Books

106 posts

Blind Boys, Berkeley Blue, Phone Hacks and Wozniak

The earliest phone phreak I’ve been able to identify was a young man who went by the nickname “Davy Crockett.” Back in the mid-1950s he figured out how to use a Davy Crockett Cat and Canary Bird Call Flute – a little 50-cent whistle they used to sell at Woolworth stores – to mimic a special tone that telephone operators used to communicate with one another. By imitating this tone he could place his own long distance calls for free.

Book Review: The Book of My Lives by Aleksandar Hemon

The title The Book of My Lives is apt: rather than presenting a seamless memoir, Hemon instead emphasizes discontinuity, a series of Aleksandar Hemons moving before us in different settings, sometimes without roots to ground them. His decision to provide his version of a table of contents at the end of the book, and to title it “Table of Discontents,” is a play on words that reveals a sense of sadness and dislocation.

Book Review: The Books that Shaped Art History, Edited by Richard Shone and John-Paul Stonard

Clark’s The Nude: A Study of Ideal Art received glowing reviews upon its publication in 1956. Among its many virtues, The Nude reasserted the primacy of classical art in the Western world during the dark, drab Cold War era. America’s Abstract Expressionism confronted Soviet Socialist Realism in a long, drawn-out propaganda campaign. Clark showed that there was an alternative to such cultural brinksmanship. Art lovers, tired of ideology, were greatly pleased.

Book Review: See Now Then by Jamaica Kincaid

Through the invocation of epic prose forms and literary allusion, Kincaid elevates the nuclear family drama to a grand level as she draws un-remarked and seemingly sincere parallels between the passions and animosities of familial relationships and the grand scope of literary and mythic history. In doing so, she taps into the reader’s intuitive sense of the way all personal tragedies and triumphs feel epic to those who go through them.

Book Review: Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra

Like Bolaño, Zambra was born in Santiago, Chile. However, he was born later, in 1975, part of a generation that spent its childhood under Pinochet’s rule. In Ways of Going Home, Zambra depicts childhood experiences of trying to understand the cryptic comments and peculiar actions of adults, in an atmosphere where children’s simple pleasures – such as going to watch a soccer match at a municipal stadium — bring back memories of terror, incarcerations, and disappeared loved ones for their parents and neighbors.

Book Review: Raised from the Ground: A Novel by José Saramago

While he has an ear for both the humdrum and the eccentric dissembling pronouncements of the landowners, Saramago primarily concerns himself with capturing the diametrically opposite and logical sentiments of the workers. To dub him the John Steinbeck of his people and generation would at once amount to a compliment and faint praise of the singularity of his writing…