Recently Read

Whether waiting in some queue or traffic jam, it's always recommended to have an escape appliance. By way of suggestion, Robert Birnbaum sifts through his recently read list.

I don’t know about others (though the common default explanation is some variation of attention deficit) but my reading habits have seemingly transformed into something unrecognizable to the Me of just a few years ago—perhaps even before the post-millennial chattering class preoccupation with announcing and sifting through the entrails of change, transformation, and what it all meant.

As an exercise in self-understanding/knowledge I decided to keep a list of what I have read in the past week. Now that I look at it, the only thing I can glean from it is that my primary literary preoccupation is no longer the novel, and in fact I don’t feel compelled to finish even the various texts I begin whatever their form or genre. One other thing, I have taken to leaving books in my car and whatever bag I schlep around—so as not to get caught waiting in some queue or traffic jam without some sort of escape appliance.

Here’s the list, in no particular order, and arbitrarily annotated:

“He Just Can’t Quit W” by Frank Rich
Res ipsa loquitur.

“The Terrorist Barack Hussein Obama” by Frank Rich
Res ipsa loquitur.

A Strange Commonplace by Gilbert Sorrentino
An overlooked (you know what I mean) author that I had overlooked—I’m going back for more.

“Vote for Obama” by Christopher Hitchens
Even when one thinks he is wrong, Hitchens is interestingly wrong—meaning his reasons and arguments are elegant if not rigorous.

“Verbage” by James Wood
Wood sees, to his great credit, something missed by homegrown pundits.

Serena by Ron Rash
Rash is a wonderful storyteller, whose One Foot in Eden is a masterful tale.

Angels and Ages by Adam Gopnik
I read the introduction to this New Yorker staffer’s forthcoming book linking Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln, both born on the same day in 1809, with great relish.

The Given Day by Dennis Lehane
So far the best of his oeuvre.

Indignation by Philip Roth
Roth is worth every moment you invest in him.

The King’s Last Song by Geoff Ryman
As far as I got in this story within a story I was riveted.

Hard Man by Allan Guthrie
One of those Scottish crime stories increasingly finding its way into print—I read it based on Thomas Perry’s blurb, which I should have read more carefully—yet I did finish it.

Our Dumb World by The Onion
The claim that this is the funniest ever is hard to argue with especially when you can’t stop laughing.

First Stop in the New World: Mexico City, the Capital of the 21st Century by David Lida
Meet Mexico City and the brave new world, mi gente.

“Mad Dog Palin” by Matt Taibbi
Oi Veh!!!

The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly
Though I avoid reading series, and I thought Connelly’s standalone The Poet was his best work, I can’t stop myself from continuing to read his Harry Bosch novels. This time Bosch meets the Lincoln Lawyer, Mickey Haller.

“Make-Believe Maverick” by Tim Dickinson
If even a portion of this article is true then American corporate media, of which Rolling Stone is a part, is worse than we all suspect. If not, one wonders how this stuff got published.
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