The evidence that climate change is a serious problem that we must contend with now, is overwhelming on its own. There is no need to overstate the evidence, particularly when it feeds a paralyzing narrative of doom and hopelessness.
Yesterday, inexplicably, I fainted. I was stepping off the subway and I collapsed onto the platform. I’d known it was going to happen for maybe a minute beforehand. I thought if I could just get to my stop, sit down, and get some fresh air, I’d be okay. But as soon as the doors closed at the stop before mine, I knew it was unstoppable—I crossed the threshold from “might happen” to “will happen.” A grayness clouded my vision. I made eye contact with a woman and absently wondered if I should tell her I was about to faint, if she could read it on my face.
I’ve never fainted before in my life. I came close as a kid: kneeling during mass and standing up too quickly. The grayness would creep in, and I’d lean my weight against the side of a pew. But before now, I’d never fully fainted. I’m sure there’s a physiological explanation: I was probably overheating, dizzy from standing. But that’s no fun. So I looked into the psychological, emotional reasoning behind fainting.
I enjoy binge-watching Netflix as much as the next person, but what I really love is binge-reading. There is a special pleasure in encountering a book by someone you have never read before, and then devouring everything by that writer you can get your hands on. From Charlotte Brontë to Graham Greene to M. F. K. Fisher, I have spent countless uninterrupted hours basking in the newly discovered landscape of a single author.
Especially enjoyable is coming upon a crime writer deep into a series. You can hurtle through one new investigation after another, all the while keeping company with the same characters and their maturing (or devolving) relationships with one another. When I came across French writer Philippe Georget’s Crimes of Winter, translated by Steven Randall, I was excited to learn that it was the third of his Inspector Sebag novels. But as I read from book to book, I found that Georget has not written a typical crime series.
“The Card Catalog” is many things: a lucid overview of the history of bibliographic practices, a paean to the Library of Congress, a memento of the cherished card catalogs of yore and an illustrated collection of bookish trivia. The text provides a concise history of literary compendia from the Pinakes of the fabled Library of Alexandria to the advent of computerized book inventory databases, which began to appear as early as 1976. The illustrations are amazing: luscious reproductions of dozens of cards, lists, covers, title pages and other images guaranteed to bring a wistful gleam to the book nerd’s eye.
For someone who grew up in and around libraries, it is also a poignant reminder of a vanished world.
The novel moves so quickly, racking up so many witnesses and suspects, that it ought to be hard to follow. But Connelly expertly hides a trail of bread crumbs that leads straight to the denouement, with so much else going on that it’s impossible to see where he’s heading.