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The End-of-May Double Header

June 2, 2008

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The Great Derangement by Matt Taibbi

Greetings all.
I first read some of Matt Taibbi’s articles last year on one of the increasingly rare occasions that I purchased a copy of Rolling Stone. Once a staple of my periodical diet, I’ve gotten sick of Jann Wennerisms like Britney Spears cover stories, so unless I’m stranded somewhere with nothing to read and RS is the only remotely appealing thing in the magazine rack, I don’t pick it up.
That said, Taibbi – who is often compared to one of my idols, Hunter S. Thompson, even on the cover of this very book – is, if not a Thompson for the new era (and we really need one now), an astute commentator and observer with a sharp (in all senses of the word) pen.
‘The Great Derangement’ bounces back and for the between Taibbi’s experiences undercover in John Hagee’s Texas mega-church (timely, that), riding with US troops in Iraq and exploring the ‘9/11 Truth’ movement.
The books central thesis – laid out in the title – is that things are kind of nuts right now, so much so that the ultra-right and ultra-left have, like some kind of cultural moebius strip, looped in on themselves and connected with each other.
Taibbi delivers his narrative with a fair amount of righteous anger, but his descriptions of the people he met during his time masquerading as a born again Christian are nothing if not sympathetic. I only wish that he had provided some closure to that particular episode (i.e. if, and how did he reveal his true identity to the people he met in Texas).
His dissection of the lunacy and twisted reasoning behind the prevailing 9/11 conspiracy theories – especially a long imagined dialogue between the supposed conspirators – is excellent.
I’ll definitely be seeking out his earlier books.

Example

Epileptic by David B.

During the same trip to the book barn where I grabbed the Taibbi book, I strolled on over to the graphic novel section and found something very interesting indeed.
‘Epileptic’ by David B. is, unlike many other examples of the genre a ”book” as much as a graphic novel. Basically an autobiography (originally published in six parts) ‘Epileptic’ is also the story of his family, and especially how his brother’s illness (indicated in the title, natch) affected all of their lives.
David B. – whose work was unfamiliar to me – is an artist of amazing talent. I can’t remember the last time I saw a graphic novel (or even short form comic book) where such an astounding level of detail was not also a huge waste of time. B’s illustrations are incredibly detailed and imaginative and the story – sensitively and honestly told – is heartbreaking.
I’m going to do my best to get my wife to check this one out.
Amazing.

Now reading – And Now The Hell Will Start by Brendan I Koerner

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