What the fuck have you been reading lately?

Bill Bryson – Notes from a Small Island (second time).

Alan Garner – the Weirdstone of Brisingamen. I had not read this since I was about eleven and I had forgotten how, um, weird it is, and kinda bad. Such a book would probably not get published now, let alone win awards.

“I am a cipher,” said Colin. “I have experiences so that the reader may share them. Nothing about my reaction to them is unique.”

“Yes, I am like that, too,” replied Susan. “That is why all of my dialogue is very stilted.”

Also a book on youth, ethics and social media my boss gave me, which is neat.

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7 Responses to What the fuck have you been reading lately?

  1. epanchinriot says:

    The Making of Black Revolutionaries by James Forman.

    It’s neat and I like all the detailed accounts of protests in the 60s. Oh, and also how a lot of the Baptist ministers (MLK Jr and the like) didn’t want to let students be their own leaders in protests/strategies/organizations was interesting to find out. Especially the fact that the students didn’t really give a shit and did what they wanted. The NAACP and Christian groups are really painted as ninnies in this book.

  2. I read a lot of the Alan Garner books when I was 11 or 12. To be honest, even then I found them a bit off. At the time I was lapping up any fantasy stuff I could get my hands on, but I still didn’t really dig these.

    I am currently reading a science book about cosmology and astrophysics called The Fabric Of The Universe by Brian Greene, which is good, but I can only manage 30 or 40 page chunks before my head shuts down.

  3. k- says:

    I’m in the middle of Ben Elton’s BLIND FAITH. Ben Elton is a secret pleasure of mine. He cranks out the books (about one a year) and for some reason, I devour them. I know he isn’t a good writer, though he is occasionally brilliant. His book FIRST CASUALTY, about World War I, was fantastic. This one is just an update of Orwell’s 1984. Not bad.

    I finished Colson Whitehead’s SAG HARBOR a week or so ago. That was great. Whitehead is another of my great loves (in fact, I had been saving both Whitehead’s and Elton’s books as a treat). This one is a coming-of-age summer story set in the middle class African-American beach resort on Long Island.

  4. Great Southern Steve says:

    RE: Elton. I only read Stark, but liked it and thought the writing was pretty decent.

    RE: Alan Garner. Only reason he got anywhere was by being one of the first to popularize folklore into general fiction, I think. Wasn’t actually a great writer.

    Also – are people allowed to say negative (or even, not positive) things about Martin Luther King now? He died in ’68 so I guess that is over 40 years now. Is that long enough?

    • epanchinriot says:

      I’m not sure it’s long enough. I think Forman feels entitled to speak negative about him because he “was there” when everything was going on. Or it’s some long-lived resentment, I dunno. I feel strange whenever I read sections of the book like that, guilty almost. It’s kind of understandable from the accounts in the book from other people (mostly students) actively protesting the civil rights movement to have negative attitudes towards King. Especially when I kind of attach it to what’s going on in AZ right now, it’s easy to feel like any sort of peaceful action just won’t work. I don’t know about attacking or blatantly disrespecting leaders of “peaceful movements” though. One idea doesn’t make a person.

  5. steve says:

    That’s interesting.

    I asked because I notice that the de-sainting of other cultural / political folks from 40+ years ago has been going on a fair bit lately – “Lennon Naked” wasn’t exactly flattering, for example.

    Even Ghandi seems to be fair game. That Ben Kingsley film in the 1980s would never have suggested to anyone that Ghandi was mildly racist in some regards, and also, had a lover who was a German Jewish bodybuilder called Hermann. But that is apparently what a recent Ghandi biography has inferred, at least to some readers.

    What am I talking about? I’m not sure yet. Read this:


    Anyway I’m of the view that figures like MLK can be respected on the basis of what they acheived, rather than looking for them to be perfect humans and then drilling into every detail of their lives to try and prove they had no bad side.

    But it seems that a lot of people generally don’t like the idea of sainted political figures any more, and want to show negative aspects – either to make them seem more human and believable, or, just to denigrate them for personal reasons.

    Just me rambling on a tuesday.

    • k- says:

      The remembrance of MLK has always been interesting. He was never a saint, and most biographies are obliged to discuss the fact that he was a serious/serial skirt-chaser. That was one of the Right’s constant charges against him and his memory, and it can’t be denied. But even though there is often an open discussion of his limitations as a man, there is often the simultaneous move to elevate him. So, I guess my answer to your question is that certain criticisms of MLK have always been accepted (and to a certain extent required, to avoid the charge of ‘white-wash’ [pardon the pun]). But I think there ha always been some vague line you couldn’t cross, unless you are clearly positioning yourself with the overtly racist elements of the Right. I can’t think of another 20th century American icon where that is true. Either they are completely fair-game or they are completely above rebuke (e.g., Ronald Reagan).

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