Post Summer Reading

Summer sun, sand, crystal waters, friends, love, family, holidays. Variables that for some (people) indicate coolness. And this clearly denotes that under the umbrella and the pure summer heat you can track down novels – specifically romance and history, shallow fiction or even science fiction, thrillers, biographies, best sellers. More or less a reading that can be conceived as “digestible” or even mildly challenging.

For some, University autumn exams re-establish complex reading mixed with academic methodological stiffness and the cruelty of a “pass”. And yet whether an office everyday life (for the unlucky) means that reading lines should wait for next summer, we are to propose a more elaborate post-summer reading. You won’t need your umbrella to hide the sun, but rather a pencil to keep your marks.

 “American Pastoral”, Philip Roth. Ok summer is ending but it is harsh to leave away true literature. And this masterpiece implies more than an interesting and well-written story. It loudly presents the demise of the dominant conscious understanding of success and happiness. The American dream that fells apart for a typical model family of super-heroes. Vanity discovers the post-modern dead ends of a conservative canvas while the underlying reality of decay becomes more and more apparent. Idols inter-demise. Probably the most salient work of a truly great writer.

“The Photograph as contemporary art”, Charlotte Cotton (Thames & Hudson). And if this is art denotes Cotton in an attempt to analyze the concepts of exploring the post-modern connection between art and photography. The ‘thingness’ of photography and how it steadily earned its way to galleries and museums. Tableau photography, deadpan themes, ordinary objects and spaces initially putted out of the scheme, diaries of human intimacies, ‘aftermatch’ photography and documentary settings. A story telling form of art to be or even already articulated. This trajectory involves failures as well as tangible connotations of appreciated experiments. Challenging and provocative.

“The Balkans: 1804 – 2012: Nationalism, War and the Great Powers”, Misha Glenny. History is a drug related to reality. And to some a functional remedy to avoid come backs and backlashes. This particular type of history concerns us for various reasons. We are Balkan people (whether we like it or not). There is a growing trend of nationalism in Greece nowadays. Our history is more or less, up to now shaped by the interference of the so-called Great Powers. And yet the great advantage of Glenny’s writing is that his books do not involve politics, at least with its rigid culture. The book is an interesting story (novel based) but with undoubted incorporated academic dialectics and methodology that provide evidences for the asserted arguments. Knowing yourself is not an option and Glenny interprets lots of what is happening now based on a short journey to our past. Worth trying.

“The Choice for Europe. Social Purpose and State Power from Messina to Maastricht”, Andrew Moravcsik. Even if this is not a very recent book on the field of European Political Science and International Relations it acquires salience due to the current economic crisis. The author, a critical academic towards the concept of the European Union as a whole, reveals certain aspects that highlight the fragile nature of the Union itself. At the same time, he provides a convincing argument that the EU is not a federalist trans-ethnic union, rather than an intergovernmental interest based (especially for the strongest players) union. And the extension of this argument is focused on the balances that might occur in harsh economical junctions, as well as, on the course of European integration. True story?

 Reviews: Costis Pierides