Adventures in Reading


Humbug!
November 2, 2008, 2:47 pm
Filed under: thoughtful | Tags: , , , , , , ,

It is November already, can you believe it? and it has been many weeks since* I’ve said anything about working conditions at the bookstore. To say the least, the holiday season is upon us and I am not at all looking forward to months and months of Christmas music being piped in that I can’t ignore despite my best efforts.

The holiday season is not a period of jovial festivities in the retail world, but rather more reminiscent of war times where we’re all encouraged to bunker down, ration our resources, and heaven-help-us-all please wash your hands or we’ll all have strep throat by the end of the week! It doesn’t help that I’m not too keen on the holiday season to start with, and that yearly a handful of bad nuts wreck any optimism or hope I have for humankind.

On the good side, within two days the agonizingly painful maintenance count of the Obama versus McCain books will cease.

*Thanks Carson!



Revisted Reviews: Zombie Lover by Piers Anthony
July 28, 2008, 12:45 pm
Filed under: book reviews, fiction | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I craved for a fantasy read and stumbled onto Piers Anthony (my first time reading him) and who could turn down a book titled Zombie Lover? Our 15-year-old, black wave hero Breanna takes the reader on a tour of Xanth (and other worlds) as she runs from a zombie king in a Snow White-kissed-awake tale gone wrong. Along the way she picks up many delightful characters and intrigue continues. I was a bit turned off as Anthony insists on explaining all of his puns to the reader and the end of the book was rather predictable (i.e. I mostly skimmed the last 40-pages or so). I was annoyed though at the never-ending smorgasbord of […] and bottoms and poorly done sexual quips. In addition, half of my love for fantasy tends to be the cover art and I was hugely disappointed that Breanna was depicted as a slightly tan white girl rather than the black girl she’s described as in the story. Additionally, Anthony’s commentary on race seemed very superficial and uninformed. Overall it was a fun “bad” read but one I definitely had political problems with.

What in the world was I doing with a book entitled Zombie Lover? Looking back at this, I have know idea what the “[…]” refers to. Was I annoyed at Anthony’s ellipsis usage? More likely I meant to look my annoyance up in the book before returning it to the library but promptly forgot. (Something that happens with a fairly high frequency.) After posting this review at a LiveJournal, I was informed by an Anthony fan that the author’s more recent books were not nearly as delightful as his earlier works. This gives me hope. I do find it interesting though how a reader’s personal politics affects interpretation of a book.

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Nonfiction: Revolution! South America and the Rise of the New Left by Nikolas Kozloff

Furthering my exploration into Spanish speaking cultures after reading David Lida’s First Step in the New World, I picked up a copy of Nikolas Kozloff’s Revolution! South America and the Rise of the New Left. Though over the past few months U.S.A.’s newspapers have been spewing forth little new unrelated to the primaries, recently and over the past few years some really exciting political movements, and dare I say revolutions, have been unfolding in some South American countries.

In recent years, competing in Fidel Castro’s spotlight, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has been attracting a lot of attention with his colorful critiques of America and anti-imperialism. However, his scathing comments only portray the surface of a new type of government Chavez is exploring and identifies as the New Left or the New Socialism. This blending of capitalism and communism though is not only unfolding in Venezuela but also throughout other South American countries.

Revolution! is great as a book that provides meaningful and interesting information of contemporary politics in South America, which never gets lost in the chaotic histories of some of these countries. Kozloff explores energy, media, nationalism, gender and much more while portraying an honest perspective of important happenings in South America and what these implicates for continental relationships as well as worldwide relationships.

Recently I spoke with a co-worker about South American politics, and though we regularly disagree on politics he’s usually pretty aware, but as with many people in the U.S. inundated with news of the primary and years of media focus on the Middle East it’s all too easy to miss news from, well, everywhere else in the world if you’re not looking for it. But many South American countries are in current political positions where really exciting policy moves are being made, and whether you agree or disagree it will be interesting how current leaders and movements develop these countries.

Revolution! is a great introductory book that never gets bogged down under an overload of statistical information, remains a somewhat light read as Kozloff interjects experiences from his personal travels throughout South America, but I believe is still a meaningful and informative book that provides some excellent information on South American policy.