Sunday, May 22, 2016

Interesting business writing by Oldham, Leonard, Brustein & Brodesser-Akner

There was few different interesting stories from Bloomberg Businessweek lately, with two features and two short pieces to note here.

The longer stories were "The Real Story of How Amazon Built the Echo" by Joshua Brustein and "Even the World's Top Life Coaches Need a Life Coach. Meet Martha Beck" by Taffy Brodesser-Akner.

The latter of the two particularly stood out to me both due to the compelling first-person writing from Brodesser-Akner towards the end and the insights attributed to Beck, with the two quotes below related to the idea of acting in ways true to oneself...

"If it makes you feel good, do more of it. And if it makes you feel horrible, maybe you should back off a little."

"How did I come to believe this, and does it serve me to continue believing it?"

Two smaller pieces that I found of note were "The Party’s Over in Alaska" by Jennifer Oldham on Governor Bill Walker reacting to the impact of low oil prices on the state's economy and from Devin Leonard"Making No Cents," a story related to his book Neither Snow nor Rain: A History of the United States Postal Service.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain was an entertaining novel about the surviving members of Bravo Squad, U.S. soldiers back home on a promotional tour of sorts after their actions during a firefight in Iraq.

Set largely in Texas Stadium during a Thanksgiving Day Dallas Cowboys game, it's an interesting and contemplative book focused on 19-year-old Billy Lynn and the absurdity of he and his squad mates being feted as heroes prior to being shipped back to war.

It's a fast read from Fountain and while I kept thinking it would culminate in something different, the book struck me as extremely heartfelt and seemed true to life, even as it told the story of a seemingly unreal life situation.

I first heard of the novel in relation to it as the basis of a major motion picture coming out in November, with Steve Martin playing Cowboys owner Norm Oglesby, and am definitely interested in seeing the movie.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Great writing on the effects of violence

Some amazing writing I've seen recently detailed people dealing with the effects of violence, with three of the pieces around guns and one an incomprehensible act on a toddler.

For The New York Times Magazine, C.J. Chivers wrote "A Lone Bullet’s Long Toll" on Dustin (Doc) Kirby, a former Navy corpsman who was hit with a sniper bullet ten years ago in Iraq and Pamela Colloff for Texas Monthly provided "The Reckoning" on Claire Wilson, a victim of the University of Texas Tower shooting in 1966. The feature from Colloff was amazing and brought to mind her 2006 oral history of the shooting, "96 Minutes," also for Texas Monthly.

Two pieces done for GQ were also by great writers, with "Should We Get Used to Mass Shootings?" by Michael Paterniti and "A Positive Life: How a Son Survived Being Injected with HIV by His Father" by Justin Heckert. The Heckert story particularly stuck with me in being just bananas in it's subject, and also really well written.