Ferretbrain Presents: the TeXt Factor 2011 Episode Two - Hello Listeners

by Wardog

This week, with cookies!
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listen to podcast
(MP3, 98:14, 96 kbps, 67.36 MB)
We eat cookies, also talk about books. We are delighted by the arrival of Freddie in Cotillion, disappointed by the lack of murders in Gaudy Night, still a little torn about Lavinia (which is apparently better if you know Latin), and surprised by how faily The Host isn't (although it keeps ... using ... ellipses).

We find to our sorrow that George Elliot is no Wilkie Collins, and Arthur is extremely worried about a puppy. Several of us come around on Kevin, which sounds less appropriate than I intended.

All this plus gangbangers, sacred trees, and skeevy cultural appropriation.


0:00:35 - Introduction and Favourite Things
0:05:57 - Cotillion
0:11:32 - Gaudy Night
0:16:40 - Lavinia
0:23:11 - The Host
0:30:45 - The Autograph Man
0:36:40 - The Color Purple
0:41:45 - Middlemarch
0:50:58 - We Need to Talk About Kevin
0:58:12 - Contest
1:10:49 - The Dark Side of Love
1:17:04 - The Lord of Light
1:33:56 - Vote
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Comments (go to latest)
Damnit, Ferretbrain, you're seriously making me insecure about my reading preferences.

In the first Text Factor, you instantly started out by throwing out all the books I'd actually read except for the Maltese Falcon (although you did get me to read The Woman in White, for which I am eternally grateful) and now I see that the Lord of Light is at the very bottom of the vote?

(I've not finished listening to the episode yet)
Wardog at 19:07 on 2011-09-25
Oh bless you, I think the thing to remember is the Text Factor is *entirely arbitrary*. I mean, one of the things I've noticed is that the way you read books when you're in a group and obliged to jettison them is completely different to the way you read them when it's just you in a room. One of the things I've actually taken away from TTF, and I'd argue it's a positive thing, is that I've become much more willing to toss books I'm not particularly engaged in. I mean, I've read *so much* shit fantasy, I'd probably have rolled through the Furies of Calderon left to my own devices.

Also I think when you've only got a single weekly chapter to go on you get, not precisely hyper-critical, but you become more aware of flaws that might otherwise not bother you if you were simply allowed to roll right on past them.

I certainly wouldn't take it as anything like a commentary on reading preferences :)

Mind you, I was pretty insecure by the end of the second season myself, since I was the only person who liked Kevin, and I couldn't stand Lavinia.
Dan H at 19:11 on 2011-09-25
I think the thing about Lord of Light was that the cultural appropriation genuinely made a lot of people uncomfortable (and the 1970s sf qualities just didn't appeal to some others) so it wound up appealing to virtually none of the people around the table.

Part of the deal with the TeXt Factor is that for all our bluster, it's very much about personal reactions to texts, and we tend to build a bit of a group consensus about the books, simply as a result of discussing them, which tends to polarize our reactions a bit more.
Arthur B at 19:21 on 2011-09-25
Mind you, I was pretty insecure by the end of the second season myself, since I was the only person who liked Kevin, and I couldn't stand Lavinia.

Yeah, I found doing the podcast proper exhausting. I think part of it is that when there's twelve books it's almost inevitable that a book you're fond of is going to go out sooner than you'd like and a book you dislike is going to stick around longer than you want, and there'll be at least one vote where you don't get your way. (I don't think anyone consistently voted with the majority every single week.)

Dan's right that it's find it easier to get polarised about books than usual in the TF. I mean, if I were reading Line of Beauty on my own I'd read a few pages, realise I wasn't enjoying it and it wasn't the sort of thing I'd be likely to enjoy, and stop and go read something else. Whereas the format means that we don't get the option to cease reading books we're simply not enjoying, which I find means I end up resenting books far more than if I were free to put it down and walk away at any time.
Sure, subjectivity and all that, but the thing is, when you guys explain why you like a book or dislike a book, they genuinely sound like good reasons to like or dislike a book.

I'm not going HOW DARE YOU MISREPRESENT 'THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO' (or The Furies of Calderon or whatnot) over here, because everything you point out about it is a) true and b) a valid reason to be angry at it.

And yet, I'm not.
Dan H at 19:35 on 2011-09-25
Sure, subjectivity and all that, but the thing is, when you guys explain why you like a book or dislike a book, they genuinely sound like good reasons to like or dislike a book.


They usually are, but a *good* reason isn't necessarily an *appropriate* reason for every reader. If you never read books that there were good reasons to dislike, you'd never read anything because, well, there are good reasons to dislike most things if you look hard enough.

For what it's worth, I did actually quite like Lord of Light (although I never got around to finishing it) and quite liked Girl With the Dragon Tattoo for a while after everybody else had got sick of it. I don't think this means I've got bad taste, just that I'm bothered by different things to other people.
Shim at 19:55 on 2011-09-25
I agree with Arthur and Dan.
One of the features of the format, with chapter-by-chapter reading, week-long breaks and active judgement of the books, is that you do end up playing things up, rather than down. When you just read a book, there are things that niggle at you or make you wince, but you've got momentum and to some extent it's as easy to finish a book (especially if it's got a hook or two in you) as not. The breaks between chapters give us time to digest niggles and problems, and you end up picking up the book again with those in mind, which does colour your expectations. At the same time, if you're making notes about good and bad points, and talking about them, they do get thrown into pretty sharp relief. So normally, I'd just coast on with a book because it's alright and has some interesting bits, but in TF, you start noticing that it's been meh for a couple of chapters now, and a book that's always meh is basically boo.

It really is pretty darn subjective too. I loathed one of the finalists last year, and was brutally tormented by Wolf Hall, but everyone else doted on them. But I think if you grabbed anyone's reading pile and ground it through the Text Factor, the results would be pretty similar. Most books have something you can pick at if you want to, and most people enjoy certain kinds of rubbish...

Also, as Arthur says, it is well knackering reading and critiqueing all those books for all those weeks, which means things like patience and willingness to overlook flaws go by the board pretty quickly. If you're going to be assessing a chapter of ten different books next week for a multi-hour discussion, picking the optimum ten books available really is a strong motivation.
Arthur B at 20:03 on 2011-09-25
I'd add that I don't consider this a flaw of the format so much as a feature; six people being moderate and non-polarised and not very emotive about books wouldn't be as fun to listen to. :)
Shim at 20:04 on 2011-09-25
I was also quite interested in the premise and flavour of Lord of Light, and genuinely meant to finish it, but I haven't yet. That being said, I've actually only finished seven books total out of the 20 we've covered (guess which). I intended to finish another five, gave up partway through two of them, was warned off one and haven't bothered with the last two. I don't know how anyone else has got on, but I suspect getting a taster and a discussion of the non-amazing ones just feels like enough.

FoC basically lost me when she turned out not to be an ork...
http://lokifan.livejournal.com/ at 11:43 on 2011-09-26
Personally, I would be happy to be Jamie's favourite thing of the week ;)

LOL, Reilly sounds awesome. GANGBANGERS ARRIVED TO FINISH OFF THE COP! And he was sadly unappreciative!

Interesting conversation on Fail and how much it should be... sort of accepted? It's difficult with these things, I think partly because it's not just aesthetics-vs-morals - it's also how much of any sort of annoyance you're willing to accept from your reading material. F'rinstance, I would be heavily annoyed by Meyer's ellipses; I've backbuttoned from too much ellipses-tastic fanfiction to put up with that shit.

Liking this Text Factor so far!
Robinson L at 14:30 on 2011-10-31
Whoa-wait a second, hold the phone there. Was that me you were comparing to a cookie about two minutes in? Because if so, I'll totally own up to the description—especially the part about “ultimately not something I want running the country” (yours or mine).

Re: gangbangers
Yeah, I'm American (or haven't I mentioned that already?), and I've always associated the term “gang-bang” with “orgy”—with the strong connotation of “gang rape,” but that still doesn't sound quite like what Matthew Reilly was presumably going for.
Frank at 17:15 on 2011-10-31
A gang-bang is a group of people queued up to have sex with one willing partner. Remember Annabel Chong?

A gang-rape is the same minus the consent. Remember the victim blaming on the 11 year old Texan girl earlier this year?

I'm 'merican and to me a gangbanger is a member of a non-white violent organization. I never hear white supremacist groups (never hear 'gang', always 'group'... though maybe they're referred as 'gang' in the media elsewhere.) So was there an identified race for the gangbangers arriving to finish off the cop?
Arthur B at 18:28 on 2011-10-31
I'm 'merican and to me a gangbanger is a member of a non-white violent organization. I never hear white supremacist groups (never hear 'gang', always 'group'... though maybe they're referred as 'gang' in the media elsewhere.) So was there an identified race for the gangbangers arriving to finish off the cop?

To be fair, outlaw motorcycle clubs are often referred to as "biker gangs", tend to have a high white membership, and tend to be treated as a similar phenomenon to other gangs, to the extent that there was a big section on them in that FBI report that came out recently which also listed juggalos as a gang.

But then again, I've always heard the members of such groups referred to as bikers, not gangbangers. And in this case the "gangbangers" are Hispanic.
Robinson L at 18:15 on 2011-11-05
Seriously, though: was that me you were talking about when you were making all those cookie metaphors (which were hysterical, by the way) or was it some other anarcho-socialist of your acquaintance who goes by an alias that sounds like "AR-can"? (If the latter, we should totally form a club or something.)
Arthur B at 01:09 on 2011-11-06
Yes, it was you.

Now lie on this baking tray.
Robinson L at 20:00 on 2011-11-08
Yes, it was you.

Now lie on this baking tray.

Aw, sweet. And warm. And chewy. (The best part is that I happened to listen to this episode on my birthday. How thoughtful of you to give me a surprise present.)

*clambers onto tray*
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