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29 January 2013

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What a compelling review! I am not being sarcastic. You make me think of the cleaning lady (?) in John Irving's World According to Garp. A publisher had her read books being considered for publication. When she read Garp's book, she cried, so horrible! so true! It was a best seller. I think I have to read this book now.

I started this one a few months ago and was relieved when it came due before I finished it. Too depressing. But I do have some residual guilt. As if not finishing it is the same as sticking my head in the sand. If anyone plans to read this one, make sure you have some light fiction on hand too.

Bradley,
I couldn't have said it better myself. (I didn't, as a matter of fact.) Somewhere in the middle of the first chapter I too was going to stop, but for some reason just kept going. Seeing how much hope Hedges pinned on the Occupy movement in the last chapter actually depressed me more than anything.

Off to look for some light fiction.

John,
Ah, "compelling," the word we all use even though we know we shouldn't... :) I always choose to take that as a compliment, even though, yes, when aimed at me it usually does involve some sarcasm.

Let me know what you think of this one if you read it.

I'm reading this now, based on your review. It's right up my alley. Fiction or nonfiction, I enjoy reading bleak things. (I actually just finished writing an article about why some of us weirdos ENJOY horrible awful stories.)

The West Virginia section is the worst. The cycle of poverty can, at least in theory, be broken. Human despair can be overcome. Once you take the tops off the mountains, there's no going back. Way to rape the earth, assholes.

By the way, I was appalled when Hedges explained about the Museum of the American Indian not mentioning the Trail of Tears. I snooped around online and found that lots of people are critical of that museum.

My summary of the last chapter: "The sound and the fury, signifying nothing."

I love that this book uncovers some of the most shameful conditions in modern America, but I hate their rhetoric. Their down-with-the-man anger is conveyed with the same hyperbole that appealed to me when I was fourteen.

I am an adult now, and my revolutionary feelings are still the same. Actually, no: I've done more, seen more, and studied more, so I'm more of a Bolshevik/class warrior/eco-terrorist than I was in high school.

But I am out of patience for the shrill screed of Occupy Wall Street and other neophyte protesters. I want my revolution, but I want it with maturity.

This final chapter is irritating. So much squawking.

Well, Lesbrarian, if you enjoy bleak, you certainly found the right book.
Yeah, Hedges. As you can tell from the title of one of Hedges's earlier books--"War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning"--he is no stranger to the high-flown rhetoric. I could have used a bit more pragmatism, a la the John Bowe school of journalism: (I'm paraphrasing here) "people think the system is broken. The scarier truth is that the system is working exactly the way it was set up to work." (From "Nobodies," about modern-day slavery, with much to say about Immokalee.)
I'm glad you agree about the last chapter. Oddly, I think it almost would have been a stronger book without it. I didn't find it shrill--just over-optimistic, which seemed strange in the face of all the misery that had come before.

I wonder if book groups anywhere are discussing this one. Might be a good one for it, if none of your members mind a bit of depression.

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