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Books

Thoughts on books and book reviews

Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut died today. Long live Kurt Vonnegut! He was on the Daily Show two years ago, you should watch that clip.

My favorite Vonnegut book was undoubtedly Timequake, probably followed by Galapagos. Breakfast of Champions was fun too, but odd. I remember being glad I read Slaughterhouse 5, but little else about it.

Mark Leonard on Europe

This is a discussion of Mark Leonard's book, "Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century." It comes after the United Arab Emirates announced they are converting their foreign-currency holdings from 2% Euros to 10% Euros. I expect to see more countries turning away from the dollar and to the Euro over the next couple of years.

I have long been skeptical of Europe's government policies in general. Though everyone craves job security, I think it is distinctly possible that Europe's labor friendly policies have hurt their economy and its ability to innovate. I had not read anything that seriously challenged my views of Europe until I read this book. It challenged many of my assumptions. That being said, I don't plan to investigate much further because I would have to learn more economics and I'm not going down that path just now.

Many have argued that the U.S. economy has been growing much faster than Europe's. Mark Leonard challenges this claim.

The truth is that this overall figure hides the fact that the growth in the US economy has been driven by a growing population rather than better economic performance. Population growth in the USA in the 1990s average 1.2 per cent a year compared with 0.5 per cent a year in the eurozone. This means that if you look at the average GDP per person, the US growth collapses to 2.1 per cent, narrowing the gap between the two continents to just 0.3 per cent. What is more, the EU's underperformance can b e explained by a single country, Germany, which has been struggling with the costs re-unification. This may be cheating, but if you take Germany out of the calculations, the gap between Europe and America actually disappeared, leaving Europe and the USA with identical figures.

Additionally, the numbers hide many important issues that impact the final tallies. U.S. economic indicators have some advantages due to fundamental differences between our societies.

  • Cars rather than public transport: for example, Americans must buy cars because public transport is so lousy. The value of the cars is calculated in American GDP, but European public-transport systems are counted not at their value to passengers but as a cost to the government.
  • The social costs of inequality. For example, Americans keep two million of their fellow citizens in jail: the cost of building the prisons and paying the jailers is also included in the GDP.
  • Air conditioning and heating. America's more extreme climate - colder winters (save in Florida and California) and hotter summers (save in Washington, Oregon, and California) - means it must spend more on heating and cooling.

If you add all these 'sunk costs' into the mix, Gordon argues that although Western Europeans only work three-quarters as much as Americans, they get ninety per cent of the return, coupled with far more equal income distributions and lower poverty rates.

We read this book for a class I took and many argued that Europe simply cannot pass the U.S. As I listened the discussion, I pictured a similar debate in previous empires. Let's temporarily ignore the baggage with the word empire and focus on the fact that the U.S. is the strongest state in the world.

Will another state (or collection of states such as the European Union) surpass us? Is that how it usually works? Or does history suggest that the U.S. will encounter serious problems and fall behind the EU? Doesn't history suggest that when the second strongest state (or confederation) becomes the strongest not when they suddenly achieve greatness, but when the most powerful state screws up? In this situation, the second strongest state actually inherits the preeminent position rather than earning it.

Thus, I find the prospect of an EU dominated century a possibility. Especially with Americans that elect Bush to two terms and a Congress that remains cowed by the Executive Branch (less so than last year though I hope). I don't think China is interested in being a world power, they remain focused on regional issues.

The EU also has some good stuff going for it. Its economy is integrated and if you want to deal with them, you need to adhere to their rules. This is the essence of their power. Often called soft power, other states voluntarily make the changes the EU agrees upon without being forced to merely because they want to work with the EU.

This sortof leads me into my favorite quote from the book. It explains the power of the EU in ways that the U.S. cannot understand due to its reliance on force and threat. Such tactics follow naturally from a traditional understanding of how the world works. That understanding is incorrect.

The classical definition of a state is a body with a monopoly on legitimate force. ...

But Foucault shows us that this image of domestic politics is wrong. The real reason that societies do not collapse into chaos is that their citizens do not want them to. Order is not produced through hierarchy, but because a majority of people have a stake in preserving order. That is why people internalize the rules and police themselves. The key to order, therefore, is co-opting people - or countries, for that matter -- to uphold the rules themselves, rather than coercing them into submission.

This is also why we do not need religion to have morals.

A Dirty Job

Chris Moore remains my favorite fiction author. For Chrismas, my sister gave me his book A Dirty Job. This latest book is as funny or funnier than Lamb and The Stupidest Angel.

I don't know how he continues to be so inventive without recycling material. He maintains a delicate balance of good story with silliness bordering along insanity without losing the reader. How he continues to push the balance without overstepping amazes me.

There was one particularly deep passage that I especially liked:

"You're doing the same thing, trying to reconcile all the moms that Mom ever was - the one you wanted, the one she was when you needed her and she was there, the one she was when she didn't understand. Most of us don't live our lives with one, integrated self that meets the world, we're a whole bunch of selves. ... You're just hating the selves you've always hated, and loving the ones you've always loved. It's bound to mess you up."

...

Where's this coming from? I never got the impression you were spiritual. You wouldn't even go to yoga with me."

"I wouldn't go to yoga with you because I'm not bendy, not because I'm not spiritual."

We attempt to wrap people up into packages. People are complex, but we act as though a single word can sum them up. At best, we can summarize an aspect of someone's personality.

I love Moore's writing for his humor, but I appreciate the insights as well.

Natan Sharansky - Part II

This is a continuation of a previous post about Sharansky. The previous post discussed my many problems with Sharansky's arguments and conclusion. This post is entirely about his views of the Israeli-Palestinian situation.

Natan Sharansky was a Jewish political dissident in Russia under the USSR before moving to Israel and participating in the Israeli government for many years.

It took me more than half the book to really take issue with Sharansky's Israeli bias. I was reading along, thinking that he was perhaps not the most wackaloon jackass I had read in awhile. Then Whammo:

In the wake of the Oslo agreements, the mainstream Israeli body politic had abandoned an old and cherished ideology: the belief in a Greater Land of Israel.

What he is truly saying there is that the Israelis had to content themselves with only taking a portion of land that was not theirs. Kind of like Hussein had to content himself with overrunning Kuwait and not take the Saudi oil fields as well back in 1990. Irrespective of their beliefs, Palestine had people living in it when the Israelis established Israel, thereby creating themselves. I'm deeply sorry that while millions of Palestinians live in refugee camps (a result of Arab insensitivity as well as Israeli actions), the Israelis have had to abandon their hopes of conquering more land and pushing the Palestinians farther from their lands.

He actually even uses the names Judea and Samaria at one point when writing about Israel and Palestine. This is despicable - it shows no respect for the millions of humans who live there and call it home rather than by the names used by its inhabitants from 2000 years ago.

After establishing his bias, he parrots the widely held view of U.S. media sources that puts the blame fully on Arafat for the failure of the Oslo peace process.

Prime Minister Barak had agreed to offer Arafat everything the PA [Palestinian Authority] leader was believed in the "West" to have wanted: a Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza, a capital in Jerusalem, even a formula for resolving the Palestinian refugee issue. But Barak demanded one thing in return: that Arafat end the conflict, something the Palestinian dictator had no intention of doing.

This is the biggest myth about the end of the Oslo process: that Barak gave everything away and Arafat refused him. I'm not Arafat apologist. I think he was a loathsome person who squandered much of the few resources available to Palestinians. I do have to disagree with Sharansky's claims that Arafat invested "every dollar and shekel" into increasing Palestinian hatred toward Israel. This is blatantly false. Much of that money was stolen by those surrounding Arafat for personal enrichment.

That being said, Arafat was not offered a good deal by Barak. Barak may have offered more than what was previously on the table, but this still amounted to a paltry offer.

Before giving back "most of the West Bank," the Israelis redrew the boundaries of it to make it much smaller. Within the West Bank, the Palestinians would have had control over non-contiguous areas (see this map). The Israelis wanted to maintain control over the roads that led to their settlements in the West Bank (which were illegally built according to international law).

I don't know much about the supposed formula to resolve the refugee issue, but I doubt it was enough for Arafat. This may be the most difficult issue to resolve. I cannot imagine a formula that will not upset one side or the other considerably. It is too emotional for people who have waited 50 years to go "home" as well as for Israelis who want to preserve the Jewish character of Israel.

Meanwhile, Sharansky cannot fathom why the Palestinians are so angry.

They [Israeli supporters of the Oslo peace process] simply could not understand how Palestinian hatred toward Israel could have turned so virulent.

This must be because Arafat created a ... wait for it ... FEAR society! Sharansky has a point, Arafat never embraced political freedom. He embraced cronyism in an homage to the Arabic dictators he looked up to his entire life. So yeah, maybe he did contribute toward a Palestinian fear society.

However, if you really want to talk about contributors toward the Palestinian fear society, you cannot ignore Israeli policy. Arafat's actions cannot compare to the Israeli occupation tactics when it comes to refining Palestinian rage.

When Israeli soldiers break into Palestinian houses in 3 AM raids, it contributes to a fear society. When entire Palestinian families are punished (often by destroying the family dwelling) when one person commits a crime (or suicide bombing), it contributes to a fear society. When Palestinian olive groves are bulldozed to create a security perimeter for a new road to be used only by Israeli settlers, it creates a fear society. When Palestinians die at Israeli checkpoints because they cannot get to the hospital, Israel contributes to a fear society.

Anyone familiar with the Israeli occupation must laugh when they read:

I do not believe that any people wants to live in a society where the fear of imprisonment is omnipresent. Today the Palestinians live with this fear and do not yet have the opportunity to speak their minds.

I'm willing to bet that most Palestinians have been in greater fear of Israeli imprisonment than that of the PA, though they are certainly afraid of both. To be fair to Israel, their justice system is probably more fair to the average Palestinian, but that does not help when official Israeli policy involves forced appropriation of land and bulldozing of houses.

If you do not yet understand why the Palestinians are so virulent in their feelings against Israel, you are not paying attention. This is not to say that Israel has any better options. Israel is in a tough spot. Though I think they are largely here because they did not embrace previous chances for a peaceful resolution, they are here now and there are no good options to stem the Palestinian anger. That said, I still believe most Palestinians would welcome a peaceful solution - they don't actually want to drive the Jews into the sea. However, no one feels they can trust the other.

Sharansky's response to all this is to claim that Israel has been mistreated by the international community. It is the international community that lacks moral clarity by not supporting Israel against the Palestinians. He says nothing of the many United Nations resolutions that condemn Israeli policy and what that suggests for the "moral clarity" of the Israelis.

He goes on to suggest that criticism of Israeli policies is a new form of anti-antisemitism. I can only imagine that he accuses Israel's critics of antisemitism because he cannot understand why Israel deserves strong criticism.

As someone who condemns discrimination along lines of religion and ethnicity, I really hate it when people like Sharansky try to turn legitimate critics of Israeli policy into antisemitism. Antisemitism remains a problem - but Sharansky only hurts his cause by attempting to paint legitimate critics of Israel with an antisemitic brush. Such accusations are akin to crying wolf and make it harder to actually root out the real antisemites.

He confuses antisemitism with geopolitics. He suggests that because Israel is singled out by the UN when others are not, it is double-standards. This is a combination of geopolitics and the natural role of the UN. When the UN ignores China's human rights violations, it is because it has a Security Council veto and many countries want to trade with it. Cuba has been singled out, but not as often as Israel.

The UN frequently discusses Israel because it is a nation in possession of land it acquired by war. This is fairly unique in the international community and within the jurisdiction of the UN. It is not antisemitism.

One does not have to read closely to find Sharansky embracing double standards elsewhere.

If other peoples have a right to live securely in their homelands, then the Jewish people have a right to live security in their homeland as well.

Is the right to live securely in your homeland something that began in 2000? 1990? If the right existed before 1948, then you can be damn sure that the Palestinians have a legitimate claim to much of what is now Israel. Granted, the Arabs fought the Israeli arrival in the late 40's, but they were fighting the establishment of a Jewish state on their land.

The real problem was with the U.S. policies and those of other great powers at the time who did not want to welcome Jewish refugees into their countries and pushed them off onto the Arabs. Nonetheless, we have this problem now and must deal with it as it exists.

My final beef with Sharansky is a dig he takes at Palestinians and their response to 9-11.

As three thousand lay dead in New York and Washington, thousands of Palestinians were dancing in the streets, reveling in the carnage.

Many Palestinians celebrated the attacks on the U.S. because of their anger at decades of unconditional support for Israel while they built massive settlements on Palestinian lands. Thousands of other Palestinians attended prayer vigils by candlelight that Tuesday evening, in a show of solidarity with the Americans who suffered from the attacks - because they know what it is like to suffer.

Sharansky does not want to talk about the thousands who turned out for vigils because it upsets his portrait of Palestinians as an unreasonable, bloodthirsty people. The simple fact is that Palestinian opinions run the gamut and while I lived there, I felt welcome by everyone and I never hid my U.S. identity.

When Rabin announced the Oslo peace process, Palestinians joined Israelis to dance and celebrate in the streets. Since it became clear that Israel was not willing to offer meaningful concessions and Arafat proved a poor peace partner, both sides lost hope.

These are complex situations and there are no saints. Sharansky's simplistic message clearly comes from someone whose views are considerably colored by his experiences - he makes no attempt to understand reality beyond his biases.

Natan Sharansky - Part I

One of the reasons Bush decided to invade Iraq was because of a man named Natan Sharansky. He wrote a book called The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny & Terror. Evidently, someone summarized the cliff notes of the book to Bush and he became enamored with the idea of forcing the Middle East to embrace democratic government (while pursuing authoritarian reforms in his own country).

Bush awarded Sharansky the Presidential Medal of Freedom - the highest civilian award this country bestows. I will be reviewing some of Sharansky's book below, but first I want to note that these medals are meaningless. They gave a Nobel Peace prize to Kissenger and the Medal of Freedom to the Iraq Occupation Bungler Bremer (and now Sharansky for a wretched book). After they give the Pulitzer lifetime achievement award to TV Host Oprah, all big awards will be meaningless.

Moving onward: The Case for Democracy. This review has 2 parts. The second part deals entirely with Sharansky's poor treatment of the Israeli-Palestinian situation and will be posted in a few days. Today I cover all my other beefs with his book. Despite Sharansky's shaky grasp on reality, debunking his arguments is both a fun and instructive process.

I agree with Sharansky that democracy is for everyone. Most people want to have control over their lives, and that is the general point of democracy. I may frequently demean our attempts at democracy, but I find the pure concept appealing. Those who say that Arabs or other groups don't want or aren't ready for democracy miss the point that it takes any group of people time to adjust to a new system.

In my mind, what it comes down to is whether you want to be able to redress your grievances. Do you want to live in a system where people running the government can do whatever they want -- take your family, your property, or make arbitrary decisions about where you can travel? No. Everyone wants accountability. No ones wants to live in a perpetual state of being bullied. How much we want it depends on how much it costs (in effort as well as dollars)

At any rate, I largely agree with Sharansky on the power of freedom and importance of democracy. That being said, he writes like someone who spent way too much time being imprisoned by the Soviets. This is because he spent way too much time being imprisoned by the Soviets. The man is obsessed with ideas of political freedom to the detriment of all other aspects of life and security. This obsession leads him to poor conclusions regarding the power of freedom.

Much of his book juxtaposes a "fear" society to a "free" society. Free societies recognize the basic liberties of all citizens though they may not have achieved justice. For example, in the U.S., we have a Bill of Rights. We sure don't respect it, but we have recognized it in ways that despotic regimes do not.

A society is free if people have a right to express their views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm.

Thus, he uses 'free' in a totally political sense. This makes sense, because we have long associated freedom with political freedom. However, many have noted that freedom has little meaning for those who are hungry and unemployed. Perhaps conceptual freedom should have some aspect of economic security tied into it. Otherwise, according to Kris Kristofferson (popularized by Janis Joplin), it just means having nothing left to lose.

By contrast, a fear society does not offer political freedoms. In a fear society, you cannot speak your mind. If you do, you may find yourself and/or your loved ones abducted in the middle of the night by government agents.

The problem with Sharansky's framework is that the fear and free societies are not mutually exclusive. No one wants to live in fear. But people have more fears than just political ones. Again, Sharansky's background readily explains why he misses this important point.

While people in the Middle East undoubtedly desire to live in a free society, my travels there taught me that they believe the United States is a fear society. Though we (the U.S.) can do much better, we protect freedom of speech better than pretty much any other country and our protections for minorities are also world class (which speaks more to the problems in other countries than our own flawed institutions). Nonetheless, our high crime rates and newly found fear of terrorism (due in larger part to our government's ineptitude than actual danger from terrorists) suggest we are both a fear and a free society simultaneously.

If forced to choose between the U.S. that they perceive - one wracked with crime and racial antagonism - and continuing to live without political freedom, many will choose the latter. The simple fact is that few prioritize political freedom above economic security. People would rather feed their family than criticize the government. Of course, we all want to do both.

Finally, Sharansky's argument is premised largely on his misunderstanding of the demise of the Soviet Union. Whether it is the Reagan-lovers or Sharansky crediting Reagan with the demise of the USSR, they are foolish to identify one reason for the failure of the USSR.

Sharansky (and many Reagan-lovers) argue that the USSR dissolved because of Reagan's hard-line policies against it. Reagan called it the Evil Empire and escalated military spending in order to drive up their military spending. Not long after, the USSR fell apart. These people have argued that Reagan spent the USSR into disaster.

Such an argument has some merit, but ignores the crucial role of Saudi Arabia in bringing down the Soviet Union. Stratfor.com Intelligence ran an article that discussed this briefly: Saudi Arabia: Consequences of Stepping Into the Iraqi Fray on
November 30, 2006 (membership required).

The last time Riyadh felt it necessary to adopt a strategic policy to counter a major power, the target was the Soviet Union. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan convinced Riyadh that Moscow's end goal was the occupation of the Persian Gulf oil fields, so the Saudis created a multifaceted policy to counter the Soviet empire and ultimately contribute to its destruction. The two most significant arcs of this policy were sponsoring a religion-inspired crusade that supplied militants and money to Afghanistan in order to battle the Soviets, and flooding markets with extra oil to pressure the Soviet budget. The result bled the Soviet Union militarily and financially and contributed heavily to its dissolution.

To be fair, my understanding is that Reagan pressured the Saudi Kingdom to keep oil prices low. So he may have had something to do with it. The real irony of the whole what-killed-the-USSR argument is that it ignores the fact that the Soviet Union was built upon a wretched economic system. Right-wingers have argued for decades that the Soviet system was inferior to ours (due to its denial of both political freedoms and the power of the market) while simultaneously arguing that it must have been U.S. actions that killed it rather than the inadequacies of its very foundation.

Sharansky argues that whenever the U.S. took anything less than a hard-line approach against the USSR, it lengthened the Soviet lifetime. He goes so far as to say:

Had Reagan chosen to cooperate with the Soviet regime rather than compete with it, accommodate it rather than confront it, the hundreds of millions of people he helped free would still be living under tyranny.

Is he insane? Sharansky appears to honestly believe that the Soviet Union would have survived until now if Reagan hadn't decided to call it an evil empire. This is nuts. The Soviet system was doomed. It did well for awhile but in the end, the Soviet Union's system relied too heavily on bureaucrats to make decisions better suited to the market (this is a condemnation of the USSR system, not an endorsement of the absurd Chicago-style free market system).

At any rate, the USSR collapse resulted from many factors. Claiming that one overwhelming reason caused it is generally erroneous. That being said, the low price of oil seriously hurt Russian exports and undoubtedly sped its descent. With a higher price of oil, increasing its military spending would not have resulted in a collapse during Reagan's time.

To finish this review, I want to end on a light note. Sharansky has more political sophistication than the entire neocon philosophy. He understands that building democracy takes more than blue fingers and seemingly successful elections. It requires a free press, the rule of law, independent courts, and political parties. Elections are a symptom of a free and open society, not a cause.

This review will continue with Part II - my problems with everything Sharansky writes about the Israeli-Palestinian situation.

Cuban Missile Crisis

I recently read The Week the World Stood Still: Inside the Secret Cuban Missile Crisis by Sheldon Stern. This book is based heavily upon the secret audio tapes made by JFK of the decision-making process they went though during those tense 13 days.

After the meeting, the president derided LeMay's certainty that Khrushchev would do nothing if the U.S. bombed the missiles and killed many Russians. "These brass hats have one great advantage in their favor," JFK fumed. "If we listen to them and do what they want us to do, none of us will be alive later to tell them that they were wrong."

The Joint Chiefs remained extremely suspicious and urged JFK to order sweeping air strikes in Cuba in twenty-four hours, followed by an invasion, unless indisputable evidence proved that the missile sites were being dismantled. Admire Anderson moaned, "We have been had." General LeMay denounced the agreement as "the greatest defeat in our history" and "banged the table demanding, "We should invade today!" McNamara later recalled that JFK was so stunned by LeMay's outburst that he could only stutter in response. The president later remarked, "The first advice I'm going to give my successor is to watch the generals and to avoid feeling that because they were military men their opinions on military matters were worth a damn." JFK "never felt closer to Khrushchev that when he imagined him having to cope with a Curtis LeMay of his own."

<em>Hardball</em>

On the recommendation of my advisor, I read Hardball by Chris Matthews. Though this book is quite dated - by about 10 years I think - it remains relevant and interesting for anyone who is looking for some background on Washington politics and how policy is actually made.

Less a book than a series of loosely connected anecdotes, the style works well. The anecdotes cover the last 6 Presidents and several other prominent politicians. It discusses their strategies for gaining and maintaining power.

Some choice quotes follow.

If you want to make a friend, let someone do you a favor.

Ben Franklin hit the nail on the head with this one. If you have the courage to ask, you'll often find people who want to do you a favor. But then, how you ask can be quite important.

People don't mind being used; what they mind is being taken for granted.

Chris Matthews worded this perhap more dramatically than necessary but it certainly captures our need for being appreciated.

<em>The Jesus Papers</em>

I just finished listening to the audiobook of Michael Baigent's The Jesus Papers: Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up in History [buy it at Powell's since I am currently in Portland].

I found much of this book interesting but I could not recommend it to anyone without noting that it is a book of tangents. It is a study more of the time in which Jesus lived than a full out exploration of him. That being said, the tangents reveal an interesting look at what scholarly history says of Jesus and how that compares to the stories of the Bible - specifically the Biblical stories as interpreted by the Catholic Church.

He claims that Jesus did not die on the cross, that he was likely married to Mary of Magdalene and that his message was totally distorted in the centuries following his life. As listed here, the claims went from hard to believe to duh in my mind. Nonetheless, the evidence he offers is compelling and worth a read or listen if you are interested.

If you are interested in only one part, check out the relevant chapters in the library or in a corporate bookstore (read it there).

<em>Lamb</em> - Christopher Moore

Read Christopher Moore's books!

He must be in competition for the funniest fiction writer. I just finished Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. A hilarious book - the more you know the Bible, the funnier this book becomes.

Even after this book ends, the laughs continue. From the afterward:

The problem arises, however, that if the reader knows the Bible well enough to recognize the real references, there's a good chance that he or she has decided not to read this book. Our final decision--well, my final decision, my editor wasn't really consulted on this because he might have said no--was to advise those who are not familiar with the Bible to find someone who is, sit them down, read them the passages in question, then say, "That one real? How 'bout that one?" If you don't know someone who is familiar with the Bible, just wait, someone will come to your door eventually. Keep extra copies of Lamb on hand so they can take one with them.

Authors

Several people have asked me to provide a list of my favored authors. So here goes.

Starting with Fiction

  • Christopher Moore - duh, who have I been ranting about for the last month?
  • Chuck Palahniuk - author of Fight Club and several other worthy novels. Worth reading whether you liked the movie adaptation or not. His other books will soon be movies also. His writing style is unique - except for his many copycats.
  • J.M. Coetzee (Kuht - say - ah) - Waiting for the Barbarians is one of his more famous ones.
  • Ed Abbey - Desert Solitaire and The Monkey Wrench Gang are both well known but I have yet to regret reading one of his books.
  • Robert Heinlein - Great sci-fi author
  • Neil Gaiman - Sci-fi / fantasy author for people who aren't sure they like either. Start with Neverwhere.
  • Kim Stanley Robinson - another sci-fi author. He writes dense fiction books that make you think. The Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars trilogy are incredible. Don't read Icehenge - it sucked. I hear his recent set of books based on climate warming scenarios are fun.
  • Tom Robbins - an amazing author is you like detailed descriptions. Start with Another Roadside Attraction or Still Life with Woodpecker. If you don't like those, don't continue.
  • Max Barry - Jennifer Government was his first and I loved it. We'll see if future works are worth reading.

I'll think about the nonfiction authors and post that later. I encourage others to post their favorite authors as comments.

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