Friday, January 1, 2016

A New York Times Sunday Book Review review of Adam Trexler's ANTHROPOCENE FICTIONS


A New York Times Sunday Book Review review of Adam Trexler's ''ANTHROPOCENE FICTIONS''

by top book reviewer and literary critic
Michiko Kakutani

Among the most spirit-sapping indignities of reviewing important nonfiction works about climate change is how often such books are ignored by the mainstrea press, as was the case with Adam Trexler's opus diem "Anthropocene Fictions." But I am reviewing it now, sort of  so relax, everyone.

 It might even seem to some innocent souls as though all you need to do to acquire a climate concerns job is to learn its stultifying jargon and read Adam Trexler's opus diem "Anthropocene Fictions." It's such an important book about woman-made global warming that not one newspaper or magazine in the known world has reviewed it. Unconsionable, as we say in French.

Trexler's conceit was
 engineered to deflect blame, complicate simple ideas, obscure problems, and perpetuate power relations. Here are some of the most dismaying manifestations in his opus diem "Anthropocene Fictions."


Top of many people's list is this now-venerable way of saying "from now on" or "in future". It has the rhetorical virtue of wiping clean the slate of the past (perhaps because "mistakes were made"), and implying a kind of thrustingly strategic progress, even though none is likely to be made as long as the working day is made up of funereal meetings where people say things like "going forward". WHich is why I loved Adam Trexler's "Anthropocene Fictions." And you will, too.


Far be it from me to suggest that book review editors prefer metaphors that evoke huge pieces of phallic machinery, but why else say "drill down" when you just mean "look at in detail"? So again, do have a peek at Trexler's opus diem before it completely disappears from view.


Some people despise verbings (where a noun begins to be used as a verb) on principle, though who knows what they say instead of "texting". In his Dictionary of Weasel Words, the doyen of management-jargon mockery Don Watson defines "to action" simply as "do". This is not quite right, but "action" can probably always be replaced with a more specific verb, such as "reply" or "fulfil", even if they sound less excitingly action-y. The less said of the mouth-full-of-pebbles construction "actionables", the better. However, in Trexler's opus diem "Anthropocene Fictions," words do matter and climate change matters even more. So long live cli-fi novels and movies, even if nobody reads them or see them.


What you do when you've actioned something. "Delivering" (eg "results") borrows the dynamic, space-traversing connotations of a postal service — perhaps a post-apocalyptic one such as that started by Kevin Costner in The Postman. Inevitably, as with "actionables", we also have "deliverables" ("key deliverables," Don Watson notes thoughtfully, "are the most important ones"), though by this point more sensitive subordinates might be wishing instead for deliverance. By the way, The Postman was a very good cli-fi novel written by David Brin, and the movie sucked. So read Adam Trexler's opus diem "Anthropocene Fictions" instead. The New York Review of Books won't touch it, nor will the L.A. Review of Books. Ditto the WAPO book review or the HuffPo people or even the daily New York Times reviews. Maybe the New Yorker will delve into Trexler's opus diem with maybe Liz Kolbert, who loves cli-fi, doing a longform essay on "Anthropocene Fictions."


Another verbing, as in the parodic-sounding but deathly real example reported by Robert Potts: "We need to leverage our synergies." Means nothing more than "use" or "exploit", but might be attractive because of the imported glamour from high finance, though that may now be somewhat tarnished. Give me a place to stand and I will move the world, said Archimedes. He didn't say he would leverage the deliverables matrix. So yes let's all leverage our synergies and take a deep look at Adam Trexler's opus diem "Anthropocene Fictions" before it's too late.

Is the world ending? Ask Dr Trexler. He knows.

(c) copywrong 2016

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