Friday August 14th, 2009

The Beat

A weekly roundup of noteworthy reviews from other sources.

maple-storiesBrooke Allen assesses John Updike’s series of stories about the Maples, which has just been reissued in a handsome volume. It was originally published as Too Far to Go, which I read and enjoyed many years ago. Updike in his foreword to the book: “That a marriage ends is less than ideal; but all things end under heaven, and if temporality is held to be invalidating, then nothing real succeeds.” . . . Joanna Scott looks to correct the “waning” of American interest in the work of Isak Dinesen, who wrote Out of Africa, among many other books. . . . Benjamin Moser has written a biography of Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector, who, according to a translator, “looked like Marlene Dietrich and wrote like Virginia Woolf.” She’s not well known in the U.S., but in Brazil her “face stares from postage stamps, and her name adorns luxury condominiums.” Dwight Garner judges that, “Mr. Moser, for the most part, is a lucid and very learned tour guide, and his book is a fascinating and welcome introduction to a writer whose best work should be better known in this country.” . . . A new book about genetics argues that it’s “as wrong as it is misguided [to] exaggerate the narrowness of the gap between chimpanzees and ourselves.” . . . Alison Gopnik (sister of Adam) has written a book about the extraordinary psychology of (human) babies. Josh Lacey says it’s “packed with provocative observations and cunning insights.”