What We’re Reading This Week

Don't let all that Elliot Smith and Kafka fool you - Matthew's got his happy face on today.


Death by a Thousand Cuts: The Fight Over Taxing Inherited Wealth by Michael J. Graetz

“I have to read this for school. It’s about the estate tax. It’s not as boring as it sounds, even though it’s about taxes. I find it fascinating.”

For further reading, see: The Pale King by DFW.




Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson

“This book has everything that I loved about Jesus’ Son and nothing that I hated about that book. It has all the weirdness, strange characters, and interesting dialogue, but none of the disconnect and disjointed feeling of Jesus’ Son. This is coherent and weird and out there and I dig it.”





The Stranger by Albert Camus

“This only took me maybe about two hours to read. It’s a very short novel. Basically, it’s about a sociopath. It gets into the bleak post-modernist apathy that affects all of us and which is exacerbated by this character.  It makes you pay attention to the fact that there are many different perceptions in the world and that those which are determined correct are really only mandated by society. It’s a really good read. Very stark, but I liked it.”



Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony and Other Short Stories by Franz Kafka

“Right now things are a little problematic as I’ve been reading this book and only listening to Elliot Smith, which has me thinking dark thoughts about my own mortality. If you’re going to pick it up, everyone will tell you to read Metamorphosis, but I’ll tell you A Hunger Artist. I love Kafka’s attention to the most mundane details while he also brings in this surrealism. Eleven Sons is also great. It’s about this guy who goes son by son describing each one and why he doesn’t like them. Except for Son #7, who is his favorite.”



The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories by Don DeLillo

“This is DeLillo’s first collection of short stories, due out later this fall. The stories span much of his career, from 1979-2011. All of the DeLillo themes are on display here right from the beginning – man’s inherent isolation; the struggle towards genuine connection; the strange, almost supernatural, qualities of technology; the power of language; the power of media; adultery; disaster. God, I love DeLillo.  Reading him always puts my head in a very particular state of hyper-awareness of all the subtle messages right beneath the surface of every word, every gesture, every image; it’s a good and thoughtful place to be.  And of course his sentences are just dynamite. I’m reading this slowly to make it last.”

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