Archive for the ‘Book Club’ Category

Book Review—Philosophy: 100 Essential Thinkers, by Philip Stokes

In the world of Philip Stokes, from somewhere around 620BC, up until the 2003 publication date of this book, there have existed 100 people whose thought processes have shaped humankind.

Of those 100 people, 98% have been male. Of those 98 men, 100% have been white. (To the interested reader: the remaining 2% were white females, Mary Wollstonecraft and Simone de Beauvoir).

Since this book is an exploration of nitpicking philosophers, let’s take a look and see if Philip Stokes and his idea of what constitutes ‘essential thinking’ is prejudiced.

On the one hand, while predominantly showcasing the internal workings of white men, the choices of Stokes could be pegged as a sexist, racist, and a number of other ‘ists.

On the other hand, we could say that the color and genitalia of those forming the thoughts doesn’t matter.

Maybe Stokes pored through the work of hundreds of individuals, sex and race unknown, picked the most essential, and nearly all of them happened to be white men. It’s like flipping a coin: every time is a 50-50 shot. However, this equates to Stokes flipping a coin 100 times and hitting heads 98 of them, not to mention that each instance of heads had an option of multiple colors, and each one turned up white as pure, uncut baking soda. Interesting.

It could also be argued that Stokes loves the philosophy of Asian men (or Somalian women, Slovakian hermaphrodites, anything other than white people, really*), and this book was his attempt to branch out and showcase the beliefs of a people whom he hates.

Or Stokes actually is a backward-thinking white supremacist, and this is simply his way of telling the world.

It’s philosophy! We’ll never be 100% sure! Soft science at its best.

*I would give some examples of actual people, but I don’t know any because the book DIDN’T NAME A SINGLE ONE!!!!

Richard Ford – The Sportswriter

I did not like this book. The one highlight was the use of the word “nugatude,” which a simple internet search revealed to not be a word at all. Nugatude.

This is the guy that wrote the book.

China Mieville

I enjoy China Mieville. Here’s a brief summary of the books by him that I’ve read. Some of them are pretty long, so I’ve left out a few details.

King Rat – Guy finds out he’s half rat, starts eating garbage and hanging out in the sewers. And there’s also a murderer on the loose.

Perdido Street Station – A rogue scientist unwittingly releases a psychedelic winged terror on the metropolis of New Crobuzon.

The Scar – A woman, while fleeing New Crobuzon, is captured by pirates who inhabit a floating city made up of the boats they have seized.

Iron Council – Renegades roam the wilderness in a train by constantly taking apart the tracks behind the locomotive and rebuilding them in front.

The City & The City – A murder mystery that spans two cities in two countries. But the two cities and countries occupy the same geographical space. Whoa.

Bill Bryson – A Short History of Nearly Everything

I’m only halfway through this 500 page behemoth, but it explains in very simple terms for very simple people like me the nature of and people behind, as the title implies, nearly everything to do with science. One of my favorite lines, about carbon – “It is the party animal of the atomic world, latching on to many other atoms (including itself) and holding tight, forming molecular conga lines of hearty robustness.” I can understand that. Go ahead, give it a read.

Christopher McDougall – Born to Run

A book all about running, and it’s not boring. That is a remarkable feat.

It’s a really good book. Read it. That’s all I got.

Here’s a brief synopsis.

Cities of the Red Night – William S. Burroughs

In the second edition of The Shlog (Sean Blog) Blook (Blog Book) Club (Club), I shall cover Cities of the Red Night (published 1981), the first installment in a trilogy by William S. Burroughs. I’m pretty sure no one is participating in this book club anyway, so I’ll make it quick.

To begin, this novel contains more erections per capita than anything else I have ever read. That being said, don’t let that scare you off – they’re only fictional erections, they’re not going to hurt you. Unless you let them. That’s just how Burroughs rolls. There is a lot going on in this book – piracy, international intrigue, time travel, and a lot of hangings. I finished it and wondered what the crap had just happened. So perhaps I’m not the best person to be giving a synopsis, but I will say that this novel is much more stimulating than the legal buffoonery that takes place in your average J-Grish (John Grisham) novel. So go ahead, give it a read.

Choose Your Own Blogventure

 In a nod to the popular Choose Your Own Adventure books, today I’m going to totally rip them off and do a little something I like to call “Choose Your Own Blogventure.” In order to differentiate this story from the Choose Your Own Adventure books, I’m not going to do like 50 different endings with varying degrees of success or failure. There will be a lot of different endings, but you will die in each and every one of them. Unless, of course, you make it all the way through to the one true ending, which will result in your character “winning” the story. So here goes:

The Back Story

You are a secret agent/pro athlete/doctor. I think it’s safe to say that you do all right with the ladies. Or if you are a female, you do all right with the menfolk. Or if you are homo/bi-sexual, you do all right in the lady/man department. I guess just imagine the genders in this story however you want to. That’s the beauty of fiction. Anyways, what matters is that you are a secret agent/pro athlete/doctor. You are sitting in your opulent office off of Beet Street in the fictional metropolis of Potato Town. <Editor’s note – I’ve got an intricate plot to focus on so I’m not going to stress my mind thinking of cool names for people and places. I’m doing this for free for pete’s sake.> So yeah, you’re in your office. And oh yeah, your name is Sir Esquire Figgypudding, so remember that. Back to the office. A mysterious millionaire saunters in, and after a lot of clichéd, boring, detective talk, it boils down to this: he wants you, Sir Figgypudding, to track down his hot, adulterous wife, who has mysteriously gone missing. Since it is the off-season of the particular sport that you play, and you are in between secret agent missions for the government, and you make your own hours at the hospital, and you’ve got a few days to kill before your birthday, you decide to take on the case.

The mysterious millionaire, who we will call M&M for now, because he is mysterious and also a millionaire, provides you with the following:

-$50,000 cash, with an additional $100,000 upon the safe return of the hot, adulterous wife. Being as successful as you are $100,000 is just peanuts to you. But you live for the rush, and the passion that you have for a good sleuthing session. And also, you love money.

-A butter knife. (Easy to conceal, but it can also bring the pain.)

-A cell phone with M&M’s encrypted number on it, as well as the hot, adulterous wife’s. And for fun, let’s also have the cell phone double as an explosive device.

-A blow up doll. (So you can use the carpool lane if need be.)

-A photo of his hot, adulterous wife.

-Protein bars. (In case you get hungry and need a snack.)

Well, let’s get this show on the road. M&M has handed you a crumpled receipt from Slappy’s Diner with instructions scribbled on the back. It appears as though your only lead is a bartender at Mr. Giggles’ Comedy Shop (The Shop) in downtown Potato Town where the hot, adulterous wife was believed to have last been seen. Do you:

Take a rickshaw (Potato Town uses rickshaws.) to the shop.

Walk to the club. (In all fairness it is a pretty nice day out.)


Margaret Atwood – The Blind Assassin

One of my life’s goals has always been to become an eccentric billionaire, or at the very least, a weird millionaire. I wouldn’t be mad about either outcome. I’m pretty sure Oprah is a billionaire, and she’s always telling people what books they should read, so as a stepping stone to billion-icity-ness, I’m going to start doing that. How is telling people what to read going to get me more money? I really don’t know. Maybe the author of one of these books will come across The Shlog and be like, “Wow, thanks for telling people about my book! Here, have a little bit of money.” That happens a couple hundred times, and I have amassed a small fortune. It’s elementary economics. Anyways, I’ll be periodically introducing a different Blook (Blog Book) and giving a brief overview.

I’ve been reading through the Time Magazine 100 Best Novels list, and am currently on The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, published in 2000. Picked up a copy at the Salvation Army for fiddy cent. Not too shabby of a deal for 521 freaking pages. Here’s the synopsis:

There’s like this old chick, and she’s writing down stuff about her life or something. And her sister drove a car off a bridge right after WWII ended, and it’s the ’90s now, I think. Time kind of keeps jumping around, and there’s also newspaper clippings interspersed within the story, to show things that were happening to the old chick’s family at the time, because her dad had a button factory and they were rich. Also, the sister that drove off the bridge wrote a sci-fi book, and it got published after she died, and every few chapters or so there’s part of that book thrown into the mix as well, so basically, you’re reading two books. Her sister’s book is called The Blind Assassin, and I think that might be what the real book is named after. If it isn’t, that would be a really weird coincidence. There’s probably some metaphors used in the book as well, because I think that’s something that a lot of authors do, is use metaphors. I’m too dumb to pick up on those though, I just like looking at words. I’m only about halfway through, but I’m guessing the old chick is probably going to die at the end, because she keeps talking about how crappy her heart is. Maybe that’s a metaphor right there. But if an idiot like me realized that, then it probably isn’t. But I guess it could be. Maybe it has something to do with the ramifications of a lifetime of eating opulent delicacies, but that might not work because in the part I’m at, the Depression is going on, and they’re not really rich anymore. Anyways, welcome to The Shlog Blook Club.

%d bloggers like this: