Monday, June 26

Garcia Marquez hometown holds vote to change name


ARACATACA, Colombia (Reuters) - The people of Aracataca, where Gabriel Garcia Marquez was born and first heard the ghost stories that would inform the "magical realism" of his novels, decide on Sunday whether to change the town's name to honor him.

A banner stretching across the road leading to this impoverished community in Colombia's northern banana-growing region already takes the new name for granted, saying "Welcome to the magical world of Macondo."


Sadly, it was voted down.

Friday, June 23

De Sade and Dos

Is there a name for that phenomenon when a person, place or thing that you had never really given much thought to, all of a sudden seems to be ubiquitous in your reading? (There's probably a German word for this, there's a German word for everything). I am referring to a scenario like the following: You are reading a novel and one of the minor characters is a leper. That's interesting, you think, I'd never really considered the leper before. Then you stumble upon a magazine article, also about lepers. Then a newspaper article, lepers are in the news. Then maybe you read a book review on a new non-fiction about a leper colony in Trinidad and Tobago. All of a sudden you cannot escape the lepers! Well, something similar happened to me recently. Though, it wasn't with lepers, it was with the Marquis de Sade.

I read a book of interviews with film director Luis Buñuel. The topic of de Sade comes up again and again. At times it seemed as though the interviewers were steering the discussion down that path, but it is evident that de Sade’s work was well read within the 1930’s Spanish surrealist circle that Buñuel ran in.

Then I read an interview with philosopher Arnold Davidson in the May issue of The Believer. Davidson explains: “There were debates when the Marquis de Sade was arrested, for example, about whether he was wicked or suffered from a rare and hardly known mental disorder…. The category of sadism didn’t yet exist! So the Marquis de Sade couldn’t suffer from sadism, because it hadn’t been conceptualized as a possible disease category and his psychology wasn’t that of a sadist.”

Then there was some discussion of Marquis de Sade in either Playboy or Esquire, but I can’t locate it presently. I meant to write it down. So yeah, never had I given much consideration to de Sade, but now here he is, infiltrating my reading diet. This type of thing seems to happen to me a lot, but I am currently at a lose for other examples.

Now some more on Buñuel, because I can. Buñuel is what I would describe as a very literary film director. Perhaps an odd description for a surrealist, but I think it’s apt. In discussing his reasoning for making a film like The Phantom of Liberty, in which the viewer follows of a string of loosely connected vignettes with little central plot, Buñuel uses an example from Crime and Punishment. He says that Dostoyevsky’s classic did not interest him in the least, and that the story might have done better “…to follow Raskolnikov up the stairs, to see him pass a boy who is going out for some bread, to leave Raskolnikov and follow the boy, who becomes the main character in the subsequent episode.” We are to presume that from there in Buñuel’s re-working the boy might pass the story on to a young lady or street peddler or anyone that happened to catch his ineterest, and so on. It’s interesting.

I also enjoy this quote from Buñuel, a man of many obsessions: “I am not preoccupied by my obsessions. Why does grass grow in the garden? Because it is fertilized to do so.”

Side note: Buñuel, Dali and Lorca were close friends in college. That’s just seems too improbable to be true--these three artistic giants paling around the dormitories of Madrid.

Book-Loop isn’t really jumping off like I thought it would. I’m not sure what to post, but I wanted to post something.

Friday, June 16

So, I guess we can start now?

I got a $25 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble for my birthday. What should I get? I'm thinking, you know, summer reading for my upcoming travels around the Northeast.

Two books I'm considering are:
Can't Stop Won't Stop
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls

How about let's kick things off with a most corny, yet enjoyable topic: Favorite Summer Reading.

Can't go wrong with Murakami. A Wild Sheep Chase and Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World stand out to me as particularly fun summer selections. Zora Neal Hurston's classic Their Eyes Were Watching God is set in the sultry deep South and is excellent reading for a languid summer's day. While the story doesn't necessarily make for light, summer fair the writing is so lovely that it is recommended for all seasons. One book I just completed that immediately joins my list is Joan Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem. It is a collection of some of Didion's best work from the early 1960's. A grab bag of extraordinary prose, it pretty much blew my mind. It is not too often that I dip into current pop-lit, but last summer I found Yann Martel's Life of Pi to be quite rewarding. Of course I must also include my favorite current author, David Mitchell. I highly recommend all four of his novels. Mitchell's best book, Cloud Atlas, could potentially be a little more of a mindfuck than you're willing to puruse with your summertime fiction, but you should definitely give it a try. Number9Dream and Black Swan Green are his easier, more straightforward reads. (Number9Dream might be best classified as Murakami-light). I suppose I should also add Raymond Carver, Michael Chabon, and The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers to round out my list.

Wednesday, June 14

Ideas On Book-Loop

First of all Mike, I'm not sure I've ever met you, but this is a great idea and I'm happy to be aboard.

Second, I think of this as a place to discuss books, recommend books, trash books, etc. We could even get a little Oprah shit going on, giving our seal of approval to books. But I'm not sure about swapping books - the hassle it takes to send them long distances, despite the coolness of the idea, is offset by the ease at which we could get them at the library.

Third, I'm trying to get some of my friends to sign up. The more the merrier, I guess.

I just finished The Deptford Trilogy, recommended to me by Ben, and I'm currently on The Tipping Point, which I'll be done with in no time. Then it's on to The Great Influenza, which I've heard great things about. And it's not in my profile below, but the greatest book I've ever read is The Power Broker by Robert Caro. It probably helps that I'm a New Yorker for that, but it is what it is.


Between seeking a cure for the world's worst diseases, saving puppies from oncoming traffic and concurrently dating three of South America's most beautiful women, it's a wonder Bryan has time to read at all. When he turns the pages, though, he leaves this world entirely, and is better for it. He enrolled in the Enfield Tennis Academy in Enfield, MA, for an epic psychadelic journey through his teenage years; his 20s were spent roaming Tokyo, and roaming the recesses of his mind, after his bride left him; he later found a Colombian town where one strange and magical family dominated the town's history and activities for a century, and thereafter left for Buenos Aires, where he discovered a library without end, where he currently resides, looking for the one book that perfectly describes all others. He is friends with Ignatius J. Reilly, Robert Moses, and Magnus Eisengrim, and has read sadly of the fates that befell former chaps Humbert Humbert and Santiago Nasar. He'd love to share all he knows, and receive knowledge in return. In closing, Bryan is a man who also loves the outdoors, and bowling, and as a surfer explored the beaches of southern California from Redondo to Calabassos, and up to Pismo.

Thursday, June 8

A note for those joining us

If you're gonna hang out on this site with us, the first thing you need to do is to create a post on the site. You can put anything in the body of it at first, but make sure that the TITLE of the post is the Name that you want to go by on the site.

This post will be like your profile on the site (check out Ben's for an example), and I believe that only you will be able to edit it, but please keep the title the same so we can maintain the link.

This is sort of a MavGyver'd way to create profiles, and I hope it will work long term. We'll see. Thanks, -Mike

Wednesday, June 7


Ben is a cagey veteran of the blogging game. Born and raised on the mean streets of Martha's Vineyard, where he studied under the masterful tutelage of Mr. Dodge, Ben went off to college in Michigan and graduated in 2003 with a BA in BS. He is currently studying abroad in Seattle, Washington. Ben's favorite writers include Saul Bellow, David Mitchell, Franz Kafka, Ernest Hemingway, and Robertson Davies. He feels as though he needs to broaden his horizons and read more work by female writers, as well as non-white dudes, but Ben is doing little to change his ways. He is currently reading fiction by a long-dead white dude, with an eye towards jumping into some more long-dead white dude fiction in the very near future. Ben's interests lie mostly in the realm of fiction, but he is not at all opposed to the idea of non-fiction.

Favorite Books Read in 2008
The Braindead Megaphone, by George Saunders
Blue Highways, by William Least Heat-Moon


Mike, sporadic blogger and frequent loafer, was recently transplanted to Southern California. While working with the city of Los Angeles, he will spend his days longing for the intersection of S. State and Hoover and dreaming of the Brown Jug. He will be living alone and will read hungrily, in theory. Being a dork, Mike spends most of his time lately reading nonfiction, and his anticipated reading list is wanting for fiction to a large degree. He owns several classic books and has read maybe two of them. Mike would love to zip through some breezy summer fiction and tackle some classics in the very near future. His likes include chocolate, boobs, and free time. Dislikes include but are not limited to mint, fake boobs, and work.

Update I: Mike has just acquired his Redondo Beach Public Library library card. Said library (the North branch) was closing, and the registration occurred in the nick of time, as they say.

Update II: Mike is pulling his head from the sand.

Update III: Head got sandy again. So, shaved head.


The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky

--McSweeney's periodicals: Quarterly and The Believer, Various Authors


--Electronic Gaming Monthly

--SEED Magazine

--Discover Magazine

--Utne Reader

Loopy Library:

Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky
Slapstick, or Lonesome No More!, Kurt Vonnegut
The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway
A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole

Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer

High Fidelity, Nick Hornsby

Bringing Out the Dead, Joe Connelly

Tandia, Bryce Courtenay

The Giver, Lois Lowry

The Better of McSweeney's, Volume 1, Various Authors

What's the Matter with Kansas?, Thomas Frank
The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan

Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil, Michael C. Ruppert
Natural Capitalism, Paul Hawken, et al.
European Dictatorships 1918-1945, Stephen J. Lee
What's the Matter with Kansas?, Thomas Frank
Storm of Steel, Ernst Junger
Stalinism as a Way of Life, Lewis Siegelbaum and Andrei Sokolov
Nazism and German Society 1933-1945, David F. Crew
Peoples and Empires, Anthony Pagden
Where I Was From, Joan Didion

A Man Without a Country, Kurt Vonnegut

The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins

The Outbreak of World War I, Holger H. Herwig

Earth in the Balance, Al Gore


Michael Affeldt
2723 Vanderbilt Ln., Apt. 16
Redondo Beach, CA 90278

Tuesday, June 6

Gotta start somewhere...

"I was thinking of how books can foster discussion between friends. I love the way a circle of friends will share books, lending and borrowing between each other. If that kinda thing was on a national scale, it could be kinda cool. Then again, it probably wouldn't work, but it was just a thought.

If it were based around a website, I would call it or something like that. Note: I just checked that domain and it said, 'future home of book loop.'

So people could sign up and list all the books they had that they were willing to share with others, with the possibility of not getting them back. They would in turn list books they would like to find from other people. The website could match the requests and give the sender shipping instructions. Maybe you would earn a credit for each book you sent, which you then could spend to get one sent to you. Maybe you could use multiple credits to get more highly-requested books. Participants would be encouraged to make notes and such in the margins to foster a sense of community in the BookLoop users. In addition, the website could be a base for discussion, debate, reviews, recommendations, whatever."

- MJA, June 5, 2006