Sunday, March 11, 2012

Bibliophile: 21st century Red Letters and Life of Pi with more Dragons

It's a bird!  It's a plane!  It's something that could never be logically confused with either a bird or a plane.  It is Bibliophile.

And there's 3000+ items today, so let's get to it, after the jump.

Why is everyone else wrong? : explorations in truth and reason / Tibor R. Machan.   New York : Springer, c2011.
Points for the title. Although I've always been partial to the explanation that they're wrong because they're not me.

Deep secrets : boys, friendships, and the crisis of connection / Niobe Way.   Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 2011.  
Way looks into the intimacies shared between boys, and how it seems to fall away as they reach adolescence.  "Yet in late adolescence, boys feel they have to “man up” by becoming stoic and independent. Vulnerable emotions and intimate friendships are for girls and gay men. “No homo” becomes their mantra."  I fully agree with Way on this; I agree with her less when she characterizes the situation as a "connection crisis."  Crisis implies a break from the normal state of affairs, and the strong, silent man has the been held as the masculine ideal for a long time in Western culture.  It's not an ideal I hold, particularly, though, so I support an exploration of it.

Transatlantic 2020 : a tale of four futures / Daniel Hamilton and Kurt Volker, eds.
Here's another entry for the "history or science fiction" category.  Based on current trends, the writers project four potential futures for transatlantic relations.  The first one, "Come Together," is the optimist's version, in which Europe, Africa, North America, and South America move towards closer economic ties and collaboration.  "Hello Goodbye" imagines that the States has gone into decline while the rest of the world has gotten its act together.  "Live and Let Die" has Europe descend into territorial squabbling, and America and everyone else just sort of ignored them in their quest for prosperity.  And finally, we have the worst case scenario, "With a Little Help from My Friends" in which Europe and the US both decline, and it's up to everyone else to pick up the slack.  I don't know about anyone else, but I'm glad the future is the hands of Paul McCartney songs, whatever else happens.

Art of immersion : how the digital generation is remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the way we tell stories / Frank Rose.   New York : W.W. Norton & Co., c2011.  
Judging purely from the title, it's not immediately clear what this book is doing in the H section, which is generally (I say, purely from empirical observations) reserved for Economic discussions.  But that's exactly Rose's point: the economic structure of our entertainment industry is being reshaped by the new emphasis on participation.  We see it the way fans are invited to participate and speculate on shows like Lost.  And how the fans participate first hand in creating narratives in games like the Sims or the MMO group. It's a subject closely related to my subject interests, but the Amazon reviews suggest that it's a rather surface level treatment.  On the other hand, sometimes a breezy read in one's subject area is just what the doctor ordered.  I'll put this on the "mental note" list.

Fandom unbound : otaku culture in a connected world / edited by Mizuko Ito, Daisuke Okabe, Izumi Tsuji.   New Haven : Yale University Press, c2012.
Continuing the discussion of pop culture, here's a book focusing on Japanese practices, especially those of a geekier bent.  The Table of Contents doesn't appear to be online, but judging from Ito's description on her blog, topics include some studies of English-based anime fandom, but most of the essays consist of English translations of original Japanese work. Ito says that she wants to extend the work being done in Japan to a wider audience, and, given how much of my own work consists of studying videogames made in Japan, I support that goal. To quote her on the variety of scholarship, they have "Hiroki Azuma on moe, Akihira Kitada on 2-chan, and Kaichiro Morikawa on the birth of Akihabara as a otaku town. We also feature work by a new generation of otaku scholars such as Izumi's work on train otaku, Daisuke's work on fujoshi, Yoshimasa Kijima on fighting game culture, Hiroaki Tamagawa on the Comic Market, and Kimi Ishida, who writes with Daisuke on cosplay." Otaku can be loosely translated as geekdom; moe is pseudo-love for fictional characters, 2chan is the Japanese-language equivalent of 4chan, Akihabara is a district of Tokyo specializing in technology, and fujoshi refers to female fans' fantasies about fictional male and male character action (I think there's some Harry Potter fan fiction that may fit well in this category). A lot of fodder for discussion, then.

Play it again : cover songs in popular music / George Plasketes.   Farnham, England ; Burlington, VT : Ashgate, c2010.
There's actually a whole slew of books on pop music added today.  This is meant to be a representative example.  Cover songs lend themselves to a variety of theoretical approaches: cultural studies, adaptation theory, postmodern theory (fits nicely with Jameson's description of the wrapper).  It's an anthology book, and has essays on 50s song assimilation, Japanese authenticity, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, and a capella.   So it covers a pretty wide variety of topics.

Critical approaches to comics : theories and methods / edited by Matthew J. Smith and Randy Duncan.
It's very pop culture heavy this time round, isn't it? And this is after I skipped past some books on Mad Men and televisions paratexts.  This book, as the title suggests, is an anthology of theoretical approaches to comics.  Essays include a study of the Crumb Family and caricature, shape and color in Asterios Polyp, Unity and Discontinuity in Grant Morrison's Invisibles, Abstraction and Ditko's Spider-Man, the human spirit in the X-Men, economics in Death of Superman, the Superhero genre in All-Star Superman, feminism in Lois Lane.  ...Sometimes I wish my area was comic books. I could very eagerly read this book.  Someday.  

Jamrach's menagerie : a novel / by Carol Birch.  1st U.S. ed.   New York : Doubleday, c2011.
This week's token fiction entry.  Jaffy Brown, 19th century street kid, winds up joining a menagerie of exotic animals, and joining a seafaring expedition to hunt a dragon.  And then they catch it.  Disastrous sea storms set the survivors onto a strange island, and that's when things apparently really get weird.  This story sounds like it's heading in a magic realism direction, and the plot similarities to Life of Pi encourages that interpretation.  So if that's your thing.

Men who knew too much : Henry James and Alfred Hitchcock / edited by Susan M. Griffin and Alan Nadel.   New York : Oxford University Press, c2012.
I don't know either figure well enough to warrant a full discussion here, but this sounds like an awesome mash-up you would never find anywhere outside of humanities academia.  And thus, our existence was justified forever.

When she woke : a novel / by Hillary Jordan.
  A sci-fi story, wherein criminals of the future are not imprisoned, but branded, their entire body transformed to a new color representing the class of their crime.  The protagonist is a woman convicted of murder after getting an abortion.  As the product description makes clear, it's a re-imagining of the Scarlet Letter.  It sounds like a nice pick for a first year reading course, especially paired with the 19th century original; I'll keep this in mind if I pull a literature sessional position.
Wonderstruck : a novel in words and pictures / Brian Selznick.   New York : Scholastic, 2011.  
Mentioned because Selznick is the author of the book Hugo is based on, and a pretty gifted artist.  But even though there's a lot of pictures, it's still a very long book (as was the Hugo book), weighing in at over 600 pages.

Seductive computer: why IT systems always fail / Derek Partridge.  
And now we're in the sciences.   Partridge's argument is that the reasons IT systems fail to perform as expected is that people--apparently, even people who should know better--put too much faith in the perfection of technology.  Instead, the complexity of technology introduces chaos, and Partridge advises on how to cope with that.  It could be an interesting read, from a "perspectives on technology" angle.

Virtual future/ William Sims Bainbridge.   London ; New York : Springer, c2011.  
Bainsbridge gets a mention because he's also a game scholar.   This book is clearly informed from that background, as its thesis is that  9 games, The Matrix Online, Tabula Rasa, Anarchy Online, Entropia Universe, Star Trek Online, EVE Online, Star Wars Galaxies, World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade, and The Chronicles of Riddick, studied sociologically, present different ways of contemplating and engaging with potential futures of humanity.  This isn't the first time Bainsbridge has shown up on these searches; all right, that warrants a mental note.

Xxl : obesity and the limits of shame / Neil Seeman and Patrick Luciani.   Toronto ; Buffalo : University of Toronto Press, c2011. Seeman, Neil.  
We're getting a bit far into the list for me to go into any great amount of detail, but this sounds like a good discussion on the subject. The authors argue that what's needed to fight obesity isn't some overarching, one-size-fits-all government mandate, but something that recognizes that individualized efforts that take into account the specific situations will work better.

Lots of parking : land use in a car culture / John A. Jakle and Keith A. Sculle.   Charlottesville : University of Virginia Press, 2004.  
A book that takes a different tact than usual on car culture.  Essentially, it examines how the design of cities and roads has been shaped by the need to accommodate the car at rest, from the history of the curb side to the modern parking lot.

And that's the lot.  Whew.

Later Days. 

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