Recent Books — Master and his Emissary, Where’d You Go Bernadette, and others

* “The Snow Whale”:amazon by John Minichillo. Don’t know why I picked this up, exactly the kind of satirical farce I hate. Gave up on, blah.
* “The Master and his Emissary”:amazon by Iain McGilchrist. Get your pith helmet and machete, this is a deep jungle to fight your way thru. Deep exploration of brain function, psychology, philosophy, history, art, culture. The sections on philosophy just about killed me (which given the thesis I find very intriguing and perhaps even a bit concerning.). Fascinating but set aside a long time to read and ponder. I don’t buy the arguments completely but an interesting and well-detailed articulation of a theory of human culture and how it relates to brain function. One area where the argument rings hollow to me is the discussion of modern music. The author attempts to support his core argument with evidence of the emotionless nature of modern classical music, but gives only one sentence to jazz and completely ignores the music that people actually listen to, pop and rock. I don’t think removing this one support point damages his argument, but it does make me wonder about the overall quality of the argument. But still, a very well thought out discussion and worth reading and thinking about.
* “The Prophet”:amazon by Michael Koryta. Needed some light fare to recover from the previous slog. A solid mystery set in smalltown northern Ohio with some character complexity. Fun but not remarkable.
* “Where’d you go, Bernadette”:amazon by Maria Semple. OK at first this seemed like light farce and I kind of hated it. I stuck with it just for the Seattle setting but thought “Wow, if you are not in the Seattle/Microsoft network, you will get nothing out of this.” And then the book took a left turn when Bernadette opened up and revealed herself, and became a terrific tale of self discovery, of a mother and a daughter, of love, loss, and reunion. Really enjoyed it, it has been optioned for a movie, hope they pull this one together.