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Just Arrived! Books. | March – April ’09

Just Arrived! Books. | March – April ’09


Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy through Jokes | Thomas Cathcart, Daniel Klein
If you can use a bit of laughter — and who couldn’t? — or, if you’re struggling to find the right gift for that hard-to-please someone, consider this handheld version of a Harvard philosophy class. What happens when you mix corny jokes, one-liners and vaudeville humor with some of life’s greatest lessons? You get an extraordinary read you’ll want to share with as many people as possible. It’s a funny-bone tickler with teeth. And that’s no joke. []

Oblivion: Stories | David Foster Wallace
Ostensibly this is a man recalling his childhood habit of daydreaming during school. But the bureaucratic fussiness, the showboating polysyllables, the wistful indirection (that telltale “He often had to work at the office six days a week,” demonstrating that the object of the passage, and the story, is really the narrator’s father), all mark this passage as the voice of David Foster Wallace. The Infinite Jest author has always had a prose style that threads back and forth on the mutually reinforcing line between clinical and clinically depressed, like a weird blend of Pynchon, Kafka, DeLillo, David Byrne and Mr. Spock. In Oblivion, his first story collection since 1999, Wallace channels Stephen King and Holden Caulfield as well. Sinister suggestion permeates the stories: In “Mr. Squishy” a man considers injecting candy with botulism; “The Soul Is Not a Smithy” features a psychotic substitute teacher; “The Suffering Channel” offers premonitions of 9/11. As in Wallace’s other fiction, depression—with its wearying, bottomless solipsism—combines with consumerist depersonalization as the twin horrors of modern life. But he unites this with sharp satirical vision and—in “Good Old Neon,” the collection’s most impressive story—a Salinger-esque bittersweetness. In Oblivion—artfully structured, deeply wounded—intelligence governs Wallace’s use of his smarty-pants style as much as the style itself. []

Franny and Zooey | J.D. Salinger
Admirers of Salinger’s work praise the vividness and verisimilitude of his characters and their colloquial speech, whereas Salinger’s detractors describe Franny and Zooey as false and sentimental, as well as meaningful only to those who are fans of Salinger’s earlier work. Critics have discussed the excesses of Salinger’s writing; “Zooey,” in particular, has been regarded as flawed because of Salinger’s unwillingness to reduce Zooey’s garrulousness or excise his rantings about Buddhism. On the whole, “Franny” was better received. Critics praised “Franny” for its economical prose and realistic dialogue, its sensitive portrayal of Franny, and its attack on hypocrisy and superficiality of the college environment. Despite the mixed critical reception to Salinger’s novella, Franny and Zooey was an immediate bestseller, particularly with young people who shared Franny and Zooey’s yearning for spiritual fulfillment and uneasiness with the materialism and superficiality of their culture. Franny and Zooey, like Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye, continues to draw both critical and popular attention and remains a favorite with high school and college audiences. []

Ways of Seeing | John Berger
Ways of Seeing is a very thin book, with few words, yet it is an extremely influential book, and confronts several important aspects of art, unlike any other author. John Berger takes a general approach of New Art History relating to social history in Ways of Seeing. He focuses less on the aesthetic properties of art, and more on the New Art History approach; on the social and political construction of artworks, mainly oil paintings concerning class, race, gender, and ethnicity. []

Runaway | Alice Munro
Much like unhappy families, every one of the women in the stories is different, and that is the wonder of Alice Munro. From a markedly finite number of essential components, Munro rather miraculously spins out countless permutations of desire and despair, attenuated hopes and cloudbursts of epiphany—she finds the infinite variations trembling within every insignificant, interchangeable rural dot on the Canadian map. Her 10th short-story collection, Runaway, is as lean and finely carved as a middle-distance athlete, as distilled and suggestive as its single-word flashpoint titles: “Chance,” “Passion,” “Tricks,” “Powers.” “A cold turbulence rose in Juliet,” Munro writes of one character, and the same could be said about any of these stories, with their glinting ice surfaces and disorderly emotions. []

Terra Amata | J.M.G. Le Clezio
The architect Le Corbusier reportedly said that God was in the details; others have claimed the same about the devil. And it’s in the details that Le Clézio finds Terra Amata (“the beloved Earth”, if my Latin serves); whether what he finds is God or Devil… Terra Amata is, in its way, a very bare-bones thing. It’s the story of the life of a man named Chancelade (de la chance?), from his early childhood to his grave. And it’s not like his life is all that special; he’s a pretty ordinary guy, and not much out of the ordinary ever happens to him. What makes it more than just boring ultra-realism is how the story is told. See, Chancelade likes details. Right from the beginning, even as a small child, we see him extrapolating entire worlds from the smallest things, trying to understand his world by submerging himself in it, trying to put words to everything he sees and feels… the whole “cosmos in a grain of sand” bit. []

Doctrines and Visions | Noam Chomsky
Comprising the expanded first chapter and expanded afterword of Hegemony or Survival, Doctrines and Visions is an irrefutable analysis of America’s pursuit of total domination and the catastrophic consequences that are sure to follow. Noam Chomsky is one of the world’s most vocal and erudite critics of governmental malfeasance past and present. His devastating analyses of the true motives behind global events reveal a picture very much at odds with that presented by the conventional media, and often politicians.
Instant Graphics
| Chris Middleton, Luke Herriot
Instant Graphics is an inspirational resource for designers and illustrators, exploring how clip art and digital imagery have transcended their one-time status as cut-and-paste tools for home designers. Clip art is one of the foundation stones of leading-edge graphic design, illustration, and even motion graphics, and digital images are used as source material in design. Together, they are vital components in a wide range of work, a means of sourcing (often expensively) an incredibly wide range of illustration styles. This book offers both the inspiration and the means to achieve stunning original work. It features beautiful full-colour illustrations with source notes from and interviews with top graphic design professionals. By partnering practical hints and cutting-edge processes with working examples, together with a unique resource section showing where to find royalty-free clip art in a range of styles, it offers illustrators and designers a vital creative tool. []

Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp | Pierre Cabanne
Marcel Duchamp, one of this centurys pioneer artists, moved his work through the retinal boundaries which had been established with impressionism into t field with impressionism into t field where language, thought and vision act upon one another, There it changed form through a complex interplay of new mental and physical materials, heralding many of the technical, mental and visual details to be found in more recent art…In the 1920s Duchamp gave up, quit painting. He allowed, perhaps encouraged, the attendant mythology. One thought of his decision, his willing this stopping. Yet on one occasion, he said it was not like that. He spoke of breaking a leg. You dont mean to do it, he said. The Large Glass. A greenhouse for his intuition. Erotic machinery, the Bride, held in a see-through cagea Hilarious Picture. Its cross references of sight and thought, the changing focus of the eyes and mind, give fresh sense to the time and space we occupy, negate any concern with art as transportation. No end is in view in this fragment of a new perspective. In the end you lose interest, so I didnt feel the necessity to finish it. He declared that he wanted to kill art (for myself) but his persistent attempts to destroy frames of reference altered our thinking, established new units of thought, a new thought for that object. The art community feels Duchamps presence and his absence. He has changed the condition of being here. [Jasper Johns]

The Lemon Table | Julian Barnes
In The Lemon Table Julian Barnes presents us with a range of tales about the bitterness of old age, admirably unsweetened by saccharine sentimentality. A depressing theme, you might think; but these stories, though bleak, are exhilaratingly crisp, crystallised by Barnes’s wintry intelligence. Still, it is noticeable that there is little here of mellowness, warmth, or even resignation (unless one counts moods of drained melancholy).” [Daily Telegraph]a

Vintage Cheever | John Cheever
Polished and classically structured, the 11 exquisite stories in this collection are as stylish as any of Barnes’s creations, while also possessed of a pleasing heft. Told from a dazzling array of viewpoints, each is underpinned with a familiar Barnes concern: death. In “The Revival,” the Russian writer Turgenev ruminates on lost love at the end of his life (as Tolstoy looks on), while in “Hygiene” a WWII vet revisits more than just his old mates during an annual trip to London for his regimental dinner. The past is seen from the perspective of the barber’s chair in “A Short History of Hairdressing,” and from two entirely separate angles in “The Things You Know,” about a pair of widows who mentally savage each other over the course of a polite breakfast. Fans of Barnes’s conversational novels, such as Love, Etc. and Talking It Over, may be nonplussed by the Dinesen-like sonority of the prose in “The Story of Mats Israelson” (“When Havlar Berggren succumbed to akvavit, frivolity and atheism, and transferred ownership of the third stall to an itinerant knife-grinder, it was on Berggren, not the knife-grinder, that disapproval fell, and a more suitable appointment was made in exchange for a few riksdaler”), but readers willing to follow Barnes’s imagination will not be disappointed. With the exception of the plodding last story, “The Silence” (in which the title phrase is explained: “Among the Chinese, the lemon is the symbol of death”), the author handles his dark subject matter with grace and humor. This is not a morbid trip. Instead, Barnes always has his eye on something unusual, and the reader is taken for a delightful ride. [Publishers Weekly]

A Fraction of the Whole | Steve Toltz
The story starts in a prison riot and ends on a plane, and there is not one forgettable episode in between, as a son tells the pop-pop-pop story of his criminally, lovingly insane father and their bizarre adventures flopping forward toward death, toward prison, toward Paris, and back; it reads like Mark Twain with access to an intercontinental Airbus. It’s an episodic story, kite-strung with mind fucks. This book moves; it bucks and rocks in a world that feels more than a hemisphere away, a world where the crispy black shadow of 9/11 does not inform every word from the mouths of geniuses and the evolution of one man, let alone a planet. All 544 pages are so comically dark and inviting that you have no choice but to step forward into its icy wake. []

The Book of Disquiet | Fernando Pessoa
It could not have been written in England: there is too much thought racing hopelessly around. The elegance of the style, well conveyed in what seems to be a more than adequate translation, is an important component and a very ironic one. The diary disturbs from beginning to end… There is a distinguished mind at work beneath the totally acceptable dullness of clerking. The mind is that of Pessoa. We must be given the chance to learn more about him. [Anthony Burgess, Observer]

Kentut Kosmopolitan | Seno Gumira Ajidarma
Dalam dunia kita, kesehatan itu lebih dari berguna. Menahan kentut dianjurkan oleh kesopanan, tetapi sangat tidak berguna untuk kesehatan. Nalar manusia harus bekerja, jangan menyerah kepada yang tidak masuk akal, karena konsensus kentut sedunia ini sangat-sangat-sangat bisa diubah. Jika tidak, kehidupan akan masih penuh dengan kebohongan, karena konflik kepentingan antara kesopanan dan kesehatan ternyata diatasi dengan dagang sapi: dalam pergaulan orang- orang sopan, kentut tetap diberlangsungkan diam-diam. Hanya Si Buta dari Gua Hantu yang bisa mendengarnya, apakah di dalam rapat kabinet terdengar bunyi psssttt, atau di tribun kehormatan, dalam riuh genderang dari drumband yang sedang lewat, sebetulnya terdengar juga bunyi brrooootttt! []

Banten | Claude Guillot
Kumpulan tulisan dalam buku ini membicarakan tiga topik utama, yaitu sejarah kuno Banten sebelum kedatangan Islam, komponen-komponen dari masyarakat Banten zaman Islam melalui tata perkotaan, perjuangan-perjuangan merebut kekuasaan dan terikatnya Banten pada dunia agraria, dan yang terakhir hubungan Banten dengan pihak-pihak asing. Buku ini ditulis untuk mereka yang paling dekat dengan sejarah Banten, yaitu orang Indonesia sendiri, dengan harapan perhatian pembaca akan dicurahkan untuk melengkapi dan mendalami sejarah Banten yang begitu kaya.

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Comments (4)

  1. Rambo 13 years ago

    maaf, mau nanya. apa di rumah buku ada the seven sisters of sleep – Mordecai Cooke?

  2. rukukineruku 13 years ago

    Di Rumah Buku tidak tersedia buku tersebut. Tapi ada beberapa judul buku tentang drugs, salah satunya adalah “The Howard Marks Book of Dope Stories”. Di bab 1 dari buku tersebut ada kutipan dari buku Mordecai Cooke “The Seven Sisters of Sleep”.

  3. Prima 13 years ago

    Punten, di kineruku ada Ways of Seeing-nya Berger kah?

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