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Safety Biscuits
Oct 21, 2010



Welcome goonlings to the Awful Book of the Month!
In this thread, we choose one work of literature absolute crap and read/discuss it over a month. If you have any suggestions of books, choose something that will be appreciated by many people, and has many avenues of discussion. We'd also appreciate if it were a work of literature complete drivel that is easily located from a local library or book shop, as opposed to ordering something second hand off the internet and missing out on a week's worth of reading. Better yet, books available on e-readers.

Resources:

Project Gutenberg - http://www.gutenberg.org

- A database of over 17000 books available online. If you can suggest books from here, that'd be the best.

SparkNotes - http://www.sparknotes.com/

- A very helpful Cliffnotes-esque site, but much better, in my opinion. If you happen to come in late and need to catch-up, you can get great character/chapter/plot summaries here.

For recommendations on future material, suggestions on how to improve the club, or just a general rant, feel free to PM me.

Past Books of the Month

[for BOTM before 2016, refer to archives]

2016:
January: Three Men in a Boat (To say nothing of the Dog!) by Jerome K. Jerome
February:The March Up Country (The Anabasis) of Xenophon
March: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
April: Plain Tales from the Hills by Rudyard Kipling
May: Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima
June:The Vegetarian by Han Kang
July:Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees
August: Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
September:Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
October:Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
November:Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
December: It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis

2017:
January: Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut
February: The Plague by Albert Camus
March: The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin
April: The Conference of the Birds (مقامات الطیور) by Farid ud-Din Attar
May: I, Claudius by Robert Graves
June: Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky
July: Ficcionies by Jorge Luis Borges
August: My Life and Hard Times by James Thurber
September: The Peregrine by J.A. Baker
October: Blackwater Vol. I: The Flood by Michael McDowell
November: Aquarium by David Vann
December: Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight [Author Unknown]

2018
January: Njal's Saga [Author Unknown]
February: The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
March: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
April: Twenty Days of Turin by Giorgio de Maria
May: Lectures on Literature by Vladimir Nabokov
June: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
July: Warlock by Oakley Hall
August: All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriott
September: The Magus by John Fowles
October: I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
November: Arcadia by Tom Stoppard
December: Christmas Stories by Charles Dickens

2019:
January: Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
February: BEAR by Marian Engel
March: V. by Thomas Pynchon
April: The Doorbell Rang by Rex Stout
May: Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
June: 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann
July: The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
August: Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay
September:Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
October: Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
November: The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
December: Moby Dick by Herman Melville

2020:
January: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
February: WE by Yevgeny Zamyatin
March: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini by Benvenuto Cellini

Current: The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio



The book is available in the following locations:

https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/1279
Project Gutenberg has three translations available: John Payne’s from 1886 (the white one), J. M Rigg’s from 1903 (the blue one), and John Florio’s from 1620 (the brown one.) Judging by Wikipedia, Payne’s is the only complete one.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0...wt_bibl_vppi_i1
G. H. McWilliam’s translation from 1972.

There are a number of translations available, so if you have a recommendation please chime in. Related, here’s some entertaining cattiness on the Wikipedia page:

quote:

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal Rebhorn stated that he started translating the work in 2006 after deciding that the translations he was using in his classroom needed improvement. Rebhorn cited errors in the 1977 translation as one of the reasons for the new translation. Peter Bondanella, one of the translators of the 1977 edition, stated that new translations build on previous ones and that the error cited would be corrected in future editions of his translation.

About the book

Ten young Florentines run off to a villa to escape the Black Death, and decided to while away their time telling stories – some of them touching, others like day 3 story 10, about a monk teaching a virgin how to put “the Devil” back in “Hell”

J_RBG posted:

I'm about seven days through the decameron and I've got to say boccaccio would most definitely be into cuckold porn. Simply absurd number of cuckold stories. Basically it's good

About the Author

quote:

He was a son of a wealthy Florentine banker who wanted his son to be trained as a lawyer. Boccaccio hated it. In one of the rare autobiographical comments in his books, Boccaccio says he was a “bad businessman, a bad lawyer and not a very good poet.” But then he says “from his mother’s womb he was destined to be a literary man.” And he was.

As a literary man, he had two obsessive concerns. One was to defend the classical Greek and Roman texts, which in the Middle Ages were considered inferior. His second interest, which might seem contradictory to the first, was to defend the contemporary vernacular language. Just as the pagan texts had meaning, so did the vernacular Italian language have richness and art.

Themes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPpeC_GW0cg

We can also talk about Classical mythology, similar story cycles like the Arabian Nights, and writers who were influenced by Boccaccio, such as Chaucer.

Pacing

Read as thou wilt is the whole of the law.

Please post after you read!

Please bookmark the thread to encourage discussion.


References and Further Materials

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Decameron
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summa...Decameron_tales
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giovanni_Boccaccio

You should be reading The Decameron; it’s fun!
Reading The Decameron in a pandemic
Decameron Web - A ton of information on the book and its author, via Brown University

Suggestions for Future Months

These threads aren't just for discussing the current BOTM; If you have a suggestion for next month's book, please feel free to post it in the thread below also. Generally what we're looking for in a BotM are works that have

1) accessibility -- either easy to read or easy to download a free copy of, ideally both

2) novelty -- something a significant fraction of the forum hasn't already read

3) discussability -- intellectual merit, controversiality, insight -- a book people will be able to talk about.

Final Note:

Thanks, and I hope everyone enjoys the book!

Safety Biscuits fucked around with this message at 16:42 on Apr 7, 2020

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Safety Biscuits
Oct 21, 2010



Hieronymous Alloy posted:

I'm probably going to put up Decameron for next month because we haven't read it, we already did The Plague, and it has sexy nuns in it and will give us all an excuse to watch The Little Hours. Any other suggestions?

Safety Biscuits posted:

Yes, let's watch Pasolini's Decameron film too.

We've also been discussing watching a couple of film adaptions. Sound fun? If so, what days and times would suit people? I'm assuming Friday/Saturday evening, USA time?

habituallyred
Feb 6, 2015


Boo this thread

Heptameron supremacy!

(I feel a strange need to recommend reading one of the stories in the Heptameron, but can never remember which book is which.)

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!



Morbid Hound

Oh god it's so nice to have help setting these up


This is a really big text and there's no need to read it in order, so if people want to skip around a bit, that's fine. If you're not sure which story to start with, I'd suggest "Putting the Devil in Hell," as it's probably the most well-known of the stories overall.

https://www2.clarku.edu/faculty/mma.../devil_text.pdf

Famethrowa
Oct 5, 2012


Of course the month I decide to jump in is a real doozy

I'm excited, of course. Been a while since I've stepped outside my computer toucher studies, so it will be nice to get back in touch with my former lib arts days.

Bilirubin
Feb 16, 2014

The sanctioned action is to CHUG!!!




Bleak Gremlin

Pulled my copy off the shelf, dusted it off, and will join in after a couple of short genre chapbooks (one blurbed by Ligotti )

Its the Penguin Classics/McWilliam edition I had to get for my ugrad great books course. Can't recall for the life of me now what stories we read out of it so should be fun!

escape artist
Sep 24, 2005

Slow train coming


Did a unit on these in college and didn't really appreciate them because I was going through some personal poo poo at the time. Excited to pick it back up.

Bilirubin
Feb 16, 2014

The sanctioned action is to CHUG!!!




Bleak Gremlin

The introduction is depressing as gently caress given our current situation. Appreciate the apologies author!

Safety Biscuits
Oct 21, 2010



I just borrowed a copy from the library and the story summaries in the title pages are great. Also the introduction says Boccaccio was a bastard and had five kids, all of whom were bastards, so the guy in the OP who said he'd be into cuckold porn was super on the money.

Bilirubin posted:

The introduction is depressing as gently caress given our current situation. Appreciate the apologies author!

This is apparently because it's a comedy; it has to move from the "foul and horrible" to the "felicitous, desirable, and pleasing", which makes sense if you define a comedy as a story with a happy ending.

Bilirubin
Feb 16, 2014

The sanctioned action is to CHUG!!!




Bleak Gremlin

I had forgotten just how funny these stories can get, the first story is loving hilarious and very goony.

Kinda wish I had grown up Catholic because I'm sure it would be extra funny then

Xander77
Apr 6, 2009

Fuck it then. For another pit sandwich and some 'tater salad, I'll post a few more.




It's kind of amazing just how anti-clerical this book is. I mean, it would still be scandalous if remade for modern day audiences. (Though if we take the stories at face value, not bothering to enforce celibacy rules means that the clergy doesn't gain quite the same propensity for molestation of minors)

Probably why translations were actually published in the USSR.

Xander77 fucked around with this message at 15:19 on Apr 8, 2020

The North Tower
Aug 20, 2007

You should throw it in the ocean.

Most hosed up story? I put stars by the ones I really enjoyed and circled the below ones:

Day 3: story 6 (the guy rapes the lady in the bath house followed by a 4 page rant from page 243-6 in the Penguin edition)
Day 5: story 8 (the guy uses the ghost being killed by the hounds to get some lady to marry him)
Day 7: story 8 (the guy beats the poo poo out of his wife, except the wife swapped the servant and he looks foolish)
Day 8: story 7 (the guy who takes revenge by trapping the woman on the tower in July and flies and the sun almost kill her)
Day 9: story 9 (the guy beats the poo poo out of his wife so she'll be less stubborn and make him breakfast)
Day 10: story 10 (the guy psychologically abuses his wife for decades until he presents his not dead children as young adults)

The North Tower fucked around with this message at 18:51 on Apr 10, 2020

Bilirubin
Feb 16, 2014

The sanctioned action is to CHUG!!!




Bleak Gremlin

Through day 2 of a sequential read. The stories are really good and entertaining but also not something I can binge read.

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!



Morbid Hound

https://twitter.com/emptywheel/stat...0927853569?s=20

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!



Morbid Hound

Hrm, this one may've been a little dense, especially after last month's. I hope people watched The Little Hours.

Suggestions for next month?

ulvir
Jan 2, 2005



the “complete” Passagenwerk by Walter Benjamin

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!



Morbid Hound

https://twitter.com/anne_theriault/...3905547265?s=20

https://twitter.com/DaraKaye/status...0867488768?s=20

Tree Goat
May 24, 2009

argania spinosa


ulvir posted:

the “complete” Passagenwerk by Walter Benjamin

in the coming years i anticipate an “architecture of contagion” for which Passagenwerk will be an indispensable guide to the politicization of space,distance, and aesthetics

Tree Goat
May 24, 2009

argania spinosa


that being said, the next book should be “the innocence of father brown”

Bilirubin
Feb 16, 2014

The sanctioned action is to CHUG!!!




Bleak Gremlin

next month I'm finishing this month's book

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!



Morbid Hound

Tree Goat posted:

that being said, the next book should be “the innocence of father brown”

I'll put up a poll sometime today probably. I'm thinking maybe veer toward something light and fun and escapist to help people stay distracted.

ulvir
Jan 2, 2005



light escapism is only fleeting, challenging reading is a slower process

A human heart
Oct 10, 2012



Escapism is cowardice.

Bilirubin
Feb 16, 2014

The sanctioned action is to CHUG!!!




Bleak Gremlin

The Decameron is full of light escapist reading. Just a poo poo ton of it.

Sooo much escapism I'll never be free of it

ulvir
Jan 2, 2005



when 95% of the threads in TBB are about escapism in one way or the other, my personal opinion is that a better direction for BOTM would be to always provide something more than just that

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!



Morbid Hound

Here's a link to The Little Hours on Netflix

Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, and Kate Miccuci as sexy nuns!

https://www.netflix.com/title/80171023

ulvir posted:

when 95% of the threads in TBB are about escapism in one way or the other, my personal opinion is that a better direction for BOTM would be to always provide something more than just that


no worries, the BOTM is always curated

Idaholy Roller
May 19, 2009


This question may show me up as the total philistine that I am, but for someone who is not very good at reading what’s the best way to read the Decameron? Is it to go for certain stories or what? I had a go but struggled to get into it from the start. Was a try to even get to the story part. I accept this is definitely my problem rather than anything with the text, but any help would be appreciated.

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!



Morbid Hound

Yeah just skip around. Stsrt with the putting the devil in hell story.

Tree Goat
May 24, 2009

argania spinosa


Idaholy Roller posted:

This question may show me up as the total philistine that I am, but for someone who is not very good at reading what’s the best way to read the Decameron? Is it to go for certain stories or what? I had a go but struggled to get into it from the start. Was a try to even get to the story part. I accept this is definitely my problem rather than anything with the text, but any help would be appreciated.

the first few pages of the introduction with the mea culpas and so on can be a struggle, but after that and you get into the framing story proper it's very interesting, especially when you compare it to journal of the plague year 400ish years later and see the same sort of patterns repeat themselves (but i acknowledge that might be my specific damage).

but yeah it's made up of short individual stories feel free to skip around to ones that interest you/bail on ones you aren't clicking with

Grevling
Dec 18, 2016



I'm about halfway into this. People have mentioned hosed up stories of which there are plenty but what are the funniest ones? I really liked the one where a priest tricks a guy into thinking he's in hell in order to have sex with his wife.

Bilirubin
Feb 16, 2014

The sanctioned action is to CHUG!!!




Bleak Gremlin

Grevling posted:

I'm about halfway into this. People have mentioned hosed up stories of which there are plenty but what are the funniest ones? I really liked the one where a priest tricks a guy into thinking he's in hell in order to have sex with his wife.

I just read that one! Very funny.

I still really like the first one, of the money lender's confession

The North Tower
Aug 20, 2007

You should throw it in the ocean.

Grevling posted:

I'm about halfway into this. People have mentioned hosed up stories of which there are plenty but what are the funniest ones? I really liked the one where a priest tricks a guy into thinking he's in hell in order to have sex with his wife.

Day 6 story 8 is only like a page and a half, but has maybe my favorite line in the book: "If you can't bear the sight of horrid people, my girl, I advise you, for your own peace of mind, never to look at yourself in the glass."

Bilirubin
Feb 16, 2014

The sanctioned action is to CHUG!!!




Bleak Gremlin

The North Tower posted:

Day 6 story 8 is only like a page and a half, but has maybe my favorite line in the book: "If you can't bear the sight of horrid people, my girl, I advise you, for your own peace of mind, never to look at yourself in the glass."

lol a medieval "Turn on your monitor"

Putting the Devil Back into Hell definitely deserves a mention for funny stories.

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Famethrowa
Oct 5, 2012


Seeing this thread with 21 missed posts sucessfully guilted me into starting. Got surprisingly into it, and was even highlighting and noting interesting bits like I was in college again. It's a fascinating first hand source of the plague and the (perceived) societal breakdown.

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