Here are some of the books I read this semester when I should have been doing other things. Sometime in the near future I’ll post my summer reading list.
Leonardo Sciascia, Equal Danger and To Each His Own.
For all the spareness of his prose, Sciacscia essentially writes philosophical crime fiction. These two novellas critique postwar Italian society and, it’s been asserted, the possibility of knowing.
Ira Levin, A Kiss Before Dying
A portrait of the killer as a handsome, ambitious narcissist.
Colson Whitehead, Zone One
A literary zombie apocalypse! Actually, the story is set in the wake of social disintegration, when sweeper teams are clearing out the last remaining undead from Manhattan. Whitehead is less concerned with splatter-effects (though they’re here) than with reflecting on what happens after the end.
Pu Songling, Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio
I haven’t finished this collection yet. But it’s full of eerie and uncanny stories and something of a companion piece for Pelevin’s The Sacred Book of the Werewolf.
Victor Pelevin, The Sacred Book of the Werewolf
Werewolf/werefox sex, philosophical esoterica, FSB thugs, and an examination of (neo)liberal Russia.
Rafael Bernal, The Mongolian Conspiracy
A 1969 Mexican crime thriller. Hard-boiled but human. Pinche Cold War!
David McNally, Monsters of the Market
A history of capitalism through the lens of the discourse of the (monstrous/ violated) body. Encompassing early modern England, where a rising bourgeoisie asserted its powers by producing spectacles of the condemned, and postcolonial Africa, where global capitalism produces anxieties about witchcraft, this is a very interesting study.
Benjamin Kunkel, Utopia or Bust
A good primer on contemporary thinking of the (actual) left. In these essays Kunkel discusses the work of Robert Brenner, David Harvey, and Slavoj Zizek, among others.
Colin Cremin, iCommunism
In the same vein as Fisher’s Capitalist Realism, and if it’s not quite as stylistically accomplished, this essay nonetheless provokes. Studded with key concepts from influential thinkers, iCommunism asks why we have surrendered our desire for pleasure to the commodity form.