Tuesday August 4th, 2009

In the Ether

empire-fallsD. G. Myers makes the case for Richard Russo’s Empire Falls as a great Catholic novel, and says that, “Few other American writers, living or dead, have believed as strongly as Richard Russo that the ordinary things of this world, perceived in their ordinariness, are worthy of close attention and perhaps even redemptive.” (A review of Russo’s new novel will be up on The Second Pass on Thursday.) . . . The L. A. Times unearths an obituary from 1899 of a reader who committed suicide: “I read books every day. They act on me as a narcotic. I dope myself with them. They make me forget for a moment, for there is a continual struggle going on — to be or not to be…. I have tried to get opium but failed.” . . . Bookdwarf asks if this is the best book cover ever. If it’s not, I want to see what beats it. . . . Robert Birnbaum expresses his “vexation at the declining attention paid to the study of history” and recommends three recent books on the subject, all of them quite short. . . . The protagonist of Ian McEwan’s next novel is a “Nobel prize-winning physicist who faces media attacks after he suggests that men outnumber women at the top of his profession because of inherent differences in their brains.” McEwan also “admitted to increasing frustration about climate change deniers as he researched the book.” I like McEwan, but we’ll see; this doesn’t sound like promising material for a novel.