"Gone Today Here Tomorrow"


A B C D E F G H I J K L M
N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Foreword

"Ah books!  Gone today and here tomorrow." The words, famously attributed to Alfred Knopf, are sometimes true. A book appears, is respectfully reviewed, sells its modest print order and is forgotten, only to turn up later as a cult book or a much loved favorite of a new generation. Or simply one of those books which people who love books and read widely without being professional critics pass on to literate friends.

But that kind of thing does not happen often enough, especially of late, as the number of book review sections in magazines and newspapers dwindle, and the number of books published (often by publishers who have been bought up by businesses more concerned with quantity than quality) soars and soars.  In May, 1962, when the first of the reviews listed on this website appeared (a reprint of Oswald Spengler's Decline of the West) only about 25,000 trade books were published each year and the average hardback novel cost $3.50. By 2000 when Roads: Driving America's Great Highways by Larry McMurtry, the last review, came out, the publishers were churning out many thousands more, and a good novel cost close to $25.00. Some of the results, and effects, on quality are noted with irony in Foote's piece ( Reflections of a Spent Book Reviewer ) which suggests that a publisher should not publish any title which he/she has not read personally, and urges them to at least match Detroit's standards by recalling certain titles to repair defects.

There are about 150 titles presented on this Website, often in the form of a review or group of reviews, like the essays on the French Neo-realists, Gunter Grass and the post war German writing generation. Nearly two thirds are non-fiction, including biography and autobiography. Non-fiction reviews have been organized by subject into rough categories like War and Revolution, The Battle of the Sexes, the Presidency, and are presented on an equal footing with longer essays and reportage. Inevitably they include books already celebrated, ones that Foote clearly thinks everyone should read: Edmund Wilson's To the Finland Station, for instance, or Simon Shama's Citizens, or The Progressive Historians by Richard Hofstadter.

As for the literary titles, which are predominantly fiction, some sixty titles are listed. These reviews deal with the work (not always their best) by 9 Nobel Laureates, including Kipling, Faulkner, Gunter Grass The Tin Drum and Cat and Mouse, Hemingway, Solzhenitsyn The First Circle, William Golding The Spire, Doris Lessing, as well as many bestsellers that have already found a place in the enduring affection of the discriminating, and some times not so discriminating reading public. Tolkien comes to mind and John Updike, John O'Hara represented by a third rate novel Elizabeth Appleton and The Hat on the Bed one of his finest short story collections, as well as Graham Greene A Sort of Life and The Honorary Consul, Margaret Atwood Life Before Man, Thornton Wilder,  Paul Scott The Raj Quartet, Herman Wouk The Winds of War, Tony  Hillerman and Gore Vidal with a late a title that Foote describes as that fortunately rare thing, a book it's better to talk about than have to read).

Many of these reviews are rather affectionately presented as Foote's candidates for Mr. Knopf's roster of literary resurrection, books for which Foote often has a special fondness, or sense that though some are half a century old, they must not disappear, if only because many readers will find them, for one reason or another, fascinating, for wit, or style or subject or that rarity in print (or for that matter, anywhere else) sheer charm. Writers like Elaine Dundy, David Stacton, Mavis Gallant, Zoe Oldenbourg, John Espey, John Collier (well known but this is a review of his amazing film script for Milton's Paradise Lost!), the John Gardner of Grendel, Joan Aiken The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Nathalie Sarraulte, and such a story as John Buchan's Greenmantle, dated but still a marvel, especially since it deals with attempts to stir up a jihad against the allies in the Middle East (circa 1916). Not to mention Uwe Johnson, who fifty years before "Other Peoples Lives,"  in two splendid small novels called Speculations About Jacob and The Third Book of Achim delved into the tense and prolix compromises of life in East Germany's police state.

Foote was Time Magazine's Book Review Editor for ten years, twice chaired the National Book Awards Fiction Committee  (1974 and 1994), served for years on the board of the National Book Critics Circle. He  taught writing courses at Yale (1976) and Stanford (1989). 

You can check out Foote's Favorites, indicated by the blue triangle at the left.  From one reviewer's commentary, an idiosyncratic pilgrim's literary progress though the last half of the 20th century, find some new friends, or be tellingly reintroduced to some old.

 
Modest Proposals from a Spent Book Reviewer
New York Magazine 1974

 

MY WELL-SHARPENED NO. 1 PENCIL is just touching up the last review of the week. Layouts have been made and pictures of authors agreed to. Another weekly Book Section of the magazine is about to go to press.

I should be happy. We all should be happy. But what do I hear?  A kind of keening noise just outside my door. I get up and tiptoe out to the room adjacent where waves-of-the-future books are collected for sampling and possible review or rejection. There stands my amiable assistant up to her knees in literature. Big fat rich square books (for Christmas is at our throats again), treacly children's books, sweaty how­to books, hearty gardening books, cute cookery books, creaky Gothics, sex books, hex books, and sad faceless little novels. Behind her are stacked high­rise apartment buildings composed of those old standbys that Russell Baker once so wisely condemned to immolation, books with titles that contain the words "Strategy," "Crisis," "Atlantic," "Society," "Power," "The West," "Danger," "Freedom," "World," "Survival," and "Creative," not to mention such newer candidates as "Commune," "Biosphere," "Ethology" and the "New Populism."

It is all too much for the poor girl. Her lip trembles and she says: "I have to keep telling myself that I've always loved books."

Fantasy? Far from it. For no one today who simply sees and occasionally buys the shiny new books piled up in Scribner's or Brentano's can possibly imagine the horrendous truths or appreciate the restraint of George Orwell when he wrote: "Until one has some kind of professional relationship with books one does not discover how bad the majority of them are." That was some 30 years ago, in London, where the public was discriminating, publishers were proud of their reputations, and the number of books published was modest.

Today we are told that 30,000 new books a year are issued. Of these only about 6,000 come to my office, and only about 300 are selected for review. A piece of cake, you might say. And so it would be if we just threw dice to decide which to review, or skimmed off the easiest handful of notable entries, forgetting the rest. Trying to give those 5,500 also-rans something like a fair shake these days is what does us in. It has never reduced me to tears, mind you. I was hardened by the New Criticism at Harvard, descended into the hell of graduate-school English, and acquired a tough hide in Europe, where for a period I had to commission and edit a whole series of doorstopper books mainly written by British authors who seemed to do all their work while lying on their backs picking bananas. Besides, books have given me more pure pleasure (man and boy) than anything I would care to name, with the possible exception of sailboats and morning sunlight. But after a number of years as a books editor and regular book reviewer for a magazine, I feel - when faced by that threatening weekly pile of books - a sinking heart, a protective numbness, a clear desire to be somewhere else.

In criticizing book publishing, of course, book reviewers should be fair - but not too fair. Some 90 per cent of all trade books are published in New York. Most New York publishers publish some good books; some New York publishers publish mostly good books. And if many publishers seem more adept at signing contracts and attending cocktail parties than shaping paragraphs or skillfully psyching writers into necessary visions and revisions, there are reasons. Economy. Real editing, any publisher will tell you, costs a lot of money, often with very little hope of financial return. Sheer overhead and inertia. Publishers have expensive salesmen who need product to sell (any product), and editors who feel they must bring in so many titles to justify their jobs, as well as ongoing contracts with printers, etc.

Publishers are also plagued by high costs, archaic distribution, and public apathy. (A very good, enthusiastically reviewed, perfectly accessible novel may sell considerably less than 4,000 hardback copies; within living memory a celebrated, thoughtful and readable European novelist won the Nobel Prize and his United States publisher, which had just glumly remaindered his works, found itself desperately buying them back at extravagant prices.) Perhaps most important, very few decently written books go unpublished in the United States because - to put it mildly - the exquisite, disciplined anguish of putting one word after another in a lonely room somewhere is not presently much encouraged, and the simplest of writing skills are neglected at all levels of United States education. By and large, publishers do not reject treasure and publish trash - they publish what they get. The simplistic truth for United States publishers? They should publish far fewer books.

Not even this unworldly critic is under any illusion that such a simple reform will be simple to arrive at. Book publishing houses, we keep being reminded, are big business with their shares often listed on the Stock Exchange, and their new owners too frequently giant corporations with a yen for tax write-offs or culture, or both. But reading books should make men a tiny bit more scrupulous (or maybe just it little less inclined to do harm openly). Publishing should behave as if it were a uniquely responsible and thoughtful business. And if that is not possible, in an age when even Richard Nixon has been caught admitting that a ballooning Gross National Product is not necessarily an index of national health and virtue, there is no reason why book publishers should exhibit less restraint or a greater proclivity towards pollution, than, say, General Motors. General Motors, at least, sells about 99 per cent of its output (however baneful), but adult trade publishers regularly have to recycle, burn, eat or drop into Lake Erie an average of 20 per cent of their production. (A current horror story about one of the recycling houses tells of a woeful first novelist, worried about his release date, who discovered that his book had been printed and recycled without ever being sent to bookstores. Its title, it seems, greatly resembled a book that had already struck out.)

Recently, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich and McGraw-Hill announced cutbacks in certain kinds of trade books, but both expect their over-all volume of business to go on expanding. And production has been steadily rising. In short, publishing less, like smoking less, will require agonizing changes of habit and much character. Books are normally regarded as a good thing, and it is still almost impossible to convince Americans that you can get too much of a good thing. When the nineteenth Century for the first time grew uneasy about population growth, Malthus encouraged war, and Jeremy Bentham preached chastity to serving-girls. The one was not desirable, the other proved ineffective. To produce fewer books, individual publishers will need a program, full of apparently outrageous suggestions - like chewing betel nut to give up cigarettes, or consulting a hypnotist to cure fear of flying.

With some humility, and with tongue not entirely in cheek, this reviewer offers the following suggestions:

Ultimate output level. No publishing house should publish more books than its editor-in-chief, say, or its president can (along with normal duties) carefully read, consider and then defend in detail at a dinner party of his most literate friends - who will, if possible, have also read the works in question. Burden of proof to be on the publisher. This standard, applied on a year-in, year-out basis, I reckon, would limit each house to well under 50 titles a year.

Preliminary steps. Until production is brought under control no editor should undertake or commission any new non-fiction title unless it shows real promise of being in some way useful or distinguished - which does not mean that it be either complex or demanding. A how-to book truly distinguished for its clarity and simplicity is at present a very rare book indeed. Even with the most perceptive and rigorous planning by editors, however, well-conceived books will need rewriting, or scrapping entirely upon completion. In early phases of the program publishers would not suffer financial loss as a result. Like farmers who are recompensed for ungrown wheat, publishers should get an allowance for unpublished corn.

Truth in advertising. Lawsuits occasionally are brought against companies that too flagrantly distort their products. Being the most literate of industries, book publishing should lead the way by establishing a measure of accuracy in jacket blurbs. For starters, they might use a simple description of contents instead of all those dots, exclams! and adjectives. An interim suggestion: until all presently commissioned books are brought out, publishers might adapt the"Sears, Roebuck catalogue technique of soberly listing appliances in three accurate categories: "good quality" (cheapest), "better quality," and "Sears' Best." One of the small by­products of such practices would be to reduce the pressure on sought-after jacket blurb contributors like Kurt Vonnegut and J. K. Galbraith, thus, presumably, leaving them freer to do their real work.

A recall procedure. Under pressure from Ralph Nader and the Government, the big automobile companies have recalled hundreds of thousands of models for correction and improvement. Since the power of example is great it would be advisable, in the next six months or so, for a big publisher, of his own free will, to recall all copies of a book that is below the publisher's standards for, say, clarity, grace, or in the case of non-fiction, accuracy. (Last year when McGraw-Hill got caught holding the bag for both Chief Red Fox and Clifford Irving, some other publishers piously asserted to The New York Times that "it couldn't happen here." Perhaps. But several years ago, as a book review editor, I spent some time and money proving that a book published here, after making a hit in France, had 25 pages stolen almost verbatim from the journal of a Spanish priest. I thought to advise the New York publishing house about this. Its reaction: "That's not our business.")

Farrar, Straus & Giroux is one of the best publishers in New York. For that very reason, if it should recall all 1972 models of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's best-selling August 1914 to have a new translation installed, the effect might be dramatic and salubrious.

A radical measure. It would be totally unfair for publishers to be asked to cut back their lists and defend better standards of writing in this Spartan way with no help from the surrounding culture. As part of a long-term program, American high school and college English departments should be asked to exercise a parallel restraint. Those few English majors who can write simply and cogently, instead of being encouraged to parlay this rare but limited skill into a career in journalism or fiction writihg, should be systematically urged to write their parents more, or nudged into careers in sociology.  This should improve the quality of manuscripts submitted to puplishers in various ways.

Hot topics.  A great problem is quality control and publishing overkill, but a prime source of public information and publishing revenue is the Hot Topic book. In recent years we have more or less endured Black Studies, Indian Exposes, the Occult, Ecology, the Orgasm, Free Schools, Touch Me! Groups, Women's Lib, and all those books which use the behavior of the star-nosed mole to justify gloomy conclusions about the future of urban life and the New York subway system.  The reviewers' problem with such books is exactly the same as the public's: how to find the one book out of dozens that really covers the topic, or says something new about it, while avoiding all the other titles that are at best pale copies, at worst the result of outright untruth in packaging. I submit that the problem should be handled by the publishers who now seem to ignore it.

Much of the waste and duplication could be avoided if an ultimate output level were established. But a good deal of overlap is unavoidable under present competitive conditions. Tastes differ. Readers are gullible. Topics are in the air. Publishers get ideas and receive manuscripts unilaterally. What may be necessary is a little benign restraint of trade, of the kind so inefficiently denied to U.S. corporations under the Sherman Antitrust Act. When a new Hot Topic is loosed on the country, a publisher's standing committee should meet and compare the quality of works in progress on that subject. Some publishers might be asked to withdraw inferior merchandise - if possible, long before books are completed. The decision to do so might be reached through a majority vote of the attending publishers - or by shooting dice or Indian leg wrestling between rival trade editors in the event that the penalised publisher had read Marcuse and believed that in a manipulated consumer economy majority rule is sheer tyranny.

These suggestions offer a short and easy way to help publishers at least think about reducing their lists.  lf they choose to take action the publishing world might very well need some sort of neutral outside figure like the commissioner of baseball, to help work out modalities and uphold ground rules. It would take someone with the forbearance of Rudolf Bing, and the faith in freedom of B.F. Skinner.  But, no doubt such a man could be found.

 

Timothy Foote served on the executive board of the National Book Critics Circle for years and in 1974 and 1994 was chairman of the National Book Awards  Fiction Committee.

 

A  
Aiken, Joan
THE WOLVES OF WILLOUGHBY CHASE This year can boast one genuine small masterpiece. It is called The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.  Time, December 13, 1963.
Amis, Kingsley ENDING UP Since his appearance in 1954, critics and readers have remarked the spreading "swinishness" of Kingsley Amis characters—as well as the distaste the author seems to feel for his own creations. It has always been noted in extenuation that literary satire thrives on vile bodies and that swinishness justifies a measure of pique. But now Amis stands revealed as a misanthrope sans merci. Time, September 30, 1974.
Arnold, Matthew MATTHEW ARNOLD - LECTURES & ESSAYS IN CRITICISM: Vol. III in a ten-volume series
B  
Baldwin, James ANOTHER COUNTRY Much was expected of Baldwin's new novel. Now out, it proves a failure—doubly disappointing not only because it does not live up to advance hopes, but also because it so clearly has tried to be an important book.  Time, June 29, 1962.
Batchelor, John Calvin FATHER'S DAY The genre, of course, is subliterary -- spellbinding political thriller hoping to hatch into major motion picture. New York Times Sunday Book Review, October 30, 1994.
Bate, Walter Jackson JOHN KEATS Bate sometimes detours through academic bogs, especially when he is taking the reader by the hand through every well-known poem Keats ever wrote. Time, October 25, 1963.
Beckett, Samuel
Nobel Prize in Literature

HOW IT IS Despite Beckett's ingenuity, his touches of great eloquence, his flashes of brilliant wit, in this book he simply has nothing new to say.  He had lots more to say and famously said it.  But not in How It Is. Time, February 28, 1964
Benedictus, David THE FOURTH OF JUNE The latest old Etonian to call public attention to the soup stains on the old school tie is 24-year-old David Benedictus.  Time, November 16, 1962.
Böll, Heinrich  
Nobel Prize in Literature

BILLIARDS AT HALF PAST NINE What makes the book memorable is one whopping interior monologue. For more than 50 pages, interspersed Faulkner-style through the novel, Faehmel's mother records in a tone of well-bred perplexity a woman's 50-year struggle with an enemy she does not quite comprehend.  Time, January 4, 1963.
Bourke-White, Margaret bio: MARGARET BOURKE-WHITE by Vicki Goldberg
Buchan, John GREENMANTLE; JOHN MACNAB; THE HOUSE OF THE FOUR WINDS; CASTLE GAY Lionhearted Dick Hannay and dozens of other Buchan characters, whose World War I and between-wars exploits fill a score of volumes, go marching on, most recently in four books just released in the U.S. in paperback editions.  Greenmantle, which involves an incipient jihad in the Near East, is by far the pick of the basket.  Time, December 28, 1962.
Burgess, Anthony THE CLOCKWORK TESTAMENT OR ENDERBY'S END Burgess, a man of wit and genius, has been fond enough of this queasy minor poet to devote one, two and now three volumes to him. Why? Because with all his faults, Enderby is a strong booster of original sin, a commodity, Burgess feels, the modern world greatly underrates. Time, March 17, 1975.
C  
Carlisle, Henry THE JONAH MAN For over a century, "Moby Dick" has pretty well pre-empted whaling as a subject for serious fiction. Now comes ''The Jonah Man'' by Henry Carlisle, a San Francisco novelist with Nantucket roots, recording and re-creating as fiction the life and fate of the Essex' crew and especially its ill-starred captain, George Pollard. New York Times Sunday Book Review, July 22, 1984
CHEKHOV by Ernest J. Simmons
Churchill, Winston 
Nobel Prize in Literature
bio: WINSTON S. CHURCHILL. Vol. VI: FINEST HOUR 1939-1941 by Martin Gilbert
Collier, John MILTON'S PARADISE LOST: A Screen Play for the Cinema of the Mind Collier's film script, published in book form, is a symbiotic work of literary art, fast-paced, clever, well crafted, full of knowledge and delight. Everybody should read it, preferably with Milton as a trot.  Time, June 25, 1973.
Connell, Jr., Evan S. NOTES FROM A BOTTLE FOUND ON THE BEACH AT CARMEL a hard-to-follow but strangely effective message from Connell to what he clearly believes is a doomed world. Time, June 14, 1963.
Craven, Margaret I HEARD THE OWL CALL MY NAME Miss Craven journeyed north by small boat from Vancouver into the Queen Charlotte Straits of British Columbia in search of adventure and material. Her trip ended at the top of Kingcome Inlet, in a village of the Kwakiutl Indians. Kingcome is a place of icy water, deep, fir-trimmed inlets, returning salmon, foraging killer whales, overwhelming beauty and, for the once proud Kwakiutls, overwhelming sadness. Time, January 28. 1974.
cummings, e.e. DREAMS IN THE MIRROR
by Richard S. Kennedy This is the first full-scale scholarly biography of e.e.cummings. Partly because of cummings's character, reading it is a bit like wrestling in a boxcar full of feathers. The cargo is ticklish, and there is precious little weight for the volume.  Time, March 17, 1980.
cummings, e.e.: obituary More than any other poet of his time, he dressed up the few ideas he had in all sorts of outrageous and engaging costumes, cheerfully presenting them again and again.  Time, September 14, 1962.
D  
De Beauvoir, Simone auto-bio: THE PRIME OF LIFE by Simone de Beauvoir
De Vries, Peter INTO YOUR TENT I'LL CREEP Plot is not Peter De Vries's thing. Neither is message. But he handles marriage with a fine affection, suggesting, among other things, that it is women who customarily treat men with chivalric restraint, rather than the other way around. Time, October 30, 1994.
De Vries, Peter THE CAT'S PAJAMAS & WITCH'S MILK De Vries's newest book combines a long short novel with an extended short story. This is an experiment at contrapuntal fiction, for the two tales are linked in a number of ways Time, November 15, 1968.
Dinesen, Isak EHRENGARD Told half in the recollections of a worldly old lady, half in the florid letters of an artist to a countess of the court, Isak Dinesen's baroque tale chronicles an attempted seduction - but not of the usual sort. Time, June 14, 1963.
Doig, Ivan BUCKING THE SUN The good news about "Bucking the Sun" is that here Mr. Doig artfully seasons the history lesson by serving it up with an intricate case of murder. New York Times Sunday Book Review, June 16, 1996.
Duffy, Maureen ALL HEAVEN IN A RAGE
by Maureen Duffy Duffy explores Blake's romantic notion that men and animals are similar victims of a society that, practically from birth, puts them both in a series of cages. Time, April 30, 1973.
Dundy, Elaine THE OLD MAN AND ME The wistful cause of New World vulnerability, Author Dundy suggests, is not so much the thickness of the British hide as the thinness of the American skin. Time, March 20, 1964.
E  
Edel, Leon THE CONQUEST OF LONDON and THE MIDDLE YEARS, Vols. II & III of HENRY JAMES The most massive piece of biographical scholarship ever lavished on an American author, written as gracefully as a mannered memoir. Time, November 30, 1962.
Ehrlichman, John THE COMPANY Using a mask of fiction, the author continues with great tenacity and skill a campaign begun by the White House to vilify past Presidents and, indeed, American political institutions, so that Richard Nixon's behavior would seem less reprehensible by contrast.   Time, May 31, 1976.
Eliot, George GEORGE ELIOT, A BIOGRAPHY
by Gordon S. Haight Time, October 11, 1968
Espey, John STRONG DRINK, STRONG LANGUAGE REBELLION against faith and father has cauliflower ears as a literary subject.  It is often pummeled with youthful outrage and the kind of tedious, ignorant scorn that regards religion as simple hypocrisy. That is not Espey's style. Washington Post Book World, November 25, 1990.
F  
Faulkner, William 
Nobel Prize in Literature

THE REIVERS Like an old man gossiping on the back stoop, he delights in sentimental recollection, revels in his role as a teller of tall tales, at which only Mark Twain is his equal.  Time, June 8, 1962.
Feiffer, Jules HARRY, THE RAT WITH WOMEN What they all seek, of course, is love, love, love. Now, in a tragi-cosmic fable which is his first try at fiction, Feiffer tells them what life would be like if they really found it. Sheer hell. Time, June 28. 1963.
Fleming, Ian ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE Author Fleming has never been without resources and on page 299 he appears deus ex machina (the machine, reassuringly, is a lethal red Maserati) and saves James Bond from his better self. Time, August 30, 1963.
Ford, Ford Madox bio: THE SADDEST STORY by Arthur Mizener
G  
Gardner, John NICKEL MOUNTAIN The surfaces of Middle American life or Anglo-Saxon saga are touched with a mixture of heroic magic and human feeling.  Time, December 31, 1973.
Gardner, John GRENDEL The literary monster made real because he has been made so human.  Time, September 20, 1971.
Gardner, John
THE SUNLIGHT DIALOGUES An enormous trick circus trunk out of which the author keeps taking new literary treasures as if they were so many fake bananas.  Time, January 1, 1973.
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang ITALIAN JOURNEY translated by W. H. Auden and Elizabeth Mayer In attempts to make the formidable German more accessible, Auden and his collaborator, Elizabeth Mayer, have bypassed the nacreous brilliance of Goethe's complex imagery and the Gluhwein dark of such things as Faust, Part II. Instead they settled on Goethe's prose journal of his 20-month trip to Italy in 1786.  Time, November 23, 1962.
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang ITALIAN JOURNEY translated by W. H. Auden and Elizabeth Mayer
Golding, William 
Nobel Prize in Literature

THE SPIRE By all the standards of current fiction, Golding, with all his faults admitted, is a provocative and imposing figure. But whatever greatness is, he plainly has not yet demonstrated that he possesses it. Time, April 24, 1964.
Gover, Robert ONE HUNDRED DOLLAR MISUNDERSTANDING In the latest borderline case respectable publishers were were unable to decide just where admissible ribaldry ended and pornography began.  Now brought out with a plug from Henry Miller on the jacket.  Time, November 9, 1962.
Grass, Günter  
Nobel Prize in Literature

THE TIN DRUM With a man's intelligence in a baby's body, he is largely ignored by adults. What he sees and overhears as a result adds up to a dwarfs-eye view of the Third Reich.  Time, January 4, 1963.
Grass, Günter  CAT AND MOUSE Through the muted and melancholy chronicle of Mahlke's brief life, Grass seems to say that deformed or not, man can burn with the likeness of a shapely aspiration. Time, August 23, 1963.
Greene, Graham THE HONORARY CONSUL. Not since THE END OF AN AFFAIR ("Dear God, you know I want your pain, but I don't want it now"), however, has Greene so baldly confronted the problem of God and evil, or the purpose, if any, of the horrors that God seems to visit alike upon those condemned to believe and those condemned to thirst after faith.  Time, September 17, 1973.
Greene, Graham A SORT OF LIFE Few writers have been so successfully failure-haunted as Greene himself. No novelist, either, has grown so rich or so critically secure by dramatizing spiritual insecurity. Time, September 27, 1971. 
H  
Hess, Rudolf bio: THE UNINVITED ENVOY by James Leaser
Hillerman, Tony SELDOM DISAPPOINTED: A Memoir Some readers will mistakenly assume that this brief memoir, written at 75, will be mainly of interest to addicts of the Chee and Leaphorn mysteries. Far from it. Hillerman does get around to discussing his books, of course.  But first, he tells of his own world, beginning with his hardscrabble, cotton-chopping Catholic boyhood in Sacred Heart, Oklahoma. New York Times Sunday Book Review, October 28, 2001.
Hillerman, Tony TALKING GOD As regular players in Mr. Hillerman's long running show-and-tell course in Navajo language and culture, Chee and Leaphorn help illuminate the range of small truces a college-trained Navajo must make between tradition and the modern world. New York Times Sunday Book Review, June 18, 1989.
Howe, Sir William and Lord Richard bio: THE HOWE BROTHERS AND THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION by Ira Gruber
I  
J  
James, Henry bio: THE CONQUEST OF LONDON and THE MIDDLE YEARS, Vols. II & III of HENRY JAMES by Leon Edel
JOHN KEATS by Walter Jackson Bate, Harvard University Press.
by Aileen Ward, Viking.
Johnson, Uwe SPECULATIONS ABOUT JAKOB AND THE THIRD BOOK ABOUT ACHIM A Western reader, spurred by the effort to fill in the outlines of individual emotion only hinted at by the author, soon begins to speculate on small and large moral questions.  Time, January 4, 1963.
K  
Kipling, Rudyard
Nobel Prize in Literature
In the half-century since his death, interest has risen about the elusive genius who created Kim, Mowgli and all of the others.  Smithsonian, January 1986.
L  
Langguth, A.J. SAKI: A LIFE OF HECTOR HUGH MUNRO Of the man Munro, except for some biographical notes by his sister Ethel, almost nothing was known. A.J. Langguth, 48, a novelist and an ex-New York Times correspondent in Saigon, now offers the first full biography.  Time, September 7, 1981.
Laval, Pierre bio: LAVAL by Hubert Cole
Le Carré, John TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY One of the best tales of the year so far. But by le Carré's highest standards it is, as Evelyn Waugh remarked in another connection, simply "creamy English charm playing tigers."  Time, June 24, 1974.
Le Carré, John THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD One of the best spy stories ever written. Even if John le Carre's book isn't authentic, nobody except another certified spy can be sure; and it has the merit of sounding chillingly true. Time, January 17, 1964.
Leonard, John BLACK CONCEIT The book's quip-filled tirades, like Shaw's prefaces, provide a splendid intellectual fix on the drama.  Time, December 31, 1973
Lessing, Doris THE SUMMER BEFORE THE DARK This is also a book about beginning to grow old. As death approaches, so does the need to satisfy a feeling, "perhaps the deepest one we have," Kate reflects, "that what matters most is that we learn through living."  Time, May 21, 1973.
Luce, Henry bio: LUCE AND HIS EMPIRE by W.A.Swanberg
M  
Malcolm X

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOLM X with the assistance of Alex Haley.

THE SPEECHES OF MALCOLM X AT HARVARD edited by Archie Epps.

MALCOLM X, THE MAN AND HIS TIMES edited by John Henrik Clarke.

Time, February 23, 1970.

Miller, Henry

TROPIC OF CAPRICORN

If Cancer was an old world debauch, Capricorn is a kind of New World Sinphony, an account of Author Miller's coming of age in New York City (1900-23). 

Time, June 29, 1962.

Milne, Christopher

THE ENCHANTED PLACES

If Christopher Milne's life has not exactly been blasted by Pooh and Mummy, it has had its melancholy moments, and with both parents now dead, he has written a book. 

Time, 1971.

Montherlant, Henri de

THE GIRLS

Few writers have warmed to the subject of anti-feminism with quite his unabashed verve and vitriol.

LIFE International, 1965.

Morris, James/Jan auto-bio: CONUNDRUM -- by Jan Morris
Munro, Hector Hugh (Saki) bio: SAKI: A LIFE OF HECTOR HUGH MUNRO by A.J. Langguth
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O'Hara, John THE HAT ON THE BED O'Hara is able to dip into the sounds and sights and thoughts of four decades of American life. "The United States in this century is what I know," he explained not long ago, "the way people talked and thought and felt. I want to get it all down while I can." Time, November 22, 1963.
O'Hara, John ELIZABETH APPLETON The experiment may be merely an attempt to put old wine into a slightly new bottle. It is not vintage O'Hara, but the vineyard is unmistakable. Time, June 7, 1963.
O'Nan, Stewart A WORLD AWAY ''A World Away'' at first comes on like a clear case of déjà vu all over again.  Not to worry, though.  If O'Nan has a genius, it is for intricately overlapping streams of consciousness that rove back and forth, creating past and present with fleeting hints about the characters' lives that a reader needs to watch for like clues buried in a detective story. New York Times Sunday Book Review, June 21, 1998.
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Pesetsky, Bette AUTHOR FROM A SAVAGE PEOPLE No one so far has tried what Bette Pesetsky gets away with in this savage, funny small novel - that is, using ghostwriting as a metaphor to dramatize the view that women do most of the work of creation while men (unfairly) get most of the credit. New York Times Sunday Book Review, March 27, 1983.
Potter, Beatrix Peter Rabbit has been world famous for decades but amazing Beatrix Potter is just beginning to become a celebrity, too.  Smithsonian, January 1989.
Pritchett, V.S. THE CAMBERWELL BEAUTY AND OTHER STORIES Pritchett's stories, meanwhile, regularly throb with the same grotesque scenes and sensuous memories as his life, recollected with a comic clarity and shrewd indulgence.  Time, September 16, 1974
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Sarraute, Nathalie THE GOLDEN FRUITS Miss Sarraute is a genuine minor genius, whose motto might be "They that live by the word shall perish by the word." Time, February 7, 1964
Scott, Paul THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN The author, far from merely unfolding an account of an isolated act of violence, has woven out of many voices and many contiguous lives a chronicle of the long, sometimes hopeful, often hateful relationship between Englishmen and Indians in what was British India. LIFE Magazine, 1966.
Simmons, Ernest J. CHEKHOV He remains an ambiguous figure even in this exhaustive, meticulous, scholarly examination.   Time, October 19, 1962.
Sologub, Fyodor THE PETTY DEMON Fyodor Sologub's classic is a glittering fantasy that had enormous success in Russia when it came out in 1907 but has not been widely read elsewhere. This deft translation is the first time it has been reissued in the U.S. since 1916.  Time, September 7, 1962.
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr    Nobel Prize in Literature
THE CANCER WARD Stripped of all illusions by years of war, prison, exile, poverty and sickness, the Solzhenitsyn figure uncompromisingly asserts that modern man can arm himself against the fear of death only with life itself. He must do so by reducing life to complete simplicity, seeing it with unblinking honesty but loving and prizing it nevertheless. Time, November 8. 1968.
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr  Nobel Prize in Literature
AUGUST 1914 Even at the book's close, when Novelist Solzhenitsyn might have been expected to weave the threads of personal narrative back together again, it is Historian Solzhenitsyn who has the last word.  Time, September 25, 1972.
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr  Nobel Prize in Literature
THE FIRST CIRCLE In The First Circle, Solzhenitsyn has transformed the chronicle of four days in the lives of men and women associated with the Mavrino Institute, a Moscow scientific installation, into a thumbnail portrait of a whole society drowning in fear and hypocrisy. Life Book Review, 1966.
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr
Nobel Prize in Literature
THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO VOL I. Translated by Thomas P. Whitney
LETTER TO THE SOVIET LEADERS.  Translated by Hilary Sternberg Even if little comes of his advice, history may yet judge Solzhenitsyn a success - and not merely in the realm of art. For he is surely one of those towering witnesses thrown up by history (or God) in moments of crisis to remind the world that the pursuit of material progress is no way to the peace that passes understanding.  Time, July 15, 1974.
Stacton, David PEOPLE OF THE BOOK Stacton takes on the Thirty Years War and produces a troubling and fantastic book.  What he achieves is less an historic tapestry than some brilliant notes toward a new-wave war film as it might have been photographed by a 16th century painter. LIFE Magazine, 1965.
Super, R.H. editor MATTHEW ARNOLD - LECTURES & ESSAYS IN CRITICISM: Vol. III in a ten-volume series Arnold was the most trenchant critic of his century—a fact which has inspired Professor Super's mammoth scholarly edition of all his scattered works. Time, May 19, 1963.
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Tolkien, J.R.R. THE SILMARILLION At its best Tolkien's posthumous revelation of his private mythology is majestic, a work held so long and so powerfully in the writer's imagination that it overwhelms the reader.  Time, October 24, 1977.
Tolkien, J.R.R.: obituary John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, who died last week at the age of 81, knowing that an imaginary world must be realistically equipped down to the last whisker of the last monster, put close to 20 years into the creation of Middle­earth, the three-volume Lord of the Rings (1954) and its predecessor, The Hobbit (1938).  Time, September 17, 1973.
Turner, Frederick Jackson; Beard, Charles A.; Parrington, Vernon L. bio: THE PROGRESSIVE HISTORIANS by Richard Hofstadter
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Updike, John MARRY ME Updike's old white writing magic has not lost its skill. He can still set a domestic scene, describe a sleeping child or evoke the sights and sounds of the marriage bed-and-bored sharply enough to bring a tear to the eye of the recording angel.  Time, November 15, 1976.
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Vidal, Gore THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION There are books it may be better to talk about than to read, and one of them, alas, is The Smithsonian Institution.  Washington Post Book World, April 1998.
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Ward, Aileen JOHN KEATS Aileen Ward, who teaches at Sarah Lawrence, is briefer than Biographer Walter Jackson Bate, less searching, more wrapped up in the psychology of such things as Keats's ambivalent feeling toward women. Time, October 25, 1963.
Washington, George bio: GEORGE WASHINGTON, MAN AND MONUMENT by Marcus Cunliffe
Wilder, Thornton THEOPHILUS NORTH An escapee from a boyhood variously spent in China, California and Wisconsin, a classics scholar, a master of many languages, an ex-prep schoolteacher and Yaleman, Theophilus is also an infernal meddler in other people's business.   Time, November 12, 1973.
Wouk, Herman THE WINDS OF WAR Well calculated to stir indignation or imagination in American readers, who have a provincial tendency to think the war was really won or lost in Western Europe.  Time, November 22, 1971.
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