Archive

Ongoingness: The End of a Diary

Ongoingness: The End of a Diary

author: Sarah Manguso

name: Steev

average rating: 3.96

book published: 2015

rating: 5

read at: 2015/05/22

date added: 2015/05/22

shelves: memoir, spirit-self, own-it

review:

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:

Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety

Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety

author: Daniel B. Smith

name: Steev

average rating: 3.22

book published: 2012

rating: 4

read at: 2015/11/21

date added: 2015/11/21

shelves: spirit-self, own-it, memoir

review:

Triburbia

Triburbia

author: Karl Taro Greenfeld

name: Steev

average rating: 3.20

book published: 1995

rating: 5

read at: 2015/10/17

date added: 2015/10/18

shelves: novels, fun, children, own-it, gentrification

review:
Excellent. Lots of stuff about parenthood, marriage, class, gentrification, and more. Some of it is wise, some bitingly satirical. Makes me definitely want to read more of Greenfeld's work.

[SIC]

[SIC]

author: Davis Schneiderman

name: Steev

average rating: 3.83

book published: 2013

rating: 5

read at: 2013/12/20

date added: 2015/12/20

shelves: art, fun, novels

review:
My high rating for this book is for its high concept, and I'm biased since it's a concept (appropriation, plagiarism, recycled culture, there are many terms one could use) that I've been involved with, both in my own artistic practice and as a subject of study and documentation.
[full disclosure: Another source of bias is that a review copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher]

With this slim volume, Schneiderman pushes at an envelope of that concept of artistic appropriation. In it, he reprints excerpts from across the history of literature and philosophy, making the book feel a bit like a freshman Western Civ course or somesuch. However, his twist, his "value add" as they say, is that for each pre-existing work, he changes the byline to his own. It's an open act of "piracy" or, if you're more generous, "creative borrowing," but also an exercise in artistic curation.

The author of the forward mentions that Schneiderman told him that it's not necessary to actually read the book, because of its conceptual nature, and this is true. There's literally nothing new. It's enough to be paging through it and pondering why he may have chosen each selection, enjoying the cognitive buzz of seeing a different author name slapped onto each masterpiece. It's an avant-garde work in the truest sense, because this book is about showing other artists where the extremes are, not actually providing a cultural product for "civilians" to consume. That will come later, when someone else synthesizes Schneiderman's one-liner, perhaps with some related ideas from David Shields' "Reality Hunger" and some hard-won storytelling skills, to write a novel or memoir that is a tapestry of source material but that still somehow entertains and inspires, in a deeper, more personal and more complicated way than this art world gesture. Until then, we have this stepping stone to admire.

A Big Enough Lie: A Novel

A Big Enough Lie: A Novel

author: Eric Bennett

name: Steev

average rating: 3.52

book published: 2015

rating: 5

read at: 2015/09/15

date added: 2015/12/20

shelves: novels, art, fun, memoir, own-it, politics

review:
One of the best new novels I've read in a long time. Of course this is due to my interests, one of which is art that blends, or is about the blending of, truth and fiction. This is a novel about a writer who writes a fake memoir as a desperate attempt to have his writing get at something truly real. The book alternates chapters between the fake memoir and the "real" story of how the writer gets from being a shy sheltered kid in rural Florida to appearing on an Oprah Winfrey-like TV show with his best-selling "fraudulent" book. On the way, Bennett explores and expounds on many important themes, like the nature of modern warfare, the fraudulent and media-driven Iraq War in particular, the pretensions and hubris of creative writing MFA programs, the pain heartbreak and obsessive, unrequited love... the list goes on. In a way I think this book is our era's version of Heller's Catch-22. Satirical, funny, dark, smart and complicated but full of compelling story lines that pull you along.

I wonder what David Shields, author of "Reality Hunger," would think of this book? At first I thought it was the perfect realization of some of his ideas. But then I realized maybe not as much so, because it is in the end fiction, perhaps even wholly fiction (although I do wonder how much of John Townley is Eric Bennett). Shields would probably love it if someone really DID do what is depicted in "A Big Enough Lie," wrote and sold a memoir that's really novel. Like "A Million Little Pieces" if James Frey had intentionally written it as memoir (a lot of people don't know it was his publisher that had the idea of marketing it as non-fiction).

In the end though, a great and perfectly apt novel for our age.

My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind

My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind

author: Scott Stossel

name: Steev

average rating: 3.82

book published: 2013

rating: 5

read at: 2016/03/11

date added: 2016/03/11

shelves: memoir, own-it, spirit-self

review:
Very thought provoking. Resonates with my experience. And well written!

The Baffler No. 29

The Baffler No. 29

author: John Summers

name: Steev

average rating: 4.14

book published:

rating: 5

read at:

date added: 2016/04/18

shelves: politics, own-it

review:

DMZ, Vol. 2: Body of a Journalist

DMZ, Vol. 2: Body of a Journalist

author: Brian Wood

name: Steev

average rating: 4.02

book published: 2007

rating: 4

read at: 2016/01/07

date added: 2016/01/31

shelves: own-it

review:

The Baffler, No. 31: Memory Holes

The Baffler, No. 31: Memory Holes

author: Summers, John

name: Steev

average rating: 4.27

book published:

rating: 5

read at: 2016/11/18

date added: 2016/11/18

shelves: politics, own-it, fun

review: