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Tag: evil

Review: Lucas Spiegel’s “The Weight of Empathy”

I first met Lucas Spiegel about 15 years ago while playing club ultimate frisbee at the University of Oregon. He was a beloved captain of the B-team for several years––a quiet, kind, and always-respectful leader whose simple love for the game inspired younger players like me who were just starting out. I don’t remember Lucas [...]

Review: Bessel van der Kolk’s “The Body Keeps the Score”

Bessel van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score was pitched to me by several people as the best book for a crash course in trauma research and modern treatments. It did not disappoint. This impressive summary of discoveries and lessons from van der Kolk’s long career is an essential text for anyone looking to enter the [...]

Review: Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”

I have very little to say about Toni Morrison’s Beloved. It is an absolute masterpiece. The writing, the characters, the story––they’re all superb and blend together perfectly. The book is bursting with poignant insights about the nature of freedom, suffering, racism, family, memory, trauma, healing, humanism, and much more. It’s also terrifying and punishing, so be [...]

Review: Terrence Real’s “I Don’t Want to Talk About It”

Hey! Listen up. Let me tell you something. A man ain’t a goddamn ax. Chopping, hacking, busting every goddamn minute of the day. Things get to him. Things he can’t chop down because they’re inside. ––Toni Morrison This passage from Beloved sums up the central message of Terrence Real’s I Don’t Want to Talk About It with uncanny [...]

Review: Kim Stanley Robinson’s “The Ministry for the Future”

When Ezra Klein says something like, “this is the most important book I read this year,” there’s little question as to what I’ll do next. That’s how Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future made its way into my life, and boy am I glad it did! This remarkable, brilliant, and wildly useful book is one [...]

My Year of Bookish Wisdom: 2020

My Year of Bookish Wisdom 2020: Superlatives on Strike! You heard it here first: I am predicting that, in 2021, superlatives in every language around the world will join together in a globe-spanning strike. 2020 was just too much––they can’t take it anymore. “Worst” just collapsed from exhaustion and has been confined to quarters, “hardest” [...]

Review: Lily Brooks-Dalton’s “Good Morning, Midnight”

Lily Brooks-Dalton’s Good Morning, Midnight was the perfect book to wrap up a tough and tumultuous year. This short, dazzling novel is a mournful but energetic meditation on humanity’s struggle to find meaning and connection in a vast and threat-strewn universe. Brooks-Dalton’s narrative toggles back and forth between two plot threads, both set against the ominous backdrop [...]

Review: Tom Sweterlitsch’s “The Gone World”

It feels odd to call Tom Sweterlitsch’s The Gone World a ”fun” read, but fun is a whole lot of what I had while reading it. In this riveting and extremely grim science fiction thriller, the classic detective novel gets a time travel twist. Sweterlitsch’s imagination demonstrates impressive nuance and scope, and his prose slices the mind like [...]

Review: Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov”

I first read Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov about a decade ago, and shortly thereafter forgot almost everything about it. Upon revisiting this long and strange book, the reasons I found it so forgettable are more obvious, as are the fine qualities that make it an indisputable classic. This story of three brothers––of their flaws, torments, and moments [...]

Review: Madeleine Thien’s “Do Not Say We Have Nothing”

In his 2011 book Confucian Role Ethics, philosopher Roger T. Ames reflects on the relationship between individual identity, family dynamics, and music in the Confucian tradition: The timelessness and broad appeal of the teachings of Confucius begins from the insight that the life of almost every human being, regardless of where or when, is played out within [...]