A Confederacy of Dunces: I read this book over a decade ago as a precocious teenager. Believe me, reading it with a few years’ experience of the world makes it a whole new story. This book still deserves all the accolades given to it. I can think of few things more tragic than John Kennedy Toole killing himself before learning how well this story would be received.
(I know the idea of “updating” a story revolts purists, but can you imagine any better time period to set one of the [many abortive] attempts to film this novel in than post-Katrina New Orleans? With Ignatius as a blogger living in his mom’s basement? Practically writes itself. Get me Joel Silver on line 2)
Across the Universe (soundtrack): I never saw the movie, but the soundtrack came highly recommended. There’s not much you can do to improve on the Beatles, the pop icons of the 20th Century, but the various artists here take classic songs in interesting directions. Some of the songs suffer from reinvention (I don’t like Evan Rachel Wood’s “Blackbird” at all – too ornate). Some of them are greatly improved (I enjoy Bono’s “I Am The Walrus,” something I could never say of the original). Some of them are merely an interesting take – not meant to replace the original, but entertaining nonetheless (Dana Fuchs’ “Helter Skelter”, Joe Cocker’s “Come Together,” Jim Sturgess’ “All My Loving”). Worth a listen.
The Myth of the Rational Voter: A very dry, very academic take on the notion of voter behavior. Caplan targets people who already have a literate understanding of the subject – he devotes an entire chapter to the internecine debate between the notion of voter ignorance (voters do strange things because they have no incentive to know better) and voter irrationality (voters do counterproductive things because they have no incentive to do otherwise). A useful reference but not exactly a page-turner.
Shoot ‘Em Up: A thirteen-year-old’s idea of an action movie – which makes it a shame that more action movies aren’t this good. There’s a little too much talking, which is a hell of a thing to say about an 80-minute movie with a body count around 100. Think of it as a live action cartoon for seventeen-year-old boys; when you consider the gratuitous nudity, the puerile humor and the fact that the protagonist crunches audibly on raw carrots before doing things like jumping off of bridges, you’ll realize the writers probably thought the same. Fun and forgettable.