Monthly Archives: September 2011

A Visit From the Goon Squad

A Visit from the Goon Squad“Time is a goon.”

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan was extremely impressive. Egan’s prose had me hanging on her every word from the beginning.

The novel tells the story of Bennie, a middle-aged former punk rocker and big-shot record executive, and Sasha, his assistant. Through the inner lives of other characters, Egan tells the stories of their past and present. She effectively interweaves music and technology as themes throughout, creating an accurate lens through which to view modern life.

Egan also has a way of making the aging process, the passage of time and nostalgia beautifully

Jennifer Egan

Author Jennifer Egan

tragic; I felt an aching for the 80s and for who the characters once were, yet the book pretty much comes around full circle so that in a way, you’re right back to where you started even though years have passed. There is beauty in redemption as well.

“I think, The world is actually huge. That’s the part no one can really explain.”


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Filed under Contemporary Fiction

The Paleo Solution

The Paleo SolutionAt the end of July, I read The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf, one of the world’s leading experts on the Paleo/Primal/Caveman “diet”. (I put that in quotes because it’s more like a way of eating for life.) I’ve been interested in health/nutrition/fitness since I was a kid and have read books and magazines on those subjects, but the information is usually the same and pretty much follows the USDA’s Food Pyramid guidelines.

Most of the information in Wolf’s book was pretty revelatory to me. Some things, such as the importance of eating fresh, local food in season when possible and eating grass-fed meat rather than corn-fed meat and wild over farmed fish, I’d been informed about through Michael Pollan’s books and the documentary Food, Inc. (all highly recommended, by the way). I was extremely intrigued by what I was reading in The Paleo Solution. Namely, that grains, legumes and dairy are inflammatory, interfere with nutrient absorption and eventually are the culprits that lead to modern diseases such as Type II diabetes, cancer, heart disease and auto-immune diseases, among other conditions.

The “diet” itself is based on emulating how our Paleolithic ancestors ate for hundreds of thousands

Author Robb Wolf

of years. It makes the most basic kind of sense, really, and Wolf effectively gets that across. The advent of agriculture (what UCLA evolutionary biologist Jared Diamond called the “worst mistake in the history of the human race”) only came about 10,000 years ago, a time period that experts say has not been sufficient for our bodies to adapt and evolve to overcome the detrimental effects of grains, dairy and the unnatural abundance of sugar, trans-fats and refined carbs in our modern diet.

I can’t stress how much I recommend this book and this way of eating. I’ve been striving to stick to it and have already experienced benefits and I’m looking forward to experiencing many more. This is one of those rare books that I’d put in the “life-changing” category. It contains so much invaluable information, which can also be found at Robb Wolf’s website.

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Filed under Non-fiction

If You’re Reading This…

Enough said.

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The Imperfectionists

Nothing in all civilization has been as productive as ludicrous ambition. Whatever its ills, nothing has created more. Cathedrals, sonatas, encyclopedias: love of God was not behind them, nor love of life. But the love of man to be worshiped by man.

The ImperfectionistsThe Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman is flawless. Its subject matter – a sinking English-language international newspaper based in Rome – evokes simple nostalgia that is echoed in Rachman’s simple yet elegant prose.

Each chapter focuses on the experiences and perspectives of varying staff members and one faithful reader, from the obituary

Author Tom Rachman

writer to the has-been foreign correspondent. Their lives intersect, but each character is eccentrically distinct, at times clashing with one other, but all bound by the fact that they cling to the endangered newspaper as passengers aboard the Titanic must’ve clung to one another.

There is humor in Rachman’s writing, but he has also written multi-faceted humanity into his characters and the newspaper, which is like a character itself.


You will most likely find yourself empathizing with these characters and their well-intentioned efforts as well as their failures. You will feel for them what you feel for your grandmother who still uses a typewriter because she refuses to learn how to use a computer. I wasn’t sure that this was the type of novel I’d enjoy when I first picked it up and read the back cover at Costco, but I’m so glad that I did read it!

If history has taught us anything, Arthur muses, it is that men with mustaches must never achieve positions of power.

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Filed under Contemporary Fiction