08 April 2009

Harry Truman & hedgehogs

My non-fiction right now is Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure by Matthew Algeo, a chatty, charming historical travelogue about a road trip Harry and his wife, Bess, took in July 1953, six months after he'd left the presidency. Their route from Independence to the East Coast and back, on two-lane roads in a Chrysler New Yorker with no air conditioning, serves as a jumping-off point for discussions of the institution of the ex-presidency, then-current events, the changing face of rural America. There is TOTALLY a word for writing like this that uses a specific experience to create a picture of a time and place, and the word's not metonymy or microcosm but it's close, and it's driving me CRAZY that I can't think of it. Anyways, it's a fun book. And I know SO MUCH about Harry Truman now.

My novel: Muriel Barbery's translated-from-French The Elegance of the Hedgehog, which is dark and funny and very smart. It does my heart good to know that there's a book on the bestseller list that contains, in its first 50 pages, an amusing and cogent gloss on phenomenonology. Though I think she's kinda hard on Husserl.

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