Archive - Book Review

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.

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.

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.

Into the Forest

Into the Forest

author: Jean Hegland

name: Steev

average rating: 3.79

book published: 1996

rating: 5

read at: 2013/04/04

date added: 2013/04/05

shelves: after-the-fall, own-it

review:
I'm being generous to give this book 5 stars, but I'll qualify that by saying that for the most part I'm rewarding it for its accuracy. As someone interested in "end of civilization" stories, that's a big plus. The writing isn't particularly artful or groundbreaking, and it's not a piece of formally innovative literature. But, the writing also isn't terrible, and the female narrative point-of-view is, I think, very realistic (probably because the author is female). I've read way too many works of speculative fiction that totally botch the female perspective (in my humble, male, opinion).

The atmosphere of the novel is introspective and moody, as the diary of a teenage girl raised in a cabin in the woods would be. The story keeps its background cleverly vague, but what details there are are very plausible - we never find out exactly why American industrial society collapses, things just gradually fall apart and get worse and worse. The electricity starts going off more and more often and for longer periods and eventually for good, the radio stations gradually stop broadcasting, rumors of food riots and plagues are heard, but there's no specifics, which is both realistic - in that a 17 year old homeschooled girl might not be carefully tracking the geopolitical situation - and very smart for a writing strategy, because the book doesn't seem dated (in the mid-90s when this was written, I forget the exact doomsday fears, but they were certainly a little different than today's).

So the book doesn't concern itself with the big picture. Just with the little day-to-day events and choices at a little northern California house in the woods, where two parents have died and the daughters have to figure out how to live, with no electricity, no gas, and dwindling food supplies. It's not a scary, gripping action thriller like "The Road," but Hegland provides some enjoyable suspense just from getting us to wonder whether the forest fire will come closer, or whether the sister will ever get to dance to music again, or whether the tomatoes will set fruit. It's a story of interior states, yearnings, small but vital things learned about medicinal herbs and the habits of wild boars. It's a story of how things will likely happen, for at least some people (the lucky people, probably), someday, within the next 5 to 30 years - whenever the lights really finally go out. If you want to be intelligently spooked into teaching yourself how to garden and make your own candles, this might be a good idea.

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:

The Baffler: Vol. 2, No. 1

The Baffler: Vol. 2, No. 1

author: Thomas Frank

name: Steev

average rating: 4.27

book published: 2009

rating: 5

read at:

date added: 2013/09/01

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.

I Want My Hat Back

I Want My Hat Back

author: Jon Klassen

name: Steev

average rating: 4.39

book published: 2011

rating: 5

read at:

date added: 2013/09/03

shelves: children, crime, fun, own-it

review:

The Baffler No. 23

The Baffler No. 23

author: John Summers

name: Steev

average rating: 4.16

book published: 2013

rating: 5

read at: 2013/09/20

date added: 2013/09/20

shelves: fun, own-it, politics

review:

The Baffler No. 20

The Baffler No. 20

author: John Summers

name: Steev

average rating: 4.17

book published: 2012

rating: 5

read at:

date added: 2013/09/01

shelves:

review: