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June 2007

June Book News

Cultural Amnesia, by Clive James: Almost 40 years ago, Warhol predicted a future where everyone would be famous for 15 minutes. That may be partly true in the world of Web 2.0, but lonelygirls and Numa Numa Guys now have to make do with about 15 seconds. The increasingly crowded culture of celebrity has many consequences for this millennium; the most dire is that, according to critic Clive James, we have already begun to forget about the great minds of the last. This new collection of 110 biographical essays features the philosophers, inventors, artists, and writers who led modern culture through a spate of great changes. James’s content is truly diverse—from Coco Chanel to Franz Kafka, Walter Benjamin to Beatrix Potter. His commentary on each individual, however, provides a frame of understanding: an argument for the value of liberal humanism.

Selected Poems, by Derek Walcott: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007 Derek Walcott’s status as one of the lesser-known Nobel laureates may just be the result of reader intimidation: His most famous and critically acclaimed work, Omeros, is a 325-page epic poem. This new collection of his equally powerful lyric poetry may serve as a better introduction for the casual reader. Walcott’s frequent use of narrative form makes the poems accessible, while images from a life split between Boston and the Caribbean add sparkle.

Changing Light, by Nora Gallagher: In the early days of World War II, painter Eleanor Garrigue flees New York for New Mexico in search of artistic inspiration and the passionate intrigue so lacking in her marriage. Both arrive sooner than expected, when a delirious Czechoslovakian scientist—a researcher for the Manhattan Project—appears on her doorstep. As she heals his body, he heals her damaged heart. This novel’s love story, though, is just the platform for a lyrical exploration of loyalty, morality, and loss. Nora Gallagher has already gained a following through her well-written essays on faith, and brings the same considered touch to her first fiction offering.

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