What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

June 16, 2011

Richard Bosworth, professor of history at the universities of Reading and Western Australia, is reading The Cambridge Companion to Cricket (Cambridge University Press, 2011), edited by Anthony Bateman and Jeffrey Hill. "This international collection has some dull patches and some bright ones. To keep my patriotic pecker up while flying back to Australia for a conference, there is a chapter on D.G. Bradman and, to remind me of a lost golden age of cricket-watching, three on a range of topics about the West Indies and 'oh, my Worrell, Weekes and Walcott of long ago'."

Dennis Hayes, professor of education, University of Derby, is reading Gilbert Murray's Euripides And His Age (Forgotten Books, 2010). "Murray with his usual clarity, or sapheneia, explains the greatness of the Age of Athens in the 5th century BC as not merely its achieving 'advances in most departments of human life', but as having 'trained an extraordinary band of critical or rebellious children' who set to work with a freedom of spirit 'unhampered by fears and taboos, to seek the truth, to create beauty, and improve human life'."

Shelley King is professor of English, Queen's University, Canada. "I'm currently revisiting an old favourite, Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber (Vintage, 2006). I first encountered this 1979 collection of short stories based on fairy tales more than two decades ago, and I remember being delighted by the provocative and audacious twists Carter gave to traditional plots. Now I simply luxuriate in the beauty of her lyrical prose."

Tom Palaima, professor of Classics at the University of Texas at Austin, has been reading Steve Earle's I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive (Harvill Secker, 2011). "No one does. So we are lucky to have storytellers like singer/songwriter Steve Earle lay bare the truths of this world. Here he takes us to live in the bargain-basement prostitution and drug zone of San Antonio, Texas in 1963 with a morphine-addicted old doctor, the ghost of Hank Williams and a young Mexican girl discovering her powers as a curandera."

Alan Ryan, visiting fellow in politics, Princeton University, is reading Mary Harris Jones' The Autobiography of Mother Jones (Kessinger Legacy Reprints, 2010). "Having semi-retired to the US, I've been teaching a course on long-forgotten American radicals of the early 20th century. This is a treat I hadn't previously encountered. Born some time in the 1830s, and dying only in 1930, this feisty organiser of miners (mostly), with a gift for rallying women and children in the cause of humiliating the rich and powerful, revelled in the label of 'the most dangerous woman in America'. A wonderful reminder of the virtues of clear-eyed radicalism."

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