I am afraid that I have to be brief here. I am moving in 3 days and have to get all my work done before then. But it’s almost like the Globe knew I wasn’t going to be able to do the usual long roundup.
This week the Books section is topical—Religion. They cover the usual suspects of new books: Whose Bible is it? by Jaroslav Pelikan, God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It by Jim Wallis, some books on the Pope, 3 new books on Jesus, a chronicle of 10 new relgious books, and of course, recommended classics.
They ran some of their usual columns fortunately on page 4. James Sallis’ ‘A Reading Life‘ column discusses The Great Gatsby. He reveals that until last week he had never read the book! This brings to mind Carrie’s recent post about books you are embarassed to admit that you haven’t read. Many people chimed in with their confessions. Sallis also is afraid to admit that he finds Gatsby to be not that brilliant:
“Still, the whole time, there was another voice—that of the little devil on my left shoulder, by the good ear, the one that kept clearing its throat adn whispering stuff like:
Kinda thin, don’t you think?
What, you believe these characters? They act like anybody you know?
Guy does everything, money, huge house, the works, just to get close to this girl he’s had the hots for for years, huh? Sure he does!
What’s with this Nick guy anyway?
And so on.
Now, obviously the little devil and I are both wrong about this novel. (See above: masterpiece, etc.)”
I like his honesty. He doesn’t blather on about what a cornerstone of literature Gatsby is, etc.
We also get the ‘On Crime‘ column by Hallie Ephron. She covers Hard Truth by Nevard Barr, The Sign of the Book by John Dunning, and Missing Persons by Stephen White. All 3 books are set in Colorado and she seems to like them.
In ‘Short Takes’, Amanda Heller gives us 3 well-written short reviews of The Earth and Sky of Jacques Dorme by Andrei Makine, Portable Prairie: Confessions of an Unsettled Midwesterner by M.J. Andersen, and The Quarry by Damon Galgut. Galgut’s new book is a paperback original from Grove, I might add. They left in the Bookings and Local Bestsellers columns and there you have the entire book review section.
I can’t even grade it this week—3 short short fiction reviews? Granted, I liked Sallis’ column. It’s nice to see classics being reread and discussed. I suppose it’s not much different when the NYTBR devotes whole issues to movies and poetry. But religion? Oi.