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Posts Tagged ‘Batman’

I Wear the Black Hat by Chuck Klosterman (image via amazon.com)

By Chuck Klosterman
Started:
July 22
Finished: November 22

Huzzah! I finished all twenty-seven books in less than year! They now set upon a window shelf in my room, stacked about halfway to the ceiling because I literally have nowhere to put them. I took a month off to write all these recaps and re-energize for next year’s challenge.

My last book, I Wear the Black Hat, took a little while to read: it’s another collection of cultural critique essays that sometimes can be overwhelming to read straight through. I actually found out this brand new Chuck Klosterman offering because it was included as a preview in The Visible Man. The preview chapter focused on Batman and a real life NYC vigilante and how society viewed the two similar narratives through completely different lenses: the fictional Batman defeats foes who threaten the fictional Gotham and is a (complicated) hero; 80s subway shooter Bernhard Goetz, originally viewed as a hero that fought back against crime, quickly became a villain in the public perception. Disclosure: Klosterman almost lost me when he said something to the extent of “Pretend Batman is real…and he goes around New York City shooting people. C’mon, did you not see The Dark Knight Rises?).  

Each essay examines and different aspect of pop culture, ranging from sports teams and figures to musicians, actors, and politicians, and posing the question can anyone ever be truly good or truly bad?  Overall, this was not as engaging as other Klosterman works (like my favorite,  Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs) and, due to my age (hello, babies of the 80s!) some of the references were hard to follow or just not interesting, but as a Klosterman fan, I’m pretty sure I would have been disappointed in myself if I gave up on Black Hat–it’s a book that got me thinking, not only about myself and my perceived face but of how I perceived other as well. Do I see them as a villain because they are actually evil? Or do I see them as such because society tells me they are evil?

 

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Little Bee by Chris Cleve (image via amazon.com)

By Chris Cleave
Started:
February 24
Finished: March 3

So, fun fact about this book….I was walking around Chelsea Market eons ago (read: two-ish years ago) and picked up this book in a little bookstore near the crepe place my boyfriend and I frequent. The cover intrigued me, but the actual synopsis said absolutely nothing when it came to what the book was about (and apparently, I was too lazy to look it up on my smart phone?), so I deposited it back on the table and walked away. Last year, I ended up reading Incendiary by Chris Cleave and loved it, so when I stumbled across this book again, I immediately added it to my “buying this” stack.

Cleave is a master at telling tales of social issues and heartbreak through the eyes of women. To me, he is one of the few male writers that is able to pull of a female narrative voice without sounding overly cheesy or mushy or condescending. Little Bee is narrated by mostly by two narrators: Little Bee, a young Nigerian woman who illegally enters England in order to track down a couple who helped her at her most vulnerable, and Sarah, a journalist with a young son who’s attempt to repair a broken marriage with a free Nigerian holiday ended up more like a horror show that would forever change not only her life, but the life of her husband and Little Bee as well. Sarah and Andrew return to their life in England with a bigger rift between them than when they departed. Their lives are thrown further into chaos when Little Bee contacts Andrew and informs him she is seeking refuge in the UK.

While this book is exceptionally heartbreaking, there are moments of levity, like the fact that Sarah’s young son insists on wearing his Batman costume each day and only responds to “Batman.” Much like Incendiary (where Britain is essentially reduced to a military state after a terrorist attack), Little Bee is a social commentary on the atrocities of war, the immigration process, and the reality of truly helping a person escape the horrors of life in less developed countries. At times, Little Bee was an emotionally difficult read but the resolution of the novel is filled with a sense of hope, a sense that sometimes, people do do the right thing.

 

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