Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Finds

A combination of cold, bad weather, and general weariness kept me from using my break for book hunting. I haven't been to my favorite used book store, Caliban Book Shop, since I moved to the West End, so I had planned on attempting a trip sometime during my three days off.

If it was sickness and bad weather keeping me from venturing out of doors and out of my area, it was general unease about utilizing public transportation during G20. Which turned out to be mostly overblown paranoia, aside from a few notable protest escalations here and there. My routes were pretty much unaffected, for which I was very, very thankful. If I was still living in the Bloomfield/Lawrenceville/East End area, I may have not been able to say the same thing.

Because this is primarily a book and reading related blog, I won't go on about G20, the protests, the general abounding hoopla surrounding two intense days in Pittsburgh. Many arrests were made, some justified, many definitely not. I don't go in for catchall, everybody-in-the-pool protests. Too many disparate voices lobbying at the same unseen forces just starts to feel like generic slogan slinging. I believe in well-planned, well-reasoned, focused protests where large amounts of people can bring attention to a single aim or overall cause. I also abhor protesting that amounts to little more than property damage and vandalism. Buildings can't listen to what you have to say, but business owners, especially small, independent business owners won't care, because they'll be too busy figuring out how to compensate for your needless destruction.

What is especially disconcerting about destructo-protesting is that it so often contradicts what it claims to stand for. If you're protesting the invasion of your private life, the oppression wielded by government forces, the things that affect you on a daily basis and that you cannot control, what better way to reinforce those very same offenses than to inflict the same damage upon someone else's stuff? Bashing windshields, dumping over garbage cans, breaking windows... what does that prove other than the fact that you can cause oppression of your very own? If you're not smashing the windows of the finger of government, than you are taking it out on an innocent person. What implicates someone better than absence, right?

It is important to note, however, that not all G20 protests were made alike. For every unpermitted march, there were demonstrations and marches done peacefully, with full permits, that disproved all the talk about potential rioting and massive destruction to the downtown area. Okay, maybe not in equal ratio, but a lot of people were willing to express themselves without putting others (and the property of others) in danger.

The summit has yielded little interesting news coverage, but this story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, concerning an impromptu demonstration in Oakland Friday night that turned into a giant, arrest-laden mess, is particularly compelling. While it doesn't give a clear time line of the night's events, it did clear up some questions as to where portions of the people were, why some of them were there, and how things might have gotten swiftly and unfortunately out of control.

So, this tumultuous week has not really done much for my book buying. The little bits:

An Off Year by Claire Zulkey
After returning The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo - which I loved - to the store, I decided to check out this debut novel by a writer I know primarily from The Onion AV Club. Well, I'm about a third of the way through, and I'm really enjoying it. Cecily is a fairly average teenager, amiable enough to coast through her high school years without dissent. But within moments of her arrival to college, she makes the swift but certain decision that she wants to go right back home. And so she does. What follows is rare for a lot of teen books, whose protagonists always seem to have flaws that aren't really flaws, devoted, understanding best friends, and either horrible parents or parents that are unbelievably cool. Cecily's flaws are very, very real, and also, as is typical of that age, almost unrecognizable to her own insight. But I'm only a portion through the book, so more on that one later...

You Suck by Christopher Moore
A hardback copy of this was sitting at my desk, seemingly fallen from the heavens for my reading enjoyment. I've been wanting to follow up on my minimal Christopher Moore reading, and due to a longstanding disinterest in vampires, I never really chased after this one, but if some unforeseen forces want me to read it, who am I to resist?

I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President by Josh Lieb
Delivered in a box of ARCs, alongside a bundle of awesome buttons that say "I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Bookseller." This book poses the question: What if you were rich, supremely intelligent, and lacked a moral compass, but your 7th grade peers still wouldn't vote you Class President?


Marie said...

I hope you feel better. I don't like it when protesters are disrespectful and destroy property- they just teach people that protesters are hooligans and give organized, mature dissenters a bad name.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I can't decide if Pittsburgh's protestors are that much cooler and more aware that buildings can't talk (good one!), or if they're lame. At any rate, I'm glad the city's still standing. The stupid banner at the even more stupidly-run Hilton aside.

btw, You Suck was cute, but my favorite Moore so far is still Coyote Blue.