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Book briefs

The first in an intermittent series of brief reviews of books that, for whatever, reason, didn’t lead to longer reviews:

In the Country of Last Things, Paul Auster

A rather literary examination of the struggle to live and survive in a society that has collapsed. The book takes the form of a letter from Anna Blume to a friend/lover in her home country. Anna left home to go in search of her brother, a journalist who disappeared while reporting on the troubles in an unnamed country. This unnamed country has basically totally disintegrated and life amounts to little more than a day-by-day hardscrabble for subsistence. Originally published in 1987, the book is generally well written and Anna takes us inside her life in this country and the will to survive despite (or perhaps because of) utter desperation.

Extreme Encounters, Greg Emmanuel

Written in the unique perspective of the second person (“you are snorkeling”), this book tries to explain what it is like to suffer from a variety of horrible, potentially life-ending experiences — being struck by lightening, being attacked by a grizzly bear or shark or spending nine rounds in the ring with a heavyweight boxer. The book, of course, suffers from the problem that the written word probably cannot adequately describe these experiences. Still, despite sometimes weak efforts at instilling humor in each event, the book is a fine toss-off read.

mental_floss presents Forbidden Knowledge

This is a collection of trivia for those who like such information to be educational and not simply trivialized. Compiled by the editors of mental_floss magazine, each of the seven chapters centers on one of the Seven Deadly Sins: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. The largely historical facts relate in some way or another to the chapter’s category. I’ve posted a somewhat different review at Blogcritics.

It is only when we lose them that we ever notice the things we had.

Paul Auster, In the Country of Last Things

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