HomeBy Marilynne Robinson(Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 336 pp., $25)With the decorous taboos that once governed literary life bursting like soap bubbles, contemporary American fiction has become a groaning board on which characters and plots often seem chosen less for their inherent interest than for their ability to shock. Terrorism, the Holocaust, the full spectrum of sexual practice conventional and unconventional--things that were once off-limits, suggested indirectly or through omission or addressed not at all, are now part of the literary free-for-all.
Night over Georgia; mist across the heights. Loud flows the Argava River above. Only my chained and prancing heart's distress remains intense, a pain so filled with you-- totally you--that all its darkness lights. How can I help, combustible anew, but live in love, even a bitter love?-- being powerless to live in lovelessness. By Alexander Pushkin Translated from the Russian by Peter Viereck
Love TodayBy Maxim BillerTranslated by Anthea Bell(Simon and Schuster, 217 pp., $23)The Game, that infamous black-imitation-leather-bound book about the seduction community, is a novel of sorts. There is a narrative. But really the writer, Neil Strauss, produced a guidebook with a glossary. I remember--the book appeared in 2005--how it spread through the dining halls and dormitories at Harvard, passed from one roommate to the next. This was not the game we played, or would ever play, or would ever want to play--well, or so we said. Yet the book held a certain attraction.
Making the Cut: How Cosmetic Surgery is Transforming Our Lives By Anthony Elliott (Reaktion Books, 155 pp., $19.95) Lying on a couch in the office of one of the hairdressing salons that she owns in London, Sharyn Hughes perused the advertising brochure she had been sent by Makeover Getaways: "Our Malaysian Makeover Package is a brilliant combination of surgery treatments, sunny beaches and shopping.
As to the deep ineradicable flaws in the workmanship anger and envy anger and envy stemming from over-enthusiasm that rises like a water lily from mud and the stone of self, of ego that insists on its imperial monologue that strangles its audience I would like to repent but I cannot I am ridden like a horse * What does the contriver have in mind the contrivance wants to know because otherwise what is the point of all this moaning pretending to be sorry for everything groveling like a chained-up snake crawling over a stone book in the rain of words for which someone is responsible at times the
Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell Edited by Thomas Travisano with Saskia Hamilton (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 845 pp., $40) '"Your poem came to the right buyer," Robert Lowell wrote to Elizabeth Bishop during the spring of 1976 after receiving "One Art," the nineteen lines that Bishop called "the one & only villanelle of my life." Composed in a tightly repetitive form inherited from the troubadours of the late Renaissance, "One Art" may be the best known, most anthologized American poem of the past half-century.
In memory of Alexander Solzhenitsyn I. On June 18, 2007, a national conference of high school historians and teachers of social sciences was convened in Moscow.
Nine months to a year was what the doctors gave my friend. All summer he said he felt ecstatic. That was his word. No, he hadn't fallen in love with death. Ecstatic was the way he thought the world wanted him to feel-- trees swaying as he sat on his deck, crickets in the grass, then the moon coming out. They were all part of how this was happening. Two months later, when the serious pain set in, he said he'd been wrong. Deluded was his word.
Who Owns Antiquity?: Museums and the Battle over Our Ancient Heritage By James Cuno (Princeton University Press, 228 pp., $24.95) This spring the state apartments of Italy's presidential palace, the Palazzo del Quirinale, hosted a remarkable exhibit of ancient Greek, Roman, and Etruscan artifacts, all of them found on Italian soil but held until recently in private collections and museums in the United States, notably the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Freedom's Battle: The Origins of Humanitarian Intervention By Gary J. Bass (Knopf, 528 pp., $35) Gary J. Bass has written a wonderfully intelligent and sardonic history of the moral causes célèbres of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: Byron and Greek independence in 1825, the European campaign to save the Maronite Christians of Syria and Lebanon in 1860, Gladstone and the Bulgarian atrocities in 1876, Henry Morgenthau and the Armenian genocide of 1915. Bass resurrects these forgotten causes to remind us that humanitarian intervention did not begin in the 1990s.