Short Story Review: The Kingdom That Failed by Haruki Murakami, Translated by Jay Rubin (2020)

The Kingdom That Failed by Haruki Murakami

“To see a splendid kingdom fade away,” it said, “is far sadder than seeing a second-rate republic collapse.”

I’ve never read anything by Murakami and this was definitely a great introduction. I’m not really sure how to describe this one: a man sees someone he used to know and watches the man while remembering how he used to be. It’s quite short, yet engaging and with great prose!

It’s published in The New Yorker if you want to check it out. I definitely recommend giving it a go!

Short Story Mini Review: The South Asian Speakers Series Presents the Archeologist and Adventurer Indiana Jones

I’m awful at keeping up to date with all the different places I find short stories, so I’m glad this one popped up on my Twitter feed because it was a great short read about my favourite archaeologist and makes some very valid criticisms about one of the movies.

The story follows Indiana Jones at a talk with students where he’s confronted with the events of The Temple of Doom and chastised for his behaviour.

Hadn’t every object he’d ever loved finally eluded him, vanishing even further into the vault of history? Quietly he said, “I’ve never put anything in a museum.”

I really love Indiana Jones, but there are so many valid criticisms of the storylines, especially The Temple of Doom, so I appreciated this story. I maybe would have preferred a bit more length, but it’s to the point and well written.

“Can we agree, Indy, that India was a misstep? That you should stick to fighting Nazis?”

Hear hear, fight the Nazis, Dr Jones.

Read it here

Short Story Mini Review: Five Arrows (2015)

Five Arrows by Heinz Insu Fenkl

“Bury me where this arrow falls.” And he let the arrow fly with a loud whoosh of air torn by string and wood, and the arrow blurred high up into the blackness. If Big Uncle had told me then that he had hit the eye of the moon, I would have believed him.

This is quite an evocative short story published in the New Yorker. You can read it here. A young boy, Insu, goes to visit his uncle, who lives in a cave in the forest. When Insu’s friend Yongsu leaves, Insu spends the night with Big Uncle and listens to his stories. Fenkl has a wonderful way with words and the imagery is brilliant. Definitely recommend. 

A Non-Fiction Book Rec Post

nonfiction

I undoubtedly read more fiction than non-fiction, but I’m trying to improve that. I read a lot of non-fiction for my studies, but not enough on other subjects. Sometimes there’s just not enough time to read all the books! I’m currently in the midst of two right now, Gold Rush Manliness: Race and Gender on the Pacific Slope and Everything You Love Will Burn: Inside the Rebirth of White Nationalism in America, which I just started. One I’m reading paperback, the other I’m listening to on audio.

 

Here is a list of the nonfiction books I definitely, definitely recommend everyone check out for themselves.  (This list is not exhaustive.)

*order is random, not a rank of how awesome these are

  1. Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham. This book is utterly gut-wrenching but I could not recommend it more. The details still give me chills and I’m in awe of the depth of Higginbotham’s reporting.
  2. Unfollow: A Journey from Hatred to Hope by Megan Phelps-Roper. I wrote a review for this book here.
  3. One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America by Kevin M. Kruse. AMAZING. AMAZING. AMAZING. If you aren’t following Kruse on Twitter, allow me to point the way. He’s constantly giving mini-history lessons online and he’s a wonderful political commentator. This book kept me company on my last archive trip and I thoroughly recommend it.
  4. Columbine by Dave Cullen. Cullen has such a wonderful approach to reporting and truly respects those he interviews. He’s become a frequent commentator on gun control in the States and he also wrote a book on Parkland.
  5. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. I quite liked the film when it came out, but wanted to delve more into the topic and understand Christopher McCandless. Krakauer’s writing is wonderful and the story really broke my heart. I think reading the book paints a better picture of McCandless than the film, although Eddie Vedder’s soundtrack remains one of the greatest of all time.
  6. Facing the Rising Sun: African Americans, Japan, and the Rise of Afro-Asian Solidarity by Gerald Horne. This is a topic I didn’t know much about and I’m so glad I picked up this book.
  7. Notes on Nationalism by George Orwell. Orwell’s works are always good and this one can be read in less than an hour, but it’s chock-full of perspective on nationalism.
  8. The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government by David K. Johnson. Too few people know about the Lavender Scare and I cannot recommend this enough.
  9. The Korean War: A History by Bruce Cumings. Cumings is my favourite Korean War historian. I strongly recommend this one.
  10. Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow. I followed Farrow’s reporting for the New Yorker when this story first broke, and hearing him recite the tale in book form added a new level of horror to the topic. I haven’t fully finished it yet, but it’s amazing.

Books I’m looking forward to getting to at some point:

  1. Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army by Jeremy Scahill
  2. Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World by David Vine. I’ve read Vine’s reporting, but haven’t yet been able to pick up the book.
  3. History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier by Deborah E. Lipstadt
  4. Parkland: Birth of a Movement by Dave Cullen. His reporting on Columbine absolutely blew my mind, so I’m definitely reading this one.
  5. How to Hide an Empire: A Short History of the Greater United States by Daniel Immerwahr
  6. No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald. I’ve read Greenwald’s articles and reports on this, but never the full book, so I definitely want to read this at some point.
  7. The Closing of the Western Mind: The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason by Charles Freeman
  8. Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America by Kathleen Belew. I’m partway through this one and really wowed by the amount of research, but I put it aside as the subject matter is quite hard to get through en bulk.
  9. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
  10. Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair That Shaped a First Lady by Susan Quinn
  11. We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families by Philip Gourevitch
  12. The Radium Girls by Kate Moore. I’ve started this one, but put it on hold temporarily because it’s a very heartbreaking subject matter and I think I need to get through it in smaller doses.
  13. The Deportation Machine: America’s Long History of Expelling Immigrants by Adam Goodman
  14. They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South by Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers
  15. Unbelievable by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong
  16. They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, Harmony Becker
  17. Permanent Record by Edward Snowden
  18. Fighting Proud: The Untold Story of the Gay Men Who Served in Two World Wars by Stephen Bourne
  19. War on Peace by Ronan Farrow. I’ve started this one and of course got sidetracked, but I want to finish it soon! I adore Farrow’s work and have nothing but the highest respect for him.

 

What’s your favourite nonfiction book? Any subject matter really interest you? Feel free to recommend books in the comments. 🙂