Kevin Moriarity

Books. I Read a Lot of Books. I Like Trains Too.

Category: Book Review

Book Review: Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist

Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century EconomistDoughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist by Kate Raworth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book made me feel more optimistic about our chances for the future. Way back in college I wondered about the underlying assumptions in my economics classes. The concept of continual growth made no sense to me. The supply / demand curve overlooked so many common-sense facts that I couldn’t take it seriously. I got a good grade, but I thought the mathematical emphasis of economics was wrong – far too limited in its capabilities to explain what is really going on. Here I am, 40 years later and now I find I wasn’t the only one!

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Book Review: Voice In A Whisper

My friend Lynne Handy reviewed Voice In A Whisper by Frank Rutledge:

This book is a little gem, wonderful for carrying around in a purse, for quick glimpses into the human condition. In A Poet’s Glossary, Hirsch tells us that haiku, with its primary focus on nature, “…seeks the momentary and the eternal,” while senryu, dealing with human nature, is often satiric. Frank Rutledge’s Voice in A Whisper, a collection of haiku and senryu poems, is filled with expressions of love, nature appreciation, and whimsy, with asides into music, literature, and art.  There is irony in Rutledge’s work, and gasps of sorrow when he chronicles personal loneliness and loss. Some of the poems embody folk wisdom, emanating from his southern roots. He is a musician, as well as a poet and I hear his music in pieces like “a pause in our talk/she cries tears—sounds like crickets/over the cell phone.” Voice in a Whisper is a welcome addition to poetry collections.

Book Review: Fixers

FixersFixers by Michael M. Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book. It’s a little business / finance-geeky, so if you are not into that sort of world you might not feel the same way I did about it. I thought it was an imaginative, and highly believable, story about the Great Recession. The diary motif worked very well. And, the departures from the business / finance angle were well done. I only have one negative. There were many typos in this book: misspelled words, words squished together… I read the hardcover version, from my local library, so it is quite possible that the paperback or Kindle version available on Amazon may be error-free. The magic of digital publishing enables mistakes like this to be fixed, once found.

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Book Review: The Attention Merchants by Tim Wu

The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our HeadsThe Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads by Tim Wu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this book. It gave a basic history of media and advertising, from newspapers to today. The main thesis is that news and entertainment was largely created to deliver consumers to advertisers. I’m sure some of the creators thought they were doing a public service (news) or being artistically creative (entertainment), but the bottom-line, financially, was all about delivering eyeballs to advertisements.

From the book:

“At bottom, whether we acknowledge it or not, the attention merchants have come to play an important part in setting the course of our lives and consequently the future of the human race, insofar as that future will be nothing more than the running total of our individual mental states. Does that sound like an exaggeration? It was William James, the fount of American Pragmatism, who, having lived and died before the flowering of the attention industry, held that our life experience would ultimately amount to whatever we had paid attention to. At stake, then, is something akin to how one’s life is lived. That, if nothing else, ought to compel a greater scrutiny of the countless bargains to which we routinely submit, and, even more important, lead us to consider the necessity, at times, of not dealing at all. If we desire a future that avoids the enslavement of the propaganda state as well as the narcosis of the consumer and celebrity culture, we must first acknowledge the preciousness of our attention and resolve not to part with it as cheaply or unthinkingly as we so often have. And then we must act, individually and collectively, to make our attention our own again, and so reclaim ownership of the very experience of living.”

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The Arkansas Review: Murder on the Floodways

Here is another book I played a small part in bringing to the world. Click the image to make it larger:

2MOTFReview

 

Kirkus Book Review: The Untold Story of Edwina

Kindle-EdwinaCoverOne of the books I had a hand in publishing was reviewed recently: The Untold Story of Edwina.

A poet writing a posthumous biography of a horror-novelist colleague gets caught up in an investigation of bones found buried on the author’s property in Handy’s (Spy Car and Other Poems, 2016, etc.) thriller.

Maria Pell seems a good choice to write the biography of the recently deceased Edwina Frost, the “Queen of Horror Fiction.” She and Edwina both taught at the same university, and Edwina’s nephew, U.S. Senate hopeful Hugh Bentley, feels that Maria will be more sympathetic than others who might be looking for dirt. Around the same time, authorities find skeletal remains of a 1-year-old boy on Edwina’s land. The boy’s body had been in the ground for half a century, and his head trauma suggests murder. Maria, who’s communed with dead poets before, believes that Edwina’s spirit may be aggressively trying to reach her. Maria reads Edwina’s unfinished manuscript, but it doesn’t get her mind off the dead boy, especially when she considers the possibility that Edwina or her despised sister, Louise, had a secret child. There are plenty of other things to make Maria anxious, as well, such as an anonymous caller warning her not to delve into the writer’s life, and her feeling that someone (or something) is with her in Edwina’s house. But one threat lies closer to home: Maria is certain her lover, Mathieu, is having an affair with coquettish neighbor Sybi. Overall, Handy’s novella is more mystery than horror. The author smartly keeps the existence of Edwina’s spirit predominantly ambiguous; as a result, readers will think that there’s a good chance she’s only in Maria’s head. Edwina, in fact, seems more like a manifestation of negative feelings, from her own animosity toward her sister to Maria’s envy of the younger Sybi. Mystery abounds regarding the boy’s identity and that of his killer, which Maria ultimately unravels. The status of Mathieu’s fidelity, too, is unknown until the end, and Maria’s perspective on it will earn readers’ sympathy, even when she eavesdrops on him. She becomes more unhinged as the story continues; Handy doesn’t make it easy for readers, who will wonder whether Maria is possessed by the need to find Edwina’s truth, by a vengeful spirit, or perhaps by both.

A mystery novel with a sympathetic protagonist whose apparent descent into madness makes her no less riveting.

Kirkus Reviews

Book Review: A Life Well Fished: “Reel” Adventures and the Stuff That Happened in Between by Ed Piotrowski

A Life Well Fished: A Life Well Fished: “Reel” Adventures and the Stuff That Happened in Between by Ed Piotrowski
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I haven’t gone fishing since I was 12, but I enjoyed reading the author’s fishing stories. While this book isn’t just about fishing, it is mostly about fishing. One of the great things about it is that each story stands alone. There is a thread to the book as the author moves forward in time, but it’s not a thriller, or a mystery. So, it’s easy to consume as much, or as little, as you want in one sitting. That is no small feat – to make each story interesting enough to pick up the book again and again to consume another one. I particularly enjoyed (Un)Happy Father’s Day, 2010 (not for the squeamish)!

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Book Review: Oh Don’t You Cry for Me: Stories by Philip Shirley

Oh Don't You Cry for Me: StoriesOh Don’t You Cry for Me: Stories by Philip Shirley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book. The author really knows how to depict people down on their luck, people who make really poor decisions. The characters in these stories are so wonderfully messed up! But there are interesting twists in a few of the stories – not all is as it seems. It’s a great collection of stories.

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