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Finalist for the NBCC award for Criticism. Whether it's commentary on jaded youth, the ways technology has made us soft in the head, or how wrestling a hotel minibar into a bathtub is the best way to stick it to The Man, Ugresic writes with unmatched honesty and panache. Finalist for the NBCC award for Criticism. Whether it's commentary on jaded youth, the ways technology has made us soft in the head, or how wrestling a hotel minibar into a bathtub is the best way to stick it to The Man, Ugresic writes with unmatched honesty and panache.


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Finalist for the NBCC award for Criticism. Whether it's commentary on jaded youth, the ways technology has made us soft in the head, or how wrestling a hotel minibar into a bathtub is the best way to stick it to The Man, Ugresic writes with unmatched honesty and panache. Finalist for the NBCC award for Criticism. Whether it's commentary on jaded youth, the ways technology has made us soft in the head, or how wrestling a hotel minibar into a bathtub is the best way to stick it to The Man, Ugresic writes with unmatched honesty and panache.

30 review for Karaoke Culture

  1. 4 out of 5

    Antonomasia

    Ugrešić's few essays on former-Yugoslav literature in its context are engrossing, but too much of the other material here was mediocre. These weren't the sort of pieces that, based on the author's formidable reputation, I'd variously looked forward to reading, or assumed to be intimidating. In the past few weeks I've run into or read several discussions about contemporary essayists, so it's little surprise to me that I started reading one - a recommendation received a while ago, which I'd premat Ugrešić's few essays on former-Yugoslav literature in its context are engrossing, but too much of the other material here was mediocre. These weren't the sort of pieces that, based on the author's formidable reputation, I'd variously looked forward to reading, or assumed to be intimidating. In the past few weeks I've run into or read several discussions about contemporary essayists, so it's little surprise to me that I started reading one - a recommendation received a while ago, which I'd prematurely passed on to another friend before actually reading her work myself. (A bad habit of mine.) Within the first few pages, I realised that these days, I have very specific requirements for an essayist I'm going to like. And not an awful lot of writers are going to fill those. The internet is stuffed with polemic. Perhaps I now feel no need for published books that add to the cacophony of rants, unless they're exceptionally well-written, say something one doesn't see every day, and which I more or less agree with. Things I want from a [professional] essayist. - Time taken to marshal referenced evidence and carefully construct arguments and think in a way that participants in an online bunfight don't have the time and wherewithal to do. - The ability to see both sides. The other day I randomly opened Susan Sontag's Regarding the Pain of Others; there was just over a page about Georges Bataille keeping a photograph on his desk of a Chinese person being tortured; the writing was perfectly pitched, never losing sight of the horror or of intellectual freedom (with a hint of discomfort that did not detract from the essential detachment, but which gave the impression that if one said drily, "...though I don't think he's someone I'd have wanted to be close to", she'd agree). - An understanding of complexity and the coexistence of conditions which do not fit one-note polarised arguments - it's more important than ever now to have this, yet it is being lost as too many public intellectuals, even older ones, allow themselves to be swept up in shrill arguments on Twitter and trends in internet politics (too many younger ones come out of that scene in the first place). We need people who can stand above and aside from all that. - Wisdom, not hysteria: someone who has processed and thought through and come to terms with and integrated difficult events. Or at the very least understands that this is the best destination and tries for it. - An awareness of opinions as products of personal experience in themselves and others. - Excellent writing and wit: phrases that encapsulate something perfectly in a way I never could have. Makes my brain fizz. For this, I love Will Self's non-fiction pieces as much as the average Guardian below-the-line commenter hates them. I suspect I have an imaginary template for an 'ideal essayist' or 'ideal book of essays' - the hope that there is a non-fiction equivalent of Darkmans by Nicola Barker, which, when I read it in 2007, felt like someone had put just about every theme and type of character I'd want to put in a novel, in one, and then added a bunch of extra magic I never would have been able to. I could put my feet up, secure in the knowledge that it had been said. (The character of Rachel Briefman in Siri Hustvedt's 2014 novel The Blazing World has also become a beacon to me re. many of my views on current Western feminism. Not only has someone finally said it, someone with the audience and the credentials, but via a character who's calm and wise about exactly the same things that at times make me angry, which helps in a whole lot of ways.) Anyway, I'm not much of a fiction writer and I've known that for most of my adult life: it's essays, more than any other cultural product, that give my gyp in the 'coulda been a contender' chip on my shoulder. Oh, and great essayists can make something entirely coherent and seamless, hardly ever having to resort publicly to bullet points and jumpy chapter-by-chapter summaries to half-order their thoughts. This is the bit where a half-decent piece of writing turns messy. Not only because I didn't read Karaoke Culture in the order it's printed. 2)Buy the Jellyfish that Stung You Cool and striking title at least - it refers to an enterprising little tyke in an Adriatic seaside resort, who was trying to sell jars of jellyfish to tourists as souvenirs. This section features a lot of short, newspaper-column style pieces of just the sort I don't want to read in essay collections. Haven't been able to find out if they were first written for a particular publication. Most contain several points that I wanted a lot of elaboration on. Many of them skip around and lack focus. It's a bit mean-spirited at times (a statement it's impossible to make without being so oneself...). I wouldn't, in print, compare the appearance of the best hairdresser I'd found in years to a walrus, even in an affectionate way, and expect her to have anything to do with me ever again. And I don't doubt that there are some gold-digging Filipinas in Hong Kong, but there must be a slightly more compassionate way of writing about them than what's here. 'My ear the Chauvinist, My Eye the Misanthrope' went a little way to bringing some self-awareness to it (I especially like the second phrase and want to adopt & slightly modify it; it has potential to create a Buddhist-style detachment from instinctual/kneejerk aesthetic judgements) - but there wasn't as much as insight as one might hope, and it didn't carry over to the other pieces. Still, there were a few brain-fizz moments, and interesting insights about Croatia. Most of them negative, though - she rarely has a good word to say about the place. One of its chief offences appears to be lionising criminals. In the last few months, I've binge-watched a lot of Scandinavian detective series. Former Yugoslavia is where you get your dodgy bouncer types, big stupid hench-lumps of muscle. I was hoping to hear another side to the region to counter the accumulating stereotype. But it turns out Ugrešić is the wrong writer for that, just like you're not going to get very far by asking someone who's never recovered from an awful time growing up in Essex, bullied by tackily-dressed louts, to debunk TOWIE. 5) Afterword An essay by one of the translators about his study and travel experiences, and a minor hommage to Ugrešić ... there's nothing really wrong with it, but I wasn't quite sure why it was there. *shrug* 3) Without Anaesthesia Named after an Andrzej Wajda film: when talking to Polish writer Ryszard Kapuściński, she used it to describe her experience of fleeing Yugoslavia, and it turned out the main character was based on him. Oops. She does this kind of confessional-with-a-point, and with a cultural angle, not just blurting everything like some. There are 3 longer essays here; the first two are still somewhat bitty, though the second eventually hits a stride on the subject of Radovan Karadžić and his legacy - at time of writing he'd just been captured. 'A Question of Perspective', the third, is one of the most memorable in the book. Old wounds are opened when Ugrešić routinely opens a newspaper website and is ambushed by an interview with an aged Croatian professor, with a headline mentioning her. She tells how, at the beginning of the former-Yugoslav wars she was discredited and ostracised by colleagues for anti-nationalism and anti-war opinions, and how the media vilified her and a number of other Croatian female intellectuals, including Slavenka Drakulić, as enemies of Croatia, 'witches', lovers of Serbs and other trumped-up charges. She moved to Amsterdam in 1992 to escape this. A notable remark from a former colleague states, but we protected you - you weren't killed. Which gives some small indication of what it was like: if you were mean to someone who disagreed with you, but not violent, that in the tenor of the times felt pretty decent. The events happened fifteen years before she wrote the piece, but she's still very shaken; she isn't at a point where she's able to consider that sort of idea, only record the quote. I would hazard a guess that she hasn't done therapy about this or didn't find anything good... She examines the 'witch' idea not through detached, brief, historical examples; you can feel the unresolved trauma in the discourse more than ever as she goes into great detail about witchhunts against old women and children in contemporary rural Africa and India, the punishments and tortures meted out to the accused, and then uses these as metaphors for what she and the other writers experienced. I routinely nap whilst reading, but very rarely [recall a] dream about the current book: this essay, though, had been vivid and I was either her or someone like her, utterly exhausted by all these detractors and bleak, empty university corridors and rooms, dazed, sweating - perhaps it had stuck because I thought I might have started a row online by saying the wrong thing. 4) The Cookie that Made a Frenchman Famous Proust's Madeleine, yah? Of these four, the two middle essays are absolutely excellent, both about Croatian and former-Yugoslav literature, using it as ways to explore the history and culture of the region. The tight structure and coherence also throw into even greater relief 'A Question of Perspective'; how different the discourse is on her most comfortable territory. Topics in these two great pieces include various communist and post-communist era perspectives on the place politics of in art and literature and a drily witty survey of turn of the (19th-20th) century Croatian novels about young outsider-artist chaps. That was the time under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the cool places to go for art and study were Vienna and Prague ... When reading about another place and time, I love that sound of hinges and cogs as the world changes shape and acquires a new centre. 1) Karaoke Culture A long piece divided into ten parts: karaoke as a metaphor for the 'here comes everybody' participatory culture of the internet. The author, who's pretty much addicted to the internet, considers the internet destructive of culture, and comes round to it a bit near the end, which is something we've seen in countless pieces. This was written five years ago, and inevitably some of the content and perspectives are outdated already. On the central topic, there isn't anything new here - and I'm not sure there would have been in 2010 either. Despite my general sympathy with the topic, I didn't find much to agree with in its treatment here. (I think it was better when everyone didn't think they had a voice, and you had to pass the test of getting a job on a paper, in the same way as those on the centre and left in Britain have for decades agreed that capital punishment should not be subject to a single-issue referendum. There are plenty of things on which you can't trust the mob... more concerned about politics than Wattpad here... And I wish that the social internet was unchanged in sites and usage levels from 2007, and that there were no smartphones. Though I suppose I have a grudging gratefulness that, rather like the principle of the universal welfare state, internet posting activity is not only for those of us whose options of better things to do are limited.) For all its length, there's so much this essay seems to miss out; it doesn't address points with much focus: it's more of a ramble exploring related topics that interest the author - and many of them are interesting. There are a few notable weaknesses. A lack of appreciation and understanding of kitsch, for one (again I invoke Sontag and the heartwarming sincerity that can lie behind kitsch and camp). And, as throughout the volume, a lack of exploration of the meanings and intent behind Yugo-nostalgia (and Communist-era vintage trends in Eastern Europe generally). For the author herself it seems obvious why, as it was before that happened - but what about to all those people who supported the various nationalists in the war? A short scene in a Zygmunt Miłoszewski mystery seemed more eloquent, if a little enigmatic, on some people's motivations: a young guy is dressed just like someone in a 1970s East German youth film, to the private derision of the older detective (not knowing it's deliberate and subculturally fashionable); this vintage enthusiast works in the archive that keeps records of the former secret police, and is very keen on rooting out those ex-totalitarian enforcers who still walk around unpunished and gaming the system. It's on other aspects, and on factual details of her home region that Ugrešić is most eloquent and interesting here. An exhibition of gifts that members of the public sent to Tito. A Bulgarian Pop Idol contestant who went viral after mangling Mariah Carey. The popularity of Gobelin cross-stitch. A destructive rural equivalent of Poundbury built by a Serbian film director with connections that make him the local equivalent of a Russian oligarch. (It drew all the visitors away from a genuine nearby historic village and its inhabitants who made a living selling folk crafts to tourists.) Kudos to Ugrešić for being able to criticise Kusturica and say that his fame as a director is justifiable - not a nice bloke, yet still a good artist. This volume could do with more such nods to the idea of even-handedness - I was so often left feeling that I wanted another perspective on the local subjects discussed here. I picked up this book unprepared, and expecting someone different, someone the author isn't. What is it to be disappointed in, to give a middling review to, this embattled writer - merely because of personal expectations?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tuck

    #3 part 3 "a question of perspective" should have this shin's song as its sound. she was basically driven from former yugo, croatia for questioning why everybody had all the sudden turned into fascists. as james mercer sings, "i was taken for a fool cause i wasn't a fool" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcGFft... #3 part 3 "a question of perspective" should have this shin's song as its sound. she was basically driven from former yugo, croatia for questioning why everybody had all the sudden turned into fascists. as james mercer sings, "i was taken for a fool cause i wasn't a fool" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcGFft...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Larissa

    Review published in The L Magazine, here: http://www.thelmagazine.com/newyork/t... *** or the uninitiated, Dubravka Ugrešić’s essay collection Karaoke Culture provides an emblematic, if occasionally disjointed, snapshot of the author’s notable body of work. Available now just a year after its initial publication (very unusual for a translated work), Karaoke Culture is a timely collection on topics from the rise of participatory culture and “the anonymous artist” (the title essay), the preferred no Review published in The L Magazine, here: http://www.thelmagazine.com/newyork/t... *** or the uninitiated, Dubravka Ugrešić’s essay collection Karaoke Culture provides an emblematic, if occasionally disjointed, snapshot of the author’s notable body of work. Available now just a year after its initial publication (very unusual for a translated work), Karaoke Culture is a timely collection on topics from the rise of participatory culture and “the anonymous artist” (the title essay), the preferred nomenclature and adopted personas of third wave feminists (“Bitches”), the “psychopathology” of reflexively loving a homeland you didn’t choose (“No Country for Old Women”), and a personal reflection on the vicious media harassment which led Ugrešić to emigrate from the newly-formed Croatian state to the Netherlands in 1993 (“A Question of Perspective”). Reading Karaoke Culture is—in the best way possible—much like sitting with a highly caffeinated intellectual over tea. Ugrešić is a conversational writer; the zig-zagging structure of her essays suggests a fluid writing process that hews close to the author’s thoughts as she works from each initial observation to a final, incisive epiphany. Her cultural touchstones are restricted neither by country nor time nor genre: within the collection she makes easy reference to everything from Gone with the Wind and IKEA to Bulgarian Idol and Henry Darger. When these disparate references cohere within one essay, the effect is luminous. Only rarely within the dense collection does Ugrešić’s elliptical logic-dart miss its mark, leaving a few of the essays feeling somewhat over-determined. The 22 essays in Karaoke Culture read fast—several are only two or three pages—but the collection rewards rumination. On first reading, it might appear that Ugrešić is herself channel-surfing, hopping among divergent topics to simply cover as much ground as possible. But so much the better. Here she diagnoses contemporary culture in all its facets, underlying the parallels between ideologies and societies that have long understood themselves to be diametrically opposed. Throughout the collection, Ugrešić’s outspoken, absurdist humor and her genuinely global perspective shine through. Karaoke Culture is a rarity: a thoughtful, personal and informative work of socio-cultural critique that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

  4. 5 out of 5

    John

    Ugresic's titular essay is a bit much - and bows before the antiquated notions of "the canon" as singular artistic bar. I suppose, coming from the fierce and determined world of DIY publishing and music, the snotty fist in the face of the old guard, I have problems with the establish essayists and other monied professionals digging in and looking down their snots at the glorified amateur. While I agree with some of the points about the mainstreaming of "non-creation," I part ways when she bemoan Ugresic's titular essay is a bit much - and bows before the antiquated notions of "the canon" as singular artistic bar. I suppose, coming from the fierce and determined world of DIY publishing and music, the snotty fist in the face of the old guard, I have problems with the establish essayists and other monied professionals digging in and looking down their snots at the glorified amateur. While I agree with some of the points about the mainstreaming of "non-creation," I part ways when she bemoans the "everyone has a valid voice." The idea that popular culture has become a carnival boardwalk where all comers get a shot at knocking down the bottles glued together in a pyramid. But that sideshow is a scripted and controlled and not at all the karaoke that she seems to want to talk about. Yes, the professional is losing authority. But the idea that the professional had much authority to begin with creates a false premise. In other words, the professional is fine. What is not fine is the professionals' bloated sense of universality, of the unquestioned space of authority, and the self-importance that was completely self-created by the late 1960s. Where this essay works, it pops. But where it falls into the beautiful traps of aura, professional control, and exclusivity, it wails and whines and reads like a slow motion tantrum. The other essays in this book, also, skirt the line between populist insight and wilting retreat back into the musty halls of tradition. Thought provoking and well translated, I suppose, since it was highly readable in the sleight of hand European intelligentsia magazine column sort of way.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Zoe Elizabeth

    I received this book as part of the Goodreads, Firstreads giveway contests, but sadly I can't say this book really did much for me, but I thought the premise was interesting so I'm going to give it three stars anyway. For me, it just really wasn't my cup of tea, even though I usually love books like this. The title essay was fascinating, but I found there to be lots of lengthy explanations for things that really didn't need be explained in such detail. I decided that this might have to do with t I received this book as part of the Goodreads, Firstreads giveway contests, but sadly I can't say this book really did much for me, but I thought the premise was interesting so I'm going to give it three stars anyway. For me, it just really wasn't my cup of tea, even though I usually love books like this. The title essay was fascinating, but I found there to be lots of lengthy explanations for things that really didn't need be explained in such detail. I decided that this might have to do with the cultural barrier, and that things that an American might be familiar with, someone from Europe, and especially Eastern Europe might not be familiar with. The rest of the book was much more poetic and philosophical than I expected, and am used to. Though some of the content was interesting, I personally felt like the book was dragging due to the style in which it was written, it was beautiful, but much more academic and challenging than what I want in a book that I'm reading in my free time. I also found that as an American reader I couldn't relate to, or didn't know enough about some of the items or situations which were addressed in some of the essays, and that it was sometimes hard to keep my focus on the page. Overall, I think that it was beautifully written, and that there were many interesting ideas, but that I just wasn't the target audience. I think it would be a great read for those who love more academic books and those who have a deep background or knowledge of Europe.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Oriana

    via Publishers Weekly: "Over the past three decades, Ugresic has pierced pop culture, dissecting the absurdity of daily life with wit and style. Open Letter founder Chad Post considers this Ugresic's best book to date and one of the best books the press has published." via Publishers Weekly: "Over the past three decades, Ugresic has pierced pop culture, dissecting the absurdity of daily life with wit and style. Open Letter founder Chad Post considers this Ugresic's best book to date and one of the best books the press has published."

  7. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    This book has me falling off my bed laughing. God, how I love this womain!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Charlie

    While I like Ugresic's voice here, and I think she is an intensely intelligent thinker and writer, too many of these essays also felt reactionary and removed. A lot of the ideas found here could be found in any mediocre NYT opinion piece by a conservative columnist, except those would have far less panache. The whole notion of karaoke culture is fittingly catchy, but Ugresic doesn't seem interested in examining why those sort of cultural activities would be interesting or worthwhile. Her comment While I like Ugresic's voice here, and I think she is an intensely intelligent thinker and writer, too many of these essays also felt reactionary and removed. A lot of the ideas found here could be found in any mediocre NYT opinion piece by a conservative columnist, except those would have far less panache. The whole notion of karaoke culture is fittingly catchy, but Ugresic doesn't seem interested in examining why those sort of cultural activities would be interesting or worthwhile. Her comments about the confining ideas of nationality in literature are much better received in this corner. Overall a bit disappointed considering how much I was excited to dive into Ugresic's oeuvre, but we'll see how it compares to her fictional work.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

    The "karaoke" essay badly needed a translator familiar with Anglophone internet and fan culture. The translations for certain terms were off, maybe direct translations instead of the ones an English speaker would use, which made it seem hopelessly out of touch. Oh, and the reference to Black Americans reclaiming the n-word could have used someone familiar with American culture because the text used a hard r. It was definitely a cringe moment. Basically, terrible translation. The "karaoke" essay badly needed a translator familiar with Anglophone internet and fan culture. The translations for certain terms were off, maybe direct translations instead of the ones an English speaker would use, which made it seem hopelessly out of touch. Oh, and the reference to Black Americans reclaiming the n-word could have used someone familiar with American culture because the text used a hard r. It was definitely a cringe moment. Basically, terrible translation.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kaja

    Esej z refleksjami pisarki wokół współczesnej kultury, pisany w latach 2009-10. Sporo ciekawych wątków, błyskotliwych spostrzeżeń i refleksji łączących teraźniejszość z historią, zwł. Jugosławii. Jest gdzieś tu ten dylemat między prawem każdej osoby do zabrania głosu, a tym, czy to nas ubogaca, czy zawsze warto, czy zawsze trzeba.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Izzy Marie

    A must-read collection of essays that are startling in how prescient they are.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Gabrijela

    Zanimljiva i zabavna zbirka kratkih pričica ili osvrta iz autoričinog života u kojima se obračunava s društvom i kulturom današnjeg doba koju naziva karaoke kulturom. Pojave koje smo dosad mogli smatrati isključivo zapadnjačkim utjecajem - karaoke, sf literatura, cosplay, šarene nadgrobne ploče, virtualni svjetovi, zapravo su u nas anticipirani komunizmom, ili barem autorica tako predstavlja današnje stanje. Zbirka je zapravo i sovjevrsni autoričin obračun s niskom kulturom današnjega svijeta u Zanimljiva i zabavna zbirka kratkih pričica ili osvrta iz autoričinog života u kojima se obračunava s društvom i kulturom današnjeg doba koju naziva karaoke kulturom. Pojave koje smo dosad mogli smatrati isključivo zapadnjačkim utjecajem - karaoke, sf literatura, cosplay, šarene nadgrobne ploče, virtualni svjetovi, zapravo su u nas anticipirani komunizmom, ili barem autorica tako predstavlja današnje stanje. Zbirka je zapravo i sovjevrsni autoričin obračun s niskom kulturom današnjega svijeta u odnosu na visoku kulturu koja je nekoć postojala. Osnovno je obilježje karaoke kulture anonimni autor i intervencija za razliku od autora stvaraoca kojemu znamo ime i prezime i njegove originalnosti i invencije. Ne mogu se oteti dojmu da je ova knjiga vapaj ili nekakav izraz nostalgije za tzv. visokom umjetnošću, jer je autorica uvjerena da je današnje vrijeme ogrezlo u niskom. Možda bi bilo zanimljivo pročitati što o tome misle suvremeni autori, odnosno je li zaista sve tako negativno. Svojevremeno se i Matoša smatralo piscem male književnosti u odnosu na svjetsku književnost, ili flaneristom, odnosno feljtonistom. Možda i u tom "niskom" postoji nešto vrijedno, što opet nije samo intervencija ili umjetnost AA-a (anonimnog autora).

  13. 4 out of 5

    Robert Isenberg

    Brilliant and hilarious, yes. Ugresic grabbed me from the first page. But by the middle of the book, I had to sigh. Ugresic has a miserable outlook, without optimism or even hope. If I knew her personally, I'd worry about leaving her alone too long. Her gripes are not only with Balkan catastrophe, but with pretty much every technological advent. Iconoclastic as she is, Ugresic made me want to rebel against that very iconoclasm with American upbeatness: "Hey, lighten up, Dubravka! You live in Ams Brilliant and hilarious, yes. Ugresic grabbed me from the first page. But by the middle of the book, I had to sigh. Ugresic has a miserable outlook, without optimism or even hope. If I knew her personally, I'd worry about leaving her alone too long. Her gripes are not only with Balkan catastrophe, but with pretty much every technological advent. Iconoclastic as she is, Ugresic made me want to rebel against that very iconoclasm with American upbeatness: "Hey, lighten up, Dubravka! You live in Amsterdam. How bad could things be? Invest in some White Widow and relax, for crying out loud." That said, the titular essay is worth the full book, even if you read nothing else. While I don't particularly agree with Ugresic, and she pulls that typical European-intellectual trick of referencing a variety of things for a while and then shrugging her rhetorical shoulders at the end, I can enjoy this non-revelation once and only once. She is exactly the kind of person I would love to share a dzezva with, talking with extreme animation and civilly jibing each other. I'd fly to Holland just for that opportunity.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Picked this one up blind while doing research related to a novel concept I'm developing. A happy surprise, filled with many short observational essays (there's one about subverting mini-bars in it that is hilarious) in addition to the title essay, which is a long survey of the ways in which the masses imitate the arts (i.e., critical of American Idol, fan fiction, etc.). Felt very sympatico with much of the cultural critique of the propensity toward mimicry in the arts today -- or what another w Picked this one up blind while doing research related to a novel concept I'm developing. A happy surprise, filled with many short observational essays (there's one about subverting mini-bars in it that is hilarious) in addition to the title essay, which is a long survey of the ways in which the masses imitate the arts (i.e., critical of American Idol, fan fiction, etc.). Felt very sympatico with much of the cultural critique of the propensity toward mimicry in the arts today -- or what another writer I've read calls the "de-skilling" the arts. Ugresic writes in an enjoyable style, with sarcasm set to ten, and plenty of culture studies theory sophistication bubbling up from time to time. Liked it enough to take a lot of notes and to want to learn how to pronounce the author's the name correctly. Want to read her critique of publishing, Thank You for Not Reading, next.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Chad Post

    DISCLAIMER: I am the publisher of the book and thus spent approximately two years reading and editing and working on it. So take my review with a grain of salt, or the understanding that I am deeply invested in this text and know it quite well. Also, I would really appreciate it if you would purchase this book, since it would benefit Open Letter directly. Definitely one of Dubravka's best books to date. DISCLAIMER: I am the publisher of the book and thus spent approximately two years reading and editing and working on it. So take my review with a grain of salt, or the understanding that I am deeply invested in this text and know it quite well. Also, I would really appreciate it if you would purchase this book, since it would benefit Open Letter directly. Definitely one of Dubravka's best books to date.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    She has an absurd, angry voice that is different than anything else I've read. Reading this book at the same time as The Information was a good pairing. Maybe The Shallows next? She has an absurd, angry voice that is different than anything else I've read. Reading this book at the same time as The Information was a good pairing. Maybe The Shallows next?

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lyndon

    Ugresic writes with an unsettled tone. Her content and context is rarely 'at home' but elsewhere, in bars and hotels and shopping centres where her karaoke experience travels with her and informs the politics and psychology of those who fall under her gaze. This is a welcomed addition to Ugresic's translated works. Ugresic writes with an unsettled tone. Her content and context is rarely 'at home' but elsewhere, in bars and hotels and shopping centres where her karaoke experience travels with her and informs the politics and psychology of those who fall under her gaze. This is a welcomed addition to Ugresic's translated works.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    I loved this book of essays. The title essay is a fantastic discussion of the cult of amateurism and the plethora of amateur performances available for public consumption. Ugresic has a catching, intelligent, and humorous voice. I look forward to reading much more of her work.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Frank Mancino

    Some pieces are good, others just run on and on . . . Worth skimming.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nora

    she is pretty curmudgeonly, which i appreciated at some times more than other times. i appreciated her takedowns of social media. this book inspired me to learn more about the history of the balkans!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Interesting, entertaining, and more readable than some other collections of her essays. Received through Goodreads giveaway.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Yve Chairez

    These essays are hilarious and thought-provoking. Love the perspective that her Eastern European culture lends to the discussions. Couldn't put it down. These essays are hilarious and thought-provoking. Love the perspective that her Eastern European culture lends to the discussions. Couldn't put it down.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Ross

    Brilliant, witty, biting.

  24. 5 out of 5

    C N

  25. 5 out of 5

    Aurel Vukpalaj

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tijana Spasic

  28. 5 out of 5

    Becca

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ingrid

  30. 4 out of 5

    Matko

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