THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE SUMMER ISSUE of venerable lit mag Granta is an excerpt from Mark Twain's forthcoming autobiography. Twain reminisces about childhood years spent on his uncle's farm—and, in a litany that highlights the paucity of most contemporary food writing, devotes considerable space to fondly recollected childhood meals. ("The North thinks it knows how to make corn bread, but this is gross superstition.")
Other selections include Hal Crowther's grumpy essay on the dangers of the digital age, which posits that, "computers and allied technology have created the most intimidating generation gap in history." In an elegant editorial move, Crowther's essay is followed by a selection of love letters written by Iris Murdoch to novelist Raymond Queneau, letters written within the past 60 years that nonetheless seem antiquated in both form and content.
A promised Joseph O'Neill contribution is the issue's only disappointment—the Netherland author occupies a mere page, with a small photograph of an auto store marquee reading "LOSED" and a short paragraph explaining that it's a sign he saw on a road trip. Strip mall signage typos do not compelling content make. Otherwise, though, from Ian Teh's photographs of Chinese cities displaced by the construction of the Three Gorges Dam to Richard Russo's reflections on globalization as reflected in the shifting fortunes of his hometown, it's a varied, satisfying collection.