well versed

Saul Bellow's Jewish Problem: The Lost (And Recently Found) Lecture

The New York Review of Books published the second and last installment of Saul Bellow's lectures on being a Jewish writer--and, boy, is it a complicated. At root, he's gives his take on what it means to be a secular Jew in the modern world, particularly if your Jewish identity is central to you.

T.S. Eliot: The Poet and Anti-Semite, A New Look

Yale University Press recently published the letters of T.S. Eliot, who, many argue, was the most influential poet of the last century.  The problem for us Jews, as ever, is that Eliot was an incorrigible anti-semite.  So what do we do?

Laughing at 9/11? A Jewish Perspective

New York magazine's Sept. 11 issue has arrived, and it's a real treat.   The whole issue has been turned into an encyclopedia of Sept. 11-related entries, including everything from "freedom fries" to "Abbottabad," and many of them penned by wonderful writers.  Mark Lilla's in there, as is Eliza Griswold. I haven't read them all, but one caught my eye in particular: Jim Holt's entry for "Humor."  

Sneak Preview! Amos Oz's New Book

On October 20, Amos Oz's latest book--his 14th--will get released in the United States. But it's been out for at least a month in England, and the reviews have been strong.  The word is that it's a moving, sparely written short story collection dominated by a sense of loss.

Today's Guest Blogger: God

The New Yorker's exhaustive report on the killing of Osama is undoubtedly the magazine's coup this week.  This morning, a day after the new issue hit newstands, I woke up to the reporter, Nicholas Schmidle, being interviewed on "Morning Joe."  There was talk about a book dea, but if Schmidle's piece is the keeper this week, then perhaps it'll have one deleterious effect: people will forget about the Shouts & Murmurs section, where the magazine puts it short humor p

Conservative Judaism: You Think It's Struggling in America? Check out the UK

There was once a talmudic student in Europe who was brilliant scholar, as well as a fervent believer. He practiced religious rules scrupulously, and was moved by a godly spirit too. But when he said that God may not have actually given the Torah to Moses at Mt. Sinai some 4,000 years ago, his colleagues were outraged.  "Blasphemy!" they implored, and cast him out of their sight. 

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