Miss Brooke and the Meaning of Life


Since we haven’t had a book review in a while, ahem, here’s a couple I’ve recently enjoyed.

George Eliot, Middlemarch

Don’t think of it as an impossibly long, 19th-century British novel. Think of it as a remarkably short, 19th-century British novel — given that it’s about everything. Virginia Woolf said about Proust’s multi-volume In Search of Lost Time that there was nothing left for novelists to write about, as Proust had covered it all. I think Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) accomplished the same thing, and look how much more briefly she did it than Proust did.

It really is a terrific book. You just have to be patient with it at first, while you cross the cultural distance between you and 19th-century England, and adjust to that culture’s rhythm and pace.

Nick Lane, Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life

I realize it’s probable that I’m not only the only person here who’s dorky enough to find a book about mitochondria interesting, but also the only one sufficiently lacking in what’s commonly known as “a life” to have the time to read a book about mitochondria, but I’m recommending a book about mitochondria, nonetheless. Mitochondria, it turns out, aren’t just the dull little worker-bee organelles you learned about in biology class — “the powerhouse of the cell.” They’re at the center of a host of fascinating biological processes, from evolution to cancer to sexual reproduction to aging. The book does get rather technical in places, but not overly so for any of the Houseflies, who, like the residents of Lake Wobegon, are all above average.

So there you have it. My attempt at a book-related Houseflies post. I’m going to stop now, before I violate the genre by making a point.


6 Responses to “Miss Brooke and the Meaning of Life”

  1. Michael Lasley Says:

    At least you realize there is NO point-making in book reviews. At least not on my watch.

  2. Terry Austin Says:

    Were I to do book reviews, the volumes chosen would be A Treasury of Curious George, Harold and the Purple Crayon, and the classic (Grover-inspired) There is a Monster at the End of This Book.

  3. Al Sturgeon Says:

    I recently finished “The Great Deluge” by Douglas Brinkley, and for the three people not sick of hearing about Hurricane Katrina, I highly recommend it.

    Two days I ago I began reading “War and Peace.” My deep reason for this is to be able to say, “Hey, I read War and Peace!”

    Seriously, have any of you read it?

    So far, I’ve been to Anna Pavlona’s little Russian high society soiree and met the interesting cast of characters, traveled back to Andrei & Lisa’s for a little marital strife, then followed Pierre over to Anatole’s for a rowdy party.

    60 pages down, 1500 to go!

  4. juvenal_urbino Says:

    You go, girlfriend. I’ve never read it, but, oddly enough, I did just start Anna Karenina.

    A Treasury of Curious George, Harold and the Purple Crayon

    Both well worth review. Just how curious was George, anyway, and about what? Is this resurgence of Curious George-ism some sort of liberal media attempt at sarcasm? And this Harold. Is the purple crayon the only homoerotic theme in the portrayal of this character, or are there others?

    But now I’m not going to post them for a few months just to show you.


  5. Woof « Hungry Hungry Hippos Says:

    […] I’ve expressed, before, my keen appreciation for George Elliot’s novel, Middlemarch.  I ran across the […]

  6. Middlemarching « Hungry Hungry Hippos Says:

    […] By urbino Many a moon ago, I, filling in for our increasingly [and now totally] absent book maven, posted that I thought George Eliot’s Middlemarch contained just about everything a novel […]

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