Friday November 6th, 2009

The Beat

A weekly roundup of noteworthy reviews from other sources.

tormentedhopeHilary Mantel reviews Tormented Hope, a study of nine notable hypochondriacs that will be published in the U.S. in early 2010. She likes the book (”full of insight and beautifully constructed, with a wealth of cultural reference and a breadth of imagination behind them”), and her review is full of its own rewards: “All of us treat [our bodies] as other; they are not our essential selves, they are what we drag around with us, a suitcase or steamer trunk with dubious, ever shifting contents, a piece of luggage we didn’t pack ourselves.” . . . In Atomic Obsession, John Mueller tries to quell fears about nuclear weapons, in the hands of terrorists or others. Stuart Reid says the book soothes some misplaced anxiety, but ignores the reality of deterrence theory. . . . Elaine Showalter sizes up William Shawcross’ biography of the Queen Mother, an “enormous record of a dutiful and privileged life.” . . . Bill Broun reads Paul Auster’s new novel and swings from appreciation to disappointment or from disappointment to appreciation — and back again? (“Invisible undoubtedly plays to rarefied readerly appetites, yet Auster’s painless, if at times overwritten, prose style, and the conventionally artistic, middle-class characters, go down easily.”) . . . Occasionally, I read a review of a book even though I wouldn’t read the book itself in a billion years. A biography of Rick Warren is one of those books: “The secret to Warren’s success is that he found people responsible for their own success in life and convinced them that it was all due to God.”