ms_prue: (waving)
I have finally typed up my reading notes: 6 A4 hand-written sheets, because the odds of my getting hands on this book again are slim.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow
was written during WW2 by Marjorie Barnard and Flora Eldershaw, published in censored form in 1947 and republished uncensored in 1983. I discovered it through The Censor's Library which I read late last year and managed to get a copy of the 1983 uncensored edition through interlibrary loan in June. It's considered a work of science fiction because the authors draw the novel's action through to an imagined conclusion to WW2; they finished the work during the war, submitted it for publication but it didn't hit the shelves until the war was over, so you can guess how apathetically it was received at the time.

The structure of the book is a novel-in-a-novel. 400 years in the future, Knarf reads through his newly-finished novel with his archaeologist friend Ord, and they're so engrossed in the read-through they barely take any notice of the election being held that day, on whether a lay council should have input in public governance in the highly technocratic socialist agrarian civilisation that Australia has become. Knarf's novel begins in 1929 Sydney and traces a family and their community through the Depression and WW2 and the cataclysm that followed. It's a story about the big picture and the little picture, desire and reality, and cause and effect. Many notes in page order under the cut, spoilers one and all.

Read more... )
ms_prue: (taking notes)
A friend who is also on Goodreads had read this book recently, and we were having a bit of a convo last weeked about the general awfulness of life and how the internet is exacerbating things, and he said, "please be the first of my friends to read this book". So I tried and failed to get my hands on a physical copy Monday lunchtime at the Only Bookshop In Geelong and instead, after much research into the most author-friendly way to make an immediate purchase, settled for buying the ebook on the train Monday after work instead.

1) If you can get your hands on a printed copy, do, it will be totes worth it to stave off at least half a gut punch's worth of guilt over the everyday reality of living your life under capitalism.

There is no plot, really; there is a narrative wound in it, and a mini counterpoint narrative, and some character sketches, but it's scaffolding off which the commentary and info-dumping is whorled and looped, rather like when you're reading a longish post about something and you keep wandering off and opening different tabs in your browser to read other things tangenitally related to the original post, and you're interested in all of it, you've been reading for hours without stopping but you're only three-quarters of the way through that first long read post and meanwhile you've skimmed maybe twenty, thirty-odd pages and however many thousands of words of news articles and Wikipedia pages to go with it. Except it's a book. So you don't need to put it down and go anywhere. From the perspective of any self-respecting literature critic, I'm sure it must look like a mess. For me, it was like catnip.

2) If you are not reading the first US edition, then chances are that various snippets of the book have been very clearly redacted. The only thing that tempted me to put this book down was the impulse to immediately search the people mentioned whose parts had been censored to work out what had been suppressed.

The narrator of the book is basically a self-insert, and as he is quoted in the Guardian as saying: "Really the book could be called ‘I hate four companies and social media’ – but that is a bad title." He has carefully crafted summary phraselets for each of his bugbears that he tags each instance of the person/action/concept with whenever it comes up in the text, but instead of being annoying and repetitive it works more like its own call and response pattern inside the flow of the prose. He has also built in a beautiful meta-commentary method into the text. Along with all the titles of works referenced and non-English words which the reader will be expecting to see in italics as a matter of proper stylistic course, all the other fictional and made up words, concepts and sometimes even people's names are italicised. It looks better than scare quotes and implies a much more profound level of distaste.

3) This book reminded me of all the things I used to have Firm Stances on and gave me clarity on other things I've always thought were skeevy but could never really articulate why.

The conclusion was not as punchy as I was expecting, after the constant rattling punches of the rest of the book, but then again, dude is one solitary Turkish-American writer with a technical background railing against an entire global system of capitalism control over basically everything, including the internet, so instead let me link you to this DIY cybersecurity guide (ty for the link tumblr user canonicalmomentum) and let's all be as safe on the internet as we can.

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Prudence Hellcat

July 2017

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