Author Topic: Mike's Book Club  (Read 1630 times)

BadGuyZero

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Re: Mike's Book Club
« Reply #15 on: November 23, 2016, 07:09:16 PM »
What's not to like about Marxism?

I'm ok with Groucho and Harpo. The rest are take-'em-or-leave-'em.

B_Buster

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Re: Mike's Book Club
« Reply #16 on: January 18, 2017, 05:59:41 PM »
I finally finished the book last week (I got side-tracked by a series of music books: Behind the Shades, Trouble Boys, and Born to Run). I'm glad I persevered. I enjoyed it quite a bit. I wasn't expecting all the Marxist talk either, but then you have to remember it was published in 1940 when Marxism was still a major part of the political conversation. Overall, the writing was good and the plot interesting. I'm glad others who read it found it worth their while.

I started reading Dreamland by Sam Quiones. If people are interested in making that the next selection, we could discuss it here. I'd like to alternate between fiction and nonfiction. Other nonfiction choices I would be willing to entertain if there is more interest are Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance and Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink by Elvis Costello.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2017, 06:34:47 PM by B_Buster »
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fonpr

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Re: Mike's Book Club
« Reply #17 on: January 18, 2017, 07:28:11 PM »
I'd be down/up for the Elegy.
"Like it or not, Florida seems dedicated to a 'live fast, die' way of doing things."

B_Buster

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Re: Mike's Book Club
« Reply #18 on: January 18, 2017, 09:34:14 PM »
I started Hillbilly Elegy, fonpr. I like it so far. I'm gonna read Dreamland and Hillbilly Elegy. Both of them seem timely, so they go together.
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doctor klopek

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Re: Mike's Book Club
« Reply #19 on: January 19, 2017, 10:05:46 AM »
I read Hillbilly Elegy a couple months ago and found it very strange.  I think it's a good book club selection though.  This review sums up how I feel about it:

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/10/hillbilly-elegy-review-jd-vance-national-review-white-working-class-appalachia/

B_Buster

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Re: Mike's Book Club
« Reply #20 on: January 19, 2017, 07:19:14 PM »
I'm only 4 chapters in, but I can't agree with this at all:

"Thomas Frank has called this the “gradual Appalachification of much of the United States”: a leveling of wages and expectations in places distant from Vance’s current home in San Francisco — the most gentrified city in the United States — but certainly not confined to white Americans in the Ohio River Valley. Vance’s view of poverty has profound racial and geographic limits that curtail his ability to understand it."

Vance is writing about the towns he grew up in, not conducting a national sociological study. Are you faulting him for not writing the book you wanted? I don't think it's that difficult for readers to extrapolate from his story similar experiences occurring all over the country where jobs are disappearing (I also don't agree with your point that he blames this entirely on a slacker work force). Also, his politics, which I wasn't personally aware of (I don't read The National Review), seems to have colored your criticism. We can discuss this further after I've finished the book.
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doctor klopek

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Re: Mike's Book Club
« Reply #21 on: January 19, 2017, 09:33:44 PM »
It's a fair quibble, but I think the big problem, inescapable in the book, is Vance's disregard for the structural, external factors that are, I think, primarily responsible for the conditions of the white working poor in Appalachia.  I find it bothersome -- whether in the investment banker Vance, Dabo Swinney, or any other remarkable southerner to have emerged from poverty -- for a particular, exceptional individual to sermonize about his or her own experience as though it were  not exceptional, as though it were typical and achievable and as though any resident of Paducah could emerge unscathed and upwardly mobile from abject, structural poverty. I think Vance's position is rooted in resentment for those who didn't do as well as he, or who gamed the welfare system or whatever.  It's rooted in anecdotal evidence of abuse of the social safety net and the same sort of stories that have been exploited as grist to deprive the poor of access to state support.  Basically, I came away from the book thinking that he was Frank Grimes in a world full of Homer Simpsons. 

I admit my reception of it was colored by the notable absence of any coherent reckoning with the political economy of his upbringing.  Maybe that wasn't his point, and if one's expectations were otherwise, it would come off as an arresting memoir. I'm curious to hear your thoughts upon completing the book. 

fonpr

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Re: Mike's Book Club
« Reply #22 on: January 20, 2017, 08:05:35 AM »
I started Hillbilly Elegy, fonpr. I like it so far. I'm gonna read Dreamland and Hillbilly Elegy. Both of them seem timely, so they go together.

This may take a while, I'm number 27 on the library waiting list.

Should I have used a semicolon instead of a comma?
"Like it or not, Florida seems dedicated to a 'live fast, die' way of doing things."

buffcoat

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Re: Mike's Book Club
« Reply #23 on: January 20, 2017, 11:52:06 AM »
I think the documentary series "Justified" sums up the Appalachian experience more accurately.

As far as I can tell, much of that experience is in either traveling back and forth among the various gang hideouts in the hills (the  black gang, the Nazi gang, the gang led by the wily old widow) or seeking to use abandoned mineshafts to break into the near-impenetrable vaults of Gar from the movie Mask.
I really don't appreciate your sarcastic, anti-comedy tone, Bro!

mostlymeat

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Re: Mike's Book Club
« Reply #24 on: January 20, 2017, 12:14:17 PM »
Excerpts from Bill Kreutzman's "Deal: my three decades of drumming, dreams, and drugs with the Grateful Dead", which was a fun read that I would recommend to all rock lovers:

"You can never truly predict where the jam will go next, but you must always know what to do when you get there. Or else it ends and you move on to the next jam. "

"So, for the record, the drummer from the Grateful Dead smokes weed and thinks it should be legal. "

"I started painting her boobs and stuff and it was great."

"Brent's funeral sucked."


B_Buster

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Re: Mike's Book Club
« Reply #25 on: February 09, 2017, 11:25:28 PM »
Finished Hillbilly Elegy. It was OK. Its main conclusion that children flourish in a stable home environment was hardly a major revelation. And a story of someone overcoming adversity will always have its appeal. It's being marketed in the media as an up-close look at the white working class, but that's not the case at all. The family dysfunction that Vance endures is something most Americans can relate to. It got preachy in one chapter, but then the author acknowledges the unique set of circumstances that enabled him to overcome his rough upbringing. The chapters on his experiences in the Marines and at Ohio State University were so slim on details that they hardly added anything to the story. It's an interesting story, but I'm still not sure why it became a blockbuster bestseller. If people are buying it to gain some insight into the people who voted for Trump, I'm afraid they're going to be sorely disappointed.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 11:27:26 PM by B_Buster »
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mnstrfrc

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Re: Mike's Book Club
« Reply #26 on: February 23, 2017, 10:00:21 AM »
Almost finished with Dreamland. It is very engrossing, and I'm enjoying the story a lot. The writing is not stellar. At one point the writer refers to an amount of people as "close to dozens," which I found a little grating. I find the book fairly repetitive as well. Repetition is not always a bad thing, but I got annoyed that he sticks the phrase "delivered like pizza" in just about every chapter. He did amazing research and tells a great story though. Overall, it's a really good read.

I'll start Elegy pretty soon. I read Thompson's Hell's Angels recently for that whole "insight into Trump voters" reason that some folks were touting about it, but I ended up enjoying it for entirely different reasons. Like waiting for him to get beat-up.

 

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