Darling begins by asserting that it will address the world in the wake of September 11 and try to bring the writer’s Catholicism into a better relation with its desert brother Islam. Happily, it soon abandons that somewhat rote mission for a much more ungovernable and unassimilable wander across everything from the decline of the American newspaper to the debate over gay marriage, from Cesar Chavez to the world of camp. Five of the ten essays have appeared already in magazines, such as Harper’sand The Wilson Quarterly. But as in all his books, Rodriguez throws off a constant fireworks display of suggestions and reveals more in an aside than others do in self-important volumes. As you read, you notice how often Don Quixote keeps recurring, and death notices, and meditations on the “tyranny of American optimism,” each one gaining new power with every recurrence, and reminding us of how the pursuit of happiness leaves us sad. The overall mosaic is far more glittering than any of its parts.
Friday, July 25, 2014
… An Unknown America of the Mind by Pico Iyer | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)