I've had a chance to do a bunch of reading in the last couple weeks.
by Gary Shteyngart
Absurdistan is a sort of postSoviet, emotionally delayed coming of age immigrant satire, I guess. It's hard to live up to the title, and there are parts of the book that are pretty irritating. Still, the payoff at the end of the book is pretty satisfying, and there's a good voice in there somewhere.Petropolis
by Anya Ulinich
Another postSoviet immigrant novel, a bit more likeable that Absurdistan, I think.
The Bloodless Revolution
A Cultural History of Vegetarianism from 1600 to Modern Times
by Tristram Stuart
Heavy and scholarly seeming. I'm surprised that there isn't a streamlined/watered down "popular"ish version. Interesting and informing, although a bit much to get through, and sort of pulls its punches in terms of really saying anything of conviction, focusing instead on a potentially debatable but not especially exciting thesis.
by Michael Eric Dyson
Dyson is an interesting voice, and this collection is a bunch of transcripts from all manner of appearances. A quick read and interesting in that the collection shows Dyson's "greatest hits" of quotes and anecdotes etc. In many ways, Dyson's organization of his thoughts and presentation actually reminds one of the Bill O'Reillys of the world, in that he actively tries to "win" debates. He also has this interesting habit of challenging the right of others to speak to various points, but seems to feel qualified to comment on just about everything. I'll probably look for one of Dyson's many other books to take another look.
Life is Funny
by E.R. Frank
A YA novel in which there are all manners of teen issues piled on top of one another. There are so many issues, and the book is written in such a way that it can't be defined as a "problem novel". Pretty well done, even if I am generally bothered by the idea of social workers turned YA authors exploiting their case loads.
by Pete Hautman
Another YA novel. Hautman puts the reader in the mind of a "troubled" youth...dark and compelling.