What is A/S Reading? – No. 6

That is, what is Armchair/Shotgun not proofreading? While we are in the process of wrapping up Issue No. 2, we have also found time to turn away from our computer screens, plop our eyes back into our sockets, and spend a few hours with a book (or two!). Here’s where we are these days:

Editor-at-large Aaron Reuben has been in the throws of post-graduate education, but has still found the time to read Toxic Sludge is Good for You! by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton:

…a romping, scathing portrait of the public relations industry, its historical rise and ahistorical doucheness. It reads like a Howard Zinn crime-thriller-detective novel with lots of magician reveals. Who came up with the ad campaign for “healthy” cigarettes? (advising women to “reach for a cigarette instead of a sweet”). How was atomic energy successfully sold as the “environmental” alternative to coal? (and “so cheap we won’t need to meter”). Why does “green washing” work so well, and why do PR specialists currently outnumber journalists 2:1 in this country?
This is a must read for everyone who consumes any media ever anywhere.

Managing Editor and grooming expert Kevin Dugan just finished up Colum McCann’s This Side of Brightness:

I just finished Colum McCann’s This Side of Brightness, which would be an excellent 600-page novel. At 287 pages, however, it is merely a sketch, or a half-sketch, which is being generous. The characters are flat or cliched, and situations have strange and non-believable consequences. One character, a compulsive, is supposedly driven to molest his daughter because he is compulsive, though there is no evidence of anything similar ever happening before. McCann handles race and class questions with either a profound ignorance or a strange disregard. And plot points just don’t add up in ways too myriad to bother listing. The writing is beautiful, though, and there are certain parts that really do just break your heart. But otherwise, it’s the kind of novel a professor assigns to show you what not to do when plotting.

Managing Editor John Cusick has dipped his toe into the works of Iris Murdoch:

I’m reading THE BELL by Iris Murdoch. My first Murdoch book, as I’ve heard she’s overly-intellectual. But I find the characters extremely compelling. Plus, we open with a woman convincing herself she doesn’t have to give up her seat for a senior citizen, which, you know, I can relate to.

And Managing Editor Laura McMillan has returned to a few old favorites:

Female Masculinity by Judith Halberstam is one of the best
discussions of gender I’ve ever read (and I went to Wesleyan!). It’s
varied, accessible but smart, thought-provoking but not reactionary.
Highly recommended.

And I’ve re-started the Dune chronicles, a decade-and-a-half after
giving up the first time. I don’t know what I was thinking. There are
characters named Duncan Idaho and St. Alia of the Knife, for heaven’s
sake, and people riding giant sandworms, and yet it never gets
ridiculous. This shit is amazing.

And that’s all we got.

2 Responses to “What is A/S Reading? – No. 6”
  1. ocho says:

    Hey, finally checking back onthe ol’ A/S website since you got that new issue out. John, I also recently read The Bell. I’d be interested in hearing what you thought of it. Congrats all on issue #2!!

    • johnmcusick says:

      Sadly I quickly lost interest in The Bell. I’ve heard Murdoch described as more interested in Big Ideas than characters, which I found to be true in the second half, though the opening seduced me with its fabulous train scene. Thanks for the congrats! – JMC

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