Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

A trio of quick book reviews of stuff I've read over the last couple of days.

Body Politic by David Shields is ostensibly a book of essays about sports, but it's oh so much more than that. It's a book of essays on contemporary society, couched in sports, but with more resonance than that. A brilliant piece on the religious narrative structure of sports movies. A great piece on Charles Barkley and the broader topic of race relations in the U.S. A piece on East coast vs. West coast norms and values. Sportswriting cliches. Phil Jackson. Building a fan base with the Seattle Supersonics. Ichiro. Lots of bases are covered here, pardon the pun. Good stuff. I enjoyed much more than I expected to, but of course I did: David Shields is an awesome writer. I bought the book because I read his essay in a book I wrote about a few weeks ago, Prime Times, and really liked it. Bought three of his other books used on Amazon for a couple bucks each. His novel, Dead Languages, didn't really do it for me. But novels generally don't. This one? Excellent stuff. Can't recommend any more highly than I do.

We The Media by Dan Gillmor is a look at the blogging phenomenon and what it's all about. Inside baseball for people with weblogs, basically. It covers what it needs to cover. Blogs are here to stay. Bloggers are changing journalism. It is imperative for old media to branch into new media to stay relevant and vibrant. I'm not doing the book justice by making it sound like it's just spouting well-worn cliches about blogs. It's better than that. It reminds me that we're at the beginning of this technology and don't really know how it's going to end up being used. The tough thing about books like this is that it's hard to write without the perspective of history -- to characterize a technological change as it's happening is impossible -- already, I bet Gillmor would rewrite a bunch of the book to reflect the election results -- the part about politics reads like it expected Kerry to ride the Internet wave to an easy victory; Bush's win, despite the Internet helping empower a great deal of support for Kerry, doesn't fit the narrative. There's overstated parts -- Glenn Reynolds, for everything Instapundit is, is not really much of a pundit, I don't think. He links. So what? Google links too. The book's good. If you blog, it's worth a read. It's not going to change your world. But what is? Its biggest strength is making one think about the issues more generally -- it's got me thinking about how I can be better here, for example. So that's good. It's a fine book. But it's hard to write about a moving train that no one knows the destination of.

The Bad Guys Won by Jeff Pearlman is a book about the 1986 Mets. People who hate when I post about baseball will not be tempted by the book. It's a good read if it's something you care at all about. Paints a picture of a team of animals who just happened to be real good at baseball, although wasted their talent and never reached the sustained glory that the '86 season promised. Mets fans should consider it a must-read. Baseball fans generally will enjoy. Non-baseball fans need not fear they're missing anything bigger than that. Mookie Wilson fans will enjoy the book especially; he comes off looking awesome. Dwight Gooden, not so much. Kevin Mitchell, not so much. Darryl Strawberry, not so much. Roger McDowell comes out OK. Frank Cashen comes off looking like a genius.