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review 2019-03-29 16:49
Dark comedy about ‘adulting’ - the banality of office work and modern life are very real in this one, so watch out!
The New Me - Halle Butler

Millie is thirty years old and spends her days going to a thankless temp job at a designer furniture showroom, watching episodes of Forensic Files on her laptop, and fantasizing about what her new life would actually look like if she actually pulled herself together. She has a friend who is shallow and doesn’t really listen to her, an ex she thinks about too much, and all sorts of ideas for what her life will be like if the temp job becomes permanent. 

 

‘The New Me’ is a perfect satiric send-up of all those little insecurities that have glimmered in the minds of many of us, and its glaring honesty is on every single page, and it’s also pretty funny. While the book is not an actual ‘stream of consciousness,’ it’s written in a way that demonstrates the way that Millie’s thoughts run from one to another, the way that one anxiety leads to another; this is the absolute genius of this short book, and it reads like the mind of a person trying to figure her crap out (and generally not managing to do so). Not everyone will jive will this style of writing though.

The situations Millie finds herself in, like standing in the break room at work, or being at a party, and dissecting what’s going on, it’s all written so well, and it’s startling and frustrating and even maddening. There are also times when she’s completely oblivious to what is going on around her and she has high hopes for her future; at one point she’s completely got her head in the clouds and gets it all wrong. 

 

The banality of office work and modern life feature prominently and author Halle Butler paints a pretty depressing picture of it, and she does it so well it’s frightening. Fortunately for Millie, to balance out the uncertainty of work and the emptiness of a false friendship with Sarah, she has loving parents (the scenes with them are lovely) and they are very much her anchors.

 

In the past, back in my twenties in between freelance film gigs, I did some temp and call center work of my own; this book very much brought back some miserable memories of that time for me. No wonder Millie does so much drinking

This is such a clever little book, honest if depressing, funny although somewhat cautionary (shred the paper when you’re asked to). Definitely a dark comedy.

 

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/36342706-the-new-me
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url 2018-06-06 15:44
Podcast #102 is up!
Kurt Eisner: A Modern Life - Albert Earle Gurganus

My latest podcast is up on the New Books Network website! In it I interview Al Gurganus about his biography of the German journalist Kurt Eisner, who overthrew the Bavarian monarchy and served as its premier during the German Revolution. Enjoy!

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review 2018-06-03 16:51
The life of a journalist and statesman
Kurt Eisner: A Modern Life - Albert Earle Gurganus

Kurt Eisner lived a life that bracketed that of the Second Reich which he helped replace. Born into a family of military tailors to the Prussian court, love led him to abandon his scholarly studies for a career as a journalist. He soon emerged as a leading writer in the left-wing press, and after a brief term in prison for lèse-majesté be became editor of Vorwärts, the central organ of the left-wing Social Democratic Party, in 1898. Forced out seven years later in an ideological purge, he nevertheless remained a major columnist and critic until the outbreak of the First World War. Eisner's opposition to the war soon cost him his journalistic platform while his role in organizing a munition workers' strike led to another term. Witt the collapse of the German army in 1918, however, Eisner was released and in a matter of weeks spearheaded a peaceful revolt that overthrew the monarchy in Bavaria. Selected as prime minister, Eisner led Bavaria for three tumultuous months before his assassination in February 1919, the victim of a right-wing aristocrat.

Despite his prominence in Wilhelmine politics and his role in the German revolution Eisner has lacked a biography in English until now. Albert Gurganus has now filled this gap admirably with an account of Eisner's life that traces his professional career and the evolution of his ideas over the course of his life. The man who emerges from his pages is one committed to his beliefs regardless of expediency or cost, a commitment that was key to both his leadership in the German Revolution and in his political downfall on the eve of his assassination. It serves not just as a biography of an unjustly overlooked figure but a portrait of the political left in the Second Reich and a description of German politics during a pivotal period in the history of Europe.

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review 2017-02-05 00:00
The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays (Phaidon Arts and Letters)
The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays (Phaidon Arts and Letters) - Charles Baudelaire,Jonathon Mayne If you want to know how to write good essays look at Baudelaire. He's a pro.
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review 2015-09-07 20:59
Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith
Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch - Sally Bedell Smith
bookshelves: autumn-2015, published-2012, tbr-busting-2015, biography, e-book, nonfiction, skim-through, next
Read from July 19, 2014 to September 06, 2015

 

Description: From the moment of her ascension to the throne in 1952 at the age of twenty-five, Queen Elizabeth II has been the object of unparalleled scrutiny. But through the fog of glamour and gossip, how well do we really know the world’s most famous monarch? Drawing on numerous interviews and never-before-revealed documents, acclaimed biographer Sally Bedell Smith pulls back the curtain to show in intimate detail the public and private lives of Queen Elizabeth II, who has led her country and Commonwealth through the wars and upheavals of the last sixty years with unparalleled composure, intelligence, and grace.

In Elizabeth the Queen, we meet the young girl who suddenly becomes “heiress presumptive” when her uncle abdicates the throne. We meet the thirteen-year-old Lilibet as she falls in love with a young navy cadet named Philip and becomes determined to marry him, even though her parents prefer wealthier English aristocrats. We see the teenage Lilibet repairing army trucks during World War II and standing with Winston Churchill on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on V-E Day. We see the young Queen struggling to balance the demands of her job with her role as the mother of two young children. Sally Bedell Smith brings us inside the palace doors and into the Queen’s daily routines—the “red boxes” of documents she reviews each day, the weekly meetings she has had with twelve prime ministers, her physically demanding tours abroad, and the constant scrutiny of the press—as well as her personal relationships: with Prince Philip, her husband of sixty-four years and the love of her life; her children and their often-disastrous marriages; her grandchildren and friends.


It seems fitting that this should be the currently-reading book as Elizabeth II becomes the longest reigning monarch in British history.

Positive skewed spin in action, a chocolate box of surface gen, this only deserved the barest of skim reads. Will I seek a more erudite rendition? Nah, you're alright, I've theoretically bobbed to the subject.
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