60 in 60: 23 Books in 3 Lines in 1 Post

As the above photo shows, I’ve been preoccupied with shooting down deadlines. The 60 in 60 on the Penguin Great Ideas series should resume next week–who knew I meant 60 books in 60 years–but in the meantime, I’ve been prepping by reading the back covers and first page of each one (cheating? who knows). To give you a preview based on my gleanings, here are my three-line non-trad haikus on each. Prepare to be horrified.

#37 – Henry David Thoreau’s Where I Lived and What I Lived For

Hippy words
Talks to trees
Dirty yellow toenails

#38 – Thorstein Veblen’s Conspicuous Consumption

Buy useless things
Be damned
But I breathe the same air

#39 – Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sysyphus

Roll that rock
Revolt against gods
Suicide is vexing, dude

#40 – Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann and the Holocaust

Pulls trigger
Pats grandson’s head
Same hand

#41 – Plutarch’s In Consolation to His Wife

My love
My love for the living
Outweighs that for the dead

#42 – Robert Burton’s Some Anatomies of Melancholy

Drunken sadness
Love and beauty, but pray tell:
What is the quality of your meat?

#43 – Blaise Pascal’s Human Happiness

Live in balance
Boredom is one with anxiety
Man, flies really suck

#44 – Adam Smith’s The Invisible Hand

It pusheth one nobly toward the right
One cherry tree becomes an orchard
Look how well that’s worked this year, idiot

#45 – Edmund Burke’s The Evils of Revolution

Freedom doused in blood
Is too red to recognize itself
A smile across the neck never lasts

#46 – Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Nature

Hippy words
Talks to trees
Dirty yellow fingernails

#47 – Soren Kierkegaard’s The Sickness Unto Death

Despair is sin
Except when it isn’t
Winter comes to all eventually

#48 – John Ruskin’s The Lamp of Memory

See the artistry of that mansard
Or the filigree of that balcony
God lives there

#49 – Friedrich Nietzsche’s Man Alone with Himself

Facebook status deep and brooding
I am angsty devil can bullshit good
…Wanna come back to my place and look at my cock?

#50 – Leo Tolstoy’s A Confession

The Master can be found there
Sit with Him beneath
The shade of many trees

#51 – William Morris’ Useful Work vs Useless Toil

Beggars and burghers alike
Have eyes in their heads
An unexpected rose in the gutter

#52 – Frederick Jackson Turner’s The Significance of the Frontier in American History

Too large an expanse
Self-sufficient down-to-earth
A thousand strip malls

#53 – Marcel Proust’s Days of Reading

The flicker of light
From the third floor window
Pages opening onto a conflagration

#54 – Leon Trotsky’s An Appeal to the Toiling, Oppressed and Exhausted Peoples of Europe

No one can be happy
When blood turns to gold in your veins
Look up, sheep, to your fleecing

#55 – Sigmund Freud’s The Future of an Illusion

I use words
Like others use French horns
Through the din: clarity

#56 – Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Replicate me please
Replicate me please
Why all these eyes?

#57 – George Orwell’s Books v. Cigarettes

Five pence for a pack
Ash stains on the armchair
A curl of smoke from the page

#58 – Albert Camus’ The Fastidious Assassins

Look up, sheep, to your fleecing
Gold turns to blood in your veins
But a smile across the neck never lasts

#59 – Frantz Fanon’s Concerning Violence

Things fall apart
Heart of darkness
Isn’t it enough?

#60 – Michel Foucault’s The Spectacle of the Scaffold

Horrifying end
Drawn and quartered
Nothing left, but took too long


  1. says

    As much as I am horrified to suggest the idea that you don’t bother actually reading the rest of the series, I will offer the opinion that you’ve just made your job much harder in that you’re going to have to top these when you actually review the books. Good luck, Jeff. Evil Monkey is probably laughing his ass off right now.

    (I especially like the re-use of lines as, really, so much of literature is response to what has come before, innit?)

  2. Colin says

    You don’t get off that easy, Jeff. Nice try, but I want to see your nose back at the grindstone next week. And I wondered whether this project would do for your sanity. No. 56 is damning evidence indeed.

  3. says

    I’m looking forward to your “full” review of #60, for professional reasons. Not that I really want to have my boss drawn and quartered, but to see what you make of Foucault’s arguments :P

  4. says

    #44 Adam Smith literally wrote the book on Capitalism. The problems we face now are pretty much a result of fucking assholes thinking they know better and gaming the system, unchecked, for all they could get.

    Capitalism is not the problem. Uncontrolled, unchecked and unpunished gratuitous greed is the problem. They are not the same thing.

  5. Transfiguring Roar says

    lol. took me a couple to realize what was going on.

    As for the problem – ideas are not will.

  6. GlenH says

    Adam Smith’s view of capitalism wasn’t a whole lot different from Milton Friedman’s and it’s their style of capitalism (on a basic level “the less restriction the better”) that has emphatically landed us in this mess.

  7. says

    Okay, based on Colin Brush’s reference to this blog entry, I finally read all the three-line summaries. Some of these are pretty good! You may be onto something here. Maybe you’re crazy, maybe you’re not, but you’re definitley something.

    Oh, and I agree with undeadbydawn about capitalism.