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Advice needed on contemporary literature Options
leonAzul
Posted: Sunday, June 16, 2019 4:22:35 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 8/11/2011
Posts: 8,588
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Location: Miami, Florida, United States
This collection, Welcome to the Monkey House, and most of the novels by Kurt Vonnegut are highly recommended for their natural yet imaginative use of everyday English as it is spoken by (mostly) intelligent persons in the USA.

Most critics comment on the unusual subject matter and somewhat surreal tone, especially with what I suggest is the most accessible of his novels, Cat's Cradle. Yet what I find most fascinating about reading Vonnegut is his ear for natural rhythms and vocabulary in everyday speech. If one has done even a little travel in the USA, one can immediately identify how each of his characters has their own unique speech pattern, and there is no mistaking whether that person is from Peoria IL, Patchogue NY, Enid OK, or Enola PA. If Bluebeard or Deadeye Dick ever become available, do not hesitate. I strongly suggest that it would be worth the effort to understand either of these books. (Please note, these titles are linked to smile.amazon.com for informational purposes only. If anyone chooses to purchase through these links, a donation shall be made to the Wounded Warrior Project that offers assistance to disabled American veterans whose military benefits have expired.)

Another highly recommended contemporary voice is Toni Morrison. In particular I note Song of Solomon is available. This is an excellent point of access to her writing because it requires no great familiarity with a particular culture in order to appreciate the power of the story-telling and its emotional impact. This is some very high-level writing that doesn't require a dictionary to understand.

If you would like to read the confluence of such perspectives, I could not more highly recommend Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. Like Mr Vonnegut, Ms Atwood is often misunderstood as one of those "speculative fiction" writers (cue the Harlan Ellison diatribe!), who just happens to have a dead-on balls accurate understanding of how the English language works. Whereas Mr Vonnegut's center is located in the USA State of Indiana, Ms Atwood's centre is in Ontario, Canada. Neither is derivative from the other, yet their approaches to writing are so complementary to my mind that nothing less than a complete familiarity with their works could stand as a basic introduction to contemporary English literature in North America.



"Make it go away, Mrs Whatsit," he whispered. "Make it go away. It's evil."
lazarius
Posted: Sunday, June 16, 2019 5:30:34 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 8/27/2016
Posts: 566
Neurons: 513,950
Location: Kotel’niki, Moskovskaya, Russia
leonAzul wrote:
I could not more highly recommend Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood.

There is only one her book available in this library - The Handmaid's Tale - and as I know it is sort of dystopian which I will not probably read. But I will try Welcome to the Monkey House once I have finished Carl Sagan's Cosmos that I have already borrowed. Song of Solomon will have to wait a little - I want to read a 19th century book - Montezuma's Daughter - first.

Thank you very much!

-

Come share with me the oceans - oceans of fantasy.
leonAzul
Posted: Sunday, June 16, 2019 8:51:06 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 8/11/2011
Posts: 8,588
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Location: Miami, Florida, United States
lazarius wrote:
I want to read a 19th century book - Montezuma's Daughter - first.


Reading this book would be quite possibly the worst way to understand today's English I could imagine, whether British, American, Indian, or Australian. It's really quite dreadful.

You have been warned.

"Make it go away, Mrs Whatsit," he whispered. "Make it go away. It's evil."
lazarius
Posted: Sunday, June 16, 2019 9:23:53 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 8/27/2016
Posts: 566
Neurons: 513,950
Location: Kotel’niki, Moskovskaya, Russia
leonAzul wrote:
Reading this book would be quite possibly the worst way to understand today's English I could imagine, whether British, American, Indian, or Australian. It's really quite dreadful.

I'm not learning today's English - I just don't need it because I'm not going to visit Britain, America or India. And after all I know enough of it to be able to communicate. I'm interested in English beginning from William Shakespeare and up to today. Probably this will be Russian English in the end but I don't think it is any worse than American.

leonAzul wrote:
You have been warned.

Thank you.

-

Come share with me the oceans - oceans of fantasy.
leonAzul
Posted: Sunday, June 16, 2019 10:12:02 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 8/11/2011
Posts: 8,588
Neurons: 30,166
Location: Miami, Florida, United States
lazarius wrote:
The problem is that I have no idea as to what to choose. I would appreciate it if you perused the catalogue and pointed me into a couple of books. I'm only asking about fiction. As of non-fiction I already have a list to read. No abstruse or arcane texts. I want just good language.


Please be careful what you ask for because you just might receive it. ;)

"Make it go away, Mrs Whatsit," he whispered. "Make it go away. It's evil."
leonAzul
Posted: Sunday, June 16, 2019 10:23:53 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 8/11/2011
Posts: 8,588
Neurons: 30,166
Location: Miami, Florida, United States
lazarius wrote:
leonAzul wrote:
Reading this book would be quite possibly the worst way to understand today's English I could imagine, whether British, American, Indian, or Australian. It's really quite dreadful.

I'm not learning today's English - I just don't need it because I'm not going to visit Britain, America or India. And after all I know enough of it to be able to communicate. I'm interested in English beginning from William Shakespeare and up to today. Probably this will be Russian English in the end but I don't think it is any worse than American.

leonAzul wrote:
You have been warned.

Thank you.

-


Please reorganize your priorities and read Song of Solomon — a seriously legitimate candidate for consideration as significant literature — before…oh, wait, tovarish, I now understand.
Whistle


"Make it go away, Mrs Whatsit," he whispered. "Make it go away. It's evil."
lazarius
Posted: Sunday, June 16, 2019 10:35:16 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 8/27/2016
Posts: 566
Neurons: 513,950
Location: Kotel’niki, Moskovskaya, Russia
leonAzul wrote:
lazarius wrote:
The problem is that I have no idea as to what to choose. I would appreciate it if you perused the catalogue and pointed me into a couple of books. I'm only asking about fiction. As of non-fiction I already have a list to read. No abstruse or arcane texts. I want just good language.

Please be careful what you ask for because you just might receive it. ;)

I thanked you for your advice and put one of the books you recommend at the top of the list. But my question didn't mean that I was going to chuck all the older literature and only read modern. I'm going to alternate them.

-

Come share with me the oceans - oceans of fantasy.
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