Alberto Manguel, this country's man of letters par excellence, has a new collection: Into the Looking-Glass Wood: Essays on Words and the World (Knopf), consisting of twenty-two essays cast in the assured voice of a man who knows the world and is known by the world.
Manguel places himself in the tradition of essay-writing that G.K. Chesterton and Cynthia Ozick, both of whom are subjects of essays in this volume, belong to. Other topics include being Jewish, being gay, being Argentinian, being edited. My favourites are "Borges in Love" and "The Death of Che Guevera." Mario Vargas Llosa, whose obnoxious politics raise old questions about truth and beauty, comes under much-needed scrutiny.
There is much here of literature and life, haunted throughout by the spectre of Argentina and the school-age friends Manguel lost to torture and murder during the dark age of the generals. This is a book for going back to: highly recommended.