Get ‘Em While They’re Fresh: New Books for February 2012

If you’ve lived in Chicago for a while, or are a fan of poetry, you may have heard of “Louder Than a Bomb,” the annual youth poetry slam hosted by the nonprofit organization Young Chicago Authors every spring. Founded in 2001 by local celebrity and poet-extraordinaire Kevin Coval, the competition has grown to become the largest youth slam in the world. The event is open to the public, but if you are interested in seeing a more intimate, “behind the scenes” perspective, you may want to check out Louder Than a Bomb. The emotionally-charged documentary follows four teams as they prepare for and compete in the 2008 poetry slam. Listed as one of Roger Ebert’s top ten documentaries of 2011 and with a 100% rating on “Rotten Tomatoes,” there is a good chance you will enjoy this film, even if you dont like poetry. (Lincoln Park Library, DVD. 808.545 L886j2011)

In the modern “networked” world of perpetual connectivity, it is almost clich to talk about the effects that new technologies have on society. Hundreds of articles and books have already been published on the subject and many more are inevitably in the works. Still, it is important to step back occasionally and assess the magnitude of the so-called “Digital Revolution.” In The New Media Invasion: Digital Technologies and the World They Unmake, John David Ebert provides a novel perspective on the subject, exploring not simply what digital technology add to the modern media landscape, but also what they replace, leave behind, or otherwise render obsolete. (Loop Library 303.4833 E165n)

Daniel Flynn begins his new book, Blue Collar Intellectuals: When the Enlightened and the Everyman Elevated America, by stating: “Stupid is the new smart.” From there, Flynn offers a scathing condemnation of contemporary Western culture, particularly pop culture, which he describes as a “wasteland.” Although I fundamentally disagree with Flynn’s overall assessment, I understand some of his frustration (few would consider The Jersey Shore a high point of human artistic achievement, for instance). Still, I do not think it is fair to dismiss all of pop culture as one-dimensional or devoid of intellectual merit. That said, Flynn’s analysis is definitely worth reading if this subject interests you regardless of your stance on pop culture. (LPC, 305.5 F6483B)

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