Recent Books — Night Boat to Tangier, Story, Scalzi, Shakedown, Stendhal

  • Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry. Another great novel by Barry, two men’s lives explored over the course of an evening, great characters and dialog.
  • Story by Robert McKee. I have no intention of ever writing a screenplay, but this book is highly useful for anyone who needs to communicate ideas — really forces you to think about your story and how to structure it.
  • The Last Emperox by John Scalzi. The first book in this series was interesting, and this closing was satisfying but not particularly memorable.
  • Shakedown by Steven Malanga. There may be some good points in here, but the author doesn’t really help himself get his point out. One, he doesn’t really articulate what his goals are besides railing at unions and the new left. I know he hates union influence in education but I don’t really know what he wants to do about education. Two, he brings out a lot of data in anecdotal form, but never gives the overall context. I don’t know how upset to be about a certain number unless I understand overall spending, what a successful budget looks like, some success examples, etc. Three, he loves to use pejorative words like like “corpulent” and “porcine” and “lavish” and “stratospheric” in place of data, and that is just off-putting — as if he knows he can’t make his case rationally, so he is trying to inflame instead. And anyone who uses these words to describe teacher compensation seems a little disconnected from reality — I don’t know a lot of teachers celebrating their outrageous economic good fortune.
  • The Red and the Black by Stendhal. Time travel! Reading a book written in 1830 gives you a little view back into that world. Some archaic wording but human nature hasn’t changed, and the book structure seems almost modern.