non-fiction

Book review: Manufacturing Consent

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

It’s strange. There’s not a whole lot I can say about this book, because it seems to be stating what should really be perceived as common sense. I’m aware that, as someone who has worked my adult life in print media, I’m probably more likely to have encountered some of the things mentioned in here, but even with that background I was heartily bummed by the text.

(This is a good thing. I mean, it’s bad news but the way it’s presented and explained is superb.)
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Book review: How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy

How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy.How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

I hadn’t really expected to be reading a book about disconnecting myself in the middle of a global pandemic, but here we are.

I’d had a copy of Jenny Odell’s polemic against the attention economy – broadly speaking, the society which inculcates in us the idea that our time, metered, is worth money and is wasted unless it is being used “productively” – for a while, but it took a moment of enforced quietude to make me read it.

I’m glad I did. (more…)

Book review: Acute Misfortune: The Life and Death of Adam Cullen

Acute Misfortune: The Life and Death of Adam Cullen.Acute Misfortune: The Life and Death of Adam Cullen by Erik Jensen.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

I’d known who Adam Cullen was from the papers rather than his art, at least initially. He was the eminently quotable prick who had issues with his mum, and was a bit of a lair, given to creating sculptures out of random shit, and artwork that was distinguished from that of a truculent kid by dint of the violence bubbling underneath it.

Actor, artist and arsehole.

I’d seen his Archibald winners (and non-starters), but hearing him constantly referred to as an enfant terrible or similar made me a bit leery of learning more. And then he died, and at least some of the obits made me think there might be a bit more to the story. (more…)

Book review: Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident

Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident.Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

There’s nothing like the romance of mountaineering to get me reading. Especially if the romance of exploring wild peaks in the hope of attaining another rank in sports mastery is overshadowed by a bunch of horrible subzero deaths by forces unknown.

Luckily, this book is about the Dyatlov Pass incident and not Tenzing Norgay, or that bloke who had to cut his own arm off. (more…)

Book review: Journeys

Journeys.Journeys by Stefan Zweig (tr. Will Stone).
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

I must admit that prior to reading this book, I’d only known Stefan Zweig’s work through its influence on The Grand Budapest Hotel – which is a fairly enormous watering-down of his importance on my part.

Yes?

Turns out Zweig’s writing is much more than just the inspiration for some lovely cinema. Journeys is a collection of the writer’s work, translated by Will Stone, spanning four decades, all of which specifically relate to travel.
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