Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Good, New

Not the best 'summer' read, but a pretty good book nonetheless:

Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $20.80) -- Make a Paul Auster-Gabriel Garcia Marquez sandwich. Chew it slowly, acknowledging how pure, how perfect, how strange it tastes, and funny too. Such a sandwich could only be washed down with a little Miguel Syjuco, the newest literary face to come out of The Philippines. And his newest is great. Marked by its wildly expansive, ever-epic family narrative, giddy recasting of authorship (very reminiscent of 2666), romping unreliable narration and so on, it's a lot of fun if not occasionally a bit of work as well. Good work though. Great stuff.

In other news: The Long List for the Man Booker was released today (13 names was it?), and I jut found out that everybody's favorite science writer, Mary Roach, is speaking at the UW on August 18 (check this hilarious video of her explaining orgasms She's pretty damn cute. Back soon,


Monday, July 12, 2010


What a sad day. The Dutch lost in the finals. Again. (That's the third time.) Officially, Spain has conquered the soccer world. Unofficially, Holland have made it a fact that they just don't have it when the lights turn on for the big fight. Anyway, if you're as sad as I am about the World Cup coming to an end, here are a few books to keep your soccer addiction sated and your mind off the misery, (especially if you're a fan of the Oranje).

Brilliant Orange the Neurotic Genius of Dutch Soccer: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Soccer (Overlook Press, $11.96) by David Winner -- A book that's as much an essay about the specialized bizarreness of Holland as it is about the nation's infamous (and totally nebulous) "Total Fooball" style of play that got it to the finals in '74 and '78. A stylish read that's as fun as it is informative. For fans and foes alike. (Another excellent book about Dutch soccer is Simon Kuper's Ajax, the Dutch, the War: Football in Europe During the Second World War.

The Miracle of Castel di Sangro: A Tale of Passion and Folly in the Heart of Italy by Joe McGinnis (Broadway, $12.76) -- McGinnis's gift for storytelling takes us on a ride through the fields and villages of Italy this time, where we encounter the hilarious and ultimately heartbreaking story of a poor, rag-tag Italian soccer team miraculously playing in a league well over its head. Replete with rich characters enlivened by McGinnis's prose (greasy mobsters, coaches named 'Bulldozer,' a goofy translator), it'll make you laugh, cry, and roll on the ground with all the theatrical flare of Italian soccer player when he's been 'injured.' Really fun.
Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey--and Even Iraq--Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski (Nation, $11.96) -- Answering every question you've had about the sport and more with solutions as shocking as they are convincing, Soccernomics is Freakonomics meets Footballer's Wives but even then you're only just starting to get ahold of it. With insights gleaned from economic data, psychology, and business, Soccernomics will confound and disrupt everything you think you know about the way soccer works all around the world. Quick, fun, revelatory.