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The Satirist: America's Most Critical Book Kindle Edition
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The essays are important and timely. A favorite of mine is Geddes' piece entitled "Americans Protest Public Health Care, Retirement Benefits, Student Loans and Public Water". In it he extends the conservative right's position for witty and eye opening results:
"Various grassroots movements were represented at the protest, voicing their opposition also to government control of the postal service, national defense, and interstate commerce and banking regulation, all of which, spokesmen argued, might be better served by `private initiatives.'"
In "The Satirist", politicians, corporations, pop stars, governments and yes, even zen masters, are called on the carpet for their shenanigans. And the essays are self-contained so it would make a great kindle addition for any transit commuter looking for something engaging to read while on the train.
The book begins with piercing satires, among them: "A Modest Proposal to Convert Shopping Malls into Prisons", a Swiftian social idea; "Are You an AEIOÜ? Take the Breyers-Devere Probe of Human Worth!", an examination of our need to bolster ourselves by taking personality tests; and "Smoking as Religion", an appraisal of an unhappy society that sustains itself with illusive freedoms -- the smoke break, the lottery ticket.
The essays in "Lost Geniuses" relate recent discoveries of savants in the areas of art, film, literature, music, philosophy, and so on, including "Max Sazonov: Russia's Greatest Poet?"; "Dr. Claire Hoyt: 'Shrink to the Stars'"; "Karl Kinski: 'The Anti-Artist'"; and "Felix Spielenhammer: 'The Heavy Mahler'". These essays are particularly funny, and point up the human tendency to embody as heroes people who are revealed, on thoughtful inspection, to be mediocre or detrimental.
The movie reviews explore the excesses of Hollywood, in particular the simplistic overtures of Disney movies and the tedious labors of action-thrillers. The book reviews are send-ups of authors whom Geddes in fact admires: Faulkner, John Irving, and Pynchon. The reviews poke subtle, good-natured fun at their subjects, but warn us about celebrating ideals that are packaged in Hollywood, becoming overawed by spectacle, and choosing our heroes just because everyone else has chosen those same heroes.
The four fiction pieces are brief, funny, and moving. "Fast Food Satori" thoughtfully describes the desolate experience of ordering fast food. "My First Cubicle" describes demeaning working conditions at a shady publishing firm in Florida, but the satisfaction of succeeding even in a very difficult workplace, then moving on. "Friday's at the Blind Pig's Pub" is a funny account of the pathos of dating and mating rituals in a modern America tavern. "Last Night in Deerwood" narrates a narrow escape from smothering, depressed family and from a small town whose smallness is inverse to its clutching gravity.
The hilarious news reports, done in the style of The Onion, point out human foibles, the gambols of an overeager media, and the machinations of government. "Hard Times Fall on Dealers in 'Drug-Free School Zones'", "Man Sues City, Claiming His 'Right to a Bagel Shop'", and "Americans Protest 'Obamacare': Retirement Benefits, Student Loans and Public Water Also Denounced as Socialist Plot" are some of the gems here.
The duty of satire is to remind the reader of human failures that do harm to us as a society, but which have become so commonplace that we overlook and accept them. Geddes submits his first volume having performed that duty with humor, perspicacity, and love.
But this is Dan Geddes, so we keep reading, knowing that he'll overdeliver - which he soon does. In this adaptation, Winston Smith has the same job - minding the memory hole - but then obliterates Ted Turner and Jane Fonda from the historical record as part of an unnecessarily aggressive attack by the Disney team on their corporate rival's overexposed owners. Of course that's would Disney would do, in this fiction is stranger than truth universe. It wasn't expected - wasn't even hinted at - yet it just feels natural when it arrives. I've created enough somethings from nothings to know that this apparently effortless expression of talent belies a lot of hard labor at and away from the keyboard.