It's the new black.
We thought we’d take a day to make a list (in the spirit of Sontag) of what we’re reading this week.
Great Literature, Works of Whimsy
Jonathan Franzen, Freedom (Hannah) – Two years late to the party, I know. It’s a sprawling American epic—but Franzen (or Franzen’s narrators) have a habit of looking on the flaws of his characters with a certain distain that borders on disgust, which seems a little meta, even for him. Even so, I can’t put it down.
William Shakespeare, The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Hannah) – In a futile attempt to read all the Shakespearean plays in chronological order, I’m starting at the very beginning, to quote a wise fictional governess. I love the bard, but this one is slow going—as well as mildly uncomfortable, with implications of domestic violence and victim blaming. Crazy times, the 1590s. Can’t wait to get to Shrew and the Henriad.
Muriel Barbery, L’Élégance du hérisson (The Elegance of the Hedgehog)– One of the smartest books I have read in a long, long time. It’s a synchronized history of ideas as told by two engaging narrative voices that inevitably converge—brilliant, brilliant prose.
David Denby, Great Books (Gabrielle) – Denby makes me want to read all the time. His passion for the books he reads and his honesty about the emotions and thoughts they evoke are addictive, as well as the cultural commentary he offers in critique of both the left and right.
Esther de Waal, Seeking God (Gabrielle) – Practical, powerful musings on the significance of St. Benedict’s Rule for modern life, de Waal’s writing is convicting and relevant to a terrifying degree.
Christopher Orr’s review of The Lone Ranger and Tonto for The Atlantic, including the fabulous lines: “The anesthetic liberalism of the hero will give way to a reluctant (yet quietly gleeful) embrace of force. And a non-incidental number of cars/trains/buildings/cities/planets will be made to explode ostentatiously, though with as little moral weight as can plausibly be arranged.”
Cora Frazier’s Guide to International Diplomacy by Vladimir Putin for The New Yorker. Bo’s name isn’t Bo, it’s Yume, because it’s more masculine.
What are you reading this week? What should we add to our lists?