The Reading of Books # 24

So, another series of books devoured, this time Bernie Sanders, Matt Taibbi, John Scalzi and Dayal Patterson’s work was in my sights.

Bernie Sanders – Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In

source: Goodreads

I became aware of Bernie Sanders quite late during the campaign, but something about this Vermont senator struck me quite soon. It’s that unabashed honesty, hard-working mentality and no crap attitude of the man that truly humbles anyone who follows what he does. Bernie is not for sale and Bernie genuinely worries about the people he represents. This book is therefor not some hollow rhetoric by an establishment politician. I would even argue that Bernie might nog have even put his face on the cover if he could avoid it. Sanders wanted to talk about issues, about change and about a grassroots movement that was looking for something new. This is something rather close to my own politics and I felt strong affinity to the Sanders campaign after reading this.

The book is part diary, where Sanders really describes his own experiences and life in a rather sober manner, the way the man is when asked about himself. Sanders focusses on his politics, even when its persona and that makes him such a specific specimen. He rarely pats himself on the shoulder and when he does, he always includes others. It’s  a pleasant read of a straight talk politician. The other half is his politicas and vision, so a more manifesto like article. In this part Sanders also takes all the time to really explain those views in detail. I’ve had bad hopes for the future, but the succes of Bernie’s campaign, the grassroots movement and these good ideas make me feel that we can sort it all out. A great book for those interested in finding out more about what is happening in the United States among real people. Worth your time for sure.

source: goodreads.com

John Scalzi – Redshirts

Imagine that you are living your life the way you feel it should go, only to realise that all of it was leading up to the inevitable and horrible death of you in a situation that screams irrationality. Imagine that you realise that going on a mission with the officers of your star ship leads to an almost certain death. Well, that’s pretty much the world that the characters of Redshirts live in. It is surprising that when officers come in looking for members to go on a ‘away team’, a lot of the crew disappears. That is not even the weirdest stuff that happens, There’s even a box that goes ping and solves complex, scientific mysteries. It only works in the nick of time though, as if to provide Dramatic effect. A very peculiar situation indeed.

This is an interesting and highly entertaining read by Scalzi. A group of redshirts realise that they are… redshirts. It creates a strange series of stories, where reality becomes the most trivial part. Real or not real, people are dying because of bad script writing. That is the main theme of the book, but the way Scalzi takes that and runs with it is just amazing. The characters really become real and every cliché is present in a hilarious journey. What I liked best about this book is actually the added parts, where characters from the story reiterate their experiences from their perspectives. It leads to philosophical, but also very human passages, that show science fiction is more than just fun and still holds interesting aspects for our reality. This is by far one of the most fun books I’ve read in a while, so this is indeed highly recommended.

Dayal Patterson – Cult Never Dies: The Mega Zine

source: goodreads.com

I was a bit puzzled by this choice to do a Mega Zine, for a bunch of reasons. First of, the word magazine always makes something more contemporary, more fleeting and less urgent, where I like that Patterson works on a continuous series of works on documenting extreme metal. Secondly, it results in a cover that looks less fitting in my  collection. Now, after having read it I also have to say that it really downplays the fact that is is very close related to the previous titles. Actually it’s a great addition with bands that simply don’t fit the regular categories you imagine with the black metal genre. In this book Patterson interviews some of the most peculiar groups from the grand and intriguing black metal scene.

Interesting fact is that the author adds other interviewers to this book, doing the work he’s pursuing with more knowledge and experience with certain bands. It makes the titanic work of documenting the scene more managable, but creating a matching format and form of expression does become more daunting. There are no problems with that though in this book, with bands lik Reverend Bizarre and Slegest to the strange organ sounds of Lychgate. The includees in this book do feel slightly random, but it’s what you get with the strange and the weird. Another great book for the lovers of the dark and heavy music genre.

Matt Taibbi – Insane Clown President

source: goodreads.com

It seems like an easy title, but Matt Taibbi really followed the tornado of madness that ravaged America in 2016. Taibbi is a writer for Rolling Stone Magazine, who has indeed been on the bus during the elections in the United States. Watching the burning car wreck of a result that this created, Taibbi looks back at those elections and gives his critique, but not without taking part of the blame himself as member of the writing press, who are definitely part of the rise of Trump thanks to their hungry camera lenses and continuous interest in the most maddening campaign the elections in the States have ever seen. Taibbi looks at the history of writing in the political business, of media attention and previous campaigns to find out about a disturbing path that all of this has been following for a long, long time.

It was never jus about Trump, it was about the victory of the spectacle over content. Outrage triumphing over decency and one-liners before truth. It’s a monumental power switch from the elite to the uneducated, the disenfranchised… People picking instead of a sort of semi-decent system, a completely abyssal insanity as their future. Why the fuck did Trump appeal to these people? Well, he definitely didn’t charm them alone, he was the most remorseless, insane and outrages candidate of 16 terrible options.  This book is filled with great essays about different stages in the electoral proces, which are filled with venom and wit from experienced writer Taibbi. It’s the postmortem of the American dream, the end of equality and the start of the  white nationalist dark ages. God save us all from the clown car’s master… but worse, from ourselves. This book is really for you, if you like the black humor of the time and age we live in. Enjoy.

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