On her way to a desperate assignation, an unhappy wife and mother is stopped in her tracks by a miracle: a mountain ablaze with color and motion, a fire without heat or sound. “Unearthly beauty had appeared to her, a vision of glory to stop her in the road.” Dellarobia thinks that “the burning trees were put here to save her.”
To help us understand ourselves, every age needs its Huckleberry Finn, a naive boy on the lam, harmed or abandoned by his parents and left to confront evil and to figure out life for himself. Though it may be impossible to equal Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Richard Ford’s novel is another masterpiece of the genre.
These days it’s a rare novel that addresses disturbing social issues without flinching and treats religious faith as a force for good, without denying the complexity of either. That combination makes Rachel Simon’s book, newly available in paperback, a pleasure to read and a fine choice for book clubs.
In this engaging and useful book, Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat continue the task begun in their earlier volume, Spiritual Literacy: Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life, to encourage and guide those who want to enrich their spiritual lives.
To the fictional Julian Brightman, an obtuse maker of propaganda films for the U.S. government, Washburn, Ohio, is the town "most representative of ordinary life in the United States during what he characterized as the prosperous and serene aftermath of World War II." Here he sets his camera to work to enlighten the world about the lives of ordinary Americans.
Discontent isn’t listed among the deadly sins, but Richard Russo’s new novel convinced me that it should be. In late middle age, Jack Griffin, the main character, finds his life derailed by the kind of pervasive dissatisfaction that made his parents’ lives a disaster.
“It’s impossible to be neutral about China,” Rob Gifford writes. “Some foreigners hate it from the moment they set foot here. Others love it so much they put down roots and never go home.” But it may be getting harder to love China.
An ambitious young man leaves the provinces, hoping to make his fortune in the city. He first is infatuated with the glittering world he finds there, then gradually becomes disillusioned by the anxiety and corruption beneath the bright surface. What moral choices will the young man make? What will he become if he remains in the city?
Recently 98,000 ministers found a gift in their mailboxes: a special edition of Efraim Karsh’s Islamic Imperialism, compliments of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. Why such generosity? “We learned a lot from this book and wanted to share it with religious leaders,” an IRD spokesperson said when I called to inquire.
The first murder victim in P. D. James’s latest (and perhaps last) novel is a great writer who is keenly aware that his powers of mind and imagination are fading. Surveying a universe he perceives as empty and unfeeling, Nathan Oliver wants to shout, “Don’t take away my words! Give me back my words!” James herself has no need to utter such a cry.
To keep his two-year-old son amused during long family dinners, a father invents a game: he tells the story of a little boy who finds himself in a scary, dangerous place—a cave perhaps, or a witch’s house, or a dark forest. Sometimes the boy rescues himself; sometimes an animal or a kindly human being helps him find his way back home.
One of America’s most admired writers, Mary Gordon writes about women’s choices and about moral and spiritual struggles in the context of strong family connections. She has a deeply Catholic perspective, though not exactly an orthodox one.
In one of the most ambitious works of fiction to appear in recent years, Mary Gordon wrestles with large questions: What is worth living for? What does it mean to be human if we are unwilling to give up our lives for anything? What is the source of forgiveness? How do we hold on to hope?