The Full Catastrophe: Travels Among the New Greek Ruins By James Angelos
The economic crisis in Greece has been dropping in and out of the headlines forThe Full Catastrophe: Travels Among the New Greek Ruins By James Angelos
The economic crisis in Greece has been dropping in and out of the headlines for years now. As I write this in late August, the governing Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA using its Greek acronym) has stepped down after agreeing to a third round of austerity imposed by the European Union and European Central Bank. The country’s second parliamentary election of 2015 (which SYRIZA might still win) will happen in a month’s time.
Greek-American journalist James Angelos spent three years covering the crisis for the Wall Street Journal and other outlets. Some of the results of this reporting is collected in The Full Catastrophe. The book, which I received as part of LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program, offers a good introduction to contemporary Greece and its people as they cope with the seemingly endless rounds of austerity.
Angelos offers a variety of profiles that can seem to contradict themselves, but perhaps that’s intentional. Readers of the first chapter may come away with the impression that Greeks are lazy freeloaders who hate paying taxes and deserve what they’ve gotten since the global economic crisis hit. If you drop the book then, having had one’s suspicions confirmed (either of Angelos or his interview subjects), you’ll make a mistake. While sometimes he seems to make the case that modern Greece is a nation based on a shared mythology alone — not based on ancient gods, but on modern Turkish and Nazi enemies — that’s not really his thesis either.
What a reader will get here is a lively portrait of how ordinary Greeks are coping with the crisis. You will also get a hint of what darkness may result if Greece fails to cope. The last two chapters focus on what was then the beginning of today’s immigrant crisis, with refugees from African and Asian wars using Greece as the first place to land in Europe. Angelos talks with many immigrants also trying to cope. He is sympathetic to them, more so than many natives.
This portrait is followed by the rise of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, which Angelos warns could be standing at the ready if government, and democracy, fails.
Ultimately, The Full Catastrophe is less an explanation of how Greece got into this mess, but suggests that it will somehow find its way out. The alternative is scary. ...more
The world of The Milkman is intriguing: Government has gone by the wayside, replaced and displaced by three global corporations. Every adult is an empThe world of The Milkman is intriguing: Government has gone by the wayside, replaced and displaced by three global corporations. Every adult is an employee of one of these three corporations, and their place in society depends on their pay grade--the lower the better.
Our story begins with the stabbing death of a young woman marketing researcher, and the investigation of this "act of insubordination" by Ambyr System Security (ASS) operative Ed McCallum. Though not immediately evident, this incident gets wrapped up with an independent website reporting on the quality of dairy products in upstate New York (excuse me, Niagara Falls Catchment). "The Milkman" is, in turn, to become the subject of a would-be blockbuster documentary by Sylvia Cho.
The story is told through the perspectives of McCallum, Cho, and Emory Leveski, "the Milkman." Michael Martineck explores aspects of this world, asking the Big Question of "What does a world run exclusively by an oligopoly look like?
Another not-exactly Big Question explored by The Milkman is timely: When everything we know about the world sits in a device the size of a blood-pressure cuff wrapped around our forearm, what do you really know? There are two scenes where one character asks another to "make a call" for them, and the respondent had never done such a thing!
Of course, at least as important about that cuff is that it contains everything your employer knows about you. For this reason, some folks go offline to live outside society. These "ollies" play a role too.
The Milkman is an interesting story, with insights on criminal justice, corporate control, and the logistics of the movie business. Worth checking out....more