Auden Lincoln-Vogel

House of Coates by Brad Zellar (with Photographs by Alec Soth)

House of Coates by Brad Zellar (with Photographs by Alec Soth)

I can't say exactly what House of Coates is good at, but it’s very good at something. Part of it, to be a bit evasive, is simply the feeling that it’s stirring up some very specific emotion deep inside me, but I can never quite put my finger on it. That, by itself, keeps me thinking. It’s not the kind of book that stirs up a bunch of different thoughts and emotions, letting them collide and splash out, luminous on the surface of the page. This book is more cavernous, subterranean, and it harps on pretty much that one feeling, albeit in many subtly shifting shades. This isn’t quite right, but it’s something like loneliness. But with a seedy flavor, a weatherworn feel, both angrier and more subdued, totally frank and intimate, but also silent and empty. What’s truly amazing about this book, having just described it in such terms, is that it strikes some very familiar chord without seeming cliché or archetypal or borrowed. It’s not noir, for example. It’s not Dostoevsky, either. Sure, it’s about a broken man, Lester, a loner, a depressive misanthrope, but, despite all this, the book avoids categorization very well. Perhaps this isn’t necessarily a virtue in itself, but I think it’s symptomatic of a certain virtue—perhaps the virtue: that it makes the familiar seem like it’s never been said before.

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Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy by Gabriella Coleman

Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy by Gabriella Coleman

“Anonymous is not unanimous.” In a media climate that scours the day to day for sound bites and rough-hewn adjectives with which to classify political actors, this has become a slogan for Anonymous, the amorphous, mostly-online, somewhat-hacktivist, sometimes-clandestine group known for its oftentimes politically-charged pranks on governments, corporations, and individuals. After years mired in the trenches of Anonymous’ IRC channels, interviewing countless Anonymous members, and even becoming involved in the group herself, Gabriella Coleman has managed to catalogue and expound upon the politics, culture, and structure of a group that firmly rejects any form of celebrity leader or spokesman, that represents no single political ideology (and in fact often contradicts itself), and which doesn’t exist in any single geographical location.

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Walter Benjamin and the Media by Jaeho Kang

Walter Benjamin and the Media by Jaeho Kang

I’m lucky: book reviewers are only really expected to write about the content of the books they review. They almost never have to write about what it was actually like to read a book. That is, they don’t have to talk about how they read a book, how it felt to see printed letters on a mass-produced page, or how they thought their understanding may have differed had they, say, read the words on a computer, or as scrolling credits at the end of a movie, or scrawled in pen on some bathroom stall (a very erudite bathroom stall). It’s simply beside the point. Because we already know what it means to read a book. Or at least we think we do.

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