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Another fine mess

Reader fan critic teacher reader fan.

Currently reading

Ottessa Moshfegh
Knife Fight and Other Struggles
David Nickle
Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity
Andrew Solomon
The Good Lord Bird
James McBride
Ancillary Justice
Ann Leckie
Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should Be Learning More (New Edition)
Derek Bok
Dissident Gardens
Jonathan Lethem
Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s
Kim Newman
The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood
James Gleick
Complete Novels
Dashiell Hammett, Steven Marcus
The Other Hollywood: The Uncensored Oral History of the Porn Film Industry - Legs McNeil, Jennifer Osborne, Peter Pavia The best review I've seen of this--the review that sent me to the library to get (while the librarian looked on disapprovingly) and then read (very quickly)--is Jessica's, found at http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/21059851. Go read that.

My review's a meager "yeah, yeah" to everything she said. Vigorous head-nodding. Amens, if I was prone to amens. The accounts here are honest, funny, startling, dishonest, shattering, and always engaging. The editing is really superlative; I think it's hard in oral histories not to fall into redundancies or to sell short the narrative's structure, but McNeil et al. with great grace and momentum allow for the accounts to both unfold and speed along, plots emerging and yet anecdotes lingeringly, lovingly displacing such forward motion.

To Jessica's astute criticisms, pro and con (particularly around the loud absence of race), add only that I was startled at how impressive an account of the rise of a commercial film industry this was. Folded into the personal stories and the cultural shifts and the sleazy/seductive/exploitative sexual politics and the unblinking attention to addiction, there's also a great subtext detailing how technologies, cultural contexts, political forces, audience demographics, production financing (legal and, often, less-so), auteurs and hacks, economic factors, and legal philosophies structure and restructure the making of mass culture. (Even at the margins of the masses...)

I would note in closing my restraint, far more impressive than Jessica's as I am a far bigger doofus, at avoiding stupid puns, which was (ahem) very hard to do.