Nicholson Baker’s new book How the World Works is a collection of essays, reviews and miscellany, and it proves that it is possible to write interestingly about anything really, including string. (He writes a history of his childhood centring on string). There is also a piece on all the words written on plane wings that he has noted over the years (“no step” etc), which does somehow evoke that cocooned, skewed feeling of commercial flying.
I agree with Baker on the pacifist thing, not so sure I am in agreement over his hagiography of Steve Jobs. Sure, he concentrates on his achievements over his personality, but Jobs was obviously not a nice guy. As far as his achievements go, Jobs was a Henry Ford kind of guy, a visionary. But then iThis-and-that’s reminds me of the Goscinny and Uderzo comic Obelix and Co (in the Asterix series) where purely by the power of advertising the entire Roman world is convinced they all need menhirs.
There is an interesting piece on the New Yorker, and its editor David Remnick. Baker offers as proof of Remnick’s remarkable drive the fact that he wrote his recent biography of Obama (quite a book) early in the morning and late at night, and that his colleagues were none-the-wiser. The Obama book does not read like something dashed off while eating the breakfast toast.