I’ve worked at the Book Corner now for about four and a half years. In that time, we’ve sold our share of blockbusters. There’ve been the 50 Shades of Grey series, Go the F●k to Sleep, the Hunger Games trilogy, and, of course R.R. Martin’s Games of Thrones franchise. Add to those immediate splashes the ongoing flow out the door of the Freakonomics pair of books and anything by Malcolm Gladwell.
From our vantage point, the book biz is as healthy as can be. And the hits, apparently, keep on coming. The big deal these days is French economist Thomas Piketty.
Kids, Piketty’s huge take on that dismal science, Capital in the Twenty-first Century, is flying off the shelves. It’s big in sheer heft, coming in at 685 pages. It’s big in price —$39.95. And it’s big in sales, natch, moving out its entire first printing less than a week after it hit the streets. Piketty’s publisher, Belknap Press (an imprint of Harvard U. Press), is hustling out a second printing, due May 12.
Literary experts are scratching their heads over the Capital phenomenon. Economics books are about as sexy Donald Trump in a Speedo®. Piketty, though, earned the imprimatur of the liberals’ darling and this holy land’s No. 1 haranguer against the 1%, Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman. New York magazine has called Piketty the “rock star economist.” Slate and The Nation are fawning over Piketty. Hell, next thing you know, Vanity Fair‘ll be doing a two-page, Annie Leibovitz spread of him in a Speedo®.
The Nation‘s reviewer quotes from Piketty’s Capital: an “…apparently small gap between the return on capital and the rate of growth can in the long run have powerful and destabilizing effects on the structure and dynamics of social inequality.” I consider myself a fairly smart potato but I have no goddamned idea in holy hell what that sentence means. Then again, I’m afflicted by a sort of economics retardation. On the third hand, how many people do you know actually understand the byzantine utterances of economists?
Much of the reason Piketty is breathing the same rarified air as Suzanne Collins and E.L. James is he actually offers strategies to ward off the oncoming crushing global oligarchy that’ll keep the rich ever richer and the poor ever poorer — and an ever-growing swath of the world population. Piketty, among other things, calls for taxing the bejesus out of obscene inherited wealth.
My guess is that millions of copies of Piketty’s Capital will be conspicuously left on coffee tables, the last 4-500 pages of which never being read. Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time was purchased for precisely the same reason some 25 years ago. People heard how exciting Hawking’s scribblings were and they dashed out out en masse get the book.
Problem was they found they had to actually read the damned thing which turned out to be a tad daunting.
I have no doubt most purchasers of Capital will come to the same conclusion.
Not that I’m getting all superior here: I probably wouldn’t get past page 63 of Piketty’s epic. The only diff. is I’m not going to buy the book in the first place. Economics, remember, is the dismal science.
Speaking of wealth, if you’ve made your wad in the porn rackets, Chase Bank doesn’t want your dough.
Honest. One of the too-big-too-fail financial mobsters of the world has sent letters to depositors who work in porn advising them to take their bank accounts elsewhere.
Porn Star Michelle Bombshell & Date At AVN Awards — Her Money’s No Good At Chase (photo by Nate “Igor Smith)
Imagine that! Chase’s parent co., JP Morgan Chase, made billions — shoot, hundreds of billions — defrauding customers by selling them bundles of mortgages that the bank knew were losers. Chase not long ago paid a record $13 billion fine for such activity, which largely caused the near global collapse of 2007-08.
Now, arts organizations, social service agencies, schools, libraries, and other cultural outfits are starving for cash and millions are still out of work. For that, JP Morgan Chase, rewarded its CEO, Jamie Dimon, to the tune of $20 million in 2013. Who sez crime doesn’t pay?
Anyway, if you take your clothes off for dough before rolling cameras, your deposits are dirty, as Chase sees it. The Chase gang, obviously, has an idiosyncratic sense of morality.
A for P stood on its head to stop Nashville, Tennessee’s proposed mass transit plan. Known as AMP, the $175 million project would improve movement into and around Nashville, cut down on auto traffic in the center city, and even clean up the air a bit. Natch, the Koch Monsters saw it as a commie plot to rob them of all their billions. Why? Who knows?
The Kochs, though, through their dummy assoc., leaned on the Tennessee state legislature to crush the Amp project — and any others like it.
These are the fellows, I remind you, on whose behalf the Reagan/Bush/Bush Supreme Court has turned American elections over to the plutocracy. Corporations are now people. Money is now speech. And the rich now run this holy land brazenly and without apology.
And if you need to take a bus to get anywhere in Nashville, well, fuck you. Go buy yourself a limousine like the Koch Boys did.
[Bonus anger-button issue: The Kochs of late have been standing on their heads again, this time to stop a tax levy to support the Columbus (Ohio) Zoo. Because, as you well know, animals are takers.]