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I read widely and in most genres but romance and westerns. Here you'll find my reviews since 2007, with a few reviews of previously read books as well.


In 2012, I completed an "authors of the world" challenge, reading a book for every country (and a few other entities) by someone who'd lived there for at least two years. I expect to tag these books by challenge and country in the near future. I'm still refining my list by adding books that better meet my challenge criteria.

Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle - Slavoj Žižek Slovenia.Slovenia may be a more hopping joint than I realized. Imagine Žižek as your college philosophy instructor. Mine (in the days when instructors smoked in the classroom) would pace back and forth on a slightly raised stage flanked by two columns (Ionic, if memory serves). As he intoned about Aristotle or Hobbes, he would light a cigarette, then deposit it on the edge of an ashtray on the end of the plinth to which he had walked. He often wound up with a burning cigarette on either side, and occasionally would lift one to his mouth, seeming bemused when he discovered that he was already smoking another cigarette. I picture Žižek as that professor, but perhaps more ironic and, as befits a man who cites Lacan so frequently, with a fistful of burning stogies. This has little to do with Žižek, but is evoked because sometimes Žižek's essays seem to have little to do with the topic at hand, and sometimes the sense of them is obscured as if by clouds of smoke.This rather dense yet sometimes loosely constructed volume collects three related essays that take as their starting point, and sometimes their end point, the war in Iraq. More specifically, the war in Iraq as its unconscious/subtextual metaphors and logic are unpacked, sometimes crisply and sometimes murkily. How many analyses of U.S. military decisions have you read that are based on Freudian dream interpretation? So it's intellectually fun, if sometimes obscure. The first and third essays cohere reasonably even if one (let me be frank: this one) cannot always follow or does not always agree with his associations or conclusions. The second essays lost me, though I even took notes in an attempt to wrest its meaning (phallus) from it to appropriate as my own. No dice. What's a girl who's only taken a few graduate semiotics classes to do?As when I read many works of philosophy, religion, or conspiracy, I was frustrated at times by how self-referential a passage would become. Admittedly, Žižek does less of this than some maddening philosophers whom I shall not mention. I enjoy the aesthetic and balance of ideas that are internally harmonious, but also want to see sufficient outside referents and (and this is the feminist deconstructionist in me) acknowledgment that the idea or phenomenon under discussion could be understood differently without having to argue that one perception is always more accurate than others. This seems like an enactment of capitalist ideals or a pissing contest, probably not what Žižek had in mind.