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zombie economics
July 4, 2012

Book review: Summer reading

Books to keep you informed and entertained in the dog days

Now that summer is here, it’s the perfect time to relax with a good book and a refreshing drink. Whether you’re at the beach, under a tree or just in the comfort of a local café, these books will keep you informed and entertained during the hottest days of the year. From economics to poetry, there is something here for everyone.

Zombie Economics

By John Quiggin, Princeton University Press, 275 pages

An engaging book of pop economics from John Quiggin, a professor of economics at the University of Queensland in Australia, Zombie Economics probes the reasons why “dead ideas” like privatized social security and trickle-down economics “still walk among us.” Behind this tongue-in-cheek presentation is a serious inquiry into the state of the world economy and the often outdated ideas that have come to shape it. This is a study that is accessible and informative at once.

Circuits of the Wind

By Michael Stutz, Confiteor Media, 254 pages

A gripping thriller for the net age and for the “net generation,” a phrase author Michael Stutz coined while working as a reported for Wired News. Circuits of the Wind follows Ray, a slacker-hacker, as he makes his way through the global underground network that was the Internet before everyone had a computer and a wireless connection. Stutz’s prose is punchy, in contrast to the technicalities of many of the details of his story. The first in a series of four novels.

News Clown

By Thor Garcia, Equus Press, 477 pages

A rollicking novel from Prague-based author Thor Garcia, News Clown follows a cagey writer as he moves from an earnest hope for his future to hack-work with a news agency. “The plan was simple, basic, a no-brainer. I figured, first, to explode ‘journalism’ at its core, pocketing at least one Pulitzer by the age of 30. I’d rock the city at dawn, I’d crack the dirty, filthy, louse-ridden bitch wide open,” Garcia writes. It’s hard to imagine writing that is more energetic.

The God Complex

By Chris Titus, GuruKnee Press, 278 pages

Following a protagonist who is suffering from a mysterious illness as he seeks a cure from practitioners of both Eastern and Western medicine, The God Complex is a fascinating tale that melds fiction and nonfiction in a metatextual work that combines journal entries, diagrams and straightforward storytelling. Along with the search for a cure, our protagonist finds himself wrapped in a web of deceit and conflicting interests that threaten much more than his health. Spanning the Atlantic from Prague to Boston and back again, this is truly a medical thriller.

The Poems in Verse

By Stéphane Mallarmé, Translated by Peter Manson, Miami University Press, 288 pages

The latest in a number of attempts at translating the famously difficult poems of this late 19th-century French poet is also perhaps the best. Manson’s lithe translations bring a subtlety to these poems that is faithful to the original yet as natural as can be in English. Mallarmé’s work was truly ahead of its time, and the ground he broke is still being examined today by poets and theorists around the world. With this collection his influence is sure to spread in the Anglophone world. All that remains is for Manson to translate the rest of Mallarmé’s intriguing and extremely influential work.

The Secret of Evil

By Roberto Bolano, Translated by Chris Andrews, New Directions, 192 pages

Perhaps the final posthumous offering from the absurdly gifted Chilean writerRoberto Bolano in English translation, The Secret of Evil is a collection of ephemera, rants, critical essays and unfinished stories Bolano was working on before his untimely death from long-term health problems in 2003. Readers familiar with Bolano’s novels and short stories will certainly find more of what they love here: the darkness, the adventure, the faith in literature and Bolano’s uncanny ability to get to the core of a character with a flick of his pen.

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