A journey around living alone Jun 29th 2013 [abridged] “Consolations of the Forest” is about staying put, he lived the simple life, much of it reading and thinking—about nature, time and himself. “Nothing is as good as solitude,” he says, adding: “The only thing I need to make me perfectly happy is someone to whom I could explain this.” Instead he described the pleasures to himself in a diary; “Consolations of the Forest” is the happy result.
The sound of cracking ice brings Schopenhauer to mind. Staggered by the view from a mountaintop, he can think only of Hegel’s words: So ist (“It is so”). His writing is elegant and urbane, full of paradoxes, aphorisms and conceits: “The sky has powdered the taiga [the northern forest], shaking velvety down over the vert-de-bronze of the cedars. Winter forest: a silvery fur tossed onto the shoulders of the terrain.”
He loves the taiga and understands the Russians’ almost mystical attachment to it. The “sweet spot” is the present moment, that special place “between longing and regret”
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Re: What NON-FICTION book should we discuss in October, November and December?
The Tao of Travel by Paul Ttravel. In which: He pulls together other author's thoughts on the philosophy of travel. It made me think about why I can't sit still & why I always have to have another destination in mind.
Shortlisted for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award in Biography and the 2011 Edgar Award for Best Critical/Biographical Book: “An ingenious and absorbing book. . . . It will permanently change the way we tell this troubled yet gripping story.”—Jonathan Spence
Hailed as “irrepressibly spirited and entertaining” (Pico Iyer, Time) and “a fascinating cultural survey” (Paul Devlin, Daily Beast), this provocative first biography of Charlie Chan presents American history in a way that it has never been told before. Yunte Huang ingeniously traces Charlie Chan from his real beginnings as a bullwhip-wielding detective in territorial Hawaii to his reinvention as a literary sleuth and Hollywood film icon. Huang finally resurrects the “honorable detective” from the graveyard of detested postmodern symbols and reclaims him as the embodiment of America’s rich cultural diversity. The result is one of the most critically acclaimed books of the year and a “deeply personal . . . voyage into racial stereotyping and the humanizing force of story telling” (Donna Seaman, Los Angeles Times).
A New York Times Notable Book for 2011 One of Entertainment Weekly's Top 10 Nonfiction Books of the Year 2011 A Time Magazine Top 10 Nonfiction book of 2011 A Boston Globe Best Nonfiction Book of 2011 One of Library Journal's Best Books of 2011
A sharp-eyed, uniquely humane tour of America’s cultural landscape—from high to low to lower than low—by the award-winning young star of the literary nonfiction world.
In Pulphead, John Jeremiah Sullivan takes us on an exhilarating tour of our popular, unpopular, and at times completely forgotten culture. Simultaneously channeling the gonzo energy of Hunter S. Thompson and the wit and insight of Joan Didion, Sullivan shows us—with a laidback, erudite Southern charm that’s all his own—how we really (no, really) live now.
In his native Kentucky, Sullivan introduces us to Constantine Rafinesque, a nineteenth-century polymath genius who concocted a dense, fantastical prehistory of the New World. Back in modern times, Sullivan takes us to the Ozarks for a Christian rock festival; to Florida to meet the alumni and straggling refugees of MTV’s Real World, who’ve generated their own self-perpetuating economy of minor celebrity; and all across the South on the trail of the blues. He takes us to Indiana to investigate the formative years of Michael Jackson and Axl Rose and then to the Gulf Coast in the wake of Katrina—and back again as its residents confront the BP oil spill.
Gradually, a unifying narrative emerges, a story about this country that we’ve never heard told this way. It’s like a fun-house hall-of-mirrors tour: Sullivan shows us who we are in ways we’ve never imagined to be true. Of course we don’t know whether to laugh or cry when faced with this reflection—it’s our inevitable sob-guffaws that attest to the power of Sullivan’s work.
“Sullivan seems able to do almost anything, to work in any register, and not just within a single piece but often in the span of a single paragraph…Pulphead is the best, and most important, collection of magazine writing since Wallace’s A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again…Sullivan’s writing is a bizarrely coherent, novel, and generous pastiche of the biblical, the demotic, the regionally gusty and the erudite.” —The New York Times Book Review
[Pulphead is] a big and sustaining pile of—as I’ve heard it put about certain people’s fried chicken—crunchy goodness . . . What’s impressive about Pulphead is the way these disparate essays cohere into a memoirlike whole. The putty that binds them together is Mr. Sullivan’s steady and unhurried voice. Reading him, I felt the way Mr. Sullivan does while listening to a Bunny Wailer song called ‘Let Him Go.’ That is, I felt ‘like a puck on an air-hockey table that’s been switched on.’ Like well-made songs, his essays don’t just have strong verses and choruses but bridges, too, unexpected bits that make subtle harmonic connections . . . The book has its grotesques, for sure. But they are genuine and appear here in a way that put me in mind of one of Flannery O’Connor’s indelible utterances. ‘Whenever I’m asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks,’ O’Connor said, 'I say it is because we are still able to recognize one.’” —The New York Times
“Sullivan’s essays have won two National Magazine Awards, and here his omnivorous intellect analyzes Michael Jackson, Christian rock, post-Katrina New Orleans, Axl Rose and the obscure 19th century naturalist Constantine Rafinesque. His compulsive honesty and wildly intelligent prose recall the work of American masters of New Journalism like Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Wolfe.” —Time
“Sullivan’s essays stay with you, like good short stories—and like accomplished short fiction, they often will, over time, reveal a fuller meaning . . . Whether he ponders the legacy of a long-dead French scientist or the unlikely cultural trajectory of Christian rock, Sullivan imbues his narrative subjects with a broader urgency reminiscent of other great practitioners of the essay-profile, such as New Yorker writers Joseph Mitchell and A. J. Liebling or Gay Talese during his ’60s Esquire heyday . . . [Pulphead] reinforces [Sullivan’s] standing as among the best of his generation’s essayists.” —Bookforum
“[The essays in Pulphead are] among the liveliest magazine features written by anyone in the past 10 years . . . What they have in common, though, whether low or high of brow, is their author's essential curiosity about the world, his eye for the perfect detail, and his great good humor in revealing both his subjects' and his own foibles . . . a collection that shows why Sullivan might be the best magazine writer around.” —NPR
“One ascendant talent who deserves to be widely read and encouraged is John Jeremiah Sullivan . . . Pulphead is one of the most involving collections of essays to appear in many a year.” —Larry McMurtry, Harper’s Magazine
“Each beautifully crafted essay in John Jeremiah Sullivan's collection Pulphead is a self-contained world…Sullivan's masterful essays invite an honest confrontation with reality, especially when considered in light of one another….Pulphead compels its readers to consider each as an equal sum in the bizarre arithmetic of American identity . . . [Sullivan is] as red-hot a writer as they come.” —BookPage
The age-old strangeness of American pop culture gets dissected with hilarious and revelatory precision…Sullivan writes an extraordinary prose that's stuffed with off-beat insight gleaned from rapt, appalled observations and suffused with a hang-dog charm. The result is an arresting take on the American imagination.—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A modern voyage of discovery.” —Frank Wilczek, Nobel Laureate, author of The Lightness of Being
The Higgs boson is one of our era’s most fascinating scientific frontiers and the key to understanding why mass exists. The most recent book on the subject, The God Particle, was a bestseller. Now, Caltech physicist Sean Carroll documents the doorway that is opening—after billions of dollars and the efforts of thousands of researchers at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland—into the mind-boggling world of dark matter. The Particle at the End of the Universe has it all: money and politics, jealousy and self-sacrifice, history and cutting-edge physics—all grippingly told by a rising star of science writing.
The hunt for the Higgs and the discovery of a new world
The judges [of the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books] said: “This book allows you to imagine the unimaginable. It’s the story of scientific discovery from start to end. It stands out as the best telling of an extraordinary tale, speaking to people who are not scientists.”
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Re: What NON-FICTION book should we discuss in October, November and December?
The Consolations of the Forest: Alone in a Cabin on the Siberian Taiga will be our next non-fiction book. The forum is already up and ready. If you've commented with an interest in this book please go right now and make a quick post in the new forum for this book so other people see who is planning to read and participate in the discussion. Seeing other names will motivate them to buy and book, start reading and start discussing it. With no posts people will improperly conclude nobody else is interested in the book.
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