I'm going to struggle with this review because I didn't give China Mieville enough credit. That's an odd way to start, but I believe it's a fair asses
I'm going to struggle with this review because I didn't give China Mieville enough credit. That's an odd way to start, but I believe it's a fair assessment. After reading, and being disappointed by, The City and The City last year, I thought Mieville was creative but occasionally sloppy.
The eponymous creature is a specimen in a tank in a museum where our protagonist works. When the creature is stolen, all hell breaks loose in London. Was it the Kraken worshiping cult? The magical ganglord? Or someone else? This establishes the foundation of a story that explores the nature of belief, moreso than traditional fantasy elements of magic.
Given the subject, and the mention of religion, it's tempting to think of this as being Lovecraftian. But it's not. It's thoroughly modern and enlightened, and while Mieville retains something of the incomprehensible nature in his tentacled not-quite deity, it's also clear that humanity is the true power in this story, and the most destructive force is humanity itself.
Returning to my opening salvo, Mieville's apparent sloppiness isn't quite misdirection, but because I did not give him the benefit of the doubt, I disregarded clues to the ultimate resolution which is both clever and entertaining. Definitely worth reading and strongly recommended.
To take Gary Indiana's book fully into context, one must enter with a solid foundation of art history. Otherwise, one will find Indiana's asides and cTo take Gary Indiana's book fully into context, one must enter with a solid foundation of art history. Otherwise, one will find Indiana's asides and contextual notes uninformative. Indiana writes as an insider, one involved in the art scene, and it is hard to argue that he understands how much of an external impact Warhol did not have in the long run.
Oddly enough, this is very much illustrative of Warhol's thesis and work. Indiana insightfully illustrates Warhol's deconstruction of the concept of fine art and his broadening to include low art in the oeuvre. But Indiana fails to realize that this ultimately destroyed the concept of high art. Oh, there remains pre-Warhol high art that is clearly appropriate to that terminology, but since then there is merely art and to define something as "high" or "low" fails because art is now so broad as to cover practically any concept. And with that, art became democratized, if only limited by the willingness of people to pay for it.
But that limitation is precisely what has limited Warhol's impact. Indiana notes the vast and increasing income gap that began in Warhol's era, but fails to understand that this further narrowed the cultural art world. There are patrons to be certain, but there will never be a celebrity artist like Andy Warhol again, in part because Warhol helped to destroy the concept.
I give in on this one, the first book to defeat me since I started doing Goodreads. After 80 odd pages of watching the protagonist stumble around, I sI give in on this one, the first book to defeat me since I started doing Goodreads. After 80 odd pages of watching the protagonist stumble around, I set the book aside for a couple weeks in hope of making a fresh start but I just don't want to go back to it. There's no reason for me to care about Jacob or his predicament.
I may make another stab at it in the fall, but for now I give in....more
Bret Easton Ellis is no stranger to provocation and Imperial Bedrooms serves Ellis' need to affront the reader with something most find unacceptable.
BBret Easton Ellis is no stranger to provocation and Imperial Bedrooms serves Ellis' need to affront the reader with something most find unacceptable.
But underneath all that titillation and affrontery there is the underlying sense of isolation in crowds and fear of failure that makes Imperial Bedrooms, if not necessary, worthwhile reading. Taking the characters from Less Than Zero and aging them into not-quite-successful entertainment industry writers, agents, and gray-market suppliers, Ellis somehow stumbles upon the combination of talent without work ethic that results in people moving through life without direction or purpose, desperately trying to prove they matter in a world where they really don't.
Many won't approve of Ellis' work, but despite its unnatural and unbecoming aspects, it's hard to deny that he finds real sensation in a character without feeling, detached yet undeniably fixed in a web of their own creation....more
As a long time Maryland and former Baltimore resident, this insightful book crystallizes years of demographic history in the self-destruction of an urAs a long time Maryland and former Baltimore resident, this insightful book crystallizes years of demographic history in the self-destruction of an urban city.
Antero Pietila begins at the dawning of the 20th Century, as upwardly mobile blacks first begin buying into white neighborhoods. Panicking authorities struggle to regulate demographics by racial, ethnic, and religious categories, only to have economics, technology, and reality thwart them at every turn.
Filled with stories of Baltimore's political machines, its blockbusting realtors, its politicians and municipal leaders with criminal pasts, Not in My Neighborhood deftly captures 100 the influx and exodus that has made Baltimore typical of the American city
Worth reading for anyone who has lived in Maryland or has an interest in history, sociology, politics, or demography.
Michael W. Hudson spent the better part of two decades researching this book on Ameriquest and the subprime mortgage crisis and his effort shows, withMichael W. Hudson spent the better part of two decades researching this book on Ameriquest and the subprime mortgage crisis and his effort shows, with an in depth understanding of the practices of these predatory lenders and the systemic breakdowns that allowed them to operate.
Paired with stories of victims, this forms a disturbing whole that will have you double checking your own agreement just to make sure you haven't been swindled like these borrowers were.
If you want to understand how the banking crisis began and how subprime lending and Wall Street interacted to keep state and federal officials off of their backs, this is well worth reading. Just be prepared to be infuriated as you are educated....more