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Tutte le letture del mese.

I miei libri preferiti.


The curse of Lono
Hunter S. Thompson
1983

the curse of lono

I had long since got over the notion that just because we were fishing we were going to catch fish.

Hunter S. Thompson e il fido Ralph Steadman partono per le Hawaii per il reportage di una maratona locale, ma finisce tutto a droga, alcol, e violenza, come ogni sua storia.
Ed è per questo che le leggiamo.
Nota tecnica: escluso i libri fotografici, non leggevo un libro cartaceo da secoli. Ho fatto un’eccezione per questo perché non esiste in ebook, e le illustrazioni di Steadman meritano un supporto adeguato.
È stato fuori stampa per anni, con prezzi folli su ebay, ma fortunatamente è uscita da poco una ristampa della Taschen a meno di 30€.

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Gonzo Papers, Vol. 2: Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the ’80s
Hunter S. Thompson
1988

GenerationofSwine

“Not me. I’m going to the race track tomorrow,” he said. “There are more important things than who’s going to be the next president of the United States.”

That is the problem with this rich and anguished generation. Somewhere a long time ago they fell in love with the idea that politicians— even the slickest and brightest presidential candidates—were real heroes and truly exciting people.
That is wrong on its face. They are mainly dull people with corrupt instincts and criminal children.

Raccolta di articoli per il San Francisco Examiner, in cui si parla quasi esclusivamente delle elezioni ’88 vinte da Bush.
Per ora il libro meno coinvolgente dei suoi che mi sto divorando, ma comunque a tratti geniale. Il 99% delle previsioni politiche che fa poi si sono avverate.
Meditiamo.
Le lettere a Ralph Steadman sono talmente belle che me le incornicerei, se solo avessi abbastanza spazio nei miei 11mq.


Gonzo Papers, Vol. 3: Songs of the Doomed: More Notes on the Death of the American Dream
Hunter S. Thompson
1990

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But where is she now? Here in the city? If I knew, I’d go throw rocks at her window like I used to. . . . Bring her over here and park, husband be damned. . . . Wonder if she has any children, or maybe she’s pregnant right now…. God, how awful. . . .

With the Angels, however, there was a freedom to use words. I’m a word freak. I like words. I’ve always compared writing to music. That’s the way I feel about good paragraphs. When it really works, it’s like music. In sportswriting, you have the freedom to use really aggressive words. There’s a whole breadth of vocabulary. The Angels gave me that same feeling, like hot damn, the thing was rolling right in front of you.

I found out then that writing is a kind of therapy. One of the few ways I can almost be certain I’ll understand something is by sitting down and writing about it. Because by forcing yourself to write about it and putting it down in words, you can’t avoid having to come to grips with it. You might be wrong, but you have to think about it very intensely to write about it. So I use writing as a learning tool.

I think that people took it seriously because politics, particularly presidential campaigns and the president and the White House, have always been sacred cows in this country, almost as if the president ruled by divine right. Especially since the start of the age of television.
Some people have that kind of respect for these people. I don’t, any more than I have respect for police and chambers of commerce. I have respect for quite a few things, quite a few people. Politicians just don’t happen to be among them

La terza raccolta di HST: a mio parere molto meglio della seconda, una perla dopo l’altra. Una goduria da leggere.


Gonzo Papers, Vol. 4: Better Than Sex: Confessions of a Political Junkie
Hunter S. Thompson
1994

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On some days you wonder what it all means. And on some days you find out. It’s like suddenly seeing a huge black pig in your headlights (…)
The Man from Hope was clearly a sex addict of some kind—and although his denials might work for
a while, his staff knew they had a serious adulterer on their hands, and he was not about to go into re-hab.
So what? I thought. If we start electing presidents on the basis of their sexual purity, some real monsters will get into the White House. I was far more concened with the way he handled the draft-dodger issue. If he’d taken a stand against the war in Vietnam, I was for him.
Okay, back to business.
Bill Clinton does not inhale marijuana, right? You bet. Like I chew on LSD but I don’t swallow it. And Richard Nixon was not a crook . . . . Which is technically true. Nixon was never
convicted of anything. He resigned for reasons of his own. He was getting too nervous to be president any longer, so he “did the right thing” by turning the Oval Office over to
vice president Gerald Ford, in exchange for a presidential pardon . . . . Ford wept as Nixon was taken away (…)
Nixon was genetically dishonest and so is Bush. They both represent what Bobby Kennedy called “the dark underbelly of the American dream.”
And Bill Clinton does not. Clinton is a decent man and a credit to his race. Ho, ho. That’s a joke, Bubba. George Bush wouldn’t laugh at it and neither did Mr. Bill when I shook his hand and said it to him with a nice smile. He gave me another one of those weird sleepy-eyed stares and wished me good luck for the rest of my life.
By this time, you know all you want to know about Bill Clinton and James Carville and George Stephanopoulos.
They are politicians, nothing more. The truth is not in them, and they like it that way. That is their job.
 Quarta e ultima puntata dei Gonzo Papers, con meno di 200 pagine è molto più corta delle altre.
Particolarmente attuale perché tratta esclusivamente della campagna presidenziale del ’92, vinta da Bill Clinton
Per i più distratti è il marito di Hillary Clinton, che oggi a sentire i più è una santa, solo perché è difficile fare brutta figura di fronte a Trump.
Leggere questo libro rimette un attimo le cose in prospettiva, e vale per tutti questa frase:

 Politics is a mean business, and when September rolls around in a presidential campaign, it gets mean on a level that is beyond most people’s comprehension. The White House is the most powerful office in the world, and a lot of people will tell you that nothing is over the line when it finally comes down to winning or losing the presidency of the United States. Nobody is safe and nothing is sacred when the stakes finally get that high. It is the ultimate fast lane, and the people still on their feet in September are usually the meanest of the mean. The last train out of any station will not be full of nice guys.


Email marketing con Mailchimp
Alessandra Farabegoli
2016

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Se hai risorse meno che infinte, non destinarle alla creazione di template personalizzati, ma ai contenuti, e anche quando avrai maggiori risorse, mettine di più nei contenuti (e, soprattutto, nella strategia).

*Mini disclaimer, probabilmente non necessario: Alessandra Farabegoli è amica di molti miei amici, ma non ci conosciamo personalmente. Se ho letto questo libro è solo perché mi interessava.
Per gestire la mia newsletter uso Mailchimp e ne sono contentissimo, ma lo sfrutto più o meno come uno che compra una Ferrari e ci va in prima ai 40 all’ora a fare la spesa.
Qui ho trovato un sacco di spiegazioni dettagliate su tutte le funzioni e più in generale sulla filosofia di base del programma, e negli appunti che ho preso la sezione più corposa è intitolata “In futuro?”, in cui ho segnato un sacco di cose che non sapevo e che potrebbero farmi comodo tra qualche settimana, mese, o anno.
Ad ogni modo non ho dubbi che quando le mie conoscenze di base inizieranno a starmi strette, riaprirò questo libro e non un altro.


The everything store. Jeff Bezos and the age of Amazon
Brad Stone
2013

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Despite the recent rise of its stock price to vertiginous heights, Amazon remains a unique and uniquely puzzling company. The bottom line on its balance sheet is notoriously anemic, and in the midst of its frenetic expansion into new markets and product categories, it actually lost money in 2012. But Wall Street hardly seems to care. With his consistent proclamations that he is building his company for the long term, Jeff Bezos has earned so much faith from his shareholders that investors are willing to patiently wait for the day when he decides to slow his expansion and cultivate healthy profits.

We think we know the Amazon story, but really all we’re familiar with is its own mythology, the lines in press releases, speeches, and interviews that Bezos hasn’t covered with red ink.

Though Amazon was intensely focused on its software and systems, there was another key element of its distribution system—the low-wage laborers who actually worked in it.

Steve Yegge was one such engineer who made the move [to Google] around this time. He would publish his opinion of his former employer years later by writing a screed on the Google+ social network and accidentally making it public for the entire Internet to read. “My challenge with Amazon is finding a way to describe it without making me puke,” Yegge wrote. “But I’ll figure something out, eventually. In many ways they’re a world-class operation—primarily in ways that matter to their customers; employees, not so much. But I guess in the end it’s the customers that matter.”

“The second thing is that he [Bezos] is not tethered by conventional thinking. What is amazing to me is that he is bound only by the laws of physics. He can’t change those. Everything else he views as open to discussion.”

Qualcuno forse avrà notato che dal mio sito sono spariti i link affiliati che rimandavano ad Amazon: il motivo è che non mi sento molto più a mio agio a “fare affari” col sito di Bezos.
Non sono diventato così radicale, né tantomento un santone, ma dopo aver letto questo libro e un po’ di articoli di giornalisti che hanno lavorato dentro Amazon (in borghese ovviamente), ho cambiato opinione sul gigante di Bezos, e si prova a fare meglio che si può (sicuramente Amazon non chiuderà grazie a me, anche se operando in perdita e vivendo solo sul giro enorme d’affari che ha, mi piace pensare che se tutti i suoi clienti smettessero per qualche giorno di botto di comprare, fallirebbe).
Purtroppo ci sono alcune cose che si trovano solo su Amazon, ma per il resto non ho più intenzione di comprarci niente.
Il libro in questione è molto interessante: è la storia di Amazon, intrecciata con quella personale di Bezos e incentrata in particolare sulle dinamiche interne ad alti livelli dell’azienda, partita tra l’altro anche con un investimento di 100000$ da parte dei suoi genitori (chi non ha genitori che sganciano un centomila al figliolo d’altra parte?).
Ci sono un sacco di cose che non mi piacciono (tra le tante, rapporti col fisco, gestione dei Drm sugli ebook, trattamento degli operai — sì lo so, sembro un sindacalista), ma per par condicio ne voglio sottolineare una che invece mi piace: Bezos obbliga tutti i suoi collaboratori più stretti a leggere The black swan di Nassim Nicholas Taleb, che per me è uno dei libri più importanti della storia.
Comunque, per chiudere in bellezza, ho comprato questo libro su Amazon.
Porca puttana.

The song of the lark
Willa Lather
1915

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I didn’t want it, honest I didn’t. Father would have let me have it. I like my own room better. Somehow I can think better in a little room. Besides, up there I am away from everybody, and I can read as late as I please and nobody nags me.”

She told herself that that picture was “right.” Just what she meant by this, it would take a clever person to explain. But to her the word covered the almost boundless satisfaction she felt when she looked at the picture.

No, it was all clear enough. Nothing that she would ever do in the world would seem important to them, and nothing they would ever do would seem important to her.

“The Club’s all right for people who like to live that way. I don’t.”  Bowers lifted his eyebrows. “Why so tempery?” he asked as he drew a check from an envelope postmarked “Minneapolis.”  “I can’t work with a lot of girls around. They’re too familiar. I never could get along with girls of my own age. It’s all too chummy. Gets on my nerves. I didn’t come here to play kindergarten games.”

I guess so. It’s like anything else. It takes hold of you and you’ve got to go through with it, even if you’re afraid. I was afraid to leave Moonstone, and afraid to leave Harsanyi. But I had to go through with it.

The whole question of a young man’s marrying has looked pretty grave to me for a long while. How have they the courage to keep on doing it? It depresses me now to buy wedding presents.”

Lee Friedlander ha definito questo romanzo fondamentale per la sua crescita artistica, e questo mi è bastato per leggerlo.
È la storia di Thea, una bambina cresciuta in un paese di campagna americano, e di come diventa una grande cantante lirica, lasciandosi indietro alcune cose per trovarne molte altre.


The Paris Review Interviews, vol. IV
vari
2009

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Besides, I’ve discovered that when I’m not writing I’m prone to developing certain nervous tics, and hypochondria. Writing alleviates those quite a bit.

INTERVIEWER
Have you ever been envious of another writer?
WODEHOUSE
No, never. I’m really such a voracious reader that I’m only too grateful to get some stuff I can read.

I think he was probably jealous of all other writers. But I loved his stuff. That’s one thing I’m very grateful for—I don’t have to like an awful person to like his stuff

And then I procrastinate like everybody else, though surely more than most. On days when I want to write I will usually waste the morning and go for an afternoon walk to Greenwich Village. (I live nearby in Chelsea, which is a pleasant place to walk from though maybe not to.) Sometimes this takes too long and my preferred late-afternoon moment will pass. I can’t really work at night. Nor in the morning, very much, when I have more ideas but am less critical of them, it seems. I never can use the time I waste doing this for some other purpose like answering letters. It’s no good for anything but wasting.

I don’t like Tokyo—it’s so flat, so wide, so vast. I don’t like it here.
INTERVIEWER
But you live here! I’m sure you could live anywhere you liked.
MURAKAMI
That’s because I can be anonymous here. It’s the same as in New York. Nobody recognizes me—I could go anywhere. I can take the train and nobody bothers me.

Una serie di interviste apparse sulla mitica rivista di George Plimpton. Tutte molto interessanti!


ALTRO (ARTICOLI, ECC)

Hunter S. Thompson, The Art of Journalism No. 1

Intervista a HST sulla Paris Review: dietro le quinte bellissimo su quello che è diventato in un paio di mesi uno dei miei scrittori preferiti di sempre.


How Getty’s Olympics Photos are Shot, Edited, and Sent into the World in Just Two Minutes

Ho visto zero minuti di olimpiadi, ma un sacco di foto, dato che sul campo c’erano molti dei miei fotografi preferiti (tra cui il mitico David Burnett).
Sono tutti, dal primo all’ultimo, dei fenomeni, ma non sono da meno gli editor e i tecnici alle loro spalle: in questo articolo è spiegato il perché.


Matteo Pezzi

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