Reading dates: 5 September – 25 November 2017
I chose this for my Dialectical Materialism book group and the discussion was vivacious, when not debauched. This is a book I am glad I have read but, at the same time, I wish I had not. It explains a lot about how the current world operates and why it does the way it does. It shows how the right has managed to congregate and form relatively coherently online through 4chan + but it shows the despair and the hatred of the alt-right, as well as the vacuity of the left and its ‘sour-faced identitarians’ of Tumblr. Few on the left seem to be thinking about society as whole, about the ever growing economic inequality, about the systemic issues we face. Reading the chapters on misogyny and gamergate was very hard, and those about Men Going Their Own Way and the involuntary celibates, frankly quite sad.
Nagle’s analysis is not deep but it is deep enough to explain the now without any hindsight. She links the right to Nietzsche and the left to Judith Butler and explains the problems of both sides. No solutions are given and the most despairing read was the conclusion, which opens with the death of Mark Fisher, whom I much admired and invited to speak in Glasgow. I agree with Nagle that Fisher was one of the most lucid voices of the left, maybe the person who might have been able to offer ways out of this current scary pickle, but he is not in this world anymore. No one has come to occupy his place.
Reading dates: 13 October–17 November 2017
I love Denise Mina and I love the fact that she is an artist, and experiments, even though she also has a winning formula that is very successful in the crime fiction. The Long Drop is true crime and her voice more literary than her previous novels. I like the first half of the book very, very much. Her choice of examining the character of Peter Manuel thought the lens of his night with Watt, the husband of one of the killed women, is fabulous, but the shift towards following Manuel, and the final court case, with Manuel’s family, is a bit too abrupt, as if a few chapters were missing. The atmosphere is wonderfully set and some sentences are chilling, as is appropriate to the topic. Yet, I felt there was a lot more to this book, to the story and to how it was decided to be told.