The witty title of Vikram Chandra’s soulful, erudite new book, “Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty,” appears to play with a couple of Western cultural touchstones. The ancient Greek Longinus’ “On the Sublime” gave us some of the earliest ideas about what makes great literature, and of course Keats’ most famous lines, if not his most wonderful, are: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty, — that is all/ Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”
Any day now, parents across the country will fill their minivans with hope and some stuff from Target and drive their amazing kids off to college. Some of their young men and women will study business and English, while others will simply major in beer. But every one of them will gain an appreciation for comedian Bridger Winegar’s recent tweet, “Roommate wanted. We would split rent 50/50, utilities 50/50, cable 50/50, groceries 50/50. Ideally, you would live somewhere else.”
A lot of spy novels would have you believe that espionage involves elite globe-trotting adventures laced with good booze and cool toys, and certainly there are elements of all those things in Ben Macintyre’s vivid and fascinating new “A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal.” But this nonfiction book’s most intense scene is prosaic — two old friends, middle-aged English gentlemen who came up as spies through British intelligence, share a cup of tea while “lying courteously to each other” in a Beirut apartment in 1963.
The first sentence of Terry Hayes’ exhilarating debut thriller, “I Am Pilgrim,” travels from Red Square to the “wrong side” of Detroit’s Eight Mile Road, and somehow you know immediately — buckle up. This complex, globalized tear through our complex, globalized world shoots from New York to the Black Hills of South Dakota, touches down in London and Geneva, and lands on tiny Santorini, “the most beautiful of all the Greek islands,” for a gripping assassination at a world-class restaurant and bar. And that’s just the first 50 pages.