by Elizabeth Hemmerdinger | bio

I’ve just swallowed Zadie Smith’s "On Beauty" virtually whole. I’ve had the good fortune to be on vacation, nestled under palm trees — while reading a wonderfully mature novel about mature people. And some pretty immature people, too. Young ones, from whom callowness is expected, and some our age, who Smith might well have pilloried.

But she deals with foibles carefully and kindly, a lesson unto itself. And she deals with issues of small and large import. Exhibiting great pace, fine dialogue and surprises to the end, "On Beauty" is not even something I’d ordinarily pick up, set, as it is, in academe. This particular genre, so easily built on false egos, can get stale or arcane so early in the book that I barely get far enough into it to break the spine.

By the way, I when young, I never broke the spine on a paperback, thinking of posterity and feather dusters. Ten years ago we moved and I found that the pages of my treasures were yellow and dessicated. So now I just enjoy the read, savor the well-worn quality of a book I’m really loving and pass it on to a friend as fast as I can. Best I can do from Antigua is shout about it!

Read More: Here’s an excerpt of "On Beauty," posted at NPR, and Frank Rich wrote an interesting review in 2005.

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