Archive

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.

Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace

Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace

author: David Lipsky

name: Steev

average rating: 3.89

book published: 2010

rating: 5

read at: 2012/03/02

date added: 2012/12/30

shelves: own-it, spirit-self

review:
This is a fascinating read, at least if, like me, you're a fan of DFW, and interested in thinking about what makes creative and tortured people tick. This book is an amazingly transparent document of a few days spent with Wallace, mostly just a transcript of everything said while the reporter's tape was running. But as such it's really great, because Wallace shines forth as a genius, as a dork, as a dog lover, as a really nice guy struggling to stay sane and healthy. It's bittersweet to read this, to learn all the things he had going for him and how similar he was to so many nice and smart and creative people I know, and to me, and yet still he decided he couldn't go on.

The most important and compelling of the many deep things touched on during this extended interview is toward the end of the book, when Wallace kind of pierces through everything to summarize what the core of life's challenge is: "...fear is the basic condition, and there are all kinds of reasons for why we're afraid. But the fact of the matter is... the job we're here to do is to learn how to live in a way that we're not terrified all the time. And not in a position of using all kinds of different things, and using people to keep that kind of terror at bay... the face i'd put on the terror is the dawning realization that nothing's enough, you know? That no pleasure is enough, that no achievement is enough... there's a queer dissatisfaction or emptiness at the core of the self that is unassuagable by outside stuff... it's assuageable by internal means. I think those internal means have to be earned and developed, and it has something to do with um, um, the pop-psych phrase is lovin' yourself... I think it's part of the job we're here for is to learn how to do it."

And he couldn't figure out how to do it.

The Broom of the System

The Broom of the System

author: David Foster Wallace

name: Steev

average rating: 3.82

book published: 1987

rating: 5

read at: 2013/01/04

date added: 2013/01/04

shelves: fun, novels, own-it

review:
This is an excellent novel, especially considering that it's DFW's first novel, written when he was what, like 24 or something? It's interesting to see some of the same general features and issues that he put in Infinite Jest. A sort of comedic and surreal science fictionalism; a large wasteland off on the fringes of the narrative; a dysfunctional powerful family; a structure that allows for lots of asides and loosely connected but also sort of independent stories and ideas. It's just pretty goshdarned great.

The Debt to Pleasure

The Debt to Pleasure

author: John Lanchester

name: Steev

average rating: 3.81

book published: 1996

rating: 4

read at: 2013/01/23

date added: 2013/01/23

shelves: fun, food, own-it

review:
This novel really has an odd arc to it. It starts out as an almost plotless meditation on fancy food and cooking. Then it gradually, very gradually, becomes the story of a scary, diabolical sociopath. As someone recently more and more interested in fine cuisine and the culinary arts, it was challenging but not overly so to make it through the first 170 pages or so of the gourmet musings of the narrator. And then it starts getting really juicy, though still full of ever so erudite foodstuff trivia.

[spoilers removed]

Cat's Cradle

Cat's Cradle

author: Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

name: Steev

average rating: 4.19

book published: 1963

rating: 5

read at: 1990/01/01

date added: 2013/01/23

shelves: novels, own-it

review:
This is probably my favorite Vonnegut, with the possible exception of Player Piano. Ice-9 is terrifying.