Friday, February 15, 2008

The Logic of Life

The Rational Economics of an Irrational World, by Tim Harford.
Quickie recap: Using the rules of economics, Tim explains to us dullards how things like marriage, gambling, and your boss really work.
Quickie review: Economics are hard to understand without an economics degree (and who knows, maybe they're still hard to understand even with one). So yes, I struggled with some of the concepts. But I was also fascinated by others. At the end of the day, there is something cheeky about Mr. Harford. He's surprisingly entertaining for a numbers guy. He's got some wit, he's got some charm, but more than that, he's got the goods. He told me exactly why I make choices that seem crazy, and why those choices are actually logical if only we think about the bigger picture, and why I should stop feeling so badly for seeming so random.
Quickie recommendation: Interesting for sure.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


A novel by William Gay.

Quickie recap: Tyler has in his possession some incriminating photographs that show the local undertaker taking advantage of his clients, but to bring him to justice Tyler must first outrun the hitman hired to take him out.

Quickie review: This book sat on my nightstand unread just long enough for me to have forgotten why I wanted it in the first place. Eventually picking it up, I felt a disconnect, but as soon as I actually cracked the spine and got down to reading, I felt foolish. This book was indeed worth my time. Tyler is a hero worth rooting for. I like a dark tale, I like the seediness of some characters and the sweetness of others. A nice little book.

Quickie recommendation: Again I say, a nice little book.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Four Letter Word

Original Love Letters, Edited by Joshua Knelman & Rosalind Porter.

Quickie recap: A selection of outstanding authors including Leonard Cohen, Miriam Toews, Audrey Niffeneggeter, Joseph Boyden, Douglas Coupland and Margaret Atwood all contribute original, fictional love letters.

Quickie review: Oh my, writers are full of shit. Just full of it. I mean, they each receive a plea to send in a love letter, and each one thinks, hey, I'm a Big Important Writer. I'm going to show everyone how brilliant and original I am by re-interpreting the mandate. I'm so impressive I can't possibly write just a love letter, I have to be clever and unexpected. Except all writers are full of shit. They all seem to have had the same idea. Pity too, because time and again, the greatest pieces of writing in this book are the actual honest-to-goodness love letters. But you know what? They're all pretty amazing, even the pieces of shit are amazing. Even the Coupland is amazing! And there are some pieces in here with such fervent, inspired writing that I have felt compelled to jot down some names. In fact, a couple of them were so insanely good that I was almost dumb-founded to have never heard of them before, and thankful to have the chance to do so. I laughed, I cried, I thought about the word love and what exactly it means. I thought about the love letters I have written, and those I've received, and those I will be inspired to send in the near-future. I got lost, very lost, in a very good book. I buzzed through it and when finished I felt sad and lonely for about 10 seconds before I realized I could simply start over again, and so I did....and many of them are even better with the second reading. It may only be February, but I guarantee that this book will remain in my top reads of 2008. I liked it for its lack of schmaltz. I loved it for its wit, its lament, its yearning, its accuracy. Oh, the accuracy, the heart-breaking accuracy.

Quickie recommendation: This is not chick lit. This is not lovey-dovey. This is a work of art and you'd be stupid to let it go to someone else.

Quickie plug: Join Operation Love Letter if you dare.