What I’ve been reading
1. Andes, by Michael Jacobs. Most travel books disappoint me, but I found this one interesting throughout, most of all the section on Venezuela. It is conceptually strong and overall enthralling.
2. Sergio Chejfec, My Two Worlds. Are you deeply interested in how an Argentinean observer might phenomenologically regard a southern Brazilian city, combined with his philosophy of walking, in fictional form? I am. This may or may not be of general interest.
3. David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years. Do you seek an overly verbose, sometimes fascinating synthesis of economic anthropology, early 20th century credit theories of money, and the history of debt? The book overinterprets early historical evidence and falls apart as it approaches contemporary times, still it has a vitality which many other tracts lack. Here is a chat with the author.
4. Wells Tower, Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned. This Jonathan Miles quotation is better than anything I will come up with: “Tower’s stories [have] the kind of torque that’s so damnably rare these days in American short fiction, where the payoff tends to be the faint, jewel-box click of epiphany, the small tilting of a life. Tower’s ambition is greater and brawnier than that.”
5. Charles Seife, Sun in a Bottle: The Strange History of Fusion and the Science of Wishful Thinking. An excellent and compulsively readable history of the attempts to make fusion power work; I thank Gordon for the original pointer.
6. Aurel Schubert, The Credit-Anstalt Crisis of 1931, no further comment required.