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George Ernsberger
Posted 7/15/22

Future Stories: What’s Next? by David Christian (Little, Brown). This is a small-ish, slightly playful book of philosophy. So a book of (somewhat) playful but (seriously) thoughtful …

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Future Stories: What’s Next? by David Christian (Little, Brown). This is a small-ish, slightly playful book of philosophy. So a book of (somewhat) playful but (seriously) thoughtful thinking—about being conscious of time while you’re in the middle of it. Time is, of course, forever in motion, changing—and so are we, though we habitually avoid knowing it as best we can…Let’s see: would it help if I told you that Bill Gates liked this book? The publisher tried that, but as best we can tell, Gates can’t be any clearer than I’m being about what’s so enjoyable about it. Again, though it’s not for professional philosophers, it is pure philosophy, in this sense: there are no practical predictions in this book, about the World Series, or the November elections, or whether electric cars are ever going to work. It does, though, suggest ways of working with that faculty—foresight, anticipation—finding variety and even richness in examining how it works. When you’ve done that, you’ll have had a good time and you’ll feel a little . . . smarter? Maybe, or at least a bit more clear-eyed as you’re looking ahead.  

The Divorce Colony by April White (Hachette). A historical oddity, one about which a couple of Hollywood movies were made in the 1930s and ’40s (and that I saw in the ’60s). In South Dakota, divorce laws in the late 1800s and into the early years of the twentieth century were relatively liberal; they required only a brief term of residency by only one of the divorcing parties. So women who could afford to, took up residence in hotels in Sioux Falls, and formed a transitory sort of “high society” there. For two or three decades, then, Sioux Falls was a sort of exurb of the Upper East Side of Manhattan and the richer parts of Long Island and Jersey (and other parts of America, including L. A. and Hollywood, of course). That was fun, probably, for the Dakotans; but the attention it drew had a real effect on attitudes around divorce in much of America. (But this book is mostly just a good time.)

Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan (Putnam). A romance novel, a paperback original, charming in the expected ways, but rather sneakily something else, too. Among books of this sort that I’ve sampled, this one gives more than the usual attention to a sort of self-repair, the growth, development, even deepening (though it remains light and warm) of the woman, a divorcée, at its center. Nicely done.

Monkey in the Middle by Loren D. Estleman (Tor). Another of this really superb series (maybe as many as 30, now) of private eye novels featuring the Detroit-centered, grumpy, now middle-aged Amos Walker. These books belong among the classics of the form, though they’re contemporary in setting, of course. Sam Spade had no cell phone, I’m pretty sure I remember.


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