Wednesday March 16th, 2011

The Beat

A weekly roundup of noteworthy reviews from other sources.

szreterSimon Callow reviews Sex Before the Sexual Revolution: Intimate Life in England 1918-1963: “I can scarcely recall reading a book which gives a richer, more comprehensive — and, ultimately, more deeply moving — account of the human experience, or at least those parts of it that are central for so many of us.” . . . Dwight Garner says the prose in Michio Kaku’s Physics of the Future is “dull” and “charmless,” but that some of its visions have “the ability to surprise and enthrall and frighten as well”: “We’ll have X-ray vision and space elevators and live at least twice as long and be able to move things, perhaps even martinis, with our minds.” . . . Isaac Chotiner reviews a very brief book about taking offense: “Collini’s deft dismantling of various forms of cultural relativism — conveyed in clear and concise prose — are sure to be debated and discussed by anyone who engages with his important essay.” . . . Sam Sacks reviews Moondogs by Alexander Yates, a “plucky” debut novel “which is nearly as engaging in its misfires as in its bull’s-eyes.” He also weighs in on Jonathan Coe’s latest, which I plan to review around here. . . . Adam Kirsch reviews James Carroll’s Jerusalem, Jerusalem: “The reader of this book will learn only the basic outlines of Jerusalem’s history, and still less about its geography, culture, architecture, or even its representation in art and literature. At moments, one begins to wonder if Carroll put the city’s name in the title twice to make up for the fact that it is so elusive in the book itself. What Carroll is really doing, in the best tradition of the Jerusalem-fevered, is using the city as a metaphor — in this case, a metaphor for the human tendency to involve religion with violence.” . . . Geoffrey Wheatcroft reviews a new book about “glorious British eccentrics.”