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Story + Poetry Reads

5 Books | by Ryan Miller

Past Reads
Snow Crash

Snow Crash

Books

One of Time’s 100 best English-language novels • A mind-altering romp through a future America so bizarre, so outrageous, you’ll recognize it immediately Only once in a great while does a writer come along who defies comparison—a writer so original he redefines the way we look at the world. Neal Stephenson is such a writer and Snow Crash is such a novel, weaving virtual reality, Sumerian myth, and just about everything in between with a cool, hip cybersensibility to bring us the gigathriller of the information age. In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo’s CosoNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he’s a warrior prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that’s striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about infocalypse.Praise for Snow Crash“[Snow Crash is] a cross between Neuromancer and Thomas Pynchon’s Vineland. This is no mere hyperbole.”—The San Francisco Bay Guardian “Fast-forward free-style mall mythology for the twenty-first century.”—William Gibson “Brilliantly realized . . . Stephenson turns out to be an engaging guide to an onrushing tomorrow.”—The New York Times Book Review
Elegy On Toy Piano

Elegy On Toy Piano

Books

In Elegy on Toy Piano, Dean Young's sixth book of poems, elegiac necessity finds itself next to goofy celebration. Daffy Duck enters the Valley of the Eternals. Faulkner and bell-bottoms cling to beauty's evanescence. Even in single poems, Young's tone and style vary. No one feeling or idea takes precedence over another, and their simultaneity is frequently revealed; sadness may throw a squirrelly shadow, joy can find itself dressed in mourning black. As in the agitated "Whirlpool Suite": "Pain / and pleasure are two signals carried / over one phoneline." In taking up subjects as slight as the examination of a signature or a true/false test, and as pressing as the death of friends, Young's poems embrace the duplicity of feeling, the malleability of perception, and the truth telling of wordplay.
Brave New World Revisited

Brave New World Revisited

Books

In 1958, author Aldous Huxley wrote what some would call a sequel to his novel Brave New World (1932) but the sequel did not revisit the story or the characters. Instead, Huxley chose to revisit the world he created in a set of twelve essays in which he meditates on how his fantasy seemed to be becoming a reality and far more quickly than he ever imagined. That Huxley’s book Brave New World had been largely prophetic about a dystopian future a great distress to Huxley. By 1958, Huxley was sixty-four-years old; the world had been transformed by the events of World War II and the terrifying advent of nuclear weapons. Peeking behind the Iron Curtain where people were not free but instead governed by Totalitarianism, Huxley could only bow to grim prophecy of his friend, author George Orwell, (author of the book 1984). It struck Huxley that people were trading their freedom and individualism in exchange for the illusory comfort of sensory pleasure--just as he had predicted in Brave New World. Huxley despairs of contemporary humankind’s willingness to surrender freedom for pleasure. Huxley worried that the rallying cry, “Give me liberty or give me death” could be easily replaced by “Give me television and hamburgers, but don’t bother me with the responsibilities of liberty.” Huxley saw hope in education; education that could teach people to see beyond the easy slogans and efficient ends and anesthetic-like influence of propaganda.
American Gods

American Gods

Books

Shadow is a man with a past. But now he wants nothing more than to live a quiet life with his wife and stay out of trouble. Until he learns that she's been killed in a terrible accident.Flying home for the funeral, as a violent storm rocks the plane, a strange man in the seat next to him introduces himself. The man calls himself Mr. Wednesday, and he knows more about Shadow than is possible.He warns Shadow that a far bigger storm is coming. And from that moment on, nothing will ever he the same...
Skirmish

Skirmish

Books

New poetry by Dobby Gibson, author of Polar, which "teems with a language so alive and so imaginative that one cannot help but read on with wonder and rapture" (The Bloomsbury Review) We have to escape while we can. I'm trying to remember you--quick, now you try to remember me. --from "Refuge" With sheer wit and keen observation, Dobby Gibson's Skirmish puts into conflict the private and public self, civil disobedience and civic engagement, fortunes told and fortunes made. These poems imaginatively, sometimes manically, move from perception to perception with the speed of a mind forced moment by moment to make sense of distant war and local unrest, global misjudgment and suspicious next-door neighbors, the splice-cuts of the media and the gliding leaves on the Mississippi River.