Dave and his wife Jane own the bookstore. Unlike everyone else there, he knows nothing about the business - but from constantly asking questions, he’s trying to learn. The staff very much hopes he’ll succeed before he starts coming up with ideas he’d like them to implement. A trial lawyer in his prior life and now a part-time human rights lawyer focusing on Africa, he’s looking at the ways in which the bookstore can be a forum for critical issues. Examples include increasing diversity on the island, confronting xenophobia, racism, and considering the distinction between freedom of speech and hate speech.
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like for the fetus when mom is experiencing as much, if not more, intimate attention than is wanted at the moment, McEwan provides the answer through his narrator, the most precocious unborn in literature. Dryly humorous and poignant, McEwan gives us an incisive, talking and hearing being who misses nothing that mom, dad, and dad’s odious brother are doing while he/she bobs around in amniotic fluid, itching to get out and make things right.
This pile of Christopher Hitchens’ essays written in the decade before his death reminded me of his nasty wit and how few English language words I know. In one, he tips his hat to Charles Dickens while also making it clear the great man was all wet when writing about religion: “… with some of his less imposing and more moistly sentimental prose scenes in A Christmas Carol, (Dickens) took the Greatest Birthday Ever Told and helped make it into the near Ramadan of protracted obligatory celebration now darkening our Decembers.”
Many of us from this part of the world don’t recognize the citizens of the country who voted for Trump. Theroux’s account helps. Avoiding cities, he wanders through backwaters, talking and listening. What his readers get is an awakening, but one we expect when reading about, say, Mozambique. Over and over, we learn about trailer parks, gracious citizens, gun shows, and that running water is a luxury. But we don’t learn why the Gates Foundation has never been seen down there. Reading Deep South and what it says about the Trump phenomenon causes me to hope Theroux will next profile working class white men from, say, Ohio.