Newton’s Swing is a lean, but consistently interesting, New York thriller. To summarize it in the style of SavaPoint: A man is upset when his beautiful wife is shot dead in their apartment while their son is in bed. It has two faults: the author occasionally crosses the line between striking description and writerly fussiness (a failing made more prominent by the economy of the bulk of his prose).

Demian is a portentous (deliberately) adolescent tale of what a Californian might call “spiritual growth” and New Yorker Lou Reed memorably dismissed as “mystic shit“. Despite my dislike of this kind of thing, somehow I found it gripping and intriguing. Partly this is because it is elegantly written (translated?) and partly it is because I’m not quite stupid enough to take first person accounts like this at face value. I might have to check out some of Hesse’s other work before I pass judgement.

Now I have a pile of Christmas gifts (thank you, all!) and a review copy of a computer book to get through.