English Reading Recommendations

I’ve been reading in Spanish and Ukrainian but nothing in English for a while. Is there anything cool going on in English-language literature? Something people want me to read and review? Is there any buzz about any books at the moment?

Please recommend. Both fiction and non-fiction are acceptable.

Book Notes: Carmen Mola

Carmen Mola is a pseudonym of three Spanish male writers who have published several novels in a series about an elite police corps in Madrid investigating exceptionally gruesome sex crimes. It’s pretty much like Law & Order: SVU but the ick factor is several orders of magnitude higher. I have now read all 4 novels that have appeared in the series so far and can talk about the general thrust of the series which I find curious.

Several of the detectives in the elite squad depicted in the series are very rich. And I mean, really rich. Serious old money. They all lead extremely disordered sex lives and despise traditional lifestyles, religion, and small-town living. The youngest of the detectives is “gender fluid.” Two of them have children, and that is depicted as the source of absolute horror. By horror I don’t mean their kids throw tantrums and do too much screen time. I mean rape, dismemberment, and cannibalism, all portrayed in minute detail. One character falls in love and attempts to have a serious relationship, which also turns into a nightmare.

The writers clearly side with these characters who are the heroes of the series. But the really interesting thing is that these detectives and the lifestyles they lead are often the source of the horror in the novels. Their disordered sexualities are a sort of a conduit that unleashes dark sexual forces into daily reality. Several of the more gruesome plots would simply not happen if these characters were a little less fluid and tried to contain themselves a bit.

The main takeaway from the series – which the authors undoubtedly didn’t intend – is that mega rich people with their unconstrained sex lives usher extreme dysfunction into the world that then they have to battle heroically. Of course, we know that in reality police officers aren’t wealthy. But it’s fascinating that the authors of the series unwittingly come up with such a curious diagnosis.

It’s hard to capture this with just one or two novels but the more books you read from the series, the clearer it becomes that something very strange is happening.

America First

A survey of people in different regions on why, in their opinion, the US is helping Ukraine:

Defending Western dominance is a brilliant idea. Let’s not be fooled into adopting the woke disgust with the West. Yes, the West has problems. In comparison with the rest of the world, though, those problems are insignificant little pinpricks.

Even though I’m from Ukraine, I can tell you honestly that it wouldn’t make sense for the US to go all in (or even partially in) on some regional conflict somewhere far away. I want the US to remain the world leader because any conceivable alternative would be worse. This doesn’t mean the US is perfect. It means it’s vastly better than anything else on offer.

You can’t be first in a group of one. “America First” presupposes that there’s somebody who’s second, third, and fifty-ninth. It also presupposes that you have enough of an impact on the surrounding reality to stand up for your interests. You can’t put your interests first if somebody else is writing the agenda.

Leadership’s doesn’t just happen. You have to defend it with action every day. Why would we voluntarily give up our leadership and join the vast club of the pouty irrelevants?

The post-WWII world order is collapsing and the new one is coming into existence as we speak. Whether we become insignificant little pawns in this new order is completely up to us. I invite everyone to read up on what happened to the insignificant little pawns in the previous world order and ask themselves if they like that picture.

Signs of an Immature Personality

There are key words that crop up in the vocabulary of immature people and that always give them away.

Among them are “trust / lies / promise”. We all have the experience of hearing a 4-year-old wail “But you promised, mommy!” The kid wants a predictable, easy-to-understand world, and the complexity of “yes, I did promise we’d go to the park but I meant we’d do it unless it were pouring rain” is confusing. Kids are completely dependent, so it’s crucial to them that everybody around them should be dependable. Adults make their own reality, so being able to place complete trust in anybody isn’t that important.

Remember the slogan “Bush lied, kids died”? I detested Bush then and I do now but, God, what a stupid slogan. It’s not an accident that “lied” is followed by “kids.” This is the childish attitude of the sloganeers that breaks through.

I’m not disputing that Bush lied, by the way. He’s a politician. It’s in the job description.