Kind of like a Black Mirror comic book -- I didn't read Brian K. Vaughan for years because I felt kinda "meh" about Y: The Last Man, but since, I've gKind of like a Black Mirror comic book -- I didn't read Brian K. Vaughan for years because I felt kinda "meh" about Y: The Last Man, but since, I've gotten into Saga, Paper Girls, and now this. Dude's solid, even if he did play a part in the nightmare that was Lost.
Especially worth reading in the era of cyber espionage and election hacking. Also, kinda great that the journalism awards in the future are called "Greenwald's."...more
Especially worth reading in the Trump age -- there's a very clear lineage from the spins and lies of the Bush administration, and from the failings ofEspecially worth reading in the Trump age -- there's a very clear lineage from the spins and lies of the Bush administration, and from the failings of the "infotainment" media complex to the catastrophe that occurred in November 2016.
The essays themselves vary in quality -- perhaps the most interesting is Orwell's, "Politics and the English Language," which you can find online. The best ones after that are the ones that critique Orwell: Lakoff's explanation of political framing, Kaplan's criticism of the "infotainment" industry which Orwell did not predict, Fassihi's report on the impossibility of war reporting in the age of jingoistic spin, and George Soros's re-examining of "open societies," knowing what we know now about the Enlightenment's blind spots.
It all reads as ominous, being published back in 2007, before Trump's presidency was even conceived of, but it's worth reading to put some context on the current moment anyway....more
Possibly my least favorite of the series -- Tana French is still awesome, but Conway is the hardest-to-like protagonist she'd had so far. She does a gPossibly my least favorite of the series -- Tana French is still awesome, but Conway is the hardest-to-like protagonist she'd had so far. She does a good job of explaining why Conway is the way she is, and the character develops in a satisfying way, but she's so goddamn self-destructive that it makes it really hard to keep reading.
This is also not really the most interesting mystery so far -- it's again done very well, and Tana French is a genius, but it takes a very long time for you to become in any way emotionally attached to the victim, which makes it harder to care how it ends until fairly late in the book....more
This is why comics are awesome -- this is one of the weirdest, funniest, and most downright bizarre stories I've ever read, and it just would not haveThis is why comics are awesome -- this is one of the weirdest, funniest, and most downright bizarre stories I've ever read, and it just would not have worked in another format. It felt as if the storyline which ended the series was almost secondary to the Collector storyline, but who cares? It has another full-page Poyo battle (vs. Galaxseal), as well as a few new weird food-powers, and of course the tiny little jokes hidden away in the frames (a bridge in hell reads "Bridge may freeze in the event of a good Michael Bay movie").
I'm not even trying to be objective anymore -- I'm just a fan of this series, and it never really did wrong in my eyes. Yay John Layman, yay Rob Guillory....more
I only give this four stars because I reserve that rating for books that totally floor me, and while this was incredibly written, and was an insanelyI only give this four stars because I reserve that rating for books that totally floor me, and while this was incredibly written, and was an insanely good portrait of an impossibly complex country, it did not totally blow me away. So count my four as my own stinginess and not as a reflection of Osnos' skill as a writer and a journalist. This is 100% worth reading if you want to get a complex picture of a country that we in the west tend to think of only in terms of stereotypes. Also, read everything he writes in the New Yorker. He's incredible....more
15 years on, September 11th is no longer mine. It has been co-opted by more cynical people. It has become a political tool used to justify horrific th15 years on, September 11th is no longer mine. It has been co-opted by more cynical people. It has become a political tool used to justify horrific things. It is draped in flags and patriotism and it is cheapened for those of who are skeptical of flags and patriotism.
What's incredible about this book is that it brought me back to the feelings of the days after the 9/11 attacks. It was a time where people felt raw and vulnerable, and the things they said in those days -- the days when these comics were written -- have since coagulated and hardened and have turned from raw emotion into something less flexible, something uglier. Reading this book 15 years on is both a reminder of the days after, and a reminder of the 15 years that followed, and the ugliness that was born on that day.
I guess it wasn't born on that day, though. I guess it was born a long time ago....more
I've always heard how bleak this play is, and on my first reading, I took a solid amount of comfort from the warmth and intimacy of Vladimir and EstraI've always heard how bleak this play is, and on my first reading, I took a solid amount of comfort from the warmth and intimacy of Vladimir and Estragon. Sure, they bicker and argue, sure, they're caught in a hellish, never-ending nightmare, but there are moments of real tenderness between them that kept this from being too awfully nihilistic and sad....more
"On the Coming of John" is one of the bleakest and best essays I've ever read. There are some slower essays in the book, but they're made up for by ei"On the Coming of John" is one of the bleakest and best essays I've ever read. There are some slower essays in the book, but they're made up for by either illuminating historical essays like "Of the Dawn of Freedom," or painful personal essays like "Of the Passing of the First-Born."
I picked this up post 2016-election because I was feeling like maybe I hadn't been doing my due diligence as a white dude to get woke. I have a long way to go, but this is a good start....more
I read this in the period between Donald Trump's election and his inauguration, which gave me the unsettling experience of reading the first part -- wI read this in the period between Donald Trump's election and his inauguration, which gave me the unsettling experience of reading the first part -- where the con-man Windrip is elected on a wave of populist anger -- basically match up perfectly with what happened to get Trump elected, and then reading the second part about the actual rise of a fascist state, and hoping all along that this part wouldn't similarly match reality.
And it probably won't, at least not exactly. It's silly to predict what a Trump presidency will look like, but one can imagine that it's xenophobic, economically disastrous, militarily aggressive, and all wrapped in a sort of Orwellian language that emphasizes meaningless patriotism with zero reference to objective truth.
I doubt, however, that he'll overthrow congress, the Supreme Court, and the military, because it appears he already has those bodies on his side. It seems as if the country's most powerful law enforcement agency actually conspired to hand him the election. It seems like the country's militarized police force, so willing to crush peaceful protesters with rubber bullets and tear gas, are on board with a "strong man" for a President. It seems as if the GOP congress is going to actively conspire in this coup. It seems like the military is chomping at the bit. Lewis couldn't have anticipated the internet or the NSA. He couldn't have anticipated local police forces -- not rogue militias -- that operated with tanks rather than billyclubs.
Lewis also likely underestimated Americans' initial resistance to such a demagogue. In the beginning, the liberals on the newspapers offer caution against Windrip's rise. In real life, that much has not so much happened. People have panicked. They've started giving to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood in record numbers. They mobilized behind Standing Rock. They've taken to the streets. They haven't taken it sitting down.
Obviously Lewis's vision of a fascist America was based off of fascism in Europe. And fair enough, that's what he had to work on. But when this type of stupidity finally came to America, it could not directly be called "fascism," though it shares many characteristics (it also shares some characteristics with apartheid). It's something else, something new, something that's been creeping towards us for decades. And hopefully the man at its top is enough of an incompetent boob to allow the resisters among us to get our foothold back and keep the worst from happening....more
Obviously this is really incredibly plotted and is worthy of five, but I bumped it down to four. The reason has nothing to do with the writing or theObviously this is really incredibly plotted and is worthy of five, but I bumped it down to four. The reason has nothing to do with the writing or the plotting, but rather with the casualness with which murder is accepted in the book. I have to write some spoilers to explain why this is an issue, so only read on if you've read it.
(view spoiler)[A man asphyxiates in front of 9 people: "By jove, he's dead!" Mr. Rogers simply continues working after his wife has died. No worries! He's a little white-faced, but stiff-upper-lip, wot wot. Then he gets his head split in half. "Dreadful! Moving on!" (hide spoiler)]
This doesn't ever really stop in this book -- the deaths, we're told, are jarring to the characters, but the emotional responses to those deaths aren't really adequate from a humanist standpoint, or, if you care less about that, from a believability standpoint. And this, I suppose, is my main objection to these kind of parlor-mystery stories. They are wonderfully plotted and are downright genius in their construction, but the regard for human life is kind of callous and cold. It makes me wonder if the writers had ever actually seen the horrifying coldness of a dead human body, if they'd ever seen the unadorned corpse of a loved one. It's a distance from death that might work as a kind of coping mechanism for some, but which I personally find a little jarring and, to some extent obscene.
Agatha Christie isn't to blame for this -- most of our pop culture takes death in callous stride, as a simple plot device (with rare, rare exceptions like, bizarrely, The Body episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer), but that doesn't make the casualness with which it's treated any less disturbing to me. Even if the victims are all murderers....more
I read this thinking it could be a good book to set aside to read my kids, should I ever have any, and I came away with the answer, "No."
Not that it'sI read this thinking it could be a good book to set aside to read my kids, should I ever have any, and I came away with the answer, "No."
Not that it's terrible for its time. It covers a lot in easy, if somewhat condescending, language. But it's dated now. It's far too Eurocentric, far too Christian-centric, and -- I may be mistaken on this -- I don't recall it mentioning South America a single time. Ultimately, not the picture of history you'd really want to paint for your kids in the 21st century....more
It's interesting reading this from a perspective some 20 years down the road. Most of what they say about America and the future applies just as muchIt's interesting reading this from a perspective some 20 years down the road. Most of what they say about America and the future applies just as much today as it did then, but there are also the obvious major changes -- everyone is hand-wringing about Japan overtaking our economy instead of China, for example, which is kind of amusing. But it would be great if Moyers would do this series again now, and preferably with a less America-centric focus....more