I especially liked the section on Africa, because I always feel a bit lost looking for African literature, and the selections looked intriguing. The E...moreI especially liked the section on Africa, because I always feel a bit lost looking for African literature, and the selections looked intriguing. The European section is the longest and most detailed, and had an especially diverse mix of genres. I thought the choices for the U.S. were often strange, but none more so than for the single selection for Utah. (Really? A Zane Grey pulp western about a woman hounded by the Mormon Church for her land? Let's get Wallace Stegner in there.) The book in general does show a certain predilection for books about war and mysteries, though there are generous sprinklings of classics and humor, some romances and a poem and a play or two. I don't know if this is characteristic of literature in general, but novels dealing with sex with minors seemed to crop up more than usual, which I found disquieting.
A lot of great selections and books I probably wouldn't have found otherwise to put on my list of books to read, and probably a book I'll turn to again, but I don't think I'd buy this one. Book selection is so personal, and I guess I'm still looking for a better match. Impressive research, though, and I loved the small keys for additional information on the book that were helpful, but not distracting.(less)
My favorite chapter was the one detailing the characters and events of an academic conference, which was wonderfully funny. There is really a great se...moreMy favorite chapter was the one detailing the characters and events of an academic conference, which was wonderfully funny. There is really a great sense of humor throughout, and though the book was not quite the unified volume I had expected, (it is, rather a book of essays loosely connected, on a similar theme), I rather enjoyed the diverging lines, and the feeling of not knowing where we were going next. I have some suppressed desires to study comp lit in graduate school, which made me a bit self conscious during the last chapter discussing mimetic desire, and I enjoyed hugely the excessive detail of the book. I do love Russian novels, but I suspect I've found someone who loves them more, and it is, as one of the blurbs indicates, contagious.(less)