What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
Well, it could be Herodotus’ “The Histories” in the Landmark edition published by Pantheon. Herodotus is spectacular — part historian, part investigative reporter and inveterate storyteller. Or maybe “Mind and Cosmos,” by Thomas Nagel, an intense philosophical takedown of Neo-Darwinism and scientific materialism. It’s a brave contrarian book. Reminds me of Wittgenstein’s remark: “Even if all our scientific questions are answered, our problem is still not touched at all.” Another best is Don DeLillo’s “Cosmopolis.” A beautiful conceit runs this novel — an epic journey by limo across Midtown Manhattan. And then his new story collection, “The Angel Esmeralda.” DeLillo has a consummate comprehension of the world. And then Harold Bloom’s “The American Religion,” which argues that our domestic Christian religions are more Gnosticism than Christian. Mormonism in his view is the religious future of this country. And I’m recently into “From Eternity to Here” — the physicist Sean Carroll’s fascinating book about time. Time confounds the physicists. They ask why it goes only one way. And finally, if a reread qualifies, I’m going again through Seamus Heaney’s translation of “Beowulf.” Here’s a book that can be sung.
More in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/19/books/review/e-l-doctorow-by-the-book.html
More about Doctorow's visit to the University at Albany: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/programpages/vws.html#doctorow
Picture: A Roman copy (2nd c. AD) of a Greek bust of Herodotus from the first half of the 4th c. BC