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America: The Roundup

Recent Books Reflect Different Aspects of the Country


All of these books demonstrate different aspects of the United States — the side you don’t want to see in The Kid, a critical aspect of American popular culture in I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts, and the corrupt political side you hopefully don’t want anything to do with in They Eat Puppies, Don’t They?.

Sapphire’s The Kid:A sequel to the author’s book-made-movie Precious — who dies on the first page, no spoilers her — The Kid documents the harsh and sometimes sickening adventures of Precious’s only child, Abdul, and follows his transformation from child to man. This New York Times bestseller shocks with its raw language and story, one that will leave even the most jaded readers jolted. While very well written, the events are so brutal and the language so violent that one has to wonder where the line between relevant plot development and attention-grabbing sensationalism is drawn.

Mark Dery’s I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts: As a cultural critic, Mark Dery boldly crosses into taboo aspects of our culture that are very rarely the subject of academic analysis. The critical lens through which Dery looks at American culture (pop or otherwise) grants an interesting readability to topics such as Hitler’s afterlife on YouTube, the homoerotic subtext of the Super Bowl, the pornographic fantasies of Star Trek fans, and the hidden agendas of IQ tests. A little head-spinning, this book of essays is an interdisciplinary, insightful look into American dreams and nightmares.

Christopher Buckley’s They Eat Puppies, Don’t They?: Political satire and scathing humor abound in Buckley’s most recent novel, which follows works such as Thank You For Smoking. In an attempt to create government interest for a high-tech weapon system developed by his corporate backers, “Bird” McIntyre decides that the U.S. would be more interested in weapons if it had someone to use them on. He meets the beautiful Angel Templeton, a spokesperson for the Institute of Continuing Conflict, and launches the idea to the U.S. government that China is trying to kill the Dalai Lama. Needless to say, things get out of hand for both McIntyre and his Chinese counterparts. The prose, straightforward yet memorable, achieves the complex and sometimes ridiculous tension in the Chinese/American relationship that makes up a central pillar of the novel. With comically convincing characters and political incorrect humor, this book has something to amuse everyone.

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