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The Baffler: No. 19

The Baffler: No. 19

author: John Summers

name: Steev

average rating: 4.23

book published: 2012

rating: 5

read at: 2012/05/01

date added: 2013/05/02

shelves: politics, own-it

review:

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

author: Neil Postman

name: Steev

average rating: 4.15

book published: 1985

rating: 4

read at: 1994/01/01

date added: 2013/05/10

shelves: politics

review:

The Baffler No. 22

The Baffler No. 22

author: John Summers

name: Steev

average rating: 4.23

book published: 2013

rating: 5

read at: 2013/05/14

date added: 2013/05/14

shelves: fun, politics

review:
As usual, attacking favorite sacred cows, this issue of The Baffler doesn't disappoint. Highlights are the massive and detailed critique of Tim O'Reilly by Evegeny Morozov; "Fifty Shades of Capitalism", a scathing review of the megapopular softcore romance; and the article about the Marquis de Sade and how his work has been so influential and prescient for our modern culture.

One thing I don't really get is why they always have so much poetry. For a journal that's so cynical and no-nonsense, it really surprises me that they've always found plenty of column-inches for poems. Some of them are certainly above-average compared to the common fare in most zines, but I'd rather read another article brutally ripping apart "the culture of business." I also couldn't really get into either piece of short fiction in this issue. But that might be just me. I always skip the fiction in Harper's or the New Yorker too, unless it's an author I know I like, so your mileage may vary.

But overall, nice work once again, Baffler.

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (Dirk Gently #1)

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (Dirk Gently #1)

author: Douglas Adams

name: Steev

average rating: 3.98

book published: 1987

rating: 4

read at:

date added: 2013/05/23

shelves:

review:

Pen Pals (Cometbus #55)

Pen Pals (Cometbus #55)

author: Aaron Cometbus

name: Steev

average rating: 4.40

book published: 2013

rating: 4

read at: 2013/06/02

date added: 2013/06/02

shelves: fun, own-it, spirit-self

review:
I've been reading Cometbus for, oh, I dunno, about 20 years now. It's a strange feeling to pick it up again. Aaron's writing has always seemed beautiful and so vulnerable and honest, but also flawed, in that it's always so long-winded and a bit overly dramatic. It can be excused somewhat by saying it's poetic, but I don't really like poetry any more. I like stuff that gets to the point and doesn't beat around the bush or communicate in strained riddles. It just seems a little whiny sometimes, a white Berkeley punk kid, complaining about his 'mysterious', tortured heritage growing up in the hippie Eden. Waaaah.

That said, he weaves a fascinating tale that I couldn't easily set down, about an odd childhood friend that he kept in touch with all his life, but he had agreed to keep her out of all of his previous writing until she finally gave him permission - and so then he wrote this issue, almost entirely about her. Pretty touching.

Shelter

Shelter

author: Bobby Burns

name: Steev

average rating: 3.72

book published: 1998

rating: 5

read at: 2013/07/04

date added: 2013/07/05

shelves: spirit-self

review:
Really good book. It's very matter-of-fact, simple writing, but despite this its diary style pulls the reader along. Highly recommended.

Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo-Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters, "Found" Texts, and Other Fraudulent Artifacts

Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo-Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters, "Found" Texts, and Other Fraudulent Artifacts

author: David Shields

name: Steev

average rating: 3.46

book published: 2012

rating: 4

read at: 2013/07/18

date added: 2013/07/19

shelves: art, fun, own-it

review:
Like with many anthologies that are collected around a specific formal practice in writing, this book varies in quality. Some selections are really top-notch, but others are almost worthy of skipping. The idea behind them all is creative writing that is in the format of some non-creative text: for-sale listings, book indexes, wills, police logs, etc. Where these work the best is, I believe, not dependent on the the form the writer chose to cleverly lampoon, but on the actual content. When the story, the situation being portrayed, is powerful and touching, the piece is powerful, regardless of whether it's written in the form of a glossary, colophon, or set of story problems.

Some standouts I particularly liked were "Permission Slip" by Caron A. Levis, in which a problem student hijacks her school's intercom system and rants at the entire school; "Officer's Weep" by Daniel Orozco in which a romance between two cops blooms in the form of a police blotter; and "National Treasures"by Charles McCleod, a heartbreaking life story told via an auction listing of the narrator's possessions. The key in all of these, and all the others that are best, is the depiction of a realistic and poignant human life, not the cleverness of how it gets bent into a weird type of writing.

Rad Dad: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Fatherhood

Rad Dad: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Fatherhood

author: Tomas Moniz

name: Steev

average rating: 3.97

book published: 2011

rating: 5

read at: 2013/07/21

date added: 2013/07/21

shelves: children, spirit-self, own-it, politics, homesteading, to-re-read

review:
This is a great book, if you're in the situation to benefit from it, that is, if you're a father who is looking for inspiration and ways to raise kids and be a husband and father according to feminist, anti-patriarchal, anti-establishment values. Not all of the pieces in this anthology are that useful. Some are rather banal pep-talks. But some are highly moving and wise statements that reach to the core of what's wrong with our culture and offer alternatives. Hardly any of the pieces are highly good writing; most are simply competent journalism/opinion pieces and don't qualify as any kind of Harper's-level essaying. But this is made up for by the personal nature of the pieces, and, for me, the way in which many of the questions and issues are exactly what I'm looking to explore as I embark on the long journey of fatherhood. I think several of my friends who've already been on this path for years might get considerably less out of this book; also, the rest of my friends who don't have kids and don't plan to won't get much of anything of it. But if you're somewhere in the middle, this book will be good for you too.

¡Ya Basta!: Ten Years of the Zapatista Uprising

¡Ya Basta!: Ten Years of the Zapatista Uprising

author: Subcomandante Marcos

name: Steev

average rating: 4.15

book published: 1994

rating: 5

read at: 2005/06/01

date added: 2013/07/22

shelves:

review:

How Should a Person Be?

How Should a Person Be?

author: Sheila Heti

name: Steev

average rating: 3.22

book published: 2010

rating: 4

read at: 2013/08/21

date added: 2013/08/21

shelves: fun, novels, own-it, spirit-self, art

review:
An odd book. A novel that reads a lot like a memoir and probably partially is one, in which the narrator blunders around her life as a young white privileged playwright in Toronto, making friends and enemies and vaguely struggling to reach some vague profundity. It reads a little bit like something I wish were a female version of Sam Lipsyte's "Homeland" - or maybe it is, but I'm just too male to get it. It doesn't have a clear narrative arc and character development resolution that I kind of instinctively want, and would expect from somebody like Lipsyte or Franzen or the author of How I Became a Famous Novelist, whose name I forget.

In other words, it has that flavor of the modernday creative outcast bumbling around gradually learning stuff, and it's weird and sorta funny, but it doesn't ever... gel as much as I wanted it to.

Probably should be 3.5 stars but I'm generously rounding up.