September 5, 2009


Alter, Robert, The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary (New York: Norton, 2004) (I don't read the bible as a 'religious' text, but rather as poetry. I am reminded of a comment of John Fowles on point. See John Fowles, The Journals:, Volume 1 edited by Charles Drazin (London: Jonathan Cape, 2003). "The bible, I chanced to start reading some of the last Old Testament prophets the other day. A revelation of poetry; superb language and imagery. It is a mistake to imagine that the Bible is the same in all languages. The English translation is a work of great genius; it should be to us what Homer was to the Greeks." Id . at 140).

Armstrong, Karen, The Bible: A Biography (Books That Changed the World) (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2007) (“Because scripture has become such an explosive issue, it is important to be clear what it is and what it is not. This biography of the Bible provides some insight into this religious phenomenon. It is, for example, crucial to note that an exclusively literal interpretation of the Bible is a recent development. Until the nineteenth century, very few people imagined that the first chapter of Genesis was a factual account of the origins of life. For centuries, Jews and Christians relished highly allegorical and inventive exegesis, insisting that a wholly literal reading of the Bible was neither possible nor desirable. They have rewritten biblical history, replaced Bible stories with new myths, and interpreted the first chapter of Genesis in surprisingly different ways.” Id. at 3.).

Balakian, Grigoris, Armenian Golgotha: A Memoir of the Armenian Genocide, 1915-1918 translated from the Armenian by Peter Balakian with Aris Sevag (New York: Knopf, 2009).

Cohen, G.A., Why Not Socialism? (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton U. Press, 2009) (“Because motivation in market exchange consists largely of greed and fear, a person typically does not care fundamentally, within market interaction, about how well or badly anyone other than herself fares. You cooperate with other people not because you believe that cooperating with other people is a good thing in itself, not because you want yourself and the other person to flourish, but because you seek to gain and you know that you can do so only if you cooperate with others. In every type of society people perforce provision one another: a society is a network of mutual provision. But, in market society, that mutuality is only a by-product of an unmutual and fundamentally nonreciprocating attitude.” Id. at 45 (italics in original). Perhaps the ugliness of the healthcare debates, especially the part attacking the poorly understood “public option”, simply reflects that we Americans are not much of a society (or a society in decline) due to our lack of network of mutual provision.).

Flint, Anthony, Wrestling With Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took On New York’s Master Builder and Transformed the American City (New York: Random House, 2009) (See Dwight Garner's review, "When David Fought Goliath in Washington Square Park," NYT August 6, 2009.).

McCann, Colum, Let the Great World Spin: A Novel (New York: Random House, 2009) (It happened five or six times in a row. The turn of the door handle. The ping of stilettos on the bare floorboards. A different hooker each time. One even leaned down and let her long thin breasts hang in my face. ‘College boy,’ she said like an offer. I shook my head and she said curtly” ‘I thought so.’ She turned at the door and smiled. ‘There’ll be lawyers in heaven before you see somethin’ so good again.’ “ Id. at 25.).

Nehring, Cristina, The Vindication of Love: Reclaiming Romance for the Twenty-First Century (New York: Harper, 2009) (“Love at the beginning of the twenty-first century has been defused and discredited. Feminism is partly to blame, but only partly. We inhabit a world in which every aspect of romance from meeting to mating has been streamlined, safety-checked, and emptied of spiritual consequence. The result is that we imagine we live in an erotic culture of unprecedented opportunity when, in fact, we live in an erotic culture that is almost unendurably bland.” Id. at 7.).