Most of the book was a light-hearted look at disease, which is to say the focus was on living in the now, but Sigurdsson packs a gut-wrenching punch aMost of the book was a light-hearted look at disease, which is to say the focus was on living in the now, but Sigurdsson packs a gut-wrenching punch at the end. I also really enjoyed the way Iceland's economic woes were operating at the outskirts of the action here. Overall, another great read from Iceland (and Open Letter).
Tribbe seeks to contextualize Apollo within the larger social trends of 1960s and 1970s American culture. Overall, he does an admirable job outliningTribbe seeks to contextualize Apollo within the larger social trends of 1960s and 1970s American culture. Overall, he does an admirable job outlining the factors that lead to the moon shot in the first place. Competition with the Soviets played a vital role but, more than that, Tribbe argues that it was a postwar technocratic rationalist outlook that propelled America into space. However, by the time Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were walking on the moon the nation's enthusiasm for better living through technology was already waning. The manned lunar program lasted a scant three years. I won't go into the details here—for that you should read the book—but the main takeaway for me was that the cultural revolutions on the 1960s helped focus America's attention away from space and technology and back towards a human and spiritual place. It's not a coincidence that the mega church movement and its attendant religious revival started around the same time.
While Tribbe's ideas were worthy of five stars the execution was firmly three stars. I found the writing repetitive and I felt like I never got a satisfactory handle on how to view Apollo itself. Perhaps, as the book suggests early on, we won't know the full import of something as momentous as man's first voyage to a heavenly body for hundreds of years. Despite the books faults, Tribbe does an excellent job analyzing the time period, showcasing the conflicted views many held, and building a strong case for why Americans so quickly grew apathetic about the moon program. For instance, I was surprised to learn that within one year of Apollo 11 most Americans couldn't even remember Neil Armstrong's name. Revelations like that alone makes it a worthwhile read. The 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 is coming up in 2019; we'll likely be seeing a lot more about the moon in the coming years as a result. I recommend this book as a good primer on the historical and cultural dimensions of the moon shot.
Pretty compelling fable. I'm still picking through the threads of identity, misogyny, and nationalism looking for a cogent understanding. Sjón alwaysPretty compelling fable. I'm still picking through the threads of identity, misogyny, and nationalism looking for a cogent understanding. Sjón always rewards deeper thought.
For the first chapter I wasn't sure if this was fiction or a very entertainingly written history, a la The Devil in the White City. Turns out it's ficFor the first chapter I wasn't sure if this was fiction or a very entertainingly written history, a la The Devil in the White City. Turns out it's fiction, but my confusion stemmed from the fact that Olukotum's prose is incredibly authoritative. He thoroughly delivered me into the world of his novel without sacrificing tension or pacing.
The story revolves around an ill-fated attempt by a silver-tongued politico to reverse the brain drain in Nigeria and kickstart a "brain gain" by repatriating some the top Nigerian-born scientists living abroad, culminating in a manned trip to the moon—hence the title. As you might guess, things don't go quite according to plan. Before long, the members of Brain Gain are either dead or fleeing for their lives. Starting in 1993 and eventually flashing forward to the present day, the book weaves together three primary story lines: there's Wale, one of the Brain Gain scientists, Melissa, a young woman with a very bizarre skin condition, and Thurday, a hapless abalone smuggler. Most of the action takes place in South Africa, which was really interesting because I haven't had a huge amount of exposure to that country in literature.
Olukotum draws great characters and engaging scenarios, but for most of the novel I was wondering how the disparate parts were connected. I'm still not sure it all comes together in the end, but the read was interesting enough that I'm okay with it. I also enjoyed the way he played with fantasy elements while keeping the book firmly rooted in the real.
I must be missing something. I don't get why everybody loves this book so much. The humor was okay, but it wasn't anything special, and the charactersI must be missing something. I don't get why everybody loves this book so much. The humor was okay, but it wasn't anything special, and the characters are not memorable. It was a fine book to casually read on MUNI, but not something I was ever excited about. Too bad, I was looking forward to enjoying it more. I will not be continuing with the "trilogy."
For me it was a mixed bag. I really enjoyed some of the essays in the middle two sections, but the opening section and the closing section felt like aFor me it was a mixed bag. I really enjoyed some of the essays in the middle two sections, but the opening section and the closing section felt like a weak artist's statement. Gay does a great job outlining problematic portrayals of women and minorities in media, often in a wry, humorous way, but she's short on solutions. I recommend this collection for fans of her web writing (though I suspect you will have read many of these already) and those getting their toes wet in the world of cultural criticism.
It was by complete coincidence that I read two books back-to-back that covered a lot of the same ground, but it's gotten me thinking about the early 9It was by complete coincidence that I read two books back-to-back that covered a lot of the same ground, but it's gotten me thinking about the early 90's. I predict we'll be seeing a bit of a 90's renaissance shortly. (Note: I do not advocate such a thing.) The first was Hold Tight Gently: Michael Callen, Essex Hemphill, and the Battlefield of AIDS, and you can see my review of it here. Paris is Burning is a decidedly different book than that one, though. Here Hilderbrand dissects the Queer New Wave classic, teasing out tidbits about editing choices and really delving into the social and political reception it received in its time and since.
The film is one of my all-time favorites, so needless to say I was stoked when Arsenal Pulp Press announced this latest addition to their Queer Film Classics series. It was such a treat to "re-watch," as it were, my favorite scenes through a critical lens, and to get an authoritative perspective on why certain editing choices were made. I'll give you an example. The film opens with a shot of Pepper Labeija addressing the interviewer (and by extension the viewer). The film ends with a shot of two young boys similarly addressing the camera. Hilderbrand contextualizes the moment in a much more intelligible way than I could, so I'll let you read the book to find out what exactly it means. Still, I bring it up because this seemingly small choice reflects the depth of this film and points to the layers of meaning that might all too easily be lost on first time viewers because of the film's more outre performances and personalities.
The book is divided into three parts: the first runs through the film itself and why things were presented the way they were (warning, there are spoilers so if you care about that stuff watch the film first. You should probably do that even if you don't care about spoilers.); the second details the release of the film; and the final section tackles the critical and political reception of the film both then and on through today. I was particularly interested in the final section. To me, Paris has always been a celebratory film. Yes, it deals with some heavy things, but I found it to be hopeful. I've also never felt that the film was exploitative. Naturally, there are some very intelligent people that take a different view, so I'm glad Hilderbrand devoted as much space as he did to the controversy. Now that I'm more familiar with the various arguments I can see the validity of them, though my opinion has remained fundamentally unchanged. One really interesting point he made was that how viewers react to film can be largely influenced by the environment in which they watch it and with whom. It's not something I'd thought of, but I think it makes a lot of sense.
Anyway, this is definitely an insider book for people that love/hate the film or those who might be doing some kind of academic research about it. For everybody else, just watch the movie and quote it constantly like the rest of us. Personally, I'll be re-watching Paris is Burning soon, and after encountering them in two books back-to-back I think it's probably time I watch Isaac Julien's "Waiting for Langston" and Marlon Briggs' "Tongues United" as well.
I always enjoy learning about San Francisco history. There are a lot of colorful characters here, and it's fun to spend some time with their stories.I always enjoy learning about San Francisco history. There are a lot of colorful characters here, and it's fun to spend some time with their stories. I delight in picturing what happened in the places I walk by all the time and discovering that some name on a building connotes a lot more than might immediately be obvious. (Did you know Bill Graham—of Bill Graham Auditorium—walked his way out of Europe following the Holocaust? Neither did I!) It gives the city an intimate feeling, which I really value. Talbot does a pretty good job in that respect, but I didn't enjoy this book as much as I've enjoyed other city histories. I think I never quite connected with his tone, and while I was reading the first section I kept asking myself, but what about everybody else in the city—the people who didn't listen to rock 'n roll and don't tune in, turn on, and drop out in the Haight? Eventually, he broadened his scope, but by then I was already a bit suspicious.
Really, I think, the meat of this book centers on the violence that rocked the city immediately after the Summer of Love. Talbot does a good job of contextualizing the tensions afoot in the city as the demographics made a dramatic shift to the left in a short period of time. I cheered at the elections of Moscone and Milk (even if they were only possible because of the support of Jim Jones and his cult) and shivered at the violence that the Zebra killers perpetrated on the citizenry. I weighed the veracity of Patty Hearst's story and tried to decide if I believed that she'd been coerced into joining the SLA or if she'd really had a change of heart. (I'm still not sure.)
Overall, I thought Talbot make strong arguments and stitched his take on SF history together strongly with one major exception. He made it seem like the culture of violence that rocked the city throughout the 70's was quelled in large part because of the 49er's Superbowl victory. Sorry, I don't buy that. I hate sports, so I'm biased, but even so I really just don't see it. It was a weak transition in an otherwise tight book. And it was particularly unfortunate that it happened right before the final section, which centered on AIDS. Talbot celebrates the way San Franciscans lead the nation in response to the AIDS epidemic (outspending NYC 4-to-1 despite having a much smaller patient count, for instance) and gestured at that response being the final healing the city needed, but the whole time I kept thinking, come on, man, you're going to say a football team's victory is as powerful a healing force as a decade's long culture of caring? It kind of left a foul taste in my mouth. Anyway, it's definitely worth a read for fans of SF history. Just skip the sports chapters.