Author Archives: Mike

Where There’s Smoke…

City on Fire

FA review tag

It’s around page 850 of Garth Risk Hallberg’s City on Fire when the action really gets going.

Plenty happens in the preceding pages, sure, but it is only toward the very end that the various narrative threads finally begin to twist and knot: It’s past 2:00 a.m. on the night of the New York City blackout of 1977. Detective Larry Pulaski, one of at least nine major characters who have carried the story so far, has followed a handful of dead-end leads surrounding a New Year’s Eve shooting to this moment — a desperate race to prevent something (no spoilers) that is part of “a scenario so screwy it wouldn’t pass muster at a movie house.”  Continue reading

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The Day After MLK Day

MLK DAY 2016 Google

Yesterday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2016. People stayed home from work. The markets were closed. Some heeded the call to serve. There was a cool Google doodle and #MLKDay was trending on Twitter.

I remember in the early years of the Obama administration, when MLK Day often felt like a celebration. We were able to feel, for once, entitled to a little pride in our progress. Not just because of Obama, but because he brought in the most diverse cabinet and staff in the nation’s history. Because of the generation of kids whose first image of The President of the United States of America would be a black man. Because we could reasonably believe that our nation was entering the healing stage of a very bad, very long affliction.

The years since have felt like going into remission.  Continue reading

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Did You Hear? Hamilton

New music! Sometimes old music. Music that we love!

Driverless cars. Wearable tech. Virtual reality that does not actually suck. We live in an age of wonders. And yet, the greatest innovation of recent years may be this: a hip-hop Broadway smash based on an 800-page historical biography about one of America’s most misunderstood and divisive founders.

It’s likely that you at least have some awareness of “Hamilton.” And if you have a few hundreds bucks to spare you may even have seen it. There has been a lot of buzz. But like all truly great innovations, “Hamilton” is not just a novelty. Have you heard these songs?

In our review of Chernow’s books on Hamilton and George Washington, we proposed that Hamilton was the Kanye to Washington’s Jay Z. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the writer and composer of “Hamilton,” has taken it to the next level.

Hamilton

Here are a few other gems you should check out:

Michael Moats

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The 10 Best Things to Read Instead of Mein Kampf

NYT MK

I know we all want people buying more books, but this can’t be good:

Only three days after Adolf Hitler’s notorious autobiography Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”) was re-released in Germany, following its entry into the public domain after a 70-year ban, booksellers and Amazon have already sold out of their copies.

Some sold out within hours.

The new edition, which runs about 2,000 pages, was developed by a “team of scholars and historians” who added about 3,500 annotations — most of which we assume were comments like “Fuck this guy” and “SRSLY???”

It seems reasonable that the German people would have a lot of curiosity about the book, which played a major role in history and has been verboten since 1945. But here at Fiction Advocate we say, screw curiosity. If you are going to rush out to buy a book, here are some you should absolutely choose over Mein KampfContinue reading

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Floating in a Most’a Peculiar Way

Bowie Read

“I think about a world to come / Where the books were found by the golden ones / Written in pain, written in awe / By a puzzled man who questioned / What we were here for…”

You’ve no doubt heard — David Bowie passed away last night after fighting cancer. He was 69 years old.

In response, Twitter has reminded us that Bowie was a serious book lover. Geoffrey Marsh, who curated an Art Gallery of Ontario exhibit on Bowie a few years back said Bowie was “‘a voracious reader’ who is reputed to read as much as ‘a book a day.'”

So we want to say goodbye the best way we know how: by talking books. Here is a list at Brain Pickings of Bowie’s 75 favorite books, and an article at Open Book Toronto that expands the list to 100. There is lots here that you would probably expect — Orwell’s 1984 and Nabokov’s Lolita — as well as a few interesting choices like The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Hitchens’ The Trial of Henry Kissinger 

These are the recommendations on books from Bowie. Any recommendations from readers out there on the best of the more than 60 books that have come out about Bowie? Here’s one we liked.

-Michael Moats

 

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Esquire’s Women We Love (to Get Book Recommendations From)

anna_karenina v2

This week, Esquire.com ran a super hot online photo gallery featuring eight incredible women…giving their book recommendations. The list — “80 Books Every Person Should Read” — updates an older list to better reflect the world we actually live in, as they explain:

What can we say? We messed up. Our list of “80 Books Every Man Should Read,” published several years ago, was rightfully called out for its lack of diversity in both authors and titles. So we invited eight female literary powerhouses, from Michiko Kakutani to Anna Holmes to Roxane Gay, to help us create a new list.

It’s a really damn good list.

Welcome to Hillary Clinton’s America, Esquire!

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