LINK: The New Yorker often has long-ish review pieces that are worth the time one puts in. This Jill Lapore article on E.B. White and the battle over Stuart Little is one of them; well-written, thoroughly reported, and engaging. However, after three days with my 3 year old nephew, I am sad to report that while White may have won the battle, he lost the war. There is still a lot out there that's good and worthwhile, but there's also a good deal that's mediocre but relatively indistinguishable from the very good (a children's book rarely gets its worth or value from the top-level story that's told, so the difference may not be noticeable to the adult reader until halfway through)*, and when you're on book #6, it's hard to make that distinction (or to care very much about it).

*One thing worthy of note: it's an infrequent experience for adults to re-read books, unless they are particular favorites, or, like me, one has a line of work that requires re-reading. Children re-read books all the time. I wonder when the switch happens so that engaging material a second time (much less a tenth) becomes something frowned upon?


Emily Hale said...

Oh--is it frowned upon or are we just too busy and lazy? I wish we/I re-read books.

Nicholas said...

At best, it's treated as something of an oddity, but I've known people who cannot conceive of what you do with a book after you've read it once. I have some sympathy for being too busy or too lazy--I am both, at fits and starts--but there's something joyous about it when it comes out well--it's one of those things I make time for (infrequently, but it's there all the same).

Re-reading in political theory is one of the best things that we do, I think. What resonates for your changes over time, and you see different things, and connect works in ways you couldn't before.