Tag Archives: Book Reviews

Book Reviewlet: Maddaddam trilogy, Margaret Atwood

Need a break from the election? Let Margaret Atwood take you to an apocalyptic near-future where biotech companies have taken over all civic functions and disaffected young nerdlingtons plan to destroy all of Earth’s stupid, stupid people.  

Oryx and Crake, the Year of the Flood, and Maddaddam: the Maddaddam trilogy, Atwood’s foray into a surprisingly joyful eco-dystopianism.

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Book Reviewlet: Spiotta Squared (not Square!)

I’m writing another essay for the Gale American Writers series, this one on Dana Spiotta: bard of hidden histories, sane conspiracy, and minor fame.

Bard of Los Angeles.

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A Brief Philip K Dick Interlude

I recently binged both the TV and book versions of The Man in the High Castle. Thatsa lotta Nazis.

I started to blog about these particular alternative histories–both the Asian-centric original and the Nazi-centric contemporary. But then I picked up a minor Philip Dick work, published 2 years after TMitHC, The Simulacra, and it was like TMitHC took acid, watched a bunch of Marx Brothers films, and foresaw a future in which Nazi evil takes the form of corporate oligarchy subduing the masses with HGTV and an ornate, comprehensive bureaucracy of citizenship.

As can happen when you pick up a Dick novel.

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Book Reviewlet: The Blazing World, Siri Hustvedt

Setup: a wealthy white genius daughter/wife, pissed at the patriarchy and tired of exclusion by the Art World, plots a long con. She secretly hires dudes to pretend her work is theirs. After three, she’ll unveil herself in triumph to prove to the Patriarchy that the Patriarchy exists.

The Patriarchy’s like, uh, yeah? What’s your point?

And the world blazes on. With footnotes.

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Book Reviewlets: Half Life, Shelley Jackson

In the early aughts, a younger, dapperer TfH encountered Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl, one of the best of the first wave of “hypertext”.

E-lit before e-readers, hypertext sought to exploit digital possibility for fictional ends. Armed with the best theories–all the promise of post-structuralism, postmodernism, post-ism–hypertext would would jump-start our glorious future of pure literature unbound from the timeworn conventions of the printed page.

Patchwork Girl, read on a desktop with mouse a-clickin, re-assembled Frankenstein, Mary Shelley biography, queer theory, digital consciousness, and story in a nonlinear mosh pit of images and ideas.

Thing is, Half Life, Jackson’s 2006 novel, does it all better and brighter. In good ol’ print.

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Sometimes We Read Instead of Write

Mini Book Reviewlets, y’all:

Mermaids in Paradise and George Bush, the Dark Horse of Love. Lydia Millet.

I will unapologetically compare these books to Mark Twain. The fully formed narrators who parlay sparkling ironic narration. The satire of US culture. The laughing to keep from crying. Why doesn’t Lydia Millet get more magazine covers? All the magazine covers!

All of them. Continue reading

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