Archive

Debt: The First 5,000 Years

Debt: The First 5,000 Years

author: David Graeber

name: Steev

average rating: 4.16

book published: 2011

rating: 0

read at:

date added: 2017/12/12

shelves: politics, own-it

review:

Home Land

Home Land

author: Sam Lipsyte

name: Steev

average rating: 3.64

book published: 2004

rating: 5

read at: 2012/08/24

date added: 2012/08/24

shelves: novels, own-it, fun

review:
Sam Lipsyte is such a damn good writer. His style is the perfect mix of bitterness, wisdom, and pop-infused sardonic wit, at least for me and my take on the world right now. He's almost precisely the same age as I am, so maybe that has something to do with it. This book is exaggerated and crazy, but it sort of perfectly encapsulates what it's like to be alive today as a verging-on-middle-aged, creative and educated but disillusioned and lower-middle-class American male - disillusioned, even though you're someone who never really bought or swallowed the koolaid in the first place. Something was wrong with the picture from the start, you could tell long ago, but you're still pissed off 20 years later when it didn't pan out the way they said it would, mostly pissed off because everyone else is pretending that it did.

Liquid Sky

Liquid Sky

author: Anne Carlisle

name: Steev

average rating: 3.72

book published: 1987

rating: 4

read at: 1990/01/01

date added: 2012/08/26

shelves: fun, novels, own-it, to-re-read

review:
A totally nutty story, in book and movie form. Read this long ago and loved it, want to revisit it soon.

The Vegan Revolution... with Zombies

The Vegan Revolution... with Zombies

author: David Agranoff

name: Steev

average rating: 3.58

book published: 2010

rating: 2

read at: 2012/08/29

date added: 2012/08/29

shelves: after-the-fall, food, fun, own-it, novels, politics

review:
This book is a comedic satire with an interesting and funny premise: what if some chemical in all the animal products caused non-vegans to turn into zombies? However, in the execution of this idea the thing has lots of problems. I will just list them out:
1. It really should have been better copy-edited, or at all. It's full of typos, spelling errors, grammatical errors, and punctuation errors, to the point where I wonder if the author even re-read his work after writing it, and/or whether he ever passed an English class at a higher level than 7th grade.

2. The book is full of what i call "Portland exceptionalism" - the idea that Portland is some kind of ultimate mecca, different and better in every way. As a former Portland resident that would still be living there if I didn't need more sunshine, I understand the allure of the place, but this kind of attitude is something that keeps getting more and more common and more and more extreme.

3. Besides the poor English errors, it's just, frankly, bad writing. The sentences are very simplistic. The characters and any development they undergo are really obvious, stereotypical, and cliched. The plot is pretty by-the-numbers - at no point do I really worry about any of the heroes or the final outcome, there's no real suspense, since the zombies are so clearly weak, powerless, and easy to kill or avoid.

4. There's some fun humor in the book and great critique of various silly and hypocritical subcultures like freegans, raw-foodists, locavores, and many types of hipsters, juggaloes, and more, but: the book is basically a really overly didactic vegan sermon. Now, I'm sympathetic to the causes and the points made in the book, but it's just painful to read something that's so preachy, especially since there's not much else in the book plot or character-wise to make up for that.

The book is basically "liberal snuff porn" - what if you woke up one day and could finally really shoot in the head all those annoying yuppies and hipsters you hate? - which, as a liberal, I can agree can be fun for a while. But it's not going to change any minds and it's only going to really entertain some smug, simple-minded Portland vegans. If it had been a short story, maybe 10,000 words at most, instead of a novel, some of the above problems could have been mitigated or eliminated. To be sure, if it had been much longer I would not have finished it. I only wish my town still had a smug, simple-minded infoshop that I could leave the book at for some young, earnest traveller kids to find and confirm for themselves that Portland is just as cool as they already know it is.

O Amazonas Escuro

O Amazonas Escuro

author: Eugene K. Garber

name: Steev

average rating: 3.00

book published: 2010

rating: 5

read at: 2012/09/14

date added: 2012/09/27

shelves: novels, fun

review:
Weird but good. An anthropologist out in the jungle with natives, wrestling with trying to stay objective. A variety of other westerners drift down the river to provide interesting episodes. Finally a Herzog-like filmmaker with a Kinksi-like primadonna star show up to make a movie. Tragedy ensues. Philosophy, gore, action, adventure, semiotics, theory, praxis, sex, drugs, civilization, wildness.

JPod

JPod

author: Douglas Coupland

name: Steev

average rating: 3.72

book published: 2006

rating: 5

read at: 2012/10/02

date added: 2012/10/02

shelves: own-it, fun, novels

review:
If I could award half-stars, I would give this book 4.5, but I feel generous, so, 5. It's typical Coupland, in that it sort of is always riding the edge between on one hand perfect spot-on targeting of life and culture, and on the other, silly, annoying, over-the-top comic surrealism. Somehow he pulls back, every time, from that second extreme before it bugs the hell out of me.


You'll Like This Film Because You're in It: The Be Kind Rewind Protocol

You'll Like This Film Because You're in It: The Be Kind Rewind Protocol

author: Michel Gondry

name: Steev

average rating: 3.80

book published: 2008

rating: 5

read at: 2012/10/18

date added: 2012/10/18

shelves: wishlist, filmmaking, fun

review:
As a filmmaker and someone who has participated in several collaborative "fast movie" projects in which amateurs get together and democratically craft a film really quickly, this book was a great confirmation of some basic dreams and desires and experiences that I've had. Michel Gondry is a genius, dreamer, and auteur, as we all know from his videos and films, but surprise-surprise, he's also an anti-corporate, anti-capitalist, utopian collectivist, and he's come up with a great, simple system for putting these ideals into a system of making little films that friends and neighbors can participate in. As he keeps repeating in the book, this is not a book about how to make films. Rather it's a book about how to bring back an aspect of community life that has largely disappeared with the advent of mass-mediated consumerism. I hope to one day witness and take part in the protocol that he lays out here, and if I do, hopefully I can restrain my professionalist and authoritarian urges, and just be part of a group, making something together and without preconceived plans, and without corporate sponsors.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

author: Dave Eggers

name: Steev

average rating: 3.68

book published: 2000

rating: 5

read at: 2012/11/19

date added: 2012/11/19

shelves: fun, spirit-self, own-it

review:
This book actually IS heartbreaking, and actually is a work of genius, though perhaps not staggering genius. Anyway, I could go on and on but I won't. It's just really really good. I should have read it much sooner. It's way better than I ever thought it would be, and in fact I think the title is what threw me off and made me wait 12 years to get to it. Most commendable is that Eggers, in a way similar and almost as well as DFW, perfectly captures the way the (post) modern, youngish, neurotic, superintelligent, self-aware-to-a-fault mind sounds to itself as it goes about its desperate days, restless, chaotic, unable to stop its ceaseless flopping and fluttering about.

The Kickstarter Handbook: Real-Life Success Stories of Artists, Inventors, and Entrepreneurs

The Kickstarter Handbook: Real-Life Success Stories of Artists, Inventors, and Entrepreneurs

author: Don Steinberg

name: Steev

average rating: 3.69

book published: 2012

rating: 5

read at: 2012/12/07

date added: 2012/12/09

shelves: own-it, filmmaking

review:
This is pretty much as good a book as I could reasonably expect in the realm of step-by-step guides on how to do a Kickstarter campaign. Covers all the bases, explains things clearly and completely, and is very useful. I already knew quite a bit on the subject, from reading numerous blog posts by various people who had highly successful Kickstarter campaigns, and just from observing projects I've backed over the last couple of years. But I'd recommend this to people like me as well as people who've never really looked into it but want to learn how to crowdfund.

The Baffler No. 21

The Baffler No. 21

author: John Summers

name: Steev

average rating: 4.36

book published: 2012

rating: 5

read at: 2012/12/19

date added: 2012/12/20

shelves: politics, fun

review:
I've been reading the Baffler since the early 90s. It's quite simply one of the consistently very best periodicals for those with a tendency toward critical thinking and an intellectual but irreverent analysis of late capitalism, politics, consumerism, and the media. It's like Harper's times one hundred. It's wonderful.

That said, every time I read an issue, it angers and saddens me with almost every page, just like Harper's does but 100 times worse. There is of course the geeky enjoyment of seeing written in eloquent form the sentiments I feel every day about our screwed up system and society, but also there is a profound bitterness and despair which sometimes threaten to overwhelm me.

The last couple of issues have seen for me the latter feelings outweigh, more and more, the former. In fact for the first time I feel like maybe the Baffler is starting to go too far, in some cases. Or maybe I'm just getting old. Maybe I'm just tiring of continual, brutal attacks on not only everything that is obviously fucked up, but everything anyone holds dear or hopeful. I'm signed on for 3 more issues at least, so we'll see what happens. Perhaps I will stop reading absolutely everything in each (actually I've already started skipping most of the poetry.) Perhaps I just need The Baffler to include at least one thing per edition that's a hopeful proposal, a creation, rather than only knocking everything down.