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Review of 'Study Guide' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

EDIT: I just learned that the author is a TERF, as such I can't recommend this book or suggest supporting her work. I'll leave my original, uninformed review below.

A feminist speculative short story ironically featuring two men as the protagonists. The plot examines the lives, thoughts, actions, and interactions of these two old friends as they spend a day together navigating a heteromatriarchal world that is just as oppressive as our current heteropatriarchal one.

The role reversal at the center of the story does a magnificent job of bringing forth both the banal and extreme forms of repression and alienation that manifest under heteropatriarchy. But as during the course of the story, these events are experienced by men, the oppressively mundane suddenly becomes the outrageously absurd. As a cis male, I found this story engaging, thought-provoking, and inspiring of reflection. I agree with those who say the ending could …

Isaac Asimov: Foundation and Earth (The Isaac Asimov Collection Edition) (1986, Doubleday) 4 stars

Golan Trevize, Janov Pelorat, Bliss go looking for earth.

Review of 'Foundation and Earth (The Isaac Asimov Collection Edition)' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

My main response to having completed this book was, “Good riddance, I’m done with this series.” I suppose I could have stopped at any time, but I’m stubborn, so I insisted on reading all seven books. (Though this was the fifth one written, I read the two subsequently published prequels first.)

Of all seven books, this was my least favorite. It felt like Asimov was just phoning it in to complete his contractual obligation. For one, the previous books had various plotlines that inevitably intersected in clever ways – even if Asimov never mastered the skill of showing not telling. Yet this book only had one plotline from which we never veered, and it frankly got boring. What added to the boredom was that the plot was essentially all about an individual seeking to verify a decision he had already made in a previous book. Four-hundred pages about double-checking your …

Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Peter Skafish: Cannibal Metaphysics (2014, Univocal Publishing LLC) 3 stars

The iconoclastic Brazilian anthropologist and theoretician Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, well known in his discipline …

Review of 'Cannibal Metaphysics' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Not having a strong background in Claude Lévi-Strauss or Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, this book was extremely challenging and at many points just didn't make sense to me. I ended up more skimming it than reading every word as it was all largely over my head.

From what I was able to ascertain that I did appreciate was the inversion of anthropology and anthropological practice via what Viveiros de Castro refers to as perspectivism and multinaturalism. These are rooted in the perspective of Indigenous peoples he conducted field work with in so-called Brazil who view all animals and spirits as humans as well. Meaning there are "human humans" and "non-human humans," but who is human varies depending on perspective. For example, a jaguar sees itself as human, but us humans as non-humans, whereas we may see ourselves as humans and the jaguar as non-human. However, all animal and spirit …

S. B. Divya: Machinehood (EBook, 2021, Gallery / Saga Press) 4 stars

Welga Ramirez, executive bodyguard and ex-special forces, is about to retire early when her client …

Review of 'Machinehood' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

2.5 stars.

It's 2095, and technology has of course advanced rapidly, with the population reliant on designer pills and AI assistants as they primarily toil away at gig work. Posthumanism is in full effect, with some embracing transhumanism. In such a tech dependent society, a threat emerges that forces the populace to confront and fear its dependence on machines. Our hero springs into action to stop this "Machinehood" but first must determine if it is a smart AI, a group of neo-Buddhists, or a technophobic caliphate.

If you can push politics, some forced character construction and plot points, and some all-too-convenient and none-too-believable story twists aside and read this book for its entertainment value alone, then it might be worth picking up. But clearly the author meant for this to be a novel that inspires reflection on our relationship with technology. Unfortunately, the book falls short there.

This is in …

Janelle Monáe, Yohanca Delgado, Eve L. Ewing: Memory Librarian (Hardcover, 2022, HarperCollins Publishers) 4 stars

In The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer, singer-songwriter, actor, fashion icon, activist, …

Review of 'Memory Librarian' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

I approached this book with some skepticism. In general, I'm skeptical of celebrities, even celebrities like Janelle Monáe. And more skeptical of celebrities who try to write books. My skepticism increased when I saw the five stories comprising this volume were co-authored by Monáe, with a different author contributing to each piece. At the same time, I really enjoyed the Dirty Computer Emotion Picture, but was unsure how well Monáe and her co-writers would pull off creating narrative worlds based off an album concept. Quite well is the answer.

I genuinely enjoyed each of these five stories. My skepticism has proven unwarranted. There is beauty, creativity, music, rebellion, love, vision, and authenticity running through these texts. There are the subalterns, the persecuted creating new worlds in the shell of the old, fighting back against a world in which they are not welcome and are targeted for erasure. There is queer, …

A Map to the Door of No Return is a timely book that explores the …

Review of 'A Map to the Door of No Return' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

A stunning, wrenching read. Part memoir, part travelogue, part poetry, part literary review, part critical theory, at all times engaging, at certain moments breathtaking.

Brand's literal and metaphoric Door of No Return - that nonexistent, all-too-real, long past, ever-present - door, moment, episteme, paradigm guides the text as she examines Blackness in the Diaspora and transports us through cartographies and geographies both internal and external, from the Caribbean to Canada, from Africa to Amsterdam. It is a journey with a definite beginning, one of erasure, but with an undefined destination, or the possibility of no arrival at all, just points on a map and not one of them labelled "home."

Colson Whitehead: The intuitionist (2000, Anchor Books) 4 stars

Who tampered with the elevator?

The mundane job of elevator inspection becomes a mysterious tale …

Review of 'The intuitionist' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

I didn't expect to enjoy a book about elevators so much. But then it's really not about elevators. It's in large part about race, about different forms of seeing and experiencing the world, all wrapped up in a compelling mystery.

It's a critique of kinds of knowledge that proclaim themselves as absolute and the bearers of truth, especially when that knowledge is used to uphold forms of oppression. It's a gesture towards other forms of being and knowing, ones that at times elude detection by the powers that be as a means of survival or marronage and at others confront them head on, empowered to create a new world.

It's engaging, accessible, empathic, surprising, and witty. And also talks a lot about elevators.

Kate Elliott: The Keeper's Six (Hardcover, 2023, Doherty Associates, LLC, Tom) 3 stars

It’s been a year since Esther set foot in the Beyond, the alien landscape stretching …

Review of "The Keeper's Six" on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

A son gets kidnapped by a dragon and a mother and her superpowered crew go off to get him back. To do so, they traipse through various realms, spending most of their time in a place called the "Beyond" that reminded me a lot of the "Upside Down." Most of the text is dedicated to the project of worldbuilding, and there is plenty of that to go around. Frankly, it was a confusingly built world, with many different locations, specifics, and rules that made it difficult to keep track of or feel a part of or invested in.

I can't say that I really enjoyed this book and am grateful it was short. Everything from the action to the characters; the dialogue to the plot, felt clunky and forced, like jigsaw pieces that just wouldn't fit together properly. Little felt genuine, engaging, or even entertaining. While the author had creative …

Review of 'Critique of Black Reason' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

Many reviews and blurbs of “Critique of Black Reason” by Achille Mbembe note it as “challenging” or “demanding.” While not an easy read, a large part of the difficulty of the text emerges from its lack of structure and overall argumentative coherence, leaving one to feel as if one is reading a collection of disparate thoughts brought together in book form.

Mbembe sets out to write a genealogy of Blackness, or to pick apart Black Reason – that phenomenon of fantasy and ignorant apprehension surrounding the epistemology of the Black subject, Blackness, and Africa. However, the path often gets lost and at times it became unclear if I was reading a poor version of Paul Gilroy, a literary review of African novelists, or a history of French colonization. Clarity in the text also suffers from Mbembe’s reluctance or inability to ontologically situate Blackness, preferring to make insinuations or allow others …