Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Kunkel's "Utopia or Bust": Made Me Want to Read and Write More

When I first heard that Jacobin and Verso were teaming up, I was super-jazzed.
They offered six books for fifty bucks around the Christmas of 2013.
I was like that meme of Fry where he’s saying “Take My Money!”

Basically, I have achieved a level of material success where I still have revolutionary desires and our household income is a bit more than the US household median income. So I have a need and a desire to give the money to the revolutionary presses that I can fulfill. My favorite thing is to sit on my couch and read and drink beer. I often read of revolution, and I can help create a future where the workers of the world, who once united, can lose their chains and drink beer and do their own reading. Verso and Jacobin will help facilitate that.

So I bought the books through the publishers, and ended up with the first batch. I read the other two books right quick, but for some reason I let this one sit. I think I had tried to read it once, but I was sad at the the structure of <add introduction + previous essays = book>. I put it down and on my shelf, even though I had not read any of the essays previously.

But last weekend, I picked it back up. The essays in the book are about writers, for the most part, that I admire or have read. There are a couple of ones about unfamiliar writers to me, so I can’t make a judgement on them, since I only know them through Kunkel’s lense. But the ones that we cross over the things I’ve read and he’s read, show the writers I like in a new light and made me think more and broader and deeper about them. His essay on David Harvey illustrates this - it just helps put my own reading of Harvey in context of other thinkers.

Here’s the best thing about the book. It broadens my horizon, in that I want to read more about the people who he talks about but am only tangentially familiar with. I guess it’s time for me to put Fredric Jameson on my reading list. But the real best thing is that it makes me want to write more just by engaging in the ideas that the author engages with. Kunkel is a clear and exact writer that holds the attention even when writing about  unfamiliar subjects.