What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

November 1, 2012

Roger Brown, professor of higher education management at Liverpool Hope University, is reading Colin Crouch's The Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism (Polity, 2011). "Crouch asks why neoliberalism has not been discredited despite the damage it has done to liberal societies and economies. He argues that instead of the market-state dichotomy, we should be most concerned about giant firms' economic and political power. Civil society must reassert itself if these organisations are not to dominate."

Tim Hall, lecturer in geography and social sciences, University of Gloucestershire, is reading Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts' Edgelands: Journeys into England's True Wilderness (Vintage, 2012). "Two poets search for the sublime in the prosaic landscapes of the urban-rural fringe, finding beauty in pallet yards and unloved scraps of countryside. Working in the traditions of Romanticism and drawing on the work of radical naturalists such as Richard Mabey and psycho- and humanistic geographers from J.B. Jackson onwards, they produce a richly textured and peopled account."

Ian Lebeau, senior lecturer in English as a foreign language, London Metropolitan University, is reading Tomas Transtromer's New Collected Poems (Bloodaxe, 2011), translated by Robin Fulton. "His supporters say Transtromer's 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature was 30 years late. These poems are sometimes dark and dense, like the forests he describes in his native Sweden, but lit up by brilliant imagery and metaphysical musings: 'Sometimes an abyss opens between Tuesday and Wednesday but twenty-six years may be passed in a moment.' Challenging, illuminating, wise."

Lord Plant, professor of jurisprudence and political philosophy at King's College London, is reading Rowan Williams' Faith in the Public Square (Bloomsbury Continuum, 2012). "This is an exceptionally interesting book on the role of religion in modern society. It has all the Williams hallmarks: a willingness to face up to problems and not evade them; a full awareness of the complexities of the material that has to be reflected in the subtleties and nuances of his arguments; an immense erudition that does not get in the way of what he wants to say; an ability to cover theology, law and political and social phil-osophy and theory in an authoritative and insightful way. The Church will realise what it has lost only when he vacates his post at the end of the year."

Peter J. Smith, reader in Renaissance literature, Nottingham Trent University, is reading Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman (Faber, 2003). "A writer of Grimmesque horror stories is being questioned about the murders of several children, killed in the manner of his brutal fables. His autistic brother, himself a childhood victim of domestic torture, is to blame. This savagely dark comedy has the menace of Pinter, the pathos of Steinbeck and the intricacy of Stoppard."

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