John Evans reports:
Whether it is Socrates bemoaning the ascendancy of the book and its impact on oral culture, or the medieval fear of corruption that printed books could bring to the hearts and souls of readers, changes in cultural production always bring promises of utopia, fears of dystopia, and marketing ploys to excite and titillate. The end is never the end—people still tell stories, play music, read books, listen to LPs, and go to the movies—despite the purported extinction of each of these. The New York Times had a recent review of Andrew Pettegree‘s The Book in the Renaissance which is worth reading by the culturally engaged who like to watch the cultural wheels go round and round. As always, it’s good to tone down the sales pitch, smile at the fear mongering, and use your own discernment—which is more honest, more interesting, more attractive, more fruitful…?
Here’s what we’re reading this week at Diesel!
Anna in Brentwood
Super Sad True Love Story
By Gary Shteyngart
I’m very picky about dystopian fiction: it’s incredibly hard to create a vision of our future world that feels vivid but still realistic. Shteyngart’s shallow, artless America feels all too probable, but its people also still seem like people, and you ache for them.
Geo in Brentwood
By J.C. Hallman
The “utopia” concept has always interested me, and apparently it has also interested Hallman because he wrote a great book about it. In Utopia covers anything utopian in both concept and execution, from the history of the word to real-life utopian communities to Pleistocene rewilding.
John Peck in Oakland
Mastering the Art of French Cooking
By Julia Child
After slogging through the weighty cultural history, movie tie-ins, and countless editions of this book, I’ve found that it is, at its core, a beautifully written and expansive cookbook. French cooking is both lavish and simple at the same time—a cuisine that rewards patience is always a worthwhile pursuit.
Thomas in Brentwood
The Skating Rink
By Roberto Bolano
Only three chapters in, Bolano’s characters propel and scatter like gravel thrown from the back tire of a rusted get-away truck.
Veronica in Malibu
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
By Raymond Carver
While not the most optimistic portrait of American life, this collection of short stories is absolutely captivating. Carver’s mastery of his craft is not only beautiful, but inspiring. If only I could make the banality of middle American suburbia sound half as enchanting…