The New York Times Friday ran its annual summer reading preview, and I was disappointed to see that the roundup was written by John Williams, rather than Janet Maslin, the graceful and witty writer who has done the feature for years.
For longtime New York Times readers, the Janet Maslin summer preview is like the season's first magnolia blooms, the appearance of signs heralding new graduates in the neighborhood and the joy of fresh blackberries.
The presence of Williams' byline made me worry that Maslin had joined the long list of favorite Times writers who've exited the newspaper's pages.
But, the online version has the excellent Maslin's byline, not Williams'. Further examination shows that the piece was indeed penned by Maslin. Looks like another one of the errors that have become so frequent ever since the Times decided to lay off its copy editors.
Even Maslin's writing couldn't make her 17 chosen books sound appealing. Most of them, except for a book called "Astral Weeks" about Van Morrison's recording of that album in Boston during the 1960s, appeared dreadful. I'd heard about the Morrison book before, and had placed it on my perhaps I'll read if it washes up at the library list.
The Times critics also gave their reading plans for the summer.
Dwight Garner will read Saki! Right.
Jennifer Szalai and Sarah Lyall both plan to read Edward St. Aubyn's Patrick Melrose books, recently converted into a Showtime miniseries starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the tormented British writer.
Szalai said she'll read the books reluctantly, anticipating that she'll find the saga of the "louche" British upper class repellent. Lyall claims she'll be reading the books for the second time, this go around giving more attention to the writer's lauded mandarin style.
An Edward St. Aubyn summer for these young, talented and beautiful Times writers? They better go have a talk with the wise Ms. Maslin.