Alex's Picks

Alex joined the Malaprop's team in June 2018. He graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 2015 with an English B.A. and an interdisciplinary minor in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. In 2016 he relocated to Asheville and has been here since.

When he isn't selling books, he plays saxophone in a band with his housemates, has a music project of his own, and DJs regularly. He also writes for a music webzine and works nights at a local music venue.



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Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age Cover Image
ISBN: 9780395937587
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - September 14th, 2000

It is difficult to exaggerate the extent to which World War I upended culture, art and humanity’s relationship to itself and the world. So Modris Eksteins compellingly argues in his 1989 book Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age. Though ultimately centered around WWI, Eksteins uses a wide lens in his attempt to capture the causes, effects, and underlying meaning (or lack thereof) of a conflict unprecedented in its totality and destruction.

Context, rather than military history of the war itself, is the engine that drives Rites of Spring. Eksteins outlines the undersung and often under-researched factors that planted the seeds for the war and the birth of modern consciousness: novel forms and conceptions of art (namely Stravinsky’s avant-garde and widely influential 1913 ballet The Rite of Spring), technological advances, and the challenging cultural/economic transformations they represented. While the war itself was the modern era’s apotheosis, Rites of Spring triumphs by highlighting cultural and economic shifts that wet the clay of modernism years before WWI shaped it into a recognizable form. To be sure, much of the book concerns itself with the battlefield, but Eksteins is less preoccupied with tactical details than the staggering trauma the war inflicted both on the soldiers on front and at home. He paints a broad portrait of the war as an event of totality, overwhelming in form and scope, with ramifications that left no one unaffected.

A century later, we are faced with a different set of conflicts that have transformed global culture. Indeed, recent decades have introduced tragedies and endless wars we have not before encountered, in a technological landscape hitherto unimaginable. Instead of totality, war now exists in a state of precarious uncertainty. The 20-year-old war in the Middle East exists far away from our daily lives, a spasmodic, distant, and aimless rendering of the 20th century conflicts that have now wholly enveloped the American homeland. Broader national tensions are now less overt, hidden within a complex web of global interrelations and tense interdependence. In the 21st century, outright military aggression between global powers has been outsourced to economic sanctioning, election meddling, and hacking. Mass shootings and terrorist attacks have morphed public spaces into beacons of vulnerability with omnipresent security and surveillance. The smartphone has revolutionized social relations and cultural exchange. Finally, ecological collapse and climate disaster become more tangible every year.

Surely these forces have had a monumental effect on culture and consciousness, parallels to the global transformations that took place a century ago. Rites of Spring serves as encouragement to examine these changes, if not as a preventative measure against war, then at least for a better understanding of ourselves and an enriched sense of political/cultural direction. Eksteins uses a kaleidoscopic lens, breaking World War I down into a set of discrete phenomena that forms a portrait of modernity. We would do well to adopt his methodology to examine our own condition.

Can the Left Learn to Meme?: Adorno, Video Gaming, and Stranger Things Cover Image
ISBN: 9781785357237
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Zero Books - December 1st, 2019

New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future Cover Image
ISBN: 9781786635488
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Verso - May 21st, 2019

Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250178268
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Henry Holt and Co. - April 16th, 2019

If you are going to read one non-fiction book this year, it needs to be this one. Veteran environmentalist Bill Mckibben makes it painfully clear that there is no 21st century issue that comes close in importance and urgency than global warming (I join theorist Timothy Morton in his refusal to “call it climate change - the globe is literally heating up because of greenhouse gases.”) From flooding to drought to forest fires to refugee crises to military conflict to food shortages, Mckibben makes it apparent that we have a lot to worry about. And we are not worrying enough.

   Though the global warming discussion is the standout part of the book, Mckibben also makes a compelling case against AI/Machine learning & human genetic engineering (the latter of which, Mckibbon explains, will further exacerbate inequality & lead to a “genetically elite” class of humans).

  Falter is frightening, and rightly so. But Mckibben does offer a glimpse of hope in the final chapters; although he is not optimistic about our future, he contends that we still have some time to prepare for (and maybe prevent) the worst to come. But the clock is ticking, and fast.

Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic Cover Image
ISBN: 9781620402528
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury Press - April 5th, 2016

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525576709
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tim Duggan Books - February 19th, 2019

Climate change is not just one among many political/economic issues we should concern ourselves with today. Rather, it should be thought of as the political/economic issue of our age, an umbrella under which all other issues - socioeconomic, political, humanitarian, etc.- inevitably and increasingly fall. Even in the first few pages, Wallace-Wells makes it evident that it is, in fact, “worse, much worse” than you think. That a significant number of politicians and leaders don’t recognize climate change as a legitimate threat is both laughable and demonstrably unfounded. Whether or not we decide to recognize and (attempt to) prepare for the destruction climate change will undoubtedly bring (and is already bringing), it is coming, and coming fast.

Though he offers a dearth of evidence and facts, this is not a scientific book written by an environmentalist or climate scientist. Rather, it’s a book about what will happen - often, what is going to happen - to civilization in the age of climate change. Without sugarcoating the truth, Wallace-Wells lays out quite plainly that we need to prepare - and fast - for what’s coming.

K-punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher Cover Image
By Mark Fisher, Darren Ambrose (Editor), Simon Reynolds (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781912248285
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Repeater - November 13th, 2018

K-Punk collects the writings of the late Mark Fisher, an acclaimed (if lesser-known) political activist, critic, publisher, cultural theorist, & lecturer. He rose to prominence with his seminal blog k-punk, one among a handful of early 2000s music & culture-oriented blogs that operated as a conduit for autodidacts, independent researchers, and estranged/disillusioned academics to channel theory and criticism free of bureaucratic & capitalistic influence. Fisher wrote extensively & became an authority on many pioneering subjects including capitalist realism, a critical framework Fisher used to explore capitalism’s oppressive influence on public thought, mental health, & politics. His succinct & accessible writing style belies the complexity of the ideas he explored, & he often used his platform to challenge the nepotism, pretentiousness & exclusivity of academia and forward-thinking art.


“Fisher wrote obsessively [...] about his totems: Kubrick’s films; the glam artpop of Roxy Music, Japan, and Grace Jones; the eldritch visions of Joy Division and the Fall; darkside jungle pioneers such as Rufige Kru and more recent post-rave touchstones including ghostly dubstep genius Burial [....]Drawn to the bleak and uncompromising, Fisher was too sharp to fall into knee-jerk opposition to pop, and celebrated Rihanna, Girls Aloud, Róisín Murphy and other chart stars.”

-Simon Reynolds, friend & fellow writer

The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America Cover Image
ISBN: 9780544947108
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - April 18th, 2017

A Little Life Cover Image
ISBN: 9780804172707
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - January 26th, 2016

Capital in the Twenty-First Century Cover Image
ISBN: 9780674979857
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Belknap Press - August 14th, 2017

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143127741
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - September 8th, 2015

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By Night in Chile Cover Image
By Roberto Bolaño, Chris Andrews (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780811215473
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions - December 17th, 2003

It All Adds Up: From the Dim Past to the Uncertain Future Cover Image
By Saul Bellow, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780143106685
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Classics - June 5th, 2018

Kitchen Confidential Updated Ed: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly Cover Image
ISBN: 9780060899226
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - January 9th, 2007

Letters to a Young Poet Cover Image
By Rainer Maria Rilke, Mark Harman (Translator)
ISBN: 9780674052451
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harvard University Press - April 18th, 2011

Fully Automated Luxury Communism Cover Image
ISBN: 9781786632623
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Verso - June 11th, 2019

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Middlemarch Cover Image
By George Eliot, Rosemary Ashton (Editor), Rosemary Ashton (Introduction by), Rosemary Ashton (Notes by)
ISBN: 9780141439549
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Classics - March 25th, 2003

Inadvertent (Why I Write) Cover Image
By Karl Ove Knausgaard, Ingvild Burkey (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780300221510
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Yale University Press - September 4th, 2018

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A Time for Everything Cover Image
By Karl Ove Knausgaard, James Anderson (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780980033083
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Archipelago - November 20th, 2009

The Latest Winter Cover Image
ISBN: 9781786994691
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Zed Books - September 15th, 2018