Sunday Evening Book Reviews

Marilynne Robinson on Flannery O’Connor’s Prayer Journal: “It is the religious sensibility reflected in this journal that makes it as eloquent on the subject of creativity as it is on the subject of prayer. O’Connor’s awareness of her gifts gives her a special kind of interest in them. Having concluded one early entry by asking the Lord to help her “with this life that seems so treacherous, so disappointing,” she begins the next entry: “Dear God, tonight it is not disappointing because you have given me a story. Don’t let me ever think, dear God, that I was anything but the instrument for Your story — just like the typewriter was mine.”” (NYTimes)

Wendy Smith on Graham Robb’s Discovery of Middle Earth: Mapping the Lost World of the Celts: “Many eye-glazing pages of maps, astronomical data, and mathematical calculations follow to support Robb’s carefully elaborated theory: The Celts, led by their Druid priests and teachers, organized their territories — and expanded into new regions — based on scientific long-distance surveying methods, and this organization reflected their belief that “our world is a Middle Earth whose sacred sites correspond to places in the upper and lower worlds.”" (LATimes)

Kirsty Gunn on Margaret Drabble’s The Pure Gold Baby: “Drabble’s latest novel, The Pure Gold Baby, so quiet and reserved it could be no more than a murmur coming through the open window of a north London terrace, is the opposite of an action-packed drama. It reads more like a series of drafts that the reader needs to gather together than the usual fictional package.” (Financial Times)

Melissa Maerz on Angelica Huston’s A Story Lately Told: “Anjelica Huston played a Royal Tenenbaum on screen, and she was one in real life, too. Like Wes Anderson’s film, her story is filled with quirky, precocious siblings and inappropriate parent-child relationships, all of which makes for a fascinating memoir.” (

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