Critical Mass

Friday Afternoon Addictions


I confess. I get antsy around three o’clock on Friday afternoons. Most weeks by four o’clock I hear the satisfying click that tells me the nytimesdirect email with Sunday’s book review section has arrived. This week, it’s 3:45 when I learn the cover review is novelist David Leavitt on “Henry James: The Mature Master,” by Sheldon M. Novick.

I can’t wait to read it. But, by habit, first I scan the email. I’m tempted by Paris Review deputy editor Matt Weiland’s review of Will Self’s “Psychogeography: Disentangling the Modern Conundrum of Psyche and Place.” And Bookforum editor and NBCC member Eric Banks on new fiction by Michel Faber and Dan Rhodes. And NBCC member Liesl Schillinger on the Yannick Murphy novel “Signed, Mata Hari.”  Where to begin? But first I listen for the sound of another Friday afternoon email. Mediabistro’s “Revolving Door” newsletter. Who’s up,who’s down in the ongoing merry-go-round. It’s late today. Maybe they’re on vacation?