Archive for the 'bookmaggot' Category

paladin’s grace, by t. kingfisher

“You were an orphan?” Stephen frowned. “I’m so sorry.” “Almost everyone is, eventually,” said Grace. “It’s not a big deal.”

farm city, by novella carpenter

I had my first existential crisis when I realized that it was not possible to have a pony in the city.

the outlaw ocean, by ian urbina

Such is the inconvenient truth of globalization: it is based more on market sleight of hand than on Adam Smith’s invisible hand.

how to do nothing, by jenny odell

…the real disaster is everyday life, which alienates us from each other and from the protective impulse that we harbor.

initiated, by amanda yates garcia

…there is no escape and nowhere to run. There is no outside capitalism anymore. Capitalism has contacted all of our tribes.

long live the tribe of fatherless girls, by t kira madden

When I think of my father, I think of my heart breaking in stages.

say nothing, by patrick radden keefe

Doctors found, paradoxically, that the people most prone to this type of anxiety were not the active combatants, who were out on the street and had a sense of agency, but the women and children stuck sheltering behind closed doors.

know my name, by chanel miller

You cannot write out of someone else’s dark place; you can only write out of your own.

wild horse country, by david philipps

The hills of Montgomery Pass had seven permanent springs. Though the region comprises more than 100,000 acres, the springs, when combined, would maybe cover only a single acre. Nearly all of the region’s wildlife had to pass through this tiny bottleneck. That is where the lions waited.

catch and kill, by ronan farrow

“Is this the way the world works?” she wondered. “That men get away with this?”

an annotated bibliography of the inside of my head

You know those books that you can’t stop thinking about, won’t shut up about, and wish everyone around you would read? The ones that, if taken in aggregate, would tell people more about you than your resume?” Yeah, I do. Here are some of mine. (I’m going with the obscure ones. If you haven’t already read Dark Emu and The Body Keeps the Score, go, do.)

Nuclear Rites (1996) – Hugh Gusterson embedded himself as an anthropologist at Lawrence Livermore National Labs. He talks about bomb tests as rites of passage for the weapons scientists, and I find myself thinking about this whenever I think about douchebag VCs investing in horrorshows like Uber. A Cold War kid, I saw The Day After on TV and followed the news trickling out of the Chernobyl disaster. I couldn’t conceive of why anyone would build such fucking appalling weapons. This book helped me understand, at least a little.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down (1998) – I constantly quote Michael Frayn’s “In a good play, everyone is right.” This is a book-length version of the same idea. Her doctors had one framework for understanding Lia Lee’s epilepsy, and her Hmong family had another. However kind and well-intentioned Westerners think we are, when we tacitly assume the superiority of our version of the truth, children die.

Depression: A Public Feeling (2000) – This book introduced me to “political depression”, the idea that anxiety and grief are a wholly reasonable reaction to the destructive and hypercompetitive economies in which we are forced to live. The first chapters are a poetic memoir of one of the author’s depressive episodes, and I find myself reading them over and over. I’ll always be grateful that Ann Cvetkovich gave me a way of thinking about my relationship with my landscape of origin as a settler seeking to right the wrongs of the past.

The Language of Blood (2003) – A wrenching memoir that changed the way I think about transracial adoption and motherhood. If you like it, see also All You Can Ever Know.

Mother Nature (2005) – An anthropologist and primatologist considers the evidence for how best to raise children. A book of radical kindness. If you like it, see also A Primate’s Memoir.

Postwar (2006) I’ve called this the missing manual for Generation X. It provides the context for the political climate in which we were born – the fading of the postwar consensus and peace dividend, setting the stage for the attack on social institutions by Thatcher and Reagan, and the collapse of the social contract that brought us to where we are. You’re not going to like this book, exactly. It’s hard work and heartbreaking. Judt died before seeing his worst fears fulfilled, but if you want more, his student Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands is basically the prequel.

This House of Grief (2014) – Another dumb joke of mine is that Mad Max: Fury Road is a keenly observed documentary of my childhood. This book is, however, a keenly observed documentary of the middle-class Australia in which I grew up, its lonely and angry men, its frightened and angry women, and the horrors it inflicts on its children. In some ways it’s the distillation of everything I’ve talked about here: the slaughterhouse of empire, and ways in which it drains our private lives of meaning.

Horses in Company (2017) – Lucy Rees, who wrote some of my favorite pony books when I was a child, has spent the intervening thirty years catching up on new science around equine ethology. Much as alpha wolves and cocaine-addicted rats illustrate the stress of being an experimental subject rather than authentic wild animal behavior, the received wisdom about dominant and submissive horses reflects domestic animals under resource constraint. Rees argues that wild horses, who can eat the grass beneath their feet, live in the real-world version of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, and that in this state of nature they’re feminist matriarchal gestalt entities. I jest, but only a little. If we could take violence out of the way we interact with animals and children, maybe we could take it out of the way we interact with one another.

the voice that thunders, by alan garner

When the British were deprived of their American Colonies, they were at a loss for a gulag in which to dump their political dissidents, especially the Irish, their petty thieves and social inadequates. Australia was a godsend, better even than America. It was as good as the other side of the moon.

the horse, by wendy williams

…horses form intimate social bonds, just as elephants do. With horses, though, those bonds, while strong, are also quite fluid. As with humans, friendships come and go…

maybe you should talk to someone, by lori gottlieb

Many patients secretly wish to be their therapist’s only patient. Or, at least, the favorite—the funniest, most entertaining and, above all, most beloved.

to be taught, if fortunate, by becky chambers

You wonder if you’re a bad daughter, a bad friend, a selfish asshole placing her own intellectual wankery above the living, breathing people who poured everything they could possibly give into her, and were rewarded with the sight of her walking away forever. You never answer that question, and you never will. You strap into your rocket ship anyway. Somehow, you leave.

speedboat, by renata adler

The whole magic of a plot requires that somebody be impeded from getting something over with.

wayward son, by rainbow rowell

I’m not sure I’ve ever been this drained. It takes so much magic to stay alive in America.

braiding sweetgrass, by robin wall kimmerer

From the very beginning of the world, the other species were a lifeboat for the people. Now, we must be theirs.

insurgent empire, by priyamvada gopal

Common ground, even shared human feeling, is not a given, but is arrived at through imaginative work.

the cruel prince, by holly black

I think of the future I thought I was going to have and the one yawning in front of me like a chasm.