What I’ve been reading

1. Waiting ‘Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America, by Peniel E. Joseph.  The best single book I know of on what the title indicates.

2. The New World: A Novel, by Chris Adrian and Eli Horowitz.  Imagine a husband who wants his head frozen cryogenically, and a wife who wants something else.  I resisted this one at first, for fear it would be schlocky and gimmicky, but I ended up thinking it was quite good.  Here is a brief NPR review, they liked it too.

3. Walter Scott, Ivanhoe.  This isn’t just of fusty, antiquarian interest, rather the book comes alive on virtually every page.  The plot is gripping, there are neat twists on “multicultural” themes, the descriptions of clothing are wonderful, and the whole thing can be read as extended commentary on Shakespeare, most of all Merchant of Venice and Richard.

4. Jane Alpert, Growing up Underground.  One of the best 1960s memoirs, she goes from being a Swarthmore radical to a bomber who tries too hard to please her boyfriend, to a reconstructed peaceful feminist.  This book is notable for how it combines extreme self-awareness and extreme self-delusion, often on the same page.


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