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Recent Reading

  • Fareed Zakaria: The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad, Revised Edition

    Fareed Zakaria: The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad, Revised Edition

  • Hunter S. Thompson: Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga (Modern Library)

    Hunter S. Thompson: Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga (Modern Library)
    This was a revelation. . On one level, Hunter is a journalist exploring an intense, anger filled corner of society, but its his own intense fury that comes across in a thousand naunced ways, (in addition to passing references to shooting out windows in his apartment in a drunken rage). In Fear and Loathing, this inner projection has become total, and consciously so. Its as if he realized that all journalism is reality filtered through the journalists inner prism, or the journalist's inner prism projected onto reality. Then he just went from there.

  • Glen David Gold: CARTER BEATS THE DEVIL

    Glen David Gold: CARTER BEATS THE DEVIL
    Over many trips to Barnes & Knoble this gaudy cover always provoked a funny feeling in me - somehow repulsed but compelled to know more. Its a fun book about the heydey of magic in the US; not heavy, but very sympathetic characters. Many of the plot elements would be right at home in a children's novel.

  • Giles Foden: The Last King of Scotland

    Giles Foden: The Last King of Scotland
    A fine read, I bought it after seeing the movie because the story is so compelling. It is a shock to realize that it plot is entirely fictional (no, there was never a Dr. Garrigan), which makes parts of the movie more understandable (the meat hook scene at the end stretch credibility). That said, the fascinating history that the novel is set in feels lush and well researched, and I've heard say its quite true to the reality.

  • Isaac Bashevis Singer: Short Friday: and Other Stories

    Isaac Bashevis Singer: Short Friday: and Other Stories
    Filled with Jewish traditions and demons of all shapes and sizes, these stories are about souls clinging to life, beset by temptation on all sides. All good; a few masterpieces among them. Mostly set in Poland. "A Wedding in Brownsville", set in New York, is one of the most elegant short stories I've read.

  • Mario Puzo: The Last Don

    Mario Puzo: The Last Don
    As the younger Mafia generation tries to become 'legit in Hollywood and Vegas, the Don rules over all with a firm and vengeaful hand from his Long Island compound. As liberally seasoned with sex and violance as you'd expect. A big greasy cheese lasagna of a book.

  • Philip K. Dick: Lies, Inc.: A Novel

    Philip K. Dick: Lies, Inc.: A Novel
    The beginning and end of this book were written when PKD was more-or-less a normal science fiction writer. The long middle section -- which starts out with the protagonist getting shot with an LSD dart -- was written during his, uh, drug phase. The result is an arduous science fiction Naked Lunch. Its a relief when the LSD "wares off" and you return to a more or less standard dystopian-society science fiction plot.

  • Philip K. Dick: Ubik

    Philip K. Dick: Ubik
    Another PKD weird-fest. This one is about people stuck in a half-dead state of consciousness where time regresses at an ever accelerating rate. The thing is they don't know they're kinda, well, dead, and the only thing that stops, or slows, the decay is a spray-can contained substance called Ubik that, itself, keeps regressing into useless pre-cursor products. Get it?

  • Jeff Smith: Bone: One Volume Edition

    Jeff Smith: Bone: One Volume Edition
    Huge graphic novel about three cousins, the Bones, who get lost outside their native Boneville and emeshed in epic fantast adventure. The simply drawn Bones give it a real freshness, and the Moby Dick-obsessed Phone Bone is a truly lovaeble character. Plot is engaging, though becomes a bit fantasy standard towards the end. But there's so much care and imagination here that it doesn't matter.

  • Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Eternal Husband and Other Stories

    Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Eternal Husband and Other Stories
    Getting through the title piece was a slog of Dostoevskian proportions, but the opening story - "An Unfortunate Incident" - is a revelation, a perfect balance of dancing, drinking Russian humanity, tortured introspection and the nasty consequences of acting on high-minded idealism.

  • Nicholas Pileggi: Wiseguy

    Nicholas Pileggi: Wiseguy
    The basis for "Goodfellas". Really focuses on the fun details. I love the descriptions of how they lived like kings in jail, and things like Henry's basketball point shaving scheme. Mostly told in the third-person, with first person snippets, very much like the narrative- voice-over structure of the movie.

  • J. G. Ballard: The Best Short Stories of J. G. Ballard

    J. G. Ballard: The Best Short Stories of J. G. Ballard
    From 50's style science fiction and paranoid subarban terrorscapes to Burroughs-esque experimental fiction, my favorite story in this collection is The Concentration City, about a city that seems to go on forever (the train sytem loops back on itself). The Drowned Giant in an almost classic, but many of the stories have a dated feel to them. I'm looking forward to Empire of the Sun and The Unlimited Dream Company, and might even pick up Crash.

  • Bret Easton Ellis: Lunar Park

    Bret Easton Ellis: Lunar Park
    Would have been better as pure fiction or pure memoir. The opening is about Ellis' descent into drug hell in the years after Less Than Zero, and just when we're getting into the memoir that at least reads very real, he shifts gear into fiction. Its just unsatisfying; and his satire on contemporary suburban America is often flat (mostly kids numbed and slowed by their "meds"). Still, its brilliant at times and the relentlessness of the narrator’s torture by physcho/supernatural forces is brutal. (See Hill House)

  • Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Classics)

    Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Classics)
    I find myself coming back to this more than I thought; deeper than I gave it credit for at first. Very much in the mode of "yeah, its really haunted but still a conscious metaphor for characters' mental breakdown." The one thing that bothered me is that the characters were never scared enough. Shit, I stopped reading this one before bed. Yeah, its scary.

  • Leo Tolstoy: The Death of Ivan Ilych

    Leo Tolstoy: The Death of Ivan Ilych
    Ivan spends his life getting everything just the way its supposed to be. Then one day the grim reaper taps him on the shoulder as he's hanging up the drapery. He's suddenly faced with the empty reality - or unreality - of his life, and dying feels like being stuffed into a bag. Thankfully there's a moment of light at the end. A good book to come back to every ten years.

  • Peggy Noonan: The Case Against Hillary Clinton

    Peggy Noonan: The Case Against Hillary Clinton
    Reading this book written before Hillary became a Senator, I kept reliving how destructive and self-centered the Clintons seemed. What a jolt when you compare it with the true outrage of the current adminitration - thousands dead and maimed for less then no reason. No question: Noonan can be a putz, especially when she goes off on how pop-culture violance is destroying us (another Republicanism that's put in perspective by Iraq). Still, this book reminds us that the U.S deserves much better than Hillary Clinton

  • Bret Easton Ellis: The Rules of Attraction

    Bret Easton Ellis: The Rules of Attraction
    Ellis' writing in Rules of Attraction is hugely ambitious, without being compeletely successful. The novel is told through the overlapping viewpoints of several characters (spoiled, highly decadent and self centered, it goes without saying), that have wildly different interpretations of their mutual relationships with each other. Not the mature masterpiece that American Psycho is, still a worthy reach. I think he was still in college when he wrote this, which is truly amazing.

  • Gustave Flaubert: Madame Bovary (Bantam Classics)

    Gustave Flaubert: Madame Bovary (Bantam Classics)
    Classic study of mediocrity and pretensiousness. Among French people.. Imagine that! I forgot how funny this book is. Reminds me of my friend Greg.

  • Isaac Asimov: Second Foundation

    Isaac Asimov: Second Foundation
    I'm marching my way through the Foundation series. This one's more engaging than Founation and Empire, because the Second Foundation's all about mind games, quite literally. Its contstant double crosses - like when in Scooby Doo when the villian had not just one mask on but, like, fourteen. Asimov's ideas are powerful, which make up for the writing. I especially like how the villians feel compelled to explain how they tricked everybody, just before pulling the trigger, James Bond style.

  • Joseph Cambell: Hero of a Thousand Faces

    Joseph Cambell: Hero of a Thousand Faces
    Though the physchoanalytic lens makes it feel dated in parts, I love how Cambell draws the strings together from mythologies that I haven't read since I was a kid. Such a whirlwind of excited knowledge, this will be a good re-read..

  • Alex Haley: The Autobiography of Malcolm X

    Alex Haley: The Autobiography of Malcolm X
    I only realized from Haley's end notes that Malcolm broke from Nation of Islam and its teachings during the that during the the year plus of regular interviews for the book. So the first two-thirds are full of NoI fire, and the dramatic conversion is witnessed real-time, in a way. Its great.

  • Michael Chabon: Wonder Boys: A Novel

    Michael Chabon: Wonder Boys: A Novel
    Much more lighthearted than Cavalier & Clay, the characters are vibrant, and Grady's flawed hero keeps it bouncing along. It never really suprised me with anything plotwise or thought-wise, but Chabon's prose is so sweet - just a pleasure to read.

  • Chuck Palahniuk: Fight Club

    Chuck Palahniuk: Fight Club
    Good read. I think its safe to say that there's nothing in the book that you're missing out on if you've seen the move.

  • Thomas Pynchon: Gravity's Rainbow

    Thomas Pynchon: Gravity's Rainbow
    My brain felt like it was frying for much of the time I was reading this. There's no question I'm going back in for more, because it really is brilliant, if frustrating... In the beginning, there's a tombstone with the inscription "Death is a debt to nature due / Which I have paid, and so must you."

  • Arthur C. Clarke: Childhood's End (Del Rey Impact)

    Arthur C. Clarke: Childhood's End (Del Rey Impact)