Book Reviews – March 2009

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Bodega Dreams
Ernesto Quinonez
Street: 03.00
Quinonez's debut effort is one part Gatsby, one part Faustus and one part generic crime film. Through a couple of well-placed references to the Western tradition, he attempts to satisfy the anxiety of being included by near-sighted Caucasian English majors, while simultaneously, he overbearingly embraces the ins and outs of life in Spanish Harlem. When his characters affect almost cliché "street talk"?, when he takes great pains to explain the history of the Young Lords or inserts a couple of italicized Spanish words, we see his self-consciousness, ultimately marring our trust in him as an author. It is as if he is trying to authenticate his identity as a Puerto Rican author to the smug white college kids he knows to be his audience. Come discuss Bodega Dreams at Sam Weller's Hardboiled Book Club. Tues. 03.31., 7 p.m. –JR Boyce

Everywhere All the Time: A New Deschooling Reader
Matt Hern
AK Press
Street: 09.01.08
Fuck school! Anarchy! Right? ... right? Well, not exactly. Everywhere All the Time focuses on the benefits that schools could provide, but shows how flawed the system currently is. This involves pointing out its many shortcomings, with the main point being that they focus on everything except teaching kids how to learn and grow. This book is comprised of an amazing collection of essays from popular deschooling advocates, including Ivan Illich and Emma Goldman. I sometimes got the feeling that the book was pulling a Waking Life on me. Some of its claims are seemingly unsubstantiated. This feeling was often fleeting though, and in the end I found this book to be an incredible and enlightening read on the alternative education movement. –Ross Solomon

I Love Geeks: The Official Handbook
Carrie Tucker
Adams Media
Street: 12.08.08
Hey ladies, tired of meatheads? Carrie Tucker, a self-professed nerd, breaks it all down for the girl who hopes to land a geek in the wild and figure out how to deal with his obsessions (i.e. don't change him, and nod politely as he cries over the possibility of a Firefly movie). After a quiz to determine the breadth (and depth) of your guy's nerdiness and a brief history lesson - from D&D to DOS prompts - each chapter defines and addresses the mindset of various genres, from Anime to graphic novels, video games, film, television and sci-fi to "¦ sports (90-pound weaklings need some survival tactic against guys pressing them against lockers, I suppose). The absence of information on music and literary geeks is puzzling, but this is an otherwise informative primer for women sick of waking up nude in an alley after blacking out at the local sports bar. –Dave Madden