Monday April 11th, 2011

The Beat

A weekly roundup of noteworthy reviews from other sources.

kornelJessa Crispin writes a piece both charming and levelheaded about Brian Greene, alternative universes, Henry James, and Kornél Esti, a novel by Dezsö Kosztolányi: “If one has to choose between believing in infinite choice and fate, fate seems like the sanest option. Apologies to Brian Greene and all of the scientists throughout time.” . . . John Stokes reviews two volumes of the collected letters of Ellen Terry, an English stage actress who lived from 1847 to 1928. I know next to nothing about Terry, but want to know more after reading Stokes’ essay, which is also sharp about letter-writing in general. . . . Anita Desai on a new biography of Gandhi: “Even in his lifetime the legend of Mahatma Gandhi had grown to such proportions that the man himself can be said to have disappeared as if into a dust storm. Joseph Lelyveld’s new biography sets out to find him.” . . . David L. Ulin says Jim Shepard deserves more readers, and that his new collection of stories “balances an understanding of history with a recognition that we may be living at the end of history, at a place where narrative can go only so far.” . . . Bruce Weber reviews a book that debunks myths about baseball’s origins that have already been debunked but also paints a vivid picture of the game’s earliest days.