by Stacy Wakefield
2014, Akashic Books
In The Sunshine Crust Baking Factory, author Stacy Wakefield sets out to capture the spirit and energy of the squatters community in New York City in the mid-1990s by way of a novel. Over the course of the novel, readers get a good snapshot of what squatting was like, with tales of punk shows, squats, battles with the cops, evictions, and the joy of living rent free. It does an excellent job of portraying the experience of squatting and the surrounding scene.
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Directed and written by: Oliver Assayas
Content Warning: Drug use, police brutality.
Something in the Air is a French film that follows about a six-month period in the lives of several radical high school students. The film—which was originally titled Après Mai in French (“After May”)—is set in 1971 and is primarily concerned with how the students negotiate the decline of the political movement following the May 1968 events. In viewing it, you get the sense that it isn’t just about the characters in the film, but rather is a broader commentary on May 1968, its aftereffects, and even the decline of revolutionary movements more generally. For me, it was worth watching on that level alone and the plot seemed somewhat incidental, although it definitely helps that the story is interesting and is far from being just a political essay converted to film.
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by James W. Hall
2013, Minotaur Books
I came upon Going Dark by James Hall randomly on a trip to the library. Perhaps it was blocking another book I went to reach for, but for some reason, I picked it up and opened it. The blurb on the inside of the jacket began by explaining what the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) is and immediately after that, I knew I was going to have to read the book. After all, what anarchist could turn it down the opportunity to read a thriller about the ELF taking out a nuclear power plant?
Almost three-hundred pages later, I can safely say that while Going Dark was interesting in terms of how it portrayed the Earth Liberation Front (more on that later in the review), it really is not worth reading. It’s a mystery/thriller, part of a series written by author James W. Hall featuring the South Florida-based private investigator Thorn. Thorn is your typical male detective type, he doesn’t say a lot and generally keeps to himself as a cynical loner on the outside of society with few personal relationships. He has a strong independent streak and a kind of knee-jerk skepticism of government and society, although much of his personality follows the more negative trends of masculine stoicism. I had never read any of the other Thorn novels and Going Dark didn’t really build on the previous books, aside from the fact that Thorn seemed to be in a bit more of a funk than usual because in the last book he found out that he had a son named Flynn whose existence he didn’t learn about until last year (his son is now in his twenties).
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