Cat’s Cradle

By Kurt Vonnegut (1963) *** Something of a succès d’estime in reverse, this book won admiration for its bleak humour, deadpan reportage and sci-fi elements, until the rot set in and everyone realised that it wasn’t hugely good, with its glib, jerky, episodic micro-chapters, cardboard characters and terrible snatches of verse. Vonnegut was not yet really a novelist; Cat’s Cradle is not really a novel. But here Kurt is an accumulator of ‘bits,’ an amasser of literary bitcoin, and some of his stock is quite brilliant.  His false religion, Bokononism, owes something to Spinoza, but with typical jokey authorial touches…

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Love You Long Time: The Earl of Louisiana

“The Earl of Louisiana” by A. J. Liebling (1961) **** Liebling’s witty and nostalgic book shows us something of the old time politics and how it seems fresher and more vibrant than the sterile and shrill shenanigans of today. True, he had to travel to Louisiana (where the citizenry don’t expect corruption, they demand it) and he had a ringside seat to the Long legacy (the famous ‘Kingfish,’ Huey Long, Governor from 1928 to 1932 and a U.S. Senator until his death by gunfire in 1935, had been followed by younger brother Earl, Governor from 1939 to 1940, 1948 to…

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The Belt and Road to Serfdom

(“The Road to Serfdom” by Friedrich Hayek) (1944) [and why it matters now] (****1/2 stars) “While the last resort of a competitive economy is the bailiff, the ultimate sanction of a planned economy is the hangman.”# The Argument In 1933, the year Hitler came to power in Germany, there was a view that the fascists’ National Socialism model (as the joke went, neither nationalist nor socialist) constituted the lees of the empty vessel of capitalism, and that socialism and centrally planned economies represented the vibrant new vintage for the future. That year, Hayek, a Newby at the London School of…

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Jonathan Swift

November 30, 2020 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Comedic Books, WRITING & LITERATURE |

http://www.galleryofthemasters.com

(30 November 1667 – 19 October 1745) The great Irish satirist still has great things for us to hear, even over the distance of more than two and a half centuries. He anticipates Phillip Roth, without the laughs. His calm venting of spleen as fact, his wit, style  and imagination, his quill aimed stiletto-like at the pompous, the prideful, and the pedantic (“Pedantry is properly the overrating any kind of knowledge we pretend to. And if that kind of knowledge be a trifle in itself, the pedantry is the greater“) still resonate. “So, naturalists observe, a flea Hath smaller fleas…

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Right Ho, Jeeves

(Written by P.G. Wodehouse) (1934) Your correspondent has a terrible confession to make.  The unburdening of this shocking secret, whilst cathartic, may very well lead to a global un-platforming. No, I haven’t been selling or buying on the Dark Web; I’m not a secret member of Antifa or Neo Nazis; I didn’t cast 134,000 votes for Joe Biden just before dawn the day after the U.S. election.  It is much worse: I recently read “Right Ho, Jeeves” and didn’t find it funny at all.  It’s about as funny as a child molester, actually. Which is not to say it isn’t…

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