Archive

The Baffler No. 27

The Baffler No. 27

author: John Summers

name: Steev

average rating: 4.17

book published: 2015

rating: 5

read at: 2015/07/16

date added: 2015/07/16

shelves: politics, own-it

review:

The Art Fair

The Art Fair

author: David Lipsky

name: Steev

average rating: 3.06

book published: 1996

rating: 5

read at: 2015/09/28

date added: 2015/09/29

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

review:
A really nice memoir-like novel about growing up, divorce, being a parent to your parent, and the art world. On the last topic the book is really quite funny, and is at a level of clever snarkiness that borders on mean-spirited. The portrayal of the the cutthroat social struggle of aspiring art stars and dealers is one of the most biting and frank that I've ever read, with an undercurrent of bitterness and rage that makes me certain Lipsky's own childhood was seriously scarred by that scene.

The book does in a way what all of the best fiction can do - inspire empathy and understanding, perhaps as far as identification, even in readers whose own experience is far removed from what's depicted. In this case, my own relationship with my mother couldn't be farther from the narrator's with his mother, and in fact the idea of standing up my girlfriend on her birthday because I'm waiting for a call from my mother is just about the most foreign idea that I can think of (in fact I'd readily do the opposite, in a heartbeat, to be honest). Yet somehow by the second half the story has swept me along into a mental state where it all makes sense.

If I could give fractional stars, I'd have to say this is a 4.5, because it's really a quite simple and uncomplicated novel, formally, but it expertly accomplishes its relatively unambitious goals, so I've rounded up.

I, Slutbot

I, Slutbot

author: Mykle Hansen

name: Steev

average rating: 3.92

book published: 2014

rating: 5

read at: 2015/06/08

date added: 2015/06/08

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

review:
Full disclosure: Mykle's a friend. Despite that, believe me when I say this is a great book. His best yet. Mykle Hansen's work almost always contains elements of the "silly" and over-the-top wackiness. But don't let that fool you. There's downright fine writing in there. Really. And this book's a page-turner too. I made myself late to things because I didn't want to stop reading this book.

The story is many things: a nuclear armageddon sci-fi space opera, a parody of space operas, a satire on the porn industry, a meditation on artificial intelligence, a feminist allegory, and more. The commentary is spot-on, the humor kills, and language is artful, the messages profound.

The Baffler No. 26

The Baffler No. 26

author: John Summers

name: Steev

average rating: 4.22

book published: 2014

rating: 5

read at: 2014/12/15

date added: 2014/12/31

shelves: own-it, politics

review:
Excellent, as usual. the "Dads of Tech" and piece by Astra Taylor is a highlight, as well as the one about disability.

The Housing Monster

The Housing Monster

author: prole.info

name: Steev

average rating: 3.77

book published: 2011

rating: 5

read at: 2015/02/10

date added: 2015/02/24

shelves: politics, gentrification, own-it

review:
Excellent. Essentially a marxist analysis of the housing and construction industries, but a modern one. Includes an erudite chapter on Soviet Russia and why it wasn't really communism but was in fact just another form of state capitalism.

In addition to the smart writing, the graphics are brilliant. Some of them I feel like blowing up into poster size and wheatpasting around town.

Attempting Normal

Attempting Normal

author: Marc Maron

name: Steev

average rating: 3.76

book published: 2013

rating: 5

read at: 2015/09/08

date added: 2015/09/08

shelves: memoir, own-it, fun, spirit-self, children

review:
I was already a big fan, so take this review with a grain of salt, but anyway: excellent stuff.

How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic

How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic

author: Ariel Dorfman

name: Steev

average rating: 3.88

book published: 1971

rating: 5

read at: 2000/01/01

date added: 2014/12/31

shelves: politics

review:

Alternadad

Alternadad

author: Neal Pollack

name: Steev

average rating: 3.40

book published: 2000

rating: 5

read at: 2014/11/15

date added: 2014/12/31

shelves: children, fun, gentrification, own-it, homesteading, memoir

review:
Just what I needed.
It was surprising how much of the book is about not just "alternative" parenting but about gentrification. The story is the story of a dude growing up and starting to value a way of life (domestic, family-based, child-centered) different than he used to, and trying to reconcile that with his values about class and urbanity and growth and re-development, etc.

OG Dad

OG Dad

author: Jerry Stahl

name: Steev

average rating: 3.86

book published: 2015

rating: 4

read at: 2015/07/31

date added: 2015/07/31

shelves: children, fun, spirit-self, memoir, own-it

review:
For a lot of this book, I would reluctantly have to categorize Stahl's writing as basically "trying too hard." Occasionally he has a moment of real cleverness, or of real profundity. But too often he edges past those points and over the cliff of ham-fisted awkwardness.
I think if I wasn't myself a parent, and for that matter a quasi-OG Dad myself, I would only give this book 3, or even 2, stars. But there's enough stuff that resonates and is a smart take on things I've been living too, for it to be worth wading past the dumb bits. I think maybe Stahl's been in the Hollywood TV writing world for too long, or something. His writing here often feels like Groucho Marx trying to be Charles Bukowski - or maybe vice versa. I have felt for years like I would like to someday read his celebrated memoir "Permanent Midnight", but if it's the same level of craft as this, I might not get around to that.

Still, there are some great gems. He adequately conveys some of the experience of being a creative, "edgy", but aging, guy who finds himself, amazingly, a new father. If you don't care about the aging part, I think Neal Pollack's "Alternadad" is a better read. But Jerry Stahl has clearly been through the shit and come out the other side.

American Psycho

American Psycho

author: Bret Easton Ellis

name: Steev

average rating: 3.82

book published: 1991

rating: 4

read at: 2014/11/16

date added: 2014/11/18

shelves: novels, own-it, fun

review:
This is an odd novel. It's a light-hearted, absurdist satire about rich people and New York and trendiness and fashion. But it's also a violent, misogynist horror story full of ultra-graphic, impossibly extreme gore and brutality. Oh and super graphic, porn-style sex scenes.

It's one of those books where I wondered often why I was still reading, and yet couldn't put it down.

Some things I really enjoyed about it:
1. One running gag is that the narrator is always mistaking people for other people, and in turn he's always being mistaken for others. Co-workers or acquaintances come up and greet him by other names, etc. It happens so often as to be this hilarious and biting commentary on modern alienation.

2. The anachronism of the time the book is set in. It's so clearly late-80s, it almost hurts, to read about the cordless phones, video rentals, answering machines and INXS playing at the clubs.

3. The porn-style sex scenes. Really just because they, along with the killing scenes, are such a stark contrast with the rest of the book, which is mostly vapid recountings of evenings spent dining at trendy eateries and the designer brands everyone is wearing.

Anyway. I hate to admit I've never read any other Bret Easton Ellis, but this makes me want to.