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kenthompson

@kenthompson@mastodon.world

I am formerly an artist, librarian, and queer activist, and I still do some of those things when Iโ€™m not working my day job. Current project: reading my way through the 'best' novels, and pondering what 'best' means anyway.

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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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The Magicianโ€™s Nephew, by C.S. Lewis. You are a nearly orphaned pre-teen multiverse traveler who unleashes an egotistical tyrant from their world, who tries to take over ours but you divert her to a brand new world created by a singing cat, thus creating a multi-generational (and multi-book) conflict in Narnia.

3 of 5 library cats ๐Ÿฆ ๐Ÿฆ ๐Ÿฆ.

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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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Blackouts, by Justin Torres. You are a youngish gay man who finds an elderly, dying gay man who was also in the asylum you were put in as a teenager, and as you talk about his life and yours, you are guided by a poetically erased volume of mid century scientific case studies of homosexuals, which helps him die and you live, though fact and fiction here are intertwined as lovers.
5 of 5 library cats ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ.
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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner. You are part of a deteriorating Southern family, whose remaining unredeemable members pick over the bones or try to plot their escapes. 1 of 5 library cats ๐Ÿˆ. Warnings: racism, antisemitism, hate speech.

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kenthompson , to ai
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, anyone? Perfect example from publishing. A publisher is using AI to write crappy nonfiction, then assigning author names that almost match leading experts in that field (to trick search engines). No doubt other AIs will now search those texts as authoritative. This is done solely to make money and only makes the world a worse place.
@bookstodon @pluralistic

https://www.washingtonpost.com/newsletters/book-club/

kenthompson , to bookstodon
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The Bee Sting, by Paul Murray.
You are an Irish family, falling out of the middle class, but thatโ€™s the least of your problems seemingly, because the house of cards the parents have built was based on a foundation of self-deception. 3 of 5 library cats ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ.
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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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Dayswork, by Chris Bachelder and Jennifer Habel. You are a writer fascinated with Melvillians and the many biographers of the famous author and the ways their own lives, and marriages may all be echoing each other across the centuries. 4 of 5 library cats ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿณ.
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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert. You are an early 19th century Frenchwoman, a farmerโ€™s daughter who becomes the wife of a boring doctor, but when you want more to life than that offers, your options are limited (by men). 2 of 5 library cats ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ.
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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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The Famous Magician, by Cesar Aira; trans. by Chris Andrews. You are an older writer of some renown, who is convincingly offered omnipotence in exchange for never writing, nor reading anything again; unfortunately you are not good at making decisions. 3 of 5 library cats ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ.
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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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System Collapse, by Martha Wells. You are a sentient construct that can pass as human, but you really donโ€™t like humans much (other than their TV shows) but nonetheless endeavor to keep them from dying at each otherโ€™s hands in the f***ed up world they created. 4 of 5 library cats ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ. (Series)
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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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The Tusks of Extinction, by Ray Nayler. You wake up to find 100 years have passed and your conscience put in a de-extincted mammoth to lead a new herd and deal with some very human problems. 4 of 5 library cats ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ.
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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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Lost in the Moment and Found, by Seanan McGuire. You start out as a 6 year old girl where things go rapidly wrong at home; you escape to a world for lost things, but at an unknown cost. 4 of 5 library cats ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ.
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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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Spadework for a Palace, by Laszlo Krasznahorkai, trans John Batki. You are a librarian with a great plan to create a Permanently Closed Library, which you record with other thoughts in a single sentence that stretches 100 pages. 5 of 5 library cats ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ.

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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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Eastbound, by Maylis de Kerangal, Trans. by Jessica Moore. You are a French woman and a 20 year old Russian conscript thrown together on the Trans-Siberian Express train, as you both try to escape your fates, together, but without a shared language. 4 of 5 library cats ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ.
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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame. You are a mole who wears a vest and hangs out with other smallish mammals by the river, where you seek an equilibrium; only to be thwarted by Toad, a wealthy landowner and agent of chaos in your friend group. 3 of 5 library cats ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ.

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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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The Underground Railroad, by Collin Whitehead. You are an escaped slave that finds herself not transported to safety, but to alternatives to enslavement that still arenโ€™t freedom (then or now). 4 of 5 library cats ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ

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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad. You are a riverboat captain, sailing up an African river to meet the colonizer of all colonizers, a task you seem to both relish and hate. 2 of 5 library cats ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ. Warning: hate speech.

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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. You are a pilot who crash lands in a desert, where you meet an alien child who lives on his own asteroid and dispenses cryptic stories about his travels on earth and elsewhere. 3 of 5 library cats ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ.

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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque. You are a teenage German boy who signs up to fight in WWI with your classmates, and you never find anything worth fighting for, just mud and death in the trenches, as any sense of yourself or any recognizable future fades. 4 of 5 library cats ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ.

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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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1/x The Best Novels of 2023.
Iโ€™ve been looking at a lot of lists of โ€œbest booksโ€ lately, and realizing that they have something in common. No, not the actual books on them (the lists are surprisingly heterogeneous); what they have in common is that almost none define what they mean by best, what criteria they used, or frequently even who the selectors were. As Best Books lists come out for 2023, the trend continues. Iโ€™ll post those lists in this thread, thru year end. @bookstodon

kenthompson , to bookstodon
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A Shining, by Jon Fosse. You drive to the end of a road and hike into a Norwegian forest in winter, where you become lost and may die but your brain meanders casually over many topics until some presences show up which really donโ€™t help much, so your brain keeps thinking random thoughts. 4 of 5 library cats ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ

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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott. You are the most iconoclastic/โ€˜tomboyishโ€™ of four young sisters, and it looks like you may chart a path as a writer, but as your sisters fall into the roles allocated them by the 19th century patriarchy, you too may be deprived of the dull spinsterhood you aspired to.

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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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When cultures differ on what itโ€™s okay for kids to know (or see), what ends up in a book? Publishers self-censor to be safeโ€ฆand to assure profit. Interesting POV from a translator of childrenโ€™s books.
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https://www.nytimes.com/2023/11/10/books/review/childrens-lit-taboos.html

kenthompson , to bookstodon
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On The Road, by Jack Kerouac. Itโ€™s the late 40โ€™s, and you are a young man trying to dig America and its many people and pick up chicks, so you spend a lot of time trying to meet up with your whacked out best friend by hitchhiking and busing repeatedly across the US, but whether you learn anything is debatable. 3 of 5 library cats ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ.

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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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We The Animals, by Justin Torres. You are a child, the youngest of three brothers who stick together, against the unpredictable world of adults and your parents, providing security until you are found to be different, so different that what ties is unbound.

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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson. You are a woman in your 30s who was never loved by anyone (in particular, your Mother), and when she dies, you get a vague invitation to spend time in a haunted mansion with complete strangers, so you go of course, and itโ€™s the best time of your life, which is not good news, however. 3 of 5 library cats ๐Ÿˆโ€โฌ› ๐Ÿˆโ€โฌ› ๐Ÿˆโ€โฌ›.
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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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Gulliverโ€™s Travels, by Jonathan Swift. You are an early 18th century shipโ€™s surgeon who is repeatedly Washed Ashore on various never before seen islands, whose inhabitants find you Unaccountably Strange due to differences in Size and Temperament, but nevertheless teach you several Important Lessons about merry old England, particularly its Superior Personages. 4 out of 5 library cats ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ.
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kenthompson , to bookstadon
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The Golden Notebook, by Doris Lessing. You are a mid 20th century writer with one successful novel, but also and communist and mother who struggles with all these things, but in particular with men; you keep separate notebooks trying to sort the parts of your real and fictional lives, but it doesnโ€™t seem to be helping. 5 of 5 library cats ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ

@bookstadon

kenthompson , to bookstodon
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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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The Librarianist, by Patrick deWitt. You are an elderly retired librarian who had two โ€˜interestingโ€™ things happen in your life (both over 50 years ago) and itโ€™s occurring to you that maybe youโ€™ve been hiding the rest of your life, and there might be time to move on. 3 of 5 library cats ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ.

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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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A Spell of Good Things, by Ayobami Adebayo. You are a highly capable and independent young Nigerian doctor, which is maybe why the patriarchy feels the need to insert itself in your life in subtle and not so subtle ways. 4 of 5 library cats ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ.

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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy. You are a young Russian woman living in the late 19th century, where a successful romance seems quite impossible for the obliviously wealthy; you try to break the mold but the mold wins. 4 of 5 library cats ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ.

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kenthompson OP ,
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@jofagobe @bookstodon The Kitty storyline ended very unsatisfyingly for me; it seemed built for contrast to Annaโ€™s, but didnโ€™t really deliver on that, at least for me.

kenthompson , to bookstodon
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Anne of Green Gables, by LM Montgomery. You are an annoyingly verbose and overimaginative 12 year old orphan who accidentally gets adopted by taciturn Canadians at the end of the 19th century and are partially successful at bending the world to your will. Three of five library cats ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ.

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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon. You, alone of your family escape the holocaust as a teenager, and parlay your drawing skills into a lucrative career cartooning superheroes in America; but even with a side gig as a magician, you can not escape the past, can not avenge it, and struggle to keep it out of your future. 3 of 5 library cats ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ

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kenthompson , to bookstodon
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The English Understand Wool, by Helen Dewitt. You are an extremely wealthy young lady who does not blink an eye when everything you thought was true turns out to be a lie, and by avoiding actions in bad taste, defeat some who would take advantage of your situation. 5 of 5 library cats ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ ๐Ÿˆ

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