Nothing Remains the Same ) divides her newest book into three parts, in which she describes a stint at the American Academy in Berlin, her writing (or not"/>

Room for Doubt

Wendy Lesser, Author . Pantheon $23.95 (205p) ISBN 978-0-375-42400-7

Lesser (Nothing Remains the Same ) divides her newest book into three parts, in which she describes a stint at the American Academy in Berlin, her writing (or not writing) a book there about David Hume and what she calls "difficult friends." In the first part, "Out of Berlin," the music she hears there provides a structural motif; a self-described "excessively linear personality," Lesser moves by associative glides as she turns thoughts about all sorts of things (the loss of what might have been, the acquisition of self-knowledge, religion, goodness) into absorbing narrative. In revisiting her "book that [didn't] see the light of day," Lesser offers a lively portrait of Hume and a disquieting sense that "if he had anything to teach me at all, it was the value of not arriving at a firm conclusion." The rich details from music she heard in Berlin and the book she thought she might write there provoke, but are sadly missing from, the third essay, an extended memoir of the "difficult friend," the writer Leonard Michaels). Borderline banality (quarrels and making up) engulfs the deeply felt personal loss. Readers who value lucidity, sophistication and all the elements of "intelligent conversation" will enjoy the first two essays and, perhaps, forgive the third as the work of a "difficult friend." (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 11/13/2006
Release date: 01/01/2007
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