NYTBR, 6 May 2012

Sigh.  Self will never get caught up with the NYTBR.  She’s leaving soon for Scotland!!!

(She’s bringing her laptop and her iPad, fear not, dear blog readers.  She might be reduced to blogging every couple of days instead of several times a day, but she will blog.  Not about her fellow artists, of course, that would be a serious violation of their privacy, but she is sure she will have plenty to say about the scenery)

Now to the NYTBR.  There is a very interesting review of The Passage of Power:  The Years of Lyndon Johnson, fourth in a series on LBJ by Robert Caro. (Self gulps:  Who can conceivably devote so many books to studying just one man’s life?)  This volume spans just five years, but they are tumultuous ones:  the narrative begins just before the 1960 presidential elections, and ends a few months after the Kennedy assassination.  Even more interesting:  the review was written by Bill Clinton.  Yes, Bill Clinton, the erstwhile president.  The man is a constant source of surprise.  And now she feels real affection for him because, wasn’t he the last President to come up with a balanced budget?  Or, didn’t the U.S. at that time have a surplus of something like a trillion dollars?

Anyhoo, self always reads the NYTBR Letters to the Editor.  She always gleans such interesting nuggets of information from them.  Below is an amusing letter from a reader in Iowa City:

Andrew Delbanco, in his review of Marilynne Robinson’s new essay collection, When I Was a Child I Read Books (April 22), writes that she “grew up in Idaho and now lives in Iowa — places where, as she puts it . . . ‘lonesome’ is a word with strongly positive connotations.”

The essay he’s quoting is very explicitly a meditation on the American West, to which Iowa cannot be said to belong.  His lumping together of two states separated by more than a thousand miles is surprising for a scholar of American studies but completely typical of the coast-centric insularity whose extent I’ve realized recently in moving to Iowa from Maryland.

Well put, oh dear NYTBR reader Jacob P from Iowa City!

Stay tuned.

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