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reading tiger

It's Monday. What?

I've been on heavy deadlines, and then recovering from deadlines, and so I've been absent hereabouts for a bit. Now I'm back with a spot of time (OK, procrastinating on another deadline), and even though it's Monday I thought I'd take a moment to catch up on the reading and things.

I sailed through "Bullies: A Friendship" by Alex Abramovich. Its title doesn't give much of a clue what it's about, but the cover does: it features a man displaying his East Bay Rats back tattoo to the camera. Abramovich discovers that his childhood bully, Trevor Latham, is now head of the EBR motorcycle club, on the other side of the country, and reaches out to him. Abramovich ends up relocating to Oakland for a spell to hang out with Latham and his buddies at the clubhouse on San Pablo and also explore a city in the grips of rapid change -- we get chapters dedicated to Chauncey Bailey's murder and Occupy Oakland, whose denouement coincides with the book's. Abramovich I think unfairly dismisses East Oakland as fairly uninteresting, but that's the biggest flaw. It's an interesting culture-clash narrative, definitely worth reading.

ETA: and here's a nice interview with Abramovich published in Vogue, of all places, that gives more insight into the book: http://www.vogue.com/13411297/alex-abramovich-bullies-interview/

I also just finished "Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen" by Mary Norris, a copy editor at the New Yorker. It's a mixture of memoir, language history, and grammar lessons; I didn't learn much new grammar but I did learn some interesting history, and the memoir bits were charming. I will say that she hits a good balance of prescriptive and descriptive, which you kind of have to when your day-job is enforcing the idiosyncratic standards of the New Yorker. If I did trigger and/or content warnings, I would say that the chapter on Norris' sibling's transition and the linguistic perils thereof was rough reading, but I appreciate her honesty even if she does give herself a cookie at the end. Overall, it's a good insight as to what working in a copy department is actually like.

Some music columns that you may have missed:

Meghan Trainor, "All About That Bass"

The Bangles, "Manic Monday"


I liked Abramovich's interview on Fresh Air. Still can't decide if I want to read the book or not.
Out of curiosity, what's weighing against it?
Mm, the giant stack (OK bookshelf) of unread books, plus a sense that I sort of got the high points from the interview I guess? You know, spoilers, the EB Rats are complicated people with a complex set of values & ethics rather than cartoon baddies; Oakland's black population is being eroded; the author learns that his story of victim/victimizer isn't so black and white.

But I can be persuaded certainly!
I cannot argue against large stacks of unread books. I also liked his look at Oakland history partially as a history of violence both state-sanctioned and otherwise, and that particular tension.

And the bus stop story is pretty funny.