Yesterday I spent a considerable amount of time wandering Barnes and Noble, a favorite activity, trying not to succumb to my rapacious appetite for all those lovely new reads lining the shelves, their glossy covers and thick, creamy pages just begging to be rifled through. For me, books have the same tantalizingly irresistible pull that women often ascribe to designer shoes – no matter how many I’ve got stacked in my bookshelf at home, I just have to buy more. Once I’m in a Barnes and Noble, it takes a good deal of self control not to wobble to the checkout buried beneath towering stacks of books that have caught my attention. Yesterday, though, I managed to resist the siren song of half a dozen delicious new books and restricted myself to just one purchase: a beautiful, sunny yellow edition of E.M. Forster’s “A Passage to India”, it’s cover patterned with delicately intricate designs and fairly exhaling the perfume of exotic mystery (I’ve been on a Forster kick since “A Room With a View”). I did let my eye wander longingly over several titles that I’ve been musing over lately and plan to pick up, once I’ve finished the approximately 20,000 other books I’ve got on my list (only a slight exaggeration). Two of the titles that I pondered: “Let the Great World Spin” by Colum McCann and “Glover’s Mistake” by Nick Laird.
These two Irishmen, from Dublin and Cookstown, respectively, really leapt off the shelves for some reason, perhaps because I’d been previously influenced by the New York Times reviews. McCann’s last book but one was “Dancer”, the brilliantly compelling story of famed Russian ballet dancer Rudolph Nureyev. Half-fiction, half-biography, the book left me breathlessly in awe of McCann’s talents as a writer and his newest book, “Let the Great World Spin”, promises another magnificent read. From what I gleaned in a short perusal, the story is of two Irish brothers in New York and the tales of those whose paths they cross in their individual journeys. The first few pages were so good I had to put the book back on the shelf with great reluctance, making a mental note to savor it another time.
Nick Laird, probably better known as “Mr. Zadie Smith”, is primarily a poet, I believe, and his second novel, “Glover’s Mistake”, looks to be an interesting prospect. I haven’t really read Laird’s poetry, other than briefly flicking through one of his collections and alighting on a line or two I liked, and I have to confess, I was originally drawn to his book because he’s the other half of a famous literary couple (his wife Zadie Smith wrote “White Teeth”, which I quite enjoyed). The Times review of “Glover’s Mistake” was very nice, though, and I was particularly drawn to this line, excerpted from the book in the review:
“This hour must once have been the kingdom of the lamplighters, and subject to their piecemeal, point-by-point illumination, but now the street lights all came on in a single instant pulse, a blink.”
Worth a shot, I think. But first, I’ve got another book to finish. Review pending.