3/30/11

My Bookshelf

Just finished... The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, by Benjamin Hale.  Ape makes journey from animality to humanity.  So funny, so incredibly good. This novel has many of the things I particularly like in fiction.  A distinctive, compelling voice (cf. Holden Caufield).  Suspension of disbelief (cf. Kazuo Ishuguro, Never Let Me Go).   Lots of philosophical content, without any didactic tone  (cf. Joshua Ferris -  Then We Came to the End).  Animal characters that actually work, which is rare (cf. Paul Auster, Timbuktu).  I'm writing my next TPM column about the book, so a complete review is in the works.

Just started... How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer, by Sarah Bakewell.  Can you tell a book by its cover?  Apparently not, because I think this book has a remarkably awful cover, yet the first couple of chapters are a delight.  By the end I expect to know how to live.

Next up... Motherhood: The Birth of Wisdom ed. by Sheila Lintott. This is from Wiley-Blackwell's Philosophy for Everyone series. The chapter titles really grab me--"How many Experts Does it Take to Raise a Child?  Mothering and the Quest for Certainty."  Indeed. I've often wondered whether mothers (and fathers) should trust their instincts, and what they should think when the experts say 10 different things.  "Pro-Choice Philosopher Has Baby: Reflections on Fetal Life."  Hey, me too! Following fetal development up close and personal does make you think.  "A Face Only a Mother Could Love?  On Maternal Assessments of Infant Beauty" Ha!  Everyone else does seem biased.  Me on the other hand...I happen to have the world's best looking kids.  "Natural Childbirth is for the Birds."  Hope the essay says exactly that, because (frankly) that's my view.  Full report coming when I'm done.

7 comments:

Faust said...

These all look really fun. Thanks for the links! I might get them all...at some point. Too many dang books in my pile. Especially want to hear about the Montaigne book. One of my college professors once told me my essays were Montainge-esque, but I've never really studied him.

crystal said...

I recently saw a video on Montaigne that was kind of fun .... http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6436583611449448580#

Anonymous said...

The motherhood book looks intriguing. If you enjoyed that, you might check out Jane Smiley's essay on motherhood and the exercise of power.

Wish I could remember the title . . .!

Aeolus said...

Guess who doesn't like The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore.
http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/secondhandsmoke/2011/02/02/praising-fictional-bestiality-in-the-newspapers/

Jean Kazez said...

It's an incredible book, and actually doesn't have the message Wesley Smith thinks it does. (There's no substitute for actually reading the book!) Bruno is a passionate humanist. He loves all things human, and in fact wants to be human. He thinks being human is better. Just what Smith wants to hear! And no, there's no real bestiality. Bruno is human! He just happens to look like an ape.

Nicolas Delon said...

Did you mean that Auster's Timbutku is a rare instance of animal character that works, or rather one typical of those that don't? I'm interested in animal fiction and have not read it yet. I've just started The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore which seems great!

Jean Kazez said...

Timbuktu is a rare instance of animal characters that work (yeah, that wasn't clear). Good book, definitely worth reading. Hope you keep enjoying "Evolution"!