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28 August 2013 @ 08:15 pm
So this is where I talk about what I have been reading? Yes? Okay. Well, for a while I got trapped in a weird eighties politics book tunnel, with Landslide (bonus link: a contemporary review from Commentary!) and What It Takes and...I feel like I am forgetting something, but holy cow What It Takes is its own book tunnel! Oh my GOD it is so long but also jaunty and delightful and bonkers. It made me think uncharitable thoughts about Howard Fineman and Barbara Bush. Howard Fineman, why are you so sleazy? Barbara Bush, why so terrifying? Anyway, there were also a million 1980s politics articles I threw onto my Readability list, only some of which were by Joan Didion, who I am sorry but I don't really get, what is the deal, but that is articles, not books, sheesh. Plus there are two Hunter S. Thompson books sitting on my dresser, and I wish it hadn't taken me so long to realize how great he is when he writes about politics, but I am out of that tunnel and those books need to wait.

Here is a representative anecdote from each of those tomes!
Landslide: When Reagan was reelected, one of his aides drew up a bunch of major policy proposals, handed them to Ronnie in a binder, and said, "Okay, look over these, we can do probably one or two, MAYBE three, but probably more like two-ish, you pick what to do in your second term." Reagan handed it back to him with "Let's do 'em all!" and a smiley face on the first page. Guys! He was the PRESIDENT of a WHOLE COUNTRY for EIGHT YEARS.

What It Takes: All the dudes in George H.W. Bush's squadron (squadron? the dudes who fly around in airplanes dropping bombs, a group of them) had nicknames. You know, nicknames, like people have. Red! Shooter! So on! George H.W. Bush's nickname was "George Herbert Walker Bush". The whole thing! That was his nickname! I find this weirdly charming.

And then I also read two books by Gabrielle Zevin (one young adult, one not), and The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane because sometimes it's good to get started on your October reading early, and The Liars' Club, about which I have no feelings really, it was fine. I started a Walker Percy a few days ago. Also I keep telling my dad he should read Infinite Jest because he's recovering from surgery and what ELSE is he doing, I mean come on there is no reason to not read Infinite Jest if some lady comes in your house and does your dishes and cleans and everything because you aren't allowed to move very much. What better time?

Something about Marisha Pessl will go here soon. As soon as the new Pynchon comes out and I have them both in my hands. Yesssss.

ps: Hahah I just realized the top book in the stack on my icons is Ishmael. I am sorry, everyone who know me when I was seventeen, for that time I would NOT shut UP about Daniel Quinn. Ishmael!!
Current Mood: full
Current Music: The Magnetic Fields: Epitaph for My Heart.
iamfitz on August 29th, 2013 04:54 pm (UTC)
First off, HELLO!!! ^_^ You have been missed.

Now then, on Eighties politics (gagvomitspit), I recommend Sleepwalking Through History, a tough look at the Reagan presidency. I lived through that. I remember Reagan. I came of age politically (the first time) in the Eighties, reading an article in Time Magazine about the illegal mining of harbors in Nicaragua. Ah, the good old days...a lot like these days, actually--the world is run by men with guns. These things don't change.

Also interesting is Firewall by Lawrence Walsh, the Iran/Contra prosecutor. If you're interested in the seedy underbelly of American politics (actually, it's ALL seedy underbelly, have you been watching Moyers? Makes a fella want to scream, it does) Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion by Gary Webb (whose treatment by the NYT was shockingly horrific) is good, especially since the Drug War™ was such a powerful force in shaping US politics for the next decade. Oh, and a good companion piece to that is Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair.

Oh, and there's something I wanted to ask you, but I can't remember if I did--did you ever read The Instructions by Adam Levin? I read it quite a while ago now, and I still don't know what to make of it, and I'm still thinking about it.

I never read Ishmael. Should I?

fitz (tries to avoid politics, but can't, the stink is on him for life)
Love Among the Ruins (Walker Percy): paperbacks.pixleyanthology on August 31st, 2013 03:45 am (UTC)
Ahhhh noooo I am trying to get OUT of this ridiculous 80s K-hole! So I am going to write these titles down and stick them in one of the Hunter Thompson books so that when I want to fall into that again, I will be even MORE prepared. (The good thing about being married to someone who works for a huge university library? You can get ANY BOOK YOU WANT. The bad thing? You WILL get etc. Sitting in a stack on your desk.) Also, I remembered one of the other books in that tunnel: Thunder on the Right, about what a ridiculous moneymaking resentment racket the right wing is. It was pretty fascinating, although having been born in 1985 I am incapable of grasping what a big deal busing kids around was. THE BIGGEST DEAL!

I did read The Instructions. I thought it could have used a merciless editor (and you know how I feel about very long books). I enjoyed the sly Chicagoland references. Adam Levin's book of short stories was pretty good, maybe pick that up?

Hahah no you should not read Ishmael. It is the kind of thing you read when you are sixteen and it is REVELATORY but I am pretty sure past that it is squirmingly earnest. It is about a gorilla who tells a man how to Live His Life, pretty deep man. Daniel Quinn also wrote Beyond Civilization, kind of a distillation of the ideas in Ishmael sans the talking gorilla. It's interesting, maybe check that out, if you're into examinations of how hierarchical structure is fundamentally unsound. And I think you are.
iamfitz on September 4th, 2013 03:54 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I know, I'm sorry! As I was writing it I was thinking, "She doesn't want more books about politics in the Eighties," but I couldn't help myself. It's like a compulsion. A sickness, really. I should probably be in treatment. And I remember the whole busing debate, though that was a bit before my political awareness, but there was no way to live in Cleveland and understand English without hearing about it.

I was thinking about the editing of that book, but then I couldn't really figure out which parts to remove, which I think is because I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE BOOK WAS ABOUT, so how can I focus it more clearly than it is? I found it very moving (just rivers of tears near the end) and sometimes insightful, with an interesting theology. I don't know, it won't leave me alone.

Aaaaggghhh, hierarchies! Terrible, but I can't figure out how to live without them in some form. (Seriously, try to figure it out!) Odd, though, because don't gorillas have very hierarchical structures in their societies? Monkey politics, what can you do? But after talking to so many anarchists online, I think I was pushed further toward Lenin. I'm working on a system based on the Justice League...it will be profound.

In the meantime, I've read Night Film and it's killing me not to talk about it, so please hurry!
aesop's bat: we are partners in crimeautophanous on August 29th, 2013 11:02 pm (UTC)
Love Among the Ruins (Walker Percy): paperbacks.pixleyanthology on August 31st, 2013 03:56 am (UTC)
Hahah! WELL. Moving out of my parents' house and in with my boyfriend, getting a part-time job at a whole new library, getting a full-time job, winning a frankly ridiculous sum of money in a lawsuit, getting married (viz), quitting the part-time job, moving again, and that...about brings me up to here.

Here is a list of the things I am into now that I wasn't before:
Adventure Time
the idea of buying like ten acres and planting hops on it and maybe having a few chickens and sheep
Bob's Burgers