3 Books Weekly #10: Featuring artist James Bridle
09.00, Thursday 5 May 2016 Link to this post
The following was first posted on the 3 Books Weekly email newsletter and has since been archived here.
Hi folks, and welcome to edition 10 of 3 Books Weekly.
I’m super pleased that today we have artist and writer James Bridle sharing his book recommendations. James is also an essayist, and his website is well, well worth a few hours digging and reading.
Bookshop news: Machine Supply has a new home! For the next month, we’re being hosted by Hachette in their new HQ on the Thames in London. Everyone’s welcome to visit. Opening hours and a photo are over here. It’s awesome of Hachette to host like this. (If you’re in London and could host Machine Supply in June, drop me a note!)
Let’s get straight to the books. Happy Friday all.
#1. The Argonauts, by Maggie Nelson
Maggie Nelson is an American poet, critic, and essayist, whose work often combines elements of all three to beautiful and powerful effect. In “The Argonauts” she writes about and through her own experience of queer motherhood and family, and her relationship with her trans partner and community. The result is never less than visceral and lyrical. Bodies are twisted by sex, transformed by hormones, bruised and birthed, and intertwined with theory, quotes, memoir and art history. For Nelson, the body and the word are always in a process of becoming, full of reference and history, but also capable of forging their own identity and new, startling presence in the world.
#2. A Prehistory of the Cloud, by Tung-hui Hu
‘The cloud’ is one of today’s most pervasive metaphors: a universal utility, providing computation, connection, and storage on demand, while also threatening privacy, international law, and personal agency. In this ‘prehistory’, Hu thoughtfully explores both the physical infrastructure of the cloud - the millions of computers, cables, and datacentres distributed around the world - and its metaphysical implications. As we become ‘users’ of computers, a process which started with 1960s time-sharing technology, we also become modern ‘subjects’: expressing ourselves through social contribution and media production, tracked and tagged whatever we do. The cloud is one expression of modernity itself: the promise of individual freedom and creative expression, bound by a Faustian pact with vast and often hidden powers.
#3. Round the Bend (Vintage Classics), by Nevil Shute Norway
Nevil Shute is best known for the apocalyptic “On the Beach” and the romantic “A Town Called Alice”, but he also wrote a number of novels based on his day job as an aeronautical engineer. In “No Highway”, the unassuming air crash investigator Theodore Honey battles powerful corporate interests to ground a fleet of unsafe early jet planes, winning the heart of an air hostess and a Hollywood star along the way. “The Trustee in the Toolshed” tells the story of an engineer and model-maker who travels half way round the world to secure his niece’s inheritance, learning to fly and sail en route. But “Round the Bend” is perhaps the strangest: against the background of post-war aviation and the birth of the Persian Gulf oil industry, a young flight engineer starts a new religion based on aircraft maintenance, inspiring thousands of followers across the Middle East and Asia. Schute blends science with a personal mysticism - and takes a strong stand against Imperial racism and intolerance.