Archive

Rainbows End

Rainbows End

author: Vernor Vinge

name: Steev

average rating: 3.76

book published: 2006

rating: 4

read at: 2014/02/01

date added: 2014/02/01

shelves: own-it, fun, novels

review:
Vinge is always one of the best writers at realistically depicting what the near future will really look like, at least in terms of information technology. This book posits a 2025 that seems pretty plausible to me. Given that Google Glass will be rolling out now, in 2014, and will probably get super popular pretty promptly, I don't think it's too outlandish to predict that we'll have information displays built into contact lenses in another 10 years, plus wearable computers controlled by minute gestures. Add to that extrapolations of the trends in entertainment, social networking, surveillance and nationalistic security apparati, and you get a future that Vinge paints as the world a famous poet finds himself in after he comes back from Alzheimer's, cured but not quite, by medical breakthroughs. As usual, this isn't great literature, but the writing isn't as bad as most science fiction, and there's some interesting and touching character development that makes it a bit more than a futurist manifesto.

Stand Up to the IRS

Stand Up to the IRS

author: Frederick W. Daily

name: Steev

average rating: 3.20

book published: 1992

rating: 4

read at: 2011/04/01

date added: 2013/11/02

shelves:

review:
I'm as done with this as I think I'll get. Not the kind of thing to read cover-to-cover, it's a practical manual for a variety of situations. I used it to learn how to send an Offer In Compromise to the IRS upon deciding to stop being a war tax resister after 10 years. I'm still waiting to hear back from them, but this book definitely gave me a lot more confidence, although it also helped to talk to a good tax CPA.

Eat the Document

Eat the Document

author: Dana Spiotta

name: Steev

average rating: 3.60

book published: 2006

rating: 5

read at: 2012/06/28

date added: 2013/12/03

shelves: novels, fun, politics

review:
This novel is really fun and enjoyable to read, but also quite moving and full of important questions of our time about society, rebellion, identity, commodification of subcultures, and more. I think Dana Spiotta should be considered right up there amongst the pantheon that includes such notables as Franzen, Lethem, Lipsyte, Foer, etc. You know, those dudes. Maybe it's because she's not a dude that she's not considered up there. At any rate every time I read something by those dudes, and many other dude novels, I don't really trust them when they try to portray female characters in first-person. So it's really nice to read something that sort of covers some of the same contemporary existential and emotional ground, from multiple female (and male) viewpoints, written by a female. Plus, the fact that this book is tackling very serious, relevant stuff about "radicalism" and social change makes it super compelling. If you're a progressive activist, or somebody that hangs around in anarchist bookstores and coffeehouses, or have ever lived in a commune, or are music-obsessed hipster, this might be something you'd really like. Or it might really disturb you and piss you off, depending on how seriously you take yourself.

Shaking the Money Tree: How to Get Grants and Donations for Film and Video

Shaking the Money Tree: How to Get Grants and Donations for Film and Video

author: Morrie Warshawski

name: Steev

average rating: 3.43

book published: 1994

rating: 4

read at: 2009/04/03

date added: 2013/12/13

shelves: filmmaking

review:
I sort of skimmed this, I must admit, since I'm trying to quickly raise just A LITTLE more money so I can finish a film. A lot of the book is about organizing your filmmaking career in the process of trying to raise funds for a new socially-conscious film. I'm actually toward the end of making a documentary, and just need a few grand to finish editing.

In fact, if you want to help support the film, which is about war and taxes, please see http://deathandtaxes.detritus.net

Man's Search for Meaning

Man's Search for Meaning

author: Viktor E. Frankl

name: Steev

average rating: 4.33

book published: 1946

rating: 5

read at: 2014/09/08

date added: 2014/09/10

shelves: own-it, spirit-self

review:
This book is everything everyone praises it for and more. Highly recommended. I found it highly inspiring, moving, heartbreaking, and wise. Enough said.

You Don't Have to Fuck People Over to Survive

You Don't Have to Fuck People Over to Survive

author: Seth Tobocman

name: Steev

average rating: 4.29

book published: 1990

rating: 5

read at: 1999/01/01

date added: 2014/02/21

shelves: art, own-it, politics, spirit-self

review:

To Kill a Mockingbird (To Kill A Mockingbird #1)

To Kill a Mockingbird (To Kill A Mockingbird #1)

author: Harper Lee

name: Steev

average rating: 4.29

book published: 1960

rating: 5

read at: 2011/06/22

date added: 2014/05/16

shelves: novels, politics

review:
Absolutely totally deserving all the praise and sales that it has received. One of the best novels ever, hands down.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again:  Essays and Arguments

author: David Foster Wallace

name: Steev

average rating: 4.29

book published: 1996

rating: 5

read at: 2014/07/25

date added: 2014/07/28

shelves: fun, own-it, spirit-self

review:
Like all the DFW works I've read, this is, overall, excellent. Some of the pieces in this collection are better than others, but they're all worth reading. Of course the real standout is the title essay, about his week on a cruise ship, which comes at the end of the book and which is probably the most well-known and talked-about piece of non-fiction Wallace ever wrote, and for good reason. It's pure genius and also pure vulnerable and personal truth-telling, in the Herzogian, ecstatic truth sense of truth-telling - because I don't care if he made up parts of the essay or fudged some facts, as some have attested. The point is that it is a porthole (ahem) into how David Foster Wallace thought and lived, how his brain worked and the intricate inner gears of a very smart but disturbed and depressed writer. Furthermore, it's a valuable commentary on the state of the American psyche and how the American psyche deals with need, desire, luxury, consumerism, and marketing. It was written at, I think, about the same time he was finishing up his masterpiece novel Infinite Jest, which deals in a fanciful, fictional, and more extended way with many of these same issues. In short, they both ask the questions: Is constant, in-the-moment pleasure the pursuit that life is about? And what if we supposedly found that, then what? It's also interesting to see that this essay shows DFW using the phrasal tics like "And so but" and the generous use of footnotes and footnotes-within-footnotes that are so integral to the style and feel of Infinite Jest. He had arrived at a formal structure that fit perfectly the way his chattering grey matter operated.

Other stand-out essays in the volume for me are "Getting Away From Already Being Pretty Much Away From It All," about visiting the Illinois State Fair, and his brilliant examination of a great filmmaker, "David Lynch Keeps His Head."

2666 (3-Volume Boxed Set)

2666 (3-Volume Boxed Set)

author: Roberto Bolaño

name: Steev

average rating: 4.35

book published: 2004

rating: 5

read at: 2009/01/02

date added: 2014/07/04

shelves: novels, own-it

review:
Pretty amazing book. Bolaño is a first-rate novelist. I almost feel like "The Savage Detectives" was better though.

Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer

Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer

author: Novella Carpenter

name: Steev

average rating: 3.98

book published: 2009

rating: 3

read at: 2014/03/22

date added: 2014/03/26

shelves: after-the-fall, food, fun, homesteading, own-it

review:
Yet another case of a journalist not really able to make the jump to quality long-form writing. This book is interesting content, but it just never really clicked. The author tried to go for the deep personal angle, but never really arrived at a tone that made me give much of a damn about her or her neighbors or friends.