't think of any other similar writers it might have been! Most likely the plagiarism story was about somebody completely unrelated and I got confused...
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