absfac + finished:2018   2

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, by John Carreyrou (@Kindle)
Finished 2018-06-10. Recommended. A brisk read, funny and maddening.

A consistent theme here is very successful old men deciding to rely too much on social proof and gut instinct over due diligence, physical evidence, and the advice of more conscientious but lower status people around them.

Also, to be frank, Stanford doesn't come off looking too great, particularly the Hoover Institution, although I guess anyone with a clue already knew that Hoover is a pernicious parasite.
booklog  nonfiction  finished:2018  silicon-valley  biotechnology  venture-capital  stanford  conservatism 
june 2018 by absfac
Free Food for Millionaires, by Min Jin Lee (@Kindle)
Finished 2018-01-05. Recommended. Remarkably rich, thematically and characterologically, for a first novel. On the other hand, I found it a little longer and more meandering than I wanted it to be, and your enjoyment may be modulated by your tolerance for detailed portraiture of the manners of upper-middle-class people in the orbits of Ivy League alumni networks and New York finance.

I'm a Korean-American from the New York area myself, and via my family and acquaintances thereof from my youth I have had some very attenuated contact with the world that Lee describes here. It wasn't much, but even that small dose ultimately filled me with disgust and resentment, and I'm pretty glad that I bailed out and went West to become a Bay Area computer geek. By all rights, I should find this novel annoying as fuck, just because of what it reminds me of. But I enjoyed it! So probably you will too.

One problem with writing novels set in contemporary America is that Americans have shed much of the social constraint that provides the potential energy for novels of manners set in past times or foreign cultures. In the 1990s Korean-American community in New York, Lee locates a subculture that is as repressed and status-obsessed as the English were a century earlier, and mines this fertile ground, obtaining in the process a surprising and unique window into the American psyche more generally (for the manners and attitudes of class that Lee describes are hardly limited to Korean-Americans).

Also Lee writes with exceptional compassion for every single one of her characters, even the choicest douchebags of New York banking, and I think you have to read the novel to believe it.
booklog  finished:2018  fiction 
january 2018 by absfac

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