Saturday, September 02, 2006

Reading the reviews

Flitting about the web, I ran into a couple of interesting books:

Sea of Faith: This LA Times review makes me want to read this short history of Islam and Christianity in the medieval Mediterranean. This paragraph may help you decide if the book is interesting to you as well:

Yet this book also reminds us of the extent to which history and civilizations rest upon military foundations. "We take for granted the confessional geography of the Mediterranean, that is, which countries are, in their majority, Muslim or Christian," O'Shea notes. "Yet there was nothing inevitable about Turkey being overwhelmingly Muslim, or Spain being overwhelmingly Christian. This geography of belief was decided in the millennium of the Middle Ages, through the contingencies of battle and the actions of men."

Gallatin Canyon: The NY Times has a good review of this one. It's by Thomas McGuane, a author I associate with whacked out short stories that read like a cross of Cormac McCarthy and Thom Jones. The closing sentences might get you.

McGuane has driven so hard into the heart of a received wisdom concerning American manhood, otherwise known as American loneliness, that he has broken through to the other side. Like all serious fiction, “Gallatin Canyon” is hermaphroditic. Here’s hoping serious readers have the nerve to follow his lead.


Brack said...

McGuane's short stories are MUCH better than his novels. The former generally weave the landscapes with which McGuane is most familiar - the West and the South - into the narative, usually through the use of sportsmen as protagonists (see, e.g. To Skin a Cat). The latter tend to the the absurd -- as if someone had locked Tom Robbins in a room with a sack of killah and a Cabela's catalogue.


Tripp said...

"as if someone had locked Tom Robbins in a room with a sack of killah and a Cabela's catalogue."

Among your best work ever.