The lack of much indication of a readership has discouraged me from writing much lately about books, but just in case anyone is taking notice. Quiet, by Susan Cain, about the need to put an end to the rule of the extroverts who drown out the many introverts, whose contribution to life is so vital and yet under-valued, is perception changing- in my case about others as well as myself.
Any books by John Lanchester, who has wittily, informatively, and compassionately written about the Crash and its consequences in both factual and fictional forms is well worth loooking at. Whoops! is an extended essay, Capital is a state of the nation novel- with particular bite for people who live in South West London.
Garry Wills is also a new discovery. He is the writer whose book, Lincoln at Gettysburg, inspired Stephen Spielberg to make the recent film which handed yet another acting honour to Daniel Day Lewis- alas I did enjoy Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer, but have not yet seen the stake free version !
I first heard about Wills in an article in Prospect praising him as a jewel among academic journalists for possessing a rare quality of being unfashionable, but without a trace of the contrarian. He comes across as a natural and regular heir to GK Chesterton- he too is Roman Catholic, but prefers to hide in the undergrowth. A witty but down to earth commentator on modern America, he reported on the civil rights movement and made an enemy of Nixon.
His sort of memoir,’ Outside Looking In; Adventures of an Observer‘ is turning out to be a gem.
On his father’s attempt to bribe him to stop his obsessive reading.
‘One summer when I was in grade school, he paid me money( I think five dollars) if I would go a whole week without reading anything. I took the offer, and used the money to buy a new book.’
On his decision to observe rather than participate:
When I was on Jimmy Carter’s campaign plane in 1976, his speechwriter James Fallows asked me if I did not want to see a campaign from within- I answered that one can be an entomologist without becoming a bug.