Our Tip Sheet on Current Reading: Week of May 21st, 2007

Tom Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia, which opened in October at the Vivian Beaumont Theater, closed on May 13. If you’re already suffering from withdrawal symptoms, two fixes are available: A one-volume paperback edition of the trilogy (Grove, $15), and Anthony Grafton’s love letter in the current issue of The New York Review of Books (May 31, $5.50): “Stoppard has made us see what it was like to love ideas with a whole heart, to fight for a better world with all one’s strength, to write for readers who waited for days for each new article, to hurt the people one loves most, and to insist that no ends, however good, can justify immoral means.”

At the end of a scintillating tour of literary Dublin in the London Review of Books (April 5, $4.95)—a rambling approach to the topic of Samuel Beckett’s favorite Irish actors—Colm Tóibín winds up at the National Gallery of Ireland. He quotes Beckett about W.B. Yeats’ brother, the painter Jack B. Yeats: “He is one of the greats of our time … because he brings light as only the great dare to bring light to the issueless predicament of existence.” I wonder if old Sam had his own oeuvre in mind….

The impressively talented Scottish novelist Andrew O’Hagan, a regular contributor to both The New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books, has written a sad and lovely novel about an aging Catholic priest who blunders into a frightening debacle. I fell for Be Near Me (Harcourt, $24) when the endearingly affected Father David admits that “It is not always easy to know the difference between religious passion and exalted grief.”

Our Tip Sheet on Current Reading: Week of May 21st, 2007