Michael Gorra (ed.), The Portable Conrad (Penguin, $18 paper). I blush to admit that I failed to notice when the much-loved old Viking Portable Conrad edited by Morton Dauwen Zabel in 1947 was replaced two years ago by this updated and expanded edition, which covers much of the same ground but adds The Secret Agent. Not only is that a highly significant improvement, but Michael Gorra’s introductory essay might just be the best short discussion of Conrad and his work ever to see print. Among other good things, it strikes a perfect balance between aesthetic and political considerations, doing full justice to both sides of the coin (Gorra’s comparison of Conrad to Cézanne was so startlingly apposite that it took my breath away). Even if everything in this seven-hundred-page volume is already on your bookshelf–as well it should be–you owe it to yourself to read Gorra’s essay, which can also be found here. It’s a model of lucidity and concision (TT).