What are you reading lately?

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Whatever4
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Re: What are you reading lately?

#1076

Post by Whatever4 »

Well, wasn’t going to read American Dirt anyway. (7-figure advance, Oprah book club). But after this review, I’m encouraging everyone not to read it too. Also.

PENDEJA, YOU AIN’T STEINBECK: MY BRONCA WITH FAKE-ASS SOCIAL JUSTICE LITERATURE

JEANINE CUMMINS IDENTIFIED THE GRINGO APPETITE FOR MEXICAN PAIN AND FOUND A WAY TO EXPLOIT IT.

Cummins bombards with clichés from the get-go. Chapter One starts with assassins opening fire on a quinceañera, a fifteenth birthday party, a scene one can easily imagine President Donald Trump breathlessly conjuring at a Midwestern rally, and while Cummins’ executioners are certainly animated, their humanity remains shallow. By categorizing these characters as “the modern bogeymen of urban Mexico,” she flattens them. By invoking monsters with English names and European lineages, Cummins reveals the color of her intended audience: white. Mexicans don’t fear the bogeyman. We fear his very distant cousin, el cucuy.

Cummins employs this “landscape of carnage,” a turn of phrase which hearkens to Trump’s inaugural speech, to introduce her protagonist, the newly widowed Lydia Quixano Perez. Police descend upon Lydia’s home, now a schlocky crime scene, to pantomime investigation. Lydia doesn’t stick around. She understands what all Mexicans do, that cops and criminals play for the same team, and so she and her son Luca, the massacre’s other survivor, flee.

With their family annihilated by narcotraffickers, mother and son embark on a refugees’ journey. They head north, or, as Cummins’ often writes, to “el norte,” and italicized Spanish words like carajo, mijo, and amigo litter the prose, yielding the same effect as store-bought taco seasoning.

Through flashbacks, Cummins reveals that Lydia, “a moderately attractive but not beautiful woman,” age thirty-two, operated a bookstore. Her character soon takes absurd shape. As a protagonist, Lydia is incoherent, laughable in her contradictions. In one flashback, Sebastián, Lydia’s husband, a journalist, describes her as one of the “smartest” women he’s ever known. Nonetheless, she behaves in gallingly naïve and stupid ways. Despite being an intellectually engaged woman, and the wife of a reporter whose beat is narcotrafficking, Lydia experiences shock after shock when confronted with the realities of México, realities that would not shock a Mexican.

It shocks Lydia to learn that the mysterious and wealthy patron who frequents her bookstore flanked by “[thuggish]” bodyguards is the capo of the local drug cartel! It shocks Lydia to learn that some central Americans migrate to the United States by foot! It shocks Lydia to learn that men rape female migrants en route to the United States! It shocks Lydia to learn that Mexico City has an ice-skating rink! (This “surprise” gave me a good chuckle: I learned to ice skate in México.) That Lydia is so shocked by her own country’s day-to-day realities, realities that I’m intimate with as a Chicana living en el norte, gives the impression that Lydia might not be…a credible Mexican. In fact, she perceives her own country through the eyes of a pearl-clutching American tourist.
Scathing and interesting review at the link.

https://wearyourvoicemag.com/entertainm ... rican-dirt
"[Moderate] doesn't mean you don't have views. It just means your views aren't predictable ideologically one way or the other, and you're trying to follow the facts where they lead and reach your own conclusions."
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Maybenaut
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Re: What are you reading lately?

#1077

Post by Maybenaut »

Oprah.

:yawn: Ever notice that the only person ever pictured on the cover of O Magazine is O?
"Hey! You know, we left this England place because it was bogus. So if we don't get some cool rules ourselves, pronto, we'll just be bogus too." - Thomas Jefferson

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Addie
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Re: What are you reading lately?

#1078

Post by Addie »

Another pained review.
New York Times: ‘American Dirt’ Is Proof the Publishing Industry Is Broken

The clumsy high-profile rollout of the polarizing novel points to a larger issue concerning how new books are promoted.
"The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for." - Barbara Kingsolver

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AndyinPA
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Re: What are you reading lately?

#1079

Post by AndyinPA »

Maybenaut wrote:
Mon Jan 27, 2020 2:43 pm
Oprah.

:yawn: Ever notice that the only person ever pictured on the cover of O Magazine is O?
That's about the point I gave up on Oprah. Too much about her.
"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." -- Thomas Paine

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Maybenaut
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Re: What are you reading lately?

#1080

Post by Maybenaut »

AndyinPA wrote:
Mon Jan 27, 2020 6:13 pm
Maybenaut wrote:
Mon Jan 27, 2020 2:43 pm
Oprah.

:yawn: Ever notice that the only person ever pictured on the cover of O Magazine is O?
That's about the point I gave up on Oprah. Too much Only about her.
FIFY
"Hey! You know, we left this England place because it was bogus. So if we don't get some cool rules ourselves, pronto, we'll just be bogus too." - Thomas Jefferson

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AndyinPA
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Re: What are you reading lately?

#1081

Post by AndyinPA »

:like:
"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." -- Thomas Paine

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Maybenaut
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Re: What are you reading lately?

#1082

Post by Maybenaut »

The Man From the Train. True Crime story about a serial killer in the early 20th century who travelled the country by rail, killing people near train stops.

The killings are brutally horrible, but apparently no one was looking to see whether any of these cases were linked until now. And more than one person has been executed for the killings, and if they were all perpetrated by the same guy, an innocent person has been out to death. That’s what I’ve gleaned so far; don’t know whether that’s actually true.

Written by Bill James, the baseball statistician credited with influencing Billy Beane, GM of the Oakland A’s, to use the A’s limited budget to purchase players based on their likelihood of scoring (detailed in the book Moneyball by Michael Lewis).

I’m a couple of hours into the audiobook. It’s good so far.
"Hey! You know, we left this England place because it was bogus. So if we don't get some cool rules ourselves, pronto, we'll just be bogus too." - Thomas Jefferson

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neonzx
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Re: What are you reading lately?

#1083

Post by neonzx »

Maybenaut wrote:
Mon Jan 27, 2020 2:43 pm
Oprah.

:yawn: Ever notice that the only person ever pictured on the cover of O Magazine is O?
I haven't forgiven her for pushing "Dr" Phil and Dr. Öz into our living rooms.

And don't get me started on the boost she gave Rachel Ray. :nope:

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Re: What are you reading lately?

#1084

Post by kate520 »

Maybenaut, I loved Bill James’ Baseball Abstracts, which came out every year just before spring training. I was playing fast pitch softball (ringer, they needed women) on a CalTech grad student league team. As you might imagine with a bunch of dorky student physicists, even their sports chatter was more technical than most and at least with the Abstract I kind sorta looked like I knew which way was up. :lol:
DEFEND DEMOCRACY

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RTH10260
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Re: What are you reading lately?

#1085

Post by RTH10260 »

no - I am not reading it - just thought it worth a post here
A Book So Far Ahead of Its Time, It Took 87 Years to Find a Publisher
Claude McKay’s novel “Romance in Marseille” deals with queer love, postcolonialism and the legacy of slavery. It also complicates ideas about the Harlem Renaissance.

By Talya Zax
Feb. 5, 2020

Claude McKay’s novel “Romance in Marseille” could hardly sound more contemporary. A black man, Lafala, loses his legs as a result of his white captors’ cruelty, then, in a striking allegory for reparations, receives a compensatory windfall. He takes his new fortune from New York to Marseille, a hub of the African diaspora, and plans to return to West Africa in hopes of undoing his colonial education and reintegrating in the village of his birth. Meanwhile he lives in a sexually liberated working-class milieu, where queer love is accepted as a fact of life, no more subject to judgment than its heterosexual counterpart.

The book’s themes — queerness, the legacy of slavery, postcolonial African identity — are among those at the forefront of literature today. But McKay lived from 1889 to 1948, and was a central figure of the Harlem Renaissance. Now, a century after that movement began, “Romance in Marseille” will finally be published for the first time on Feb. 11. Its debut coincides with recent shifts in thinking about the Renaissance, which is increasingly seen as grappling not only with race but with class, gender, sexuality and nationality.


https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/05/book ... sance.html

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Patagoniagirl
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Re: What are you reading lately?

#1086

Post by Patagoniagirl »

^wow! I will order this from my library.

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voxpopuluxe
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Re: What are you reading lately?

#1087

Post by voxpopuluxe »

Its debut coincides with recent shifts in thinking about the Renaissance, which is increasingly seen as grappling not only with race but with class, gender, sexuality and nationality.
"recent" doing some heavy work here—i don't think anyone who's more than a little acquainted with the harlem renaissance could fail to observe how many of its figures, both black and white, were gay, lesbian, or bisexual & that is an observation which has been generally acknowledged by the scholarship for at least ... a couple of decades?

but it sounds like an exciting book!

at the moment i am reading alice bolin's dead girls: essays on surviving an american obsession (on the figure and function of the "dead girl" in contemporary art & media) & known & strange things, teju cole's 2016 collection of essays.
“It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times.”
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Maybenaut
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Re: What are you reading lately?

#1088

Post by Maybenaut »

World War Z.

The threat is different (obviously), but the shit that happens as a result of the threat is eerily familiar.
"Hey! You know, we left this England place because it was bogus. So if we don't get some cool rules ourselves, pronto, we'll just be bogus too." - Thomas Jefferson

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Addie
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Re: What are you reading lately?

#1089

Post by Addie »

Extraordinarily fascinating.

Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe on the Mediterranean by Philip Mansel.

The region along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, from Turkey down through Egypt, in the time of the Ottoman Empire, made some great cities. Three of them, Smyrna, Alexandria, and Beirut, are the main focus of this book. Also, too, its themes reflect today's issues of cosmopolitan diversity, racial, sexual, national and religious, and we would all be familiar to the residents, whether native or European. Sometimes clashes could be resolved; sometimes not. But with education, art and literature flourished, people learned each other's languages and played each other's games. I was needing some hope for humanity. Maybe this book isn't that, after all, we do know the future, but reading it is feeling like something close.
"The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for." - Barbara Kingsolver

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Dr. Kenneth Noisewater
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Re: What are you reading lately?

#1090

Post by Dr. Kenneth Noisewater »

Two books actually:

The Accidental President: Harry S. Truman and the Four Months That Changed the World
I think everyone here knows how much I'm a history buff and love presidential history. Truman is one of my favorites and it's an interesting history of how he got swept into the presidency.



The second is even more serious. I saw it on a twitter feed that I think the parody Will McAvoy account had on twitter.

Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism


In this groundbreaking work, sociologist James W. Loewen, author of the classic bestseller Lies My Teacher Told Me, brings to light decades of hidden racial exclusion in America. In a provocative, sweeping analysis of American residential patterns, Loewen uncovers the thousands of “sundown towns”—almost exclusively white towns where it was an unspoken rule that blacks weren’t welcome—that cropped up throughout the twentieth century, most of them located outside of the South.

Written with Loewen’s trademark honesty and thoroughness, Sundown Towns won the Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award, received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Booklist, and launched a nationwide online effort to track down and catalog sundown towns across America.

In a new preface, Loewen puts this history in the context of current controversies around white supremacy and the Black Lives Matter movement. He revisits sundown towns and finds the number way down, but with notable exceptions in exclusive all-white suburbs such as Kenilworth, Illinois, which as of 2010 had not a single black household. And, although many former sundown towns are now integrated, they often face “second-generation sundown town issues,” such as in Ferguson, Missouri, a former sundown town that is now majority black, but with a majority-white police force.

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Maybenaut
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Re: What are you reading lately?

#1091

Post by Maybenaut »

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee. By Casey Cep.

Non-fiction.

It’s about a Black man in Alabama, Willie Maxwell, who allegedly (and undoubtedly although he was never convicted) murdered five people for the insurance money in the 1970s. Then he was murdered himself at the funeral of his last victim.

I don’t have all the details yet (I’m only half way in), but the attorney who represented Maxwell in his murder trials and in civil court against the insurance companies also represented Maxwell’s killer.

Harper Lee returns to Alabama and spends a year there gathering material for a book she hopes to write about the case, and she’s there for the trial (it’s unclear to me so far whether she actually ever writes the book, but I’m pretty sure it was never published).

I haven’t gotten to the part where the author discusses Lee. The story is fascinating on its own without reference to Lee.
"Hey! You know, we left this England place because it was bogus. So if we don't get some cool rules ourselves, pronto, we'll just be bogus too." - Thomas Jefferson

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