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Discussion in 'Books' started by Ismitje, Jan 1, 2013.
Telegraph Avenue - Michael Chabon
My father gave this to me for Christmas last year, so I thought I should read it before I see him this Christmas.
Entertaining, but the publisher's assertion that it's a 21st century Middlemarch is silly.
21st century readers can understand Middlemarch on its own. A 22nd century reader will be unable to understand this book without a huge set of annotations to explain all the cultural references.
Here's what I gave my father for Christmas
"Gripping accounts of all known fatal mishaps in America's first protected land of scenic wonders"
A friend passed me this to read today. "The Spider Woman's Daughter" By Anne Hillerman Tony's daughter.
Same cast of characters. Shows some good reviews so I want to see or read for myself..
Navajo Nation Police Officer Bernadette Manualito witnesses the cold-blooded shooting of someone very close to her. With the victim fighting for his life, the entire squad and the local FBI office are hell-bent on catching the gunman. Bernie, too, wants in on the investigation, despite regulations forbidding eyewitness involvement. But that doesn't mean she's going to sit idly by, especially when her husband, Sergeant Jim Chee, is in charge of finding the shooter.
Take This Bread by Sara Miles, a memoir about her life as a war correspondent, a cook, and as an organizer of food pantries through St. Gregory's Episcopal church in San Francisco.
Nuclear Rites: A Weapons Laboratory at the End of the Cold War - Hugh Gusterson
An anthropologist looks at the community of weapons designers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
“The Soviets are the competition, but Los Alamos is the enemy.”
Finally getting around to:
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
I'm so late to the 10,000-hours-to-make-success conversation, but proving to be a very interesting read. This is just the book that would have made a big difference to me if I had read it when I was 17. Now, I don't know if I have enough time on this planet to invest 10,000 hours in anything....
And while I can post images.... I have never been able to get the sizing right. This image is just a little scary....
Another good memoir, though it's not one I leave out on the table at the coffee shop when I go up for a refill. Also, a bit awkward to google at work...
Frank Scaeffer, Sex, Mom, and God
First time I felt like posting a book I'm reading for one of my classes:
The Big Book, the basic text of A.A. I thought Bill W. was a genius for devising an organization that works as well as AA does for so many (though not all, obviously) people, but the practical spirituality of this book goes to another level (though I was pleased to find my feeling that William James influenced Bill Wilson's thinking was correct).
The Big Book is a manual for dealing with any kind of behavioral problem one can fall prey to, if admitting to powerlessness ( no matter how hard you try, you can't seem to kick it ) is something one is willing to do. the 12 Steps -- and there is a separate book that deals with those in a practical manner -- are such simple tools, psychologically sound methods to gaining a more balanced perspective for those who tend to be excessively self-centered, which is at the root of the problem for alcoholics and addicts plus compulsive gamblers, over-eaters, or people who are trapped in sexual behaviours that are interfering with their lives.
having been an AA member for more than 35 years, i can attest to the fact that "the program works if you work it", which is an AA slogan.
I'm required to attend two open meetings as part of a class. One of them spent a half hour reading the last half of the big book chapter written from the perspective of wives. It was interesting to see defensive tackle-looking guys read sentences starting "we wives..." without the least bit of self-consciousness.
The Song of the Lark - Willa Cather
"Nothing is far and nothing is near, if one desires. The world is little, people are little, human life is little. There is only one big thing — desire. And before it, when it is big, all is little."
Hand-Me-Down Dream by George Dohrmann
"In this eBook exclusive essay, Pulitzer Prize–winning sports journalist George Dohrmann follows a father and son separated by prison bars—but bonded by their pursuit of basketball glory."
Isn't it basically a matter of choice..?
Trite bugger aren't I. but then if you put chocolate near me.
No, not so simple as choice.
There is the first moment when faced with something that you know is dangerous, that's a choice. When at a party someone offered a small dash of cocaine an inch under my nose and I said 'no thanks', it was the smartest moment of my life. But, social pressure is powerful, and I could easily have slipped the other direction in that moment. Many do slip that other direction.
But, alcohol is not so clearly and instantly dangerous, and there is tons of social permission for using it.
But, the worst thing is this for all addictions: fundamentally, addiction is our normal reward and learning neurochemistry being hijacked by chemicals (sometimes naturally produced by the body, sometimes directly consumed in some manner). The very system that makes us appreciate soccer, find some people attractive compared to others, learn what foods taste good and which we don't like, etc. is hijacked by highly efficient chemicals that give powerful versions of the feelings that we normally get through the more normal and mundane activities of life. The secondary effect enhance the learning effect, become, effectively, what we learn is 'good and desirable' and is what we continue to seek out.
People vary in their reactions, some very profound, others less so, some virtually no reaction, and in their propensity for it becoming addictive. But, it could happen to any of us, if not with alcohol.... well, are you addicted to caffeine?
That makes it so insidious. Addicts are not bad people or weak nearly so much as they fell into one moment of error and they have 'learned this new desire'. You never forget how to ride a bike, either.
choice to do what? if you don't buy into the AA model that there are some people who will drink to excess (eventually) if they drink at all, that they don't possess the capacity to control their drinking once they start, then i guess it's a matter of choice whether to drink to excess, but i subscribe to the "theory" that there is a genetic component to much alcoholic drinking and that the "disease" begets out-of-control drinking in all cases. the alcoholic may be able to exercise temporary control but that's short-lived. it's simply not a matter of will power.
everyone who drinks to excess on occasion is an alcoholic. essentially, it's a self-diagnosed ailment. an alcoholic is completely responsible for his choice to drink and the consequences of his drinking. the idea that it's a disease does not create an excuse on any level.
Stilts. I totally agree with your summary but as I intimated, it's pretty easy for me. I don't smoke, I've always found that offensive. I've tried pot or whatever it's known as these days but that was in 'brownie form' Not good results for me so "that was that." So many parties I went to in the 60's and 70's fizzled out by 9 o'clock because every one was sitting around with that beatific grin and no signs of life. Were as I was used to parties that ended on the beaches just north of Liverpool cooking up breakfast after dancing all night.
I learnt...the hard way, that I had to learn to nurse that 3rd drink (The first 2 just brought me up to party level) to maintain a good feel without destroying the following day.
I've heard too many people talk about how drugs or alcohol trapped 'them' as if they had no part in it. Users also can be the nicest yet sneakiest of people.
I really don't mean to sound trite, really. I agree that some native people from all parts of the world are predisposed to alcoholism. A friend of ours teaches in a native school in Canada were many of her kids have fetal alcohol syndrome.
So what do we do as a society....there is no easy answer, is there?
i made a mistake in my last post. i said "everyone who drinks to excess on occasion is an alcoholic" and that's wrong. i meant to say "NOT everyone..."
there are heavy drinkers who drink "socially" and become quite intoxicated but they are able to maintain responsible functioning. they don't drink and drive. they don't drink at work. they don't have blackouts. they don't go on binges. they just drink a lot from time to time. sometimes it's at home. sometimes it's at a party. but it doesn't become problematic.
my view is that AA will not work for anyone who can't/won't "surrender". it may take years for someone to hit bottom, to get to the point where they recognize that they are totally incapable of controlling and enjoying their drinking, but some people just cannot admit to themselves -- don't have the self-honesty to acknowledge -- that they are powerless over alcohol. they fight and fight for their right to drink in a destructive fashion.
they need to be contained.
I knew that! (not everyone)
I know the drinkers you describe. I had to tell a relative to go to AA or leave. He was indignant in his denial and left. As I said they can be the sneakiest of people and believe that they're the cleverest.
Received a card from him couple of years back. I believe it was part of the twelve steps. I couldn't believe him though with the way it was worded, not a sign of regret, sincerity or apology.
I felt he was going through the steps in another form of deception.
Sort of related to my last posting, an ebook...
Barry Meier, World of Hurt, (2013) on the therapeutic misuse and over-prescription of OxyContin, which came in handy for a presentation I did this week. If I spend a better $2 this month, that's going to be one hell of a cup of coffee. And related (given that it's about the author's battle with various addictions) (and damn funny in spots.)
Marc Maron, Attempting Normal (2013) damn funny, and harrowing in spots
The Country of the Pointed Firs - Sarah Orne Jewett
Darkly Dreaming Dexter -- Jeff Lindsay
I had seen the 1st season of Dexter when it came out and then re-watched the past couple of weeks trying to get inspiration on helping my book's protagonist develop a distinctive voice. So I decided I should read the book and I'm sad to say, the book's not very good. When I told my kids that I liked the TV version better than the book, my daughter spit out her milk. That's how rarely I make that pronouncement. Lindsay's a clumsy writer, other than the obviously brilliant proposition of a mass murderer who lives by a code and works for the Miami police department.
The voice for Dexter is overwrought and he's named his other persona as The Dark Passenger. Sounds like what a high schooler would come up with. And Lindsay's trying to make Miami a character in the book.
Here's how the book opens:
His descriptions of the pulsing life of Miami are just as ham-handed. My teeth are grinding right now re-reading that paragraph...
And yet, his Miami is more a character in his book than the Choptico River is in mine. Dexter's voice is more gripping than is that of Carroll Tilghman, my protagonist. Lindsay sucks and he's better than me. This is turning out not to be a humbling read as much as it is a humiliating one....
Comedy at the Edge: How Stand Up in the 70s Changed America, by Richard Zoglin. Interesting book. I didn't know that Albert Brooks' older brother was Super Dave Osborne, nor that Albert Brooks was his stage name (the name on his birth certificate is Albert Einstein). And he's the least interesting comic covered, IMO, compared to Carlin, Pryor, Robert Klein, Steve Martin, and dozens more. Also...
Will Eisner's New York
Just finished this one...
And I loved it. I've enjoyed all the books, but really have liked Fortune of War, the Surgeon's Mate, The Ionian Mission, and now Treason's Harbour. Started The Far Side of the World when I finished TH. Going to try the used book store next weekend to see if I can pick up any of the ones I haven't read so I don't have to get them all used on Amazon. May take a break after The Far Side of the World but I'm not sure yet!