Books

The English debut of Roberto Bolaño’s The Third Reich is a major literary event, despite the book’s restrained ambitions. Because the author’s posthumous fame shows no sign of abating, this disconcerting tale is bound to reach a much larger audience than the specialized nature of its subject matter would otherwise suggest. And deservedly so, for it provides ample evidence of Bolaño’s brilliance. (More…)

When newspapers first disclosed that one percent of the US population was imprisoned or on probation, credible reports allege that prosecutors at Maricopa County Attorney’s office celebrated with cheers and calls to “Go for two percent!”  That is what team spirit looks like in this age of mass incarceration. (More…)

When The Coming Insurrection was first made public, it read to me like wishful thinking. Although rooted in Europe’s struggle to cope with the realities of multiculturalism, the uprisings that inspired the book seemed uniquely French. How could they be the model for an international movement? (More…)

For the last decade, I’ve taught courses in critical thinking at a US college. When I first interviewed for the job, I was asked why I thought I was the best candidate. I responded that the answer was in the syllabi I’d used over the years. I’ve always made every effort to tell students to question things, irrespective of the topic in question. (More…)

Steve Jobs should have been a rock star. So tremendous was the outpouring of public grief, you’d be forgiven for not knowing that he was a marketing czar. Though the fanboys and cult of Mac kids did their expected thing, it was the grief repeatedly expressed by laypeople that was so astounding, with mourners going so far as to stage homages at Apple stores. (More…)

Neal Stephenson’s latest book REAMDE is an impressive achievement. He manages to fill it with a wealth of detail without stalling the story’s momentum. And though it is hardly a traditional novel of ideas, it provides the raw material for searching reflections on the role fiction plays in our lives. The fantasies it mobilizes are so artfully presented that they are able to seduce readers deeply troubled by their implications. (More…)

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has long epitomized the liberal, pro-Israel pundit. So, it was no surprise that his latest column was an assault on Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s foreign policy. (More…)

Arizona murdered its rivers and poured the remains onto cotton fields and golf courses.  Some of the largest water engineering projects on the planet have gone into producing suburban swimming pools and green lawns. Today’s Arizona could not exist without the diversion and destruction of its river system.  Over 90 percent of the state’s river system has disappeared. (More…)

Two weeks ago, my life took a slightly strange turn. My past and future collided in a clash between old media and new media. Let me explain.

Although I’ve never had a secure, long-term post, I’ve been working in academia since completing my PhD in 2001. Over this time, I’ve amassed a number of publications, including two monographs (one of which was co-authored,) a co-edited book, three journal articles and a number of book chapters. (More…)

Here are two profound moments of  ’00s retro culture.

Listen:

Carlos Santana stares directly into the camera in front of a black background. “I love making people cry, laugh, and dance at the same time – giving and receiving a crucial orgasm,” he says. “I never wanted to be anything else since I was a child.”

His choice words are then brought to life. (More…)

At eighty pages, Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? is a brief but fascinating polemic about the insidious ways in which neoliberal ideology insinuates itself into our lives. Riffing on key ideas from theorists such as Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Slavoj Zizek and Fredric Jameson, Fisher interrogates his own experiences as a UK-based lecturer and culture critic, creating resonant new concepts with which to engage late capitalism. (More…)

Tinkering culture has slowly entered the mainstream. Once the province of Popular Mechanics and Wired, coverage of the making and hacking trend has been appearing regularly in such unlikely periodicals as the New York Times. It’s hard getting adjusted to big media gushing about geek wads tweaking bits and bytes and building fire breathing robots in the back yard. (More…)