Curran’s book is a brilliant, sparkling affair that courses over every major and minor incident in Diderot’s remarkable life.Read More
The thriving “Last Interview” series from Melville House features slim volumes collecting the final public comments made by a wide variety of public figures – geniuses, charlatans, comedians, artists, successful frauds, and the occasional transcendent intellectuals. Here we get reflections in winter (whether they knew it or not) from such people as David Foster Wallace, James Baldwin, Ray Bradbury, Hannah Arendt, Philip K. Dick, and Kurt Vonnegut, and this month the series takes in the late Christopher Hitchens, political commentator, outspoken atheist, and author of the bestselling God is Not Great.Read More
In Thornton Wilder’s powerful and subversive masterpiece Our Town, Mrs. Gibbs of provincial little Grover’s Corners holds forth on the wider world: “It seems to me,” she says, “once in your life, before you die, you ought to see a country where they don‘t speak any English and they don‘t even want to.” The line is delivered with just the slightest undertone of incredulity, of disbelief that such a place could really exist.
If she could get past the dozens of entirely spurious mathematical equations and the apparently requisite acid-trip visuals, Mrs. Gibbs would feel right at home in Douglas Hofstadter’s new book, I Am a Strange Loop. Certainly the book’s tone of unquestioning self-satisfaction would help her along.