Saturday, May 10, 2008

Savage Legend, Name Lonely Nightingale Doctrine

In the meantime, I read some books.

The Savage Detectives - Roberto Bolano
I've read very little "latin american literature." One Hundred Years of Solitude I left unfinished, I didn't care. The Savage Detectives is good and written with immense skill. If forced to tell a plot it would be described as being about the lives of two poets from the 70's to the 90's. But really, the plot is an aside. It's the story of an artificial but real movement, and of the stories that interacted with it. It's full of things I didn't get, I don't have the frame of reference to understand, but it was still solid and moving. Reading it knowing Bolano is dead was much like reading Lord of the Barnyard knowing Tristan Egolf was dead. It will be much like watching The Dark Knight knowing Ledger is dead. 8.0

I Am Legend - Richard Matheson
Someone on Sensible Erection left a comment telling us that the book the Will Smith vehicle was based on was superior, original, and had already been made into a film, starring Charlton Heston. He also laid out the premise of the book, and an explanation of the title. (Last man uninfected, a daytime vampire killer, hunted at night, he becomes for the vampire a killer out of a nightmare, a legend, if you will.) It was very enticing. It was a very 70's book and had more than a few logic issues, but beyond that, it's definitely up there with the best vampire fiction written. Matheson has discovered that when you have but one character to work on, you can control the flow of time and emotions with relative ease. When someone finally makes this book a movie *ahem*, I will be there to watch it. 8.5
The blurb on Amazon asks you to "read the book behind the movie." Fuck that. Read the book.

The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco
My brother and Dr. Shutt have both sung the praises of mssr. Eco. I admit I gave up on a different book of his I started years ago. The Name of the Rose is about an ex-Inquisitor brought to an abbey to find a murderer within its walls sat atop the political bickering between Kings, Popes, and offshoot heretical monks. Eco has just so much he would like to share, but an editor has clearly told him to keep it moving along, that no one would read his books if they stretched 600 pages or more. So it moves along, characters but shadows. The murder mystery was insipid. Whodunnit? Who cares? Maybe I just despise this genre. The most interesting bits were the power play aspect of the question of monks being poor or wealthy. Yeah, exactly. 4.5

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter - Carson McCullers
Oprah's book club FTW! Excepting Frey's A Million Little Pieces, she has yet to aim her bow of super-sales awry. This is one of those, written by an almost unpublished 22-yr old, masterpieces. It was written in the 40's about the 30's. About a small town, about the size of my own small town (Mount Vernon), about a mute, about a girl, about a intellectual negro doctor, about an organizer, and about a diner owner. It's rich. Nothing out of the ordinary happens. But it's believable on an almost indescribable scale. One particular thing caught my attention. The mute was deaf from an early age, but in the book he wasn't deaf, he was mute. It wasn't that he didn't hear, he was made entirely of the fact (from others perspective) that he didn't talk. A flawed sounding board. 9.0

Across the Nightingale Floor - Lian Hearn
Some recommendations are good (see Oprah), others need taken with a rock of salt. Amazon and Audible reviewers laud it. It's a fantasy book built around feudal Japan. I had hopes. It's told from two points of view, the first person as the magically awesome, murkily fathered, hope for all good futures, knowledgeable of the ways of the mountain, teen boy. Fantasy Tripe One Oh One. The odd chapters tell the story from the third person of a extraordinarily beautiful teen girl whose use is as a politically stabilizing marriage and has a fame for causing men to die. The boy is magical and just (oh! and turns out his father was the supreme example of this super-secret Tribe with magically powers and he was the best assassin evAr!!!!!!!!!!!). The girl worries and loves him alone and often faints. The author's misogynism was on full display. I have no idea what these reviewers were reading. Maybe I missed something. 0.3

The Shock Doctrine - Naomi Klein
Naomi was making a name for herself in my world in 2002 when she wrote No Logo and was drooled upon by the publishers of Adbusters. I bought No Logo but never read it. I think I just might now.
The Shock Doctrine was also abundantly hailed from certain circles upon it's release last year. The progressive blogosphere had a love-in. But the progressive blogosphere loves most every political bent book that agree with it.

I'd heard the book described, but I didn't really understand. Much of the not understanding was a lack of knowledge of A) the history of the world 1970 - 2008 and B) market capitalism. The book clears up both in a small way. The Shock Doctrine is Milton Friedman's idea that economic change can be smuggled in behind cataclysmic disruptions. That a truly free free market needs a blank slate to operate from and that wars and natural disasters are great places from which to try. And tries have been made. From Latin America in the 70's to the fall of Russia and Katrina and through the Iraq War, the tries have been abysmal failures except for the distant shareholders. Or, in other words, not failures at all.
All in all an amazingly eye opening look at recent mostly American global fuckups. I don't think I've read a real political book before this one. Even Glenn Greenwald doesn't induce me. This one is incredible. If you can stomach politics in a book, stomach this. Naomi is a cynical cynical woman. I am a cynical cynical man. Lordy, does she put my cynicism to shame.
My one issue is that it was unfetteredly one sided look. I'd love to see a Friedmanite (Cheney perhaps?) rebuttal and a Klein follow up. 8.9

Coverville is a podcast. I wrote of it before. They are sponsored by, the place for audiobook downloads. The banner at the top of the Coverville page is a link to Audible that allows you one free download. (I didn't ever use this, and found out about it after I had subscribed, I would assume that it is free, but that it signs you up for a monthly service? Opting out of that service is a simple phone call after the free book. Totally worth it.) For your free book I would recommend that you download The Shock Doctrine, because I think it is that it that important. But, do as you will.



Blogger estelluxx said...

a simple phone call is terrifying for some of us weirdos :)

May 12, 2008 at 9:53 PM  

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