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Fred’s quickie book reviews

November 15, 2013

The Unwinding – George Packer

Read The Unwinding, a good book that tails a little at the end. Solid insights into lobbyists and Washington politics. Shook my head in disgust at Hillary passing a bankruptcy law that hurt default homeowners but helped the banks, and Clinton planting the seed for the financial disaster by repealing Glass-Speigel (spelling?) as well as Senator Chris Dodd being a solid water carrier for hedge funders and making sure the financial markets can do whatever they want again and again. My only qualm, outside of people reassembling, it didn’t seem like there were any regulatory laws in place for a book called The Rewinding. Elizabeth Warren of Mass comes off very well though, Dems and GOP in Wall Street’s deep pockets can’t stand her.
He has little profiles of people in between the stories of the main protagonists: on JayZ, Sam Walton, Reich–all in the attempted style Dos Pasos used in USA. These are fun–especially the one on  JayZ who I knew nothing about or cared to, because he was obviously a thug, and surprise, he is, but no different than the Wall Street guys, really.
The books builds nicely, but bogs down in the last 100 pages, and I kinda skimmed it. The way it ends is we have to draw on ourselves to triumph. Thanks for nothing!
The Zealot by Reza Aslan
Did you know Jesus had a brother named James, who never believed Jesus was The Son of God. I thought big deal, that’s also how my younger brother feels about me too.
Still Foolin’ ’Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys? by Billy Crystal
I’ve always thought Crystal was more of an actor than a comic, and I always found his comedy to be more of the old school, Alan King, who he clearly worships. King also did rants about getting older. Obviously, Lorne Michaels must hate Crystal, who was denied becoming an original cast member on SNL, and never seems to have gotten over it. Later, he did one season on SNL when Michaels wasn’t there, and was bounced when Michaels returned. The book tries to sugar coat what I feel is an angry, mean-spirited, self-centered guy who truly believes he’s bigger than all the other comedians around him. He’s souless shctick. But there are some good jokes in the book. But that’s all they are, nothing with true emotional depth of humor. He’s incapable of that–even his 700 Sundays seemed more like gimmick hook than the real deal to me. And that sneer that becomes smile of his in pictures because the guy has used so much Botox his hair has become a yarmulke.

THE EXAMINED LIFE How We Lose and Find Ourselves By Stephen Grosz

This is a wonderful book by a psychoanalyst, Mr. Grosz. He tells stories of his patients and their problems, but brings in philosophy and literature to add to his insights. Great stuff on people’s motivations and problems. Emotional tales. And he keeps them short. I’d read a couple, then put the book down. Like cookies. A lot of wisdom here.

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