What I’ve been reading

1. Daniel Kehlmann, Measuring the World.  A best-seller and critical rave in Germany, but it is dull.  Did it succeed because Germans are overreacting to a "normal" (read: non-Nazi) novel about their history?

2. Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic, by Esther Perel.  This is the most dangerous book I read this year.  The main thesis is you keep your sex life alive through anger/arousel and distance, not intimacy.  Here is a review

3. Kathryn Davis, The Thin Place: A Novel.  She is a consistently intriguing writer who finally wrote her breakthrough book; one of the best-reviewed novels of 2006.

4. Alice Munro, The View from Castle Rock: Stories.  I’ll put her with early Pynchon, Coetzee, Rushdie, Saramago, Sebald, and Pamuk.  A wonderful collection, but read this "roots approach" last, not first.  You might start here instead, be ready for lots of Ontario.  A big dose of her is the easiest way to make Philip Roth look overrated.

5. Javier Marias, Your Face Tomorrow: Fever and Spear.  Spain’s best-known current writer, but ignored by Anglos.  Here is a good article on him.  The English-language translation is first-rate, but the story doesn’t click with me.

6. Pessimism: Philosophy, Ethic, Spirit, by Joshua Foa Dienstag, interesting from beginning to end: "Freedom for the pessimists is not merely a status but an
experience that a time-bound person can aspire to through a certain
approach to life.  As I will elaborate later, the pessimists have
tended to see this approach exemplified in questing figures like
Columbus or Don Quixote."


Re: "Mating in Captivity", this reminds me of a novel by Alexandre Jardin I think, Le Zebre (in French). Same idea more or less.

Javier MariasĀ“ best novel: Tomorrow in the Battle Think On Me. He won the Romulo Gallegos prize whit it. This prize was won by Garcia Marquez (before the Nobel) , Vargas Llosa .
He is the son of Julian Marias a college teacher in the USA

Alice Munro is one of the greatest prose stylists alive. Period.

In an earlier post of "What I've been reading" Tyler said that he doesn't read them all from cover to cover.

I only had a chance to look at the Amazon blurb, but the book on Pessimism reminds of the old saw:

A pessimist is simply someone who is not overly optimistic.

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