Tanenhaus Actually Gets It Right for Once

Could it be? Joe Queenan has temporarily put away the hatchet (and the hubris)? Well, it’s true. And Sam Tanenhaus is (wait for it) to be commended for not only giving us a different side of Queenan’s, but also for writing an enjoyable overview of Richard Hofstadter (perhaps making up for the aborted Buckley bio) and being a little more relaxed on the recent edition of the NYTBR podcast. Did Sammy Boy get an unexpected refund check for the IRS? What explains this unexpectedly ebullient (well, as ebullient as the gruff-voiced man will be) Sammy-T?

Of course, I still have issues with the NYTBR‘s lack of literary fiction coverage, but perhaps the August sunshine might pierce Sam’s heart and spread some golden rays to make even Dwight Garner wear a pair of khaki shorts. Too bad the NYTBR is under no acknowledgment to accept the brownies.

In the meantime, Queenan wrote this surprisingly humble essay about reading far too many books simultaneously. Perhaps Queenan’s essay spoke to me because I am currently in the middle of reading about 17 books: many of them given to me by trusted people who have insisted that I read them, many of them having nothing to do with future Segundo interviews serving as a welcome respite. The usual figure around here is four books at a time, but books and reading desires pile up rather rapidly.

For the tome-loving multitaskers around here, how many books do you read at a time? The comments await.


  1. I’m surprised, Ed–I found this NYTBR to be especially irritating (the Wolitzer review of Lee Abbott notwithstanding).

    Maybe I’ve been poisoned by Queenan’s act for so long I can’t see humility when it’s there or maybe I’m just a cynic, but I thought this was an especially inane piece, the gist of which was, “Yo, I can read 25 books at once. How you like me now, bitch?” How is this different from teen-age boys comparing schlongs (not that I’d know anything about it)? FWIW, I read several books at once, but I don’t expect anyone else to give a rat’s patootie.

    And I thought Richard Hofstadter was a windbag when I was in high school. Tanenhaus’s bloviations did nothing to change my mind.

  2. No more than three, but then I’m senile. I can’t imagine how one would ever ever ever handle 17.

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