Arts So You Want to Read a Book by Jonathan Raban—Where Should You Start?
posted by October 19 at 17:31 PMon
A reader writes:
I read with interest your article on Jonathan Raban, it made me want to read something by him. He has quite a big body of work and I wondered if you could recommend something of his to start with. Also, I am a rabid Bush hater, and declared a news fast upon his election to a second term. Please don’t recommend anything that will make me read about G W Bush.
It’s a great question. After all, Raban has tons of books. It’s like he has a condition. He doesn’t stop.
I told her to start with Hunting Mister Heartbreak. I know, I know—it’s not new, but for a newcomer to the party I still say it’s the place to start. Scene for scene, sentence by sentence, it’s pure pleasure—quick, hilarious, uncomfortably insightful, about a million different things (New York City, security cameras at Macy’s, driving to Alabama, hotel porn, human bodies found in a lake, the KKK, airplane travel, the gang activity on Second Avenue in Seattle circa 1991, the rain, the writing life)… Man, it’s hard to describe good books. A good bookstore will either have it or be able to get it quickly.
Now Mudede will tell you that I’m wrong, that Passage to Juneau is the masterpiece, which may well be true. Political types should head straight for My Holy War, which is intimidatingly brilliant and rearranged my (admittedly somewhat ignorant) thinking about American foreign policy, young jihadists, and Iraq. It’s bristling, edifying, important…