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abeck01 has commented on (6) products.

Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks
Lost Memory of Skin

abeck01, January 2, 2013

A life-affirming work that dares to explore a dark subgroup of our society for whom options are few and ever-decreasing. By turns heart-breaking and hopeful, Banks'novel is willing to tackle what many may feel to be an unpalatable topic--the world of registered sex offenders--and paints an honest, realistic picture of the hidden corners to which they are confined. He carefully develops his protagonist in a well-planned, accessible way that enables us to view these individuals objectively without creating sympathy where it does not belong.As the novel moves forward, an admittedly melodramatic mystery develops that enhances the page turning quality of the novel and gives us some unnerving insight into the level of denial and unwarranted self-righteousness experienced by some of these individuals.
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Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That?: And Other Reflections on Being Human by Jesse Bering
Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That?: And Other Reflections on Being Human

abeck01, August 5, 2012

What a delicious surprise! Jesse Bering, Ph.D., a frequent contributor to Scientific American and an evolutionary psychologist, delivers a cheeky but science-based look at a variety of quirky subjects that many of us have been curious about but have, ahem, cough, um, er, been reluctant to share outside of our consciousness. Among the subjects he tackles with good humor from an evolutionary perspective include premature ejaculation, why humans are the only species to masturbate, why public hair has different characteristics than other body hair, the shocking contents of human semen and their evolutionary purposes, why only humans get acne, the roots of teenage behavior and the deep brain origins of fetishes. The book is funny, affirming and very easily understood, and should appeal to a lay reader interested in the evolutionary patterns of human sexual response and gender roles. He also somewhat somberly explores the notion of suicide and questions whether or not it could be a genetic adaptation. Yes, this is another book that explores and furthers recent brain research that questions the role of free will and consciousness.
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The Silver Hearted by David Mcconnell
The Silver Hearted

abeck01, September 1, 2011

David McConnell's "The Silver Hearted" is an unexpected pleasure: an erotically-charged tale about the corrupting influence of greed that takes place in an unmamed presumably tropical Asian (or maybe African) country that is run exclusively by mulit-national corporate interests and currently undergoing some kind of revolution. There's a deadly journey down a tropical river, endless days of waiting for a way out of this country, and perhaps even a love story between two men who are so cynical and bitter that recognizing any type of emotional attraction would be extremely difficult. McConnell writes with a precision that allows the reader to feel the tropical heat, envision the detritus in the river and experience the hot, steamy, boring days and danger-filled nights. It, in some ways, is about one man's journey into his own heart of darkness, exacerbated by his cache of silver coins which he is trying to smuggle out of the country and perhaps swindle his own employer. McConnell wonderfully creates a world in which life is little-valued, desperation drives folks to unsettling lengths, and betrayal and violence could lurk around any corner. The book is dark, yet riveting, as a unique and non-traditional story unfolds.
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Third World America: How Our Politicians Are Abandoning the Middle Class and Betraying the American Dream by Arianna Huffington
Third World America: How Our Politicians Are Abandoning the Middle Class and Betraying the American Dream

abeck01, January 17, 2011

Huffington's book is a wake up call to a sleeping, depleted America that we have lost our place in the world thanks to efforts of the corporate-military-banking complex that has been in a sustained process of rewarding the rich on the backs of the poor. As a result, our middle class is rapidly disappearing and those social stepping stones that once existed to help people move up the ladder have virtually disappeared. This concentration of wealth on the rich has let this country ignore its physical infrastructure, prevents the middle class from accessing essential services, has reduced our image across the globe and set our students back 10-20 years compared to those in other countries. She includes important statistics throughout the book as well as some personal stories of individuals negatively impacted by the recession. The book could use more of those stories, although through judicious use of her (dry) statistics, Huffington manages to keep the subject interesting and the book moving forward. She tries to include a slight upward note of hope towards the end but there is more power to her arguments when she does not sugar coat them.
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Just Kids by Patti Smith
Just Kids

abeck01, January 7, 2011

What a warm and affectionate book that completely captures a moment in time that represented a significant turning point in contemporary culture. Smith's observations are honest, painful, and forthright. She's not wrapped up in self-deception, but is willing to admit to many faults and shortcomings, yet by doing so, she is revealed to be a woman full of strength and fortitude. This book is a fascinating tale of the value and benefits not only of collaboration, but how a genuinely loving relationship can propel two artists on a journey that will have a lasting impact on our times. Smith also paints an accurate portrait of Mapplethorpe, warts and all, allowing the reader to understand the naivete, anger and extravagance that characterized so much of his work. Plus this is one absorbing read. I was so happy when it was awarded the National Book Award for Non-Fiction.
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