A demand for the demand of privacy-protecting tools

This isn’t an argument for capitalism or vegetarianism, but it starts that way. I first began warming up to capitalism when I learned more about Michael Pollan’s idea to “vote with your fork” and choose each of your three meals with consideration for what impact you’re having on the environment, on workers, on animals, on…

Hector and the Search for Happiness – François Lelord

(Penguin Books 2010) Told in the mild and affectionate manner of a bedtime story, Hector and the Search for Happiness by François Lelord is a sweet and sometimes simple tale of a psychiatrist’s quest around the world to discover what happiness is. Hector takes a vacation from his psychiatry practice to understand how people come to be…

My American Unhappiness – Dean Bakopoulos

(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishg Company 2011) The almighty, wonderful, incredible, amazing, hilarious, insightful Kurt Vonnegut gave a lecture that described the three shapes stories can take in literature, and drew a chart that showed their storyline patterns (see the video here). He explained that all books we read are re-interpretations of one of those models.…

Lobster – Guillaume Lecasble (trans. by Polly McLean)

(Dedalus 2005) Friendship. Revenge. True love. Lust. Destiny. Religious irrationality. Vulnerability. Strength. Suicide. Life. All the classic, traditional dramatic themes—all delivered in a new and wild fashion. The French surely know something we don’t about passion and life, and Lobster is an intriguing example. The night the Titanic sinks, one tragedy in particular stands out. Just before…

Wakefield – Andrei Codrescu

(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill 2004) One day the Devil shows up. “I’ve come to take you.”  With this casual ease, Andrei Codrescu’s opening line could quickly be mistaken for a joke with a bad punchline about being married or spending time with the Pope, but don’t be fooled. There’s comedy in this book, but…

Super Sad True Love Story – Gary Shteyngart

(Random House 2010) Everybody loves a satire, especially when you’re at the heart of the joke. Gary Shteyngart leaves nothing safe as he hilariously and smartly ridicules our technology-dependent and slowly demising society, but somehow also creates a touching and beautiful love story between the hopelessly aging Lenny Abramov and the fountain of beauty and…