Max Read

  • Cracking the Coder

    At some point while reading Coders (Penguin Press, $28), technology writer Clive Thompson’s enjoyable primer on the world of computer programmers, I started to note the metaphors being deployed by Thompson and his subjects to explain what it is they do, exactly. Coding, my incomplete list tells me, is “being a bricklayer,” “playing a one-armed bandit in Las Vegas,” “deep-sea diving,” “combat on the astral plane,” “oddly reminiscent of poetry,” “oddly like carpentry,” “like knitting and weaving,” “like being a digital plumber,” and “like the relationship of gardeners to their gardens.” It “

  • No Thanks for the Memories

    The back cover of my review copy of Katerina describes it as “James Frey’s highly anticipated new novel, his first in ten years.” This assertion, maybe unsurprisingly for a Frey production, is not exactly true; depending on how you count, Frey has written as many as thirteen novels since 2008. Right there from his Amazon author page I can buy Frey’s The Final Testament of the Holy Bible, a novel in which a contemporary, bisexual, and extremely horny Jesus offers a searing critique of modern society, published in 2011 by the Gagosian Gallery and available in paperback, electronic, and

  • Commercial Break

    Not since William Steig’s C D B! have I read a book with as many capital letters as Ken Auletta’s Frenemies. Sometimes they appear, without warning, in the middle of names—the “L” in MediaLink, the “M” in VaynerMedia—but mostly they arrive in great alphabet-soup spoonfuls. In the first chapter, we learn that AT&T has dropped WPP, which owns JWT, AKQA, and KBM; later in the book we meet the CEOs of agencies like BBDO and DDB. Auletta sketches out the difference between a creative agency like IPG’s FCB and a media agency like WPP’s MEC; he teaches us that the media agency GroupM—the “M” arising