Sunday book notices: "Laurus" and "Spoilt Rotten"
Laurus by Eugene Vodolazkin
An extraordinary novel. It begins in the fifteenth century Russia and continues with a journey of redemption up to the recent past, following the life of a spiritual healer who eventually becomes a hermit. The blurb says that it will appeal to fans of “The Name of the Rose” but I think that it is much better than that. For Catholics, I would say that it will appeal to fans of Michael O’Brien. To find out more about the author, you could read an interview with Rod Dreher.
Spoilt Rotten: The Toxic Cult of Sentimentality by Theodore Dalrymple
The prolific Dr Dalrymple is an author whom people either love or hate, but since many of my friends share my enjoyment of his writing, I thought I would include this volume on an exasperating phenomenon of our times. The author has worked as a prison doctor and as a GP in an area of some deprivation, so the stories with which he illustrates his points are often amusing if macabre. For instance:
To ask how much emotion is too much — in the expectation that the answer is that we can never say, and therefore that there can never be too much emotion — assumes an almost hydraulic theory. That is to say that a person has a certain amount of emotion that wells up within him (over the quantity of which he has no control) and that, where expression is concerned, it must express itself one way or another — inwardly or much more preferably, according to modern ways of thinking, outwardly (as one man who had just stabbed his girlfriend to death put it to me, ‘I had to kill her, doctor, or I don’t know what I would’ve done’).
(Links go to the Amazon UK page for each book. I link to the Kindle edition because that is how I read most new books these days, but you can easily click around if you want the paper and glue version.)