Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Store of the Worlds: The Stories of Robert Sheckley

Purchase online here.
Sheckley was an ideas man. His stories are solid concept, expertly plotted. And even when the core of a story is exceptionally dark and filled with terrifying moral lessons, it is still somehow written with humor. Last week, I linked to a fantastic review on Strange Horizons that states, "The heart of a Sheckley story is how it ends." And it's true. There's a whole lot of comeuppance in store for the human race in his future vision, a race to our very own end. The best that the best of us can hope for is to be able to get away from everybody else. That conclusion is what helps the stories feel timeless and what causes them to stay with you.

It is utterly unsurprising to discover that Sheckley would later write television screenplays. The pacing of his stories make it so that the best ones just cry out to be adapted. Among my favorites in the collection:

The Monsters
Paradise II
Pilgrimage to Earth
The Seventh Victim
Double Indemnity

Read those six then read them all. Highly recommended. Also? Read the introduction.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Literary Humor & Games

It's completely okay to share this now because a) he was safe all along b) this happened forever ago and c) jokes! Let's just take a moment to remember Google Reader, as it once was.

There. Have a perfect weekend, everybody.

Friday, May 18, 2012

"Funeral Parade"

"One of the reasons inequality gets so deep in this country is that everyone wants to be rich. That's the American ideal. Poor people don't like talking about poverty because even though they might live in the projects surrounded by other poor people and have, like, ten dollars in the bank, they don't like to think of themselves as poor. It's embarrassing. When you're a kid, even in the projects, one kid will mercilessly snap on another kid over minor material differences, even though by the American standard, they're both broke as shit.

The burden of poverty isn't just that you don't always have the things you need, it's the feeling of being embarrassed every day of your life, and you'd do anything to lift that burden."

Decoded, Jay-Z 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Eat the City, Robin Shulman

Where there's people, there's food production.
Unsolicited galleys are my favorite. I am really going to miss them in the future when we'll have to jack into the net to hack a spreadsheet asking if - wait, never mind! This just plain showed up one day and I decided to take it for the train ride home.

Basically a food history of the city, each chapter addresses a particular edible (honey, vegetables, meat, wine) and the stories of those profiled become interwoven with New York City's food traditions and accompanying industry. The alcohol chapters cover Prohibition, while the vegetables chapter discusses gentrification and fish takes on our historical obsession with polluting water sources. Plus, there's lots of process dropped so you gather facts on say, the chemical reactions controlled for in wine-making or what time of day is best to plant and it all comes together to make you want to start a garden on your fire escape.

Of course, the food history of a city is a lens through which to view its sociopolitical history as well. After all, the full title of the book is Eat the City: A Tale of the Fishers, Foragers, Butchers, Farmers, Poultry Minders, Sugar Refiners, Cane Cutters, Beekeepers, Winemakers, and Brewers Who Built New York. And it's true! Shulman interviews new and old alike to demonstrate how the current locavore movement is as old as the city itself. Her writing casts a bit of spell over you, in that it suddenly feels like you are surrounded by food, wherever you are. In every home, a winery in the basement and an apiary on the roof. Highly recommended.

Eat the City is on sale July 10, 2012.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Thank you, MetaFilter. I love a good oral history project and this is a great one: the personal stories of women entering the workforce during World War II.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

On the perks of shelving

They consist mostly of keeping yourself company by list-making. But six carts in, this was a big deal. I totally remember this edition from the shelves of my local library. And that's it really.

Still, it makes me happy that they are back to this cover. Sorry, plant! Sorry, yellow sneakers!

Harriet the Spy, Louise Fitzhugh

Monday, May 7, 2012

May The Force Be With You

Do you use planners? Because this really, really makes me wish I did.

May the Force be with you 365 days a year. These and other Moleskine beauties are now in stock at Shakespeare & Co.
  • Pages: 144 pages (72 leaves)
  • Size: 3.5 x 5.5 inches (9 x 14 cm)
  • Cover Style: Hard Cover
  • Paper Color: Off White

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Christ in Concrete, Pietro di Donato

Saturday morning.
He could not possibly pause long enough to breathe normally. Job that day would never be forgotten: the day when Job would first give its holy communion of freedom. One-on-two-one-on-two-bend-scoop-swing-spread-tap-clip—and bend on for one-on-two—and now Job was no longer a bewildering corridor which one visited by chance and did not realize. Job was establishing itself in gray of stony joint and red of clayey brick, in smell of men's gray bones and wet red flesh.
Job was becoming a familiar being through aches and hours, plumb and level. Job was a new sense which brought excitement of men and steel and stone. Job was a game, a race, a play in which all were muscular actors serious from whistle to whistle, and he was one of them. It was pay-day, and in a few hours pay-check would sign short-short armistice. It was war for living, and Paul was a soldier. It was not as in marbles where he played for fun, it was men's siege against a hunger that traveled swiftly, against an enemy inherited.