First it was George Lakoff, and now it’s Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist at UC Berkeley, who has come to tell us that “the challenge facing liberals and Democrats is to recapture that ordinary language” that has been hijacked by Republicans. But, as Stanley Fish writes in the NYTBR, Nunberg’s Talking Right is long on explanations and short on solutions: “A book that promises to teach liberals how to defeat the political right ends up being a paean to its resourcefulness.” Ouch.
Meanwhile, Ron Charles has nothing but praise for T.C. Boyle’s Talk Talk, calling it “[Boyle’s] most exciting novel yet.” I really like Boyle’s work, particularly his short stories (his latest collection, Tooth and Claw, is out in paperback, by the way), so I look forward to reading the new novel.
Elsewhere, Doris Lessing re-reads Lady Chatterley’s Lover. “Many novels,” she writes, “do not gain by relating them to their times. Others, usually the polemical kind, may only be understood in context, and Lady Chatterley’s Lover is one. To read it unenlightened, particularly the feverish third version, can only leave the reader wondering what on earth is all this urgent preaching about, particularly now, when it is hard even to remember what a mealy-mouthed society Lawrence was writing in.”
French-Algerian writer Faíza Guène’s debut novel, Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow, which is finally out in the U.S., gets a generally positive review in the S.F. Chronicle. Critic Christine Thomas finds that “[e]ven if the book doesn’t quite pull off its aim, it makes a strong impression.” Also in the Chronicle, a review of Fouad Ajami’s The Foreigner’s Gift. Wow, he took his lips from Bush’s ass long enough to write a new book?