There's been a glut of 9/11 books published on the eve of this year's 10th anniversary. But all the new-ness overshadows the rich bevy of writing that's been published over the past decade since the attacks. Literary critics have been debating what effect, if any, Sept. 11 has had on fiction in particular in recent days, but one of the best essays I've read is this one by Adam Kirsch.
For the young, artistic, mostly Brooklyn-based set, JDub Records was a boon. Founded in 2001, it announced this week that it was shutting its doors because of money problems. It's a real loss to the Jewish community. To be sure, the closest JDub ever got to mainstream success was by being an early booster of Matisyahu, though if you live in New York, or L.A., Miami, or San Francisco, they've brought lesser-known (though I think much better) musicians to your town that most others probably never heard of.
For years Jewish art museums have looked upon traditional Judaica with something approaching disdain. The rising profile of venues like The Jewish Museum and the San Francisco's Contemporary Jewish Museum's have premised their ascension on their embrace of modern and contemporary fine art--paintings by Rothko; sculpture by Nevelson--and their simultaneous downgrading of what used to be consider the only Jewish art--elaborately decorated Torah scrolls and pulchritudinous Kiddush cups; or in a word, Judaica.
Much like my parents remember the day JFK was shot, I remember the day Tupac died. I grew up a hip-hop fan, and still am, and remember vividly my rapture with the Harlem-born, Los Angeles-based rapper. For me Tupac had all the qualities I still admire in poets, which have now only been transfigured on to more "respectable" literary models: defiance, brashness, charm, a temerity bordering on recklessness. So you can imagine how I felt when he was murdered in Las Vegas back in 1996.
In his usually precise and incisive way, critic Adam Kirsch tackles a thorny issue: should Christians read their Bible like Jews read theirs? The occasion is a new book--"The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book"--by Case Western religion professor Timothy Beal, who is also the child of evangelical parents.
This week I wrote an essay about how Jewish culture will change in light of the coming e-book revoluion. I talked to at least a dozen Jewish book experts, from scholars and publishers, to readers and rabbis, and there was clearly no consensus about what might happen--only unanimous agreement that something important will.
The top 10 moments (in no particular order) of 2010 in arts and letters.
PETER BEINART FIGHTS FOR LIBERAL ZIONISM
As the former editor of The New Republic, a liberal magazine, but one with a strong pro-Israel bent, Peter Beinart shocked Jews of all stripes when he published a scathing critique of the organized Jewish community in May in The New York Review of Books. Beinart, 39, argued that groups from AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby, to the Anti-Defamation League have failed to make Zionism an attractive ideal for young American Jews, who are mostly liberal.