Several writers I admire have recently written pieces I enjoyed quite a bit:
- Walter Kirn's GQ piece explores the requisite (or not) empathy a presidential candidate must exude in order to win hearts and minds. Money quote: "My theory is that in the Oprah-haunted '90s, when self-help had supplanted public-policy as the preferred path to widespread human betterment, the press needed an apolitical way to talk about politics. They made it about feelings. They made it about identifying, relating. They forgot about Harvard and Yale, the will-to-power, the ruthlessness that is ambition's twin, and finally they forgot about us. They forgot that we want to salute, not share a hug, and that we don't mind a little remoteness if its offset by wisdom, strength, and intellect." Indeed.
- Jim Hanas interviews Douglas Rushkoff over at Co.Create and they get into an interesting conversation about the role reversal of artists & technologists. And branding. Since I spend the majority of my days working with clients on branding and being authentic in their digital communications with customers, this struck me as spot-on: "[But] it’s not about creating a mythology around the way a product was created, so it’s no longer 'these were cookies made by elves in a hollow tree.' That’s not the value of the brand. The value of the brand is where did this actually come from? What’s in this cookie? Who made it? Are Malaysian children losing their fingers in the cookie press or is this being made by happy cookie culture people?"
- Roger Boylan at Boston Review offers a considered look at The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes in the context of the Barnes back list. Appropriate because I just mooned over Barnes yesterday? Perhaps. But also: "Stylistically, Barnes’s stock-in-trade is quotidian realism, leavened with mild satire and total recall of the feel of the past, frequently of that moment when adolescence becomes adulthood and youthful hope yields to reality." Could this be why I uber-pine for that time when I discovered Barnes? Certainly.
Heidi Julavits has written a new novel, The Vanishers, which kicked so much ass it's crazy:
- I've read three novels since. Can't stop thinking about The Vanishers.
- It was sly and silly and smart and sad all at once - my favorite kind of novel.
- It reminded me of the most exhilarating bits of The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas. (They are not so similar, really, but my experience reading both novels was similar. Another world that I could perhaps not relate to, but that I some how could entirely. Giddy all the while.)
- I was fully immersed in the other-worldly world she created but loved, loved, loved how she managed to weave in some rather naked truths about our relationships with others and ourselves in a way that felt honest and true and revelatory.
- It is very possible I dug this novel so much because it accessed some of my own hidden truths about my relationship with my mother (before and after her death) and the relationship others willed me to have with my mother (mostly after she passed) not to help me in any way but to help themselves grieve.
- It could also be that I've hated every novel I've picked up this year that wasn't in some way related to Murakami and so I may simply be glad to have my book loving vibe back again or it may be that Murakami has altered my perspective in such a way that I simply cannot love a novel that is entirely of this world.
- And so. There is much more to say here and though I intentionally shy away from "proper book reviews" I may well write a separate post on The Vanishers once I've had time to digest it all.
- Then again, I may not, so consider this firm praise and a "buy" recommendation. Please read it. Would love to have a chat with you after you're finished.