What I’ve been reading

1. Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, by Erik Larson.  My favorite of his books, fun and readable as you would expect, many interesting details including what happens to you in water at 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Philip Glass, Words Without Music.  “A lot of Einstein on the Beach was written at night after driving a cab.”  An excellent memoir of both Glass’s early life and the New York creative world up through 1976 or so.

3. Colm Tóibín, On Elizabeth Bishop.  A good example of a book I wish was longer than it was, it is shorter than its 199 pp. might indicate.  As a poet I much prefer Bishop to her correspondent Robert Lowell; their letters collection by the way makes for superb reading and drama.

4. Njal’s Saga.  I just taught this in Law and Literature, and on the re-read I enjoyed it more than expected.  The core model is that arbitration is binding, provided the expected outcome does not stray too far from what violence would bring.  The best way to go through the book is first to master the internal story of sections 121-145, then read to the end, and finally go to the beginning.  A recommended guide is William Ian Miller’s “Why is Your Axe So Bloody?”; yes that is the same Miller who wrote very good books on disgust and humiliation.


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