Books Aloud – February 2008

Acta Est
Lise Sarfati
Street: 04.08
In the broken-down land once known as Russia, maybe still known as Russia, Lise Sarfati visited many decrepit places and documented them with her keen photographic eye. The images that line this 104-page paperback show haunting visions of Russia and its people. Many of the photographs look like they are paintings that have been uncared for and have this incredible feel about them. All beautiful in their own way, these places of abandonment allow you to see that there is beauty in everything, no matter what the outward appearance may seem to be. It's fairly reasonable to say that you could not have any photographic interest yet still pick up this book and be stunned that a photograph can tell you something beyond words with one glance. Once again, seeing these types of books being published makes the here and now look bright for anyone who really wants to show their work to the public. –Adam Dorobiala

Contrary Notions: The Michael Parenti Reader
Michael Parenti
City Lights Books
Street: 07.07
Contrary Notions is fascinating, plain and simple. Although I almost never read political books—mostly because I find them lacking substance, rehashing the same tired ideas as one would find on the news—Michael Parenti's book was absolutely amazing. Though some may find it too radical, Contrary Notions presents the reader with a number of ideas and views that are applicable not only to debates, but everyday life. Parenti also presents his ideas with observations of his own and partners them with others. The section on liberal media and its nonexistence was one of my favorites. After reading it, I noticed a number of the inconsistencies in news reports of which Parenti makes light. Although I wasn't completely enthralled with the book—because politics do get boring pretty quickly—the ideology kept me coming back. I recommend it to anyone who isn't afraid of far-left thought. –Josh McGillis

In The Desert of Desire: Las Vegas and the Culture of Spectacle
William L. Fox
University of Nevada Press
Street: 09.07
Las Vegas, being a city centered on the industry of providing neverending dream fulfillment and spurring hyper consumerism, is an ideal environment in which to study culture, commerce and government because the laws are lax and easily manipulated, and because Vegas is grounds for experimentation on every level, therefore making it a transparent, reliable 8-ball. Fox takes this opportunity to expose the blurring of for-profit/non-profit and private/public undertakings in Vegas' art museums/galleries, zoos/menageries and casinos/businesses. The claims are intelligent and grounded in historical and personal accounts, making this book readable for both entertainment and enlightenment. —Spanther