What I’m Reading/In the Book Review

What I’m reading now: in addition to Blanning on Europe and Doidge on the Brain, and Orhan Pamuk’s The Black Book, I find a few new titles in my bedside pile. There are two books that Miss G brought to me on the eve of my surgery (actually, she brought me the Doidge as well) that happened to be published or authored by a friend, Marissa Walsh. Then there is another brain book, Daniel J Levitan’s This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, a book about which a friend of mine has waxed extremely enthusiastic; a short book about God and the West, Mark Lilla’s The Stillborn God; and the new Tom Perrotta, The Abstinence Teacher. I wish I didn’t know which one I’ll finish first.

Also in the pile is Ian Bradley’s indispensable Oxford Annotated Gilbert & Sullivan. That’s not its official title, which is why I haven’t italicized it; rather, it’s close to what I call the book: “the Oxford G and S.” I’ve had this out because Kathleen and I have been listening to The Mikado a lot. Just now, this feast of absurdity has seemed to make a lot of sense to us. Although I cannot hear Katisha wail, “May not a cheated maiden die?” without actually sympathizing with her romantic disappointment. How ridiculous is that? Why do we need Bradley, you ask, when the insides of our eyelids are less familiar than The Mikado? Because neither of us can ever remember that what sounds like “all of her” is actually “all aver,” as in Pish-Tush’s

She’ll toddle off, as all aver,
With the Lord High Executioner.

It’s not one of Gilbert’s strongest lines. As for this week’s Book Review:

ΒΆ Century’s Playlist.

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