Inquirer Features copy editor Paula Goff, who handled Sunday copy a couple of weeks ago, sent me an email about March 20's book page: "Wow, Frank: Black Death. Buboes. Pogroms. Jonestown. Cat-killer. Slimy creature. Armageddon. Children killed. A 17-year-old convicted of murdering his father. Quite the cheery books section this week!"
I hadn't actually noticed any of this until Paula pointed it out, which says something about how one goes about deciding what to review and when. I started out pairing Henning Mankell's Before the Frost (Jonestown) and Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore (cat-killer, slimy creature). Then had to sub for book critic Carlin Romano's column and the review of Max Hastings's Armageddon fit the space perfectly. As for my own review of The Great Mortality, about the Black Death -- and wherein porgroms and buboes figure -- well, I had that scheduled weeks before. So the grim consort came together more or less absent-mindedly.