Friday November 20th, 2009

The Beat

A weekly roundup of noteworthy reviews from other sources.

koestler1Christopher Hitchens reviews a forthcoming authorized biography of Arthur Koestler: “Otto Katz once said to [Koestler], ‘We all have inferiority complexes of various sizes, but yours isn’t a complex—it’s a cathedral.’ Koestler liked this remark so much that he included it in his autobiography, thus attaining the status of one who could actually brag about his inferiority complex as if size mattered.” . . . I think I’ll award Sentence of the Week to M. John Harrison, for this, from his review of Stephen King’s latest mammoth, Under the Dome: “There are many different kinds of guns, and by the end everything but a nuclear weapon has been set off, in a kind of localized Stalingrad of the hick mind.” . . . Bernard Porter offers a provocative review of a history of the MI5, Britain’s secret intelligence agency. . . . Akiva Gottlieb reviews The Good Soldiers, David Finkel’s close-up account of the surge in Iraq: “Finkel writes concisely and vividly about trauma and regret, leaving us defenseless against the steadily accruing collateral damage of combat.” . . . Michael Greenberg reviews Kay Redfield Jamison’s new memoir about her husband’s death: “Inevitably, it will be compared to Joan Didion’s memoir of her husband’s death, The Year of Magical Thinking. But Nothing Was the Same is a very different kind of book, told with less writerly detail than Didion’s but more direct emotion.” . . . John Sutherland believes that the second volume of T. S. Eliot’s letters will “blow away some of the murk befouling the poet’s reputation.”