Archive for the ‘Non-fiction’ Category
Before you even think of reading Erik Larsonâ€™s latest masterwork, clear your calendar, call in sick, send the kids to grandmaâ€™s, and place all your evening plans on hold. You will not want to come up for air until youâ€™ve reached the last pages. Itâ€™s that good.
In his preface, Larson writes, â€śOnce, at the dawn of a very dark time, an American father and daughter found themselves suddenly transported from their snug home in Chicago to the heart of Hitlerâ€™s Berlin. They remained there for four and a half years, but it is their first year that is the subject of the story to follow, for it coincided with Hitlerâ€™s ascent from chancellor to absolute tyrant, when everything hung in the balance and nothing was certain.â€ť
There is a scene in the movie, The Social Network, where the Zuckerberg character sits down at his dorm room computer and plaintively declares, â€śI need an idea.â€ť It is a sensation I suspect many can relate to: that building up of energy, the antsiness and the creative urge which begs to somehow be addressed. In the movie, of course, the idea is big, world-changing big. Facebook is born. Most of the time, surety is lacking and the energy petters out, the idea half-baked and forgotten. There is a sense of that in this book, the feeling of an author in search of an idea. And even the author doesnâ€™t seem sure of its worth. Horan writes, early on: â€śMy cockamamie scheme, to restate it loosely, was this: I would go around the country collecting tree seeds at the homes of famous peoples I admired, grow them into saplings, then buy a cheap parcel of land and plant them there.â€ť
YOU ARE NOT A GADGET is a passionate and thought-provoking critique of Silicon Valley from behind its ramparts, and a must-read for anyone interested in the ways technology is affecting our culture. In his first book, Jaron Lanier, a visionary leader in the development of virtual reality technology (and the man who popularized the term), sounds the alarm: our humanity is under digital attack as the software that increasingly governs our lives impoverishes what it is to be a person.
rief is, by and large, a private and intimate thing. We utter a few platitudes and then turn away in discomfort from who are laid bare by their grief. And emotionally, we begin to withdraw.
Francisco Goldman shatters those boundaries in his devastating book Say Her Name, forcing the reader to pay witness to the exquisite and blinding pain of a nearly unbearable loss. He positions the reader as a voyeur in a most intimate sadness, revealing the most basic nuances and details and the most complex ramifications of the loss of someone dear. And in the process, he captures our attention, rather like Samuel Coleridgeâ€™s Ancient Mariner, until the reader is literally as fascinated and transfixed with Aura Estrada â€“ Francisco Goldmanâ€™s young and doomed wife â€“ as he himself is. It is a masterful achievement, hard to read, hard to pull oneself away from.
Imagine: a spiral galaxy exactly like our own Milky Way, home to a 4.5 billion year-old yellow dwarf 26,400 light years away from the supermassive black hole powering the galactic center, orbited by an iron-aqueous planet, populated with intelligent, bi-pedal, opposable-thumb mammals identical to humans from their DNA on up; and imagine that on this Earth-like planet, there exists a person exactly similar in every respect â€“ physical, mental, historical â€“ to you, sitting as you are right now, hunched over a keyboard at work or curled up, at home, with your laptop on the couch, but instead of scrolling down through the rest of this review, your counterpart leaves MostlyFiction.com to check her status on Facebook, muttering: What a load of rubbish.
This is perhaps the bravest book Iâ€™ve ever read. It is searingly personal, raw and and stark. It portrays its creator, the author, in a relief, almost without exception, that is equally painful and tragic. There is no turning away, no place the writer hides–and consequently little relief afforded the reader. There she is, the new widow, Joyce Carol Smith–the persona behind the writer Joyce Carol Oates–struggling to stay alive amidst blinding grief, as revealed in a journey the destination of which is unsure.