One of the best new novels I've read in a long time. Of course this is due to my interests, one of which is art that blends, or is about the blendingOne of the best new novels I've read in a long time. Of course this is due to my interests, one of which is art that blends, or is about the blending of, truth and fiction. This is a novel about a writer who writes a fake memoir as a desperate attempt to have his writing get at something truly real. The book alternates chapters between the fake memoir and the "real" story of how the writer gets from being a shy sheltered kid in rural Florida to appearing on an Oprah Winfrey-like TV show with his best-selling "fraudulent" book. On the way, Bennett explores and expounds on many important themes, like the nature of modern warfare, the fraudulent and media-driven Iraq War in particular, the pretensions and hubris of creative writing MFA programs, the pain heartbreak and obsessive, unrequited love... the list goes on. In a way I think this book is our era's version of Heller's Catch-22. Satirical, funny, dark, smart and complicated but full of compelling story lines that pull you along.
I wonder what David Shields, author of "Reality Hunger," would think of this book? At first I thought it was the perfect realization of some of his ideas. But then I realized maybe not as much so, because it is in the end fiction, perhaps even wholly fiction (although I do wonder how much of John Townley is Eric Bennett). Shields would probably love it if someone really DID do what is depicted in "A Big Enough Lie," wrote and sold a memoir that's really novel. Like "A Million Little Pieces" if James Frey had intentionally written it as memoir (a lot of people don't know it was his publisher that had the idea of marketing it as non-fiction).
In the end though, a great and perfectly apt novel for our age....more
Excellent. Essentially a marxist analysis of the housing and construction industries, but a modern one. Includes an erudite chapter on Soviet Russia aExcellent. Essentially a marxist analysis of the housing and construction industries, but a modern one. Includes an erudite chapter on Soviet Russia and why it wasn't really communism but was in fact just another form of state capitalism.
In addition to the smart writing, the graphics are brilliant. Some of them I feel like blowing up into poster size and wheatpasting around town....more
Took me awhile this time, but the issue does not disappoint. Highlights are the piece by David Graeber about play, the Susan Faludi article on feminisTook me awhile this time, but the issue does not disappoint. Highlights are the piece by David Graeber about play, the Susan Faludi article on feminism, and the excellent take-down of Vice magazine....more
I forget if I read the male or female version. Anyway, it was incredible, easily one of the most innovative and fascinating works of fiction i've everI forget if I read the male or female version. Anyway, it was incredible, easily one of the most innovative and fascinating works of fiction i've ever read....more
This is not great literature, but it is great inspirational storytelling for kids who might be geeks or are leaning toward becoming geeks, interestedThis is not great literature, but it is great inspirational storytelling for kids who might be geeks or are leaning toward becoming geeks, interested in computers, hacking, cryptography, and civil liberties. Basically the book is a piece of not-so-subtle propaganda - a word I use simply as description, not as value judgement. Doctorow is trying to spread and instill a way of thinking about politics, the "War on Terror," the Security State, and related issues. He does so with writing that is pretty basic, though it is competent storytelling that kept me turning the pages and wondering what would happen. There was a lot of (to me) over-obvious, breaking-the-fourth-wall explanation, mostly of stuff I already knew, on topics ranging from ciphers to DNS to San Francisco Mission District burritos. Some of that was fun to recognize and skim over, while other instances of that made me wonder if young readers would get bored or angry with such bald instructional passages and just set the book down. The potential problem is that when you cross over the line from political literature into expository how-to manual thinly disguised as fiction, you run a risk, and you also waste an opportunity to make truly great art. I could argue that David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest" occupies the other end of the spectrum, in that it covers a lot of the same ground, politically, that "Little Brother" does, but it does so while also being an amazing work of avant-garde literature that is at many times formally brilliant and challenging, something that "Little Brother" definitely never is. But of course I would be clueless and stupid to think that the average 14-year-old computer nerd might get the same kind of call-to-arms buzz from DFW's mammoth opus as from Doctorow's book, or even finish it. I just think that some middle ground might be the better way to go, because any kid smart and dorky enough to care about jamming arphids or installing linux on Xboxes will most likely also be smart enough to smell literary hamfistedness and benefit from the pleasure of reading a piece of writing that is not just good, but great. Doctorow's book is good-not-great writing, but it is admittedly very good popular education....more