Friday, July 21, 2006

Recommended books from "normblog"

Norman Geras runs a smart U.K.-based books and politics blog called, sensibly enough, "normblog."

He pointed me to his "writer's choice series [which] features writers writing about books." Click here for the 2005 series and here for the 2006 series.

I haven't (yet) read all the entries in the "writer's choice series," but two offerings I enjoyed were:

Martin Kettle on Eugene Onegin. Kettle, co-author of Policing the Police and Uprising! Police, the People and the Riots in Britain's Cities, lays out Pushkin's classic work in a way that makes it more accessible and inviting than it otherwise might be.

Sophie Masson on Agatha Christie. Whereas the Eugene Onegin entry makes a venerable classic more approachable, Masson elevates our understanding of what's going on in Christie's work. In France, she informs us, Christie

is highly respected, not only as a writer of consummately clever detective stories, but as an artist of rare gifts and distinction, worthy of serious study and acclaim. Not only do Christie's books sell four times as many copies in France as in Britain these days, but her work is championed by intellectuals and writers. Controversial writer Michel Houellebecq--who considers Christie to be one of the finest writers of the 20th century--is only the latest to do that; others have included the late philosopher Roland Barthes and the French-American doyen of literary criticism, Jacques Barzun.
The recommendations are fine stuff; check them out.

--Marshal Zeringue