This book's strength is in the author's ability to turn mundane events into keen observations. It's a deeply introspective book and succeeds, much theThis book's strength is in the author's ability to turn mundane events into keen observations. It's a deeply introspective book and succeeds, much the same way more introspective people I know do, at coloring subtle human behavior with insightful looks into people's motivations and thought.
As far as quick reads go, I would certainly recommend this book, though I do think Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name is packed with similarly thoughtful writing but with a better story....more
In general, I'm very glad this book exists. On the grand political spectrum, I think I'm much closer to Biehl and Bookchin than most folks in the worlIn general, I'm very glad this book exists. On the grand political spectrum, I think I'm much closer to Biehl and Bookchin than most folks in the world. However, there were some specifics I don't particularly agree with as well as some aspects of the strategy of Libertarian Municipalism that raise pretty big questions. My friend Adam read this before me and gave it to me to read so we could discuss. I'ma write him an email with my thoughts, and after we work some of them out, I'll probably post something considerably more thoughtful (and lengthy) on here....more
So damn good in pretty much every way (except that the edition I have was full of various type-o's which apparently were fixed in subsequent editions,So damn good in pretty much every way (except that the edition I have was full of various type-o's which apparently were fixed in subsequent editions, though even that is forgivable given how awesome the artistry of the book itself is)....more
I thought his 50 Philosophical Ideas book was really well done so I'm guessing this would be a nice one to pick through as well. I'm wondering if it wI thought his 50 Philosophical Ideas book was really well done so I'm guessing this would be a nice one to pick through as well. I'm wondering if it will be an expansion upon the subject matter covered in his previous book. It'd be swell if he elaborated upon each of the sections in his philosophy book to create books that go more in depth on things he covered (such as Politics, Science, Morality, et al)....more
I can't remember the last time I finished a book in one day. This was a quick read indeed.
As usual, he does a very good job backing up his point of viI can't remember the last time I finished a book in one day. This was a quick read indeed.
As usual, he does a very good job backing up his point of view with a combination of facts, personal accounts of his own and others, and some basic moral/philosophical stuff. He did a great job of showing that Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as many bombings around Europe, most especially a raid in which he participated upon Royan, were unnecessary and brutal massive acts based on vengeance and disturbingly contrary to the idea of 'the good war.'
Using these as a foundation for a general total anti-war stance is where he ends up as he has in anything else of his I've read. I think it's important to recognize flaws and hypocrisy and to question violence at all times. In general I'm fundamentally opposed to violence. But when it comes to WWII it's hard to think that the Nazis would have ever been stopped from murdering and assimilating as much of the globe as Hitler desired if they were combated with Gandhian or MLK-esque tactics. The notion of a 'good war' is asinine, I will agree, as war is inherently disgusting and the product of evil. And carpet bombings, napalm and nuclear strikes are appallingly, unacceptably revolting. At the same time, as much as I would like to, I can't subscribe to the notion that staying out of WWII entirely would have been the better choice....more
I found most of my favorite stories to be in the middle of this book. Usually the most clever or insightful parts were the very last lines of any giveI found most of my favorite stories to be in the middle of this book. Usually the most clever or insightful parts were the very last lines of any given story and often those are what made the story itself worthwhile when I would've otherwise considered it throw-away.
Hills with White Elephants, however, was one story I didn't find nearly as standout as the back cover or my friends seem to feel it is. I even went back and reread it after talking to Mark and Laura Conroy, but as William Shatner says, I can't get behind that.
In general, this book made me appreciate Hemingway's style a bit more, but I feel that there are authors (and indeed most have probably been influenced directly or indirectly by him) who say things without saying them better than he does... or what they're saying without saying I find more worth reading.
If bleak, terse stories won't ruin your day, then I'd recommend this book to ya. It's a quick read....more
Borrowed this from Tim. Read it in two days. I knew I would love it after hearing a few of the 40 tales on Radio Lab. I spent the whole time picturingBorrowed this from Tim. Read it in two days. I knew I would love it after hearing a few of the 40 tales on Radio Lab. I spent the whole time picturing Robert Krulwich's voice narrating the stories.
This book was more about ideas than how it was written. There were cleverly worded bits but the ideas were top-notch. Some of the stories could've been more elaborated upon, I think, but I certainly paused to think many a time and a good bit of it stuck with me. All the individual tales compile a book that really makes you think more and in some ways differently about why we create gods and afterlives and what in life (and death) it is that motivates us.
I think this would be a good book to pair with God's Debris. Both quick reads with similar approaches and both more about ideas than story....more
I will talk about things in and related to this book for hours with anyone who wants to. Lee and Sam Hamilton are the men. I feel like I have 20 new pI will talk about things in and related to this book for hours with anyone who wants to. Lee and Sam Hamilton are the men. I feel like I have 20 new people in my life that I wish I could write letters to or sit down with. Wine, tapas, Steinbeck- let's call it a date....more
Twas a quick quick read. Also a rather depressing one. The last article is that of a suicide, two suicides actually. This ending is typical of many ofTwas a quick quick read. Also a rather depressing one. The last article is that of a suicide, two suicides actually. This ending is typical of many of these artsy, wake-up kind of books and while it succeeds in getting me pissed and angry and interested, it doesn't do anything constructive with that anger which bothers me. Painting a picture is good. Painting a depressing picture is important when shitty stuff is happening in the world. But leaving us to only feel overwhelmed, depressed and hopeless is not constructive and doesn't help any cause very well.
On my way from GA to Jamestown, NY I spent a night in Charleston, WV. There I attended a party full of those youthful activist types and had some great conversations. A consistently breached subject was coal... from mountaintop removal, to safety, to the "big lie of clean coal" a lot of coal was discussed.
With those discussions still knockin' around my noggin as I rolled into Jamestown, I found myself discussing them and Jenny recommended this book to me. I found it painted a very good picture- a portrait of coal-mining disasters. I guess, beyond the book not providing any constructive conclusions, I just wish it was a little more complete and that it covered more angles.
It very cleverly juxtaposes three things: news reports from coal mine disasters in China (which apparently happen constantly and kill many thousands every year), verbatim firsthand accounts of a coalmine disaster in WV, and the lesson plans of three lessons in a non-profit organization's curriculum for WV coal-mining towns' K-8 students.
Perhaps most telling were the lesson plans. I feel like the other descriptions were used to wrench your guts and provide a context for what's being taught to kids in these towns. And I'm guessing they're assuming you'll conclude that there's a great deal of misinformation and assimilation going on- brainwashing if you will of these kids, to help perpetuate the business-serving, human-exploiting coal-mining industry.
My issue though, is that in the simplistic approach only 3 lesson plans are used. It is not explained who funds or runs the non-profit and it does not explain the typical approach of the teachers which teach the curriculum. So while one can obviously see that the lessons overlook some pretty hefty issues by instructing kids to "mine for chocolate chips in their cookies" as a way of learning the profit-loss agenda of coal companies, it isn't clear what else is being taught or how it's all being taught.
I also thought a very interesting contrast was shown between the Chinese and American stories. The WV accounts were all of one disaster, all firsthand. The accounts from China were all news reports and covered a barrage of disasters over a year's time. I wonder how much different or maybe how similar the stories would seem if the accounts were given from the opposite perspectives. Are the Chinese more prepared, more desensitized to coal disasters because it happens so frequently and on such a mass scale? Are Americans taking for granted that we have such rare occurrences. Are Chinese companies covering up more than American ones?
I could go on but for now I don't have time. It's a valuable read but in some ways it frustrated me. I'd certainly love to discuss the book or coal mining in general with anyone who wants to.
Maybe it's my current mood, but art such as this that functions solely as a depiction bothers me twofold. It has the chance to function as (and often does) very biased propaganda that only perpetuates the dangerous and destructive cycle of misinformation. It also seems like a possibly lazy, but at least non-constructive way to pull at heartstrings and get people upset (perhaps, dare I say it, to sell copies or just to ease one's confused and overwhelmed conscience) without providing them a balanced context or a good springboard to do anything valuable with everything that they have good reason to be upset about and want to change. I hope this book doesn't only do what it could to some, which is extend the stagnancy so common in individual's feeling angry with no outlet, feeling helpless against big issues and big companies....more
Despite certain things that really bugged me about this book, I think it was definitely worth the read.
I'm not bilingual, I don't speak French, this bDespite certain things that really bugged me about this book, I think it was definitely worth the read.
I'm not bilingual, I don't speak French, this book is published in English. I was annoyed by the constant use of French words and phrases which were not translated nor are they commonly used in English. Sometimes I also thought that there was an excessive use of adjectives...long strings of them six or so long to describe clouds.
But what consistently annoyed me the most were the constant- CONSTANT references to products and fashions, most of which were dated to times far in the past. Describing someone's appearance by using fashions from the 1930's and product references to obscure or now defunct companies from decades past does not help me imagine what people look like. Instead, it makes every character seem like the same pretentious, non-specific, materialistic consumer and maybe that was the point but it could've been driven home less constantly down my throat.
Perhaps these annoyances were all deliberate though. Perhaps, since it's narrated first-person and a lot of these references are from dialogues between the characters, these things that annoyed me were devices used to convey the hypocrisy and pretentious elitism of the protagonist(s) who are trying to shun American materialism, consumerism, and the modern age.
Nonetheless, despite those annoyances I did find a lot of the book valuable. He, Coupland, has a knack for wording things well. The textbook-style notes and definitions in the margins of many of the pages were often cause for me to self-reflect, criticize, or think about the way we interact with one another and the ways in which modern society has left so many of us feeling disconnected and aloof.
Much of the book was funny, some of its insights and observations keen and worthwhile, but overall it painted a picture of lost, hopeless, confused despair which was well-painted enough, but didn't conclude with anything particularly constructive, in my opinion and so 3 stars....more