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Another Insane Devotion by Peter Trachtenberg

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William Boyd, Waiting For Sunrise

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THE BROWSER: A quick look at recent releases.

  • February 8, 2013 - 6:37 AM

WAITING FOR SUNRISE

By William Boyd (Harper Perennial, 353 pages, $16)

English actor Lysander Rief isn’t prepared for the uprooting of his life when he travels to Germany on the eve of World War I to undergo psychotherapy. He ends up a spy. Along the way, he has a secret love affair, is falsely accused of rape and eventually is pressed into the service of the British government as warfare bloodies the continent.

Author William Boyd probably is best known to Americans for writing “Any Human Heart,” the 2011 PBS Masterpiece Theater production. In his latest novel, “Waiting for Sunrise,” Boyd once again shows his skill at storytelling. This menacing tale of entrapment into the spy game has a ring of the truth. His prose is superb, and it turns this thriller into a work of art.

David Shaffer, reporter

 

ANOTHER INSANE DEVOTION: ON THE LOVE OF CATS AND PERSONS

By Peter Trachtenberg (Da Capo Press, 283 pages, $24)

Anyone who’s ever had a cat, even a problematic one, for a long time understands that you get attached to them not just because they’re amusing, but also because they serve as quirky, steady presences whose lives create mile markers in our own in a way that nothing else can, not even a child or spouse.

No matter what you’re doing, they’re there, staring at you with calm, curious, inscrutable eyes.

Love for, and from, a cat, is subtle and complicated, never pure and easy as it is with a dog. It’s harder to explain, and hard for people who do not like cats to understand.

Peter Trachtenberg, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh, understands it quite well. He’s a macho guy with a hardscrabble personal and romantic history who has always had cats, and this deeply philosophical, highly readable memoir is about the complications of love, both for cats and humans.

A lost cat named Biscuit becomes a vehicle for talking about the rise and fall of a marriage, and, even more profoundly, about the dark, elusive nature of love. This is a book like no other, and a very good one.

PAMELA MILLER, night metro editor

 

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