Alice Munro, The Moons of Jupiter
The stories in this book are about very ordinary events in the lives of very ordinary women. The subject of most of these stories is love, but there is very little romance in the love that Munro's women find. Either they are doing their best to find comfort in the best love available to them, or they are struggling to overcome the loss of a love that was never that good to begin with.
Alice Munro, sometimes included in the ``minimalist'' school, is increasingly being recognized as one of the leading masters of the contemporary short story.
Alice Adams, Beautiful Girl and
To See You Again
Alice Adams's short fiction is the work of a true craftsman. The thing that impressed me most of all, though, was her ability to write compelling openings that would draw me into a story even when I knew that I had other things I should be doing instead.
Sara Davidson, Loose Change
Sara Davidson's book is not exactly a novel, not exactly an autobiography, and not exactly a sociological document. This is a fictional/factual account of the lives of four women, one of them the author, who became friends while students at Berkeley during the Sixties, and then remained friends into the Seventies even as their lives moved in very different directions.
There have been a lot of books, both autobiographical and fiction, that have tried to come to terms with the incredible revolution in America life that occurred during the Sixties. To me, Loose Change as one of the more important ones. For me, this book is something rare and special.
Bana Witt, Mobius Stripper
Writing about her adventures in the sexual (and drug) underground of Northern California during the Seventies, Bana witt has an absolute genius for producing interesting sentences and interesting paragraphs.
From the opening: ``I was riding the 7 Haight bus to my massage job downtown when I sat down next to a thin friendly blonde girl. She was on her way to the clap clinic. She said she had clap of the throat. She might have gotten it from a girl she had worked with on a porno film. I had never met anyone who'd done porn before, or even seen any for that matter. She said she was working for these really nice guys called the Mitchell Brothers and told me to just call their theatre if I wanted to work.''
Anatole Broyard, Kafka Was the Rage
This is an absolutely marvelous book
in its depiction of Greenwich Village just after the
Second World War
and in the sheer joy
of Anatole Broyard's writing.
Here is Broyard on Erich Fromm: ``Fromm was short and plump. His jaws were broader than his forehead and he reminded me of a brooding hen. Yet, like everyone else, I sat spellbound through his lectures. I'll never forget the night he described a typical American family going for a pointless drive on a Sunday afternoon, joyessly eating ice cream at a roadhouse on the highway and then driving heavily home. Fromm was one of the first -- perhaps the very first -- to come out against pointlessness. It was a historic moment, like Einstein discovering relativity or Heidegger coming up against nothingness.''
Air Guitar (Essays on Art and Democracy)
This is a delightful book for anyone interested in the arts, especially those who have an aversion to ``criticism'' of the usual kind. More than this, it should be Required Reading for anyone starting graduate school. Because I think it would be a good thing if anyone, before entering the academic world, might consider the possibility that although there are real virtues to the academic approach to the world, which takes things very seriously and champions an intense narrow focus, there might also be something to be said for an approach that favors a focus that is broad and inclusive, and takes the attitude that the study of any subject, whether it be art or philosophy or mathematics, should sometimes be fun.
Ezra Pound, The ABC of Reading
What to Listen for in Jazz
There are lots of very interesting books that treat jazz from a historical perspective, or are informative about different jazz personalities. Kernfeld's book, however, is the only one I've found that is of much help in actually understanding the music itself.
Andrea Weiss, Paris Was a Woman
This is a lovely oversized paperback (with many photographs) about the American and English women in the Paris ex-patriot literary community during the early Twentieth Century. Some of the women discussed are Sylvia Beach, the owner of the famous Shakespeare's Bookstore, and first publisher of Joyce's Ulysses; Djuna Barnes, whose novel Nightwood was a cult classic of the era; Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas; Jannet Flanner, who under the pen name Genêt for almost fifty years wrote the ``Letter from Paris'' column in the New Yorker; ``HD'' (Hilda Doolittle), the Imagist poet; Marie Laurencin, the French painter; and Gisele Freund, the photographer.
Seductress: Women Who Ravished the World
and Their Lost Art of Love
I haven't actually read this book, but here are some comments based on an article about it in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Thinking in Pictures
(and other reports from my life with autism)
The autobiography of an autistic woman.
Morris Kline, Why the Professor Can't Teach
(The review incorporates my exposé ``My Life As a Professor.'')
W. W. Sawyer, What is Calculus About?
This book, originally published in 1961, is about the ideas of calculus, not the techniques of calculus. You will not find the product rule or quotient rule or chain rule here. But you will find a rather detailed discussion of velocity, acceleration, and the slope of graphs. The fundamental theorem of calculus is explained very clearly but never labeled as such.
This book does what in my opinion most calculus courses fail to do, namely show that calculus is interesting and worthwhile.