Thursday, October 13, 2011

My heart still bleeds...

Eeee! Crossed 60,000 words today!!! They're not all good--maybe none of them are, we shall see. I'm just proud of the accumulation of sentences. Word by word, sentence by sentence, I'm telling a story, one that's 80% finished!!! (Not counting revision and rewrites).

On an unrelated note, I just finished "Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World," a book by Michael Lewis ("The Big Short," "The Blindside.") In this short non-fiction book, Lewis travels from Iceland to Greece to Ireland to Germany and finally to California (where he rides bikes with Arnold Schwarzenegger), examining the causes and effects of the worldwide financial crisis. He talks to bankers, politicians, and finance ministers to try to understand how they got into such a mess (in the cases of Iceland, Greece, Ireland, and California) and how they avoided it (in the case of Germany, with some exceptions).

Lewis is a great storyteller, taking something that might be boring and dry and turning it into a compelling narrative. He approached each country as a journalist should--trying to understand it not through a preconceived framework but based on the facts he discovers. And because I discovered the facts along with him, as he told the story, I feel like I have a much better understanding of what happened. He looked at the culture of each country, too, to see how it related to its financial circumstances. From the New York Times review:
[Lewis]weaves... stories into a sharp-edged narrative that leaves readers with a visceral understanding of the fiscal recklessness that lies behind today’s headlines about Europe’s growing debt problems and the risk of contagion they now pose to the world.
It's a fascinating book that left me viewing the world through a more conservative lens. Two common threads across the countries? First, greed. It's omnipresent. Second, people taking more than they've earned simply because they can. Adults mortgaging their children's future in order to maintain a higher standard of living. It's not that I don't blame the elite bankers, who gambled with pensions and 401k's and manipulated the public; it's not that I don't blame government regulators who turned a blind eye so long as their coffers were filled; it's that at the end of the day, each of us is responsible for our own actions, for becoming as financially educated as possible. And I felt for Slovakia as it was being asked to bail out Greece.

Don't worry, my heart still bleeds (universal health care for the win!) but I feel like I have a better handle on where some of the tea party rhetoric comes from. My hope is that tea party-ers realize they're part of the 99%, too. (See Connor Friedersdorf's "Why the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Should Cooperate")


george rede said...

Congrats on yet another milestone and thanks for the pithy review of Lewis' book. He was the featured guest tonight on the Piers Morgan show and, though I didn't pay as close attention as I should have (nose was buried in some other mundane task), he did say those in the Occupy Wall Street movement are absolutely justified in their protests.

Sad to say, there is plenty of blame to go around for the global mess we're in. Your review makes me want to dive deeper for a better understanding but where will I get the time when I'm enjoying the guilty pleasure of Daniel Woodrell's "The Bayou Trilogy"?

August said...

Thanks! And glad you're finding time for novels -- no need to feel guilty about reading "The Bayou Trilogy" over anything else :)