December 31, 2004

Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur, December 2004

Attention conservation notice: I have no taste.

William Easterly, The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics
Good book on development economics and the practice of development assistance, despite using the phrase "e-dot economy" with a straight face (just once, in fairness).
Lucian Bebchuk and Jesse Fried, Pay without Performance: The Unfulfilled Promise of Executive Compensation
Assuming we're going to have firms which are run like command economies, paying the people in charge in ways which reflect their success at achieving the goals of the firm is a good idea. It also bears absolutely no relation to current arrangements, which is not surprising, because the people who run major companies effectively get to set their own compensation terms, and their interests do not coincide with those of the firm, except incidentally. (I've blogged about this topic before.) Bebchuk and Fried's contribution is painstaking documentation, and equally painstaking demolition of the various attempts to argue that all is for the best in the best of all possible corporate capitalisms.
Patricia A. McKillip, Alphabet of Thorn
As always, exceptionally beautiful writing, and an atmosphere of enchantment and loss. Perhaps a shade more irony in the auctorial voice than usual.
John Krakauer, Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith
The poet tells us "the pure products of America go crazy", and Krakauer makes it clear that fundamentalist Mormons are very pure products of America indeed. The orthodox Mormon church appears not to like the book because he's rather too frank about the all-too-human history of the church, but he's right that you really can't understand things like this without seeing how they grew out of the main stream of Mormon tradition. Plus Krakauer has fully mastered the art of grabbing the reader's attention and not releasing it for a few hundred pages.
Richard T. Ford, Racial Culture: A Critique
An anti-racist critique of (certain strains of) multi-culturalism, from the left. The first chapter (of four) is on-line, and representative.
Suzy McKee Charnas, The Vampire Tapestry
The vampire re-imagined as a strictly natural predator, with a coherent ecological niche and a convincingly alien mind. The most intelligent take on the vampire story I've ever read; also one of the most compelling. There's a chapter set at the Santa Fe Opera, for instance, which is at once hilarious and riveting. Worth the price of admission for the first part, "The Ancient Mind at Work", alone.

Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur

Posted at December 31, 2004 23:59 | permanent link

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