Earlier this month I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
During the school year, when I'm teaching, it's often hard for me to read anything not connected to my work. But this summer I indulged in whatever I wanted. My partner and I were renting an old farmhouse in Great Barrington, and much to my surprise and delight, the owners were Philip Roth fanatics. I got to read--and re-read--tons of Philip Roth. Most memorable was The Anatomy Lesson, where the character of Milton Appel, the hectoring Jewish critic--based on Irving Howe--is reconfigured, in a moment of hilarious, malicious slyness, as a pornographer. Lying on a couch in a country house and re-reading these books--frequently bursting into fits of laughter--was pure bliss.Read an excerpt from The Cruel Radiance, and learn more about the book at the University of Chicago Press website.
Less blissful, for obvious reasons, was Eliza Griswold's The Tenth Parallel, an account of her travels along the fault lines of Muslim-Christian antagonisms in parts of Africa and Asia. While the reporting in this book is highly impressive, I was somewhat less impressed with her analysis--or, rather, lack of analysis. Griswold left me wanting more--left me wanting to know what meaning she made of the deadly fanaticisms she was encountering.
As a journalist, I am addicted to newspapers; I read periodicals as much as I read books. And for various reasons, I am obsessed with (i.e. always worried about) the situation in the Mideast. Every day I read, on the web, Haaretz, the Daily Star of Lebanon, Al-Hayat, and Al-Ahram.
And last night, as a treat, I started The Finkler Question.