Yehuda Amichai: The Making of Israel's National PoetBy Nili Scharf Gold(Brandeis University Press, 445 pp., $35) This is a disheartening book. As the first full-scale biographical-critical study of one of the great poets of the twentieth century, it invites high expectations, and it repeatedly disappoints them. The problem does not stem from any lack of dedication in the research on which the book draws. Nili Gold has sedulously labored in the Amichai archives at the Beinecke Library at Yale, and she has uncovered a variety of interesting materials.
for H. C. Barer than January maples, bare abandoned hives:the bees silenced in their harvest rustle.Like as to like, the soulquiets, if soul it is, this bee boxin the chest. What outward presencecalls to inward space, drop your wings?And what unclaimed interior complies?Oh the flatland reveals its field of goldenstubble, and oh the sheared stalksdo not cry out. No, the chaff fluttersin the midland wind and the wings of the dead beesquiver in the box. By Geri Doran
Law and Judicial DutyBy Philip Hamburger(Harvard University Press, 704 pp., $49.95) The most momentous, controversial, even frightening power of the federal judiciary--the one in greatest tension with democracy and federalism--is the power to invalidate federal and state statutes that in the opinion of the judges are inconsistent with the federal Constitution.
Russian Orthodoxy Resurgent: Faith and Power in the New RussiaBy John Garrard and Carol Garrard(Princeton University Press, 326 pp., $29.95) Goditsya--molitsya, a ne goditsya--gorshki pokryvat. "If it fits, then we'll pray to it.
I. During the last two years I have had the good fortune of visiting no fewer than four exhibitions devoted to the work of the great fifteenth-century painter Andrea Mantegna.
Update: On Saturday, December 27, Berkley Books announced that it is canceling publication of Angel at the Fence. Click here to read more about it. On February 2, 2007, Herman Rosenblat’s older brother Sam died. When he was on his deathbed, Herman went to visit him in the hospital in Florida. “When Herman tried to talk to Sammy, he looked away,” Sam’s widow Jutta Rosenblat told me on the phone on the afternoon of December 25.
Hitler's Private Library: The Books That Shaped His Life By Timothy W. Ryback ( Knopf, 304 pp., $24.95) Few buildings on Capitol Hill are grander than the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, with its great stairway, pillared façade, and magnificent domed reading room. And few rooms in that building seem more ordinary, even banal, than the rare book storage area where 1,200 books from the collection of Adolf Hitler stand tightly packed on steel shelves.
Sometimes the world comes to me. Sometimes it goes away. Today, it's a pitbull on a fire escape; a flayed goat, eyes still in their sockets, hung from a silver hook in the butcher's window; the buzzing of a blue bottle as it enters the flytrap, its azure. Scribble "abundance" and the day will offer you one list. Scribble "elegy" and it will offer you another. In the stationers, I buy magnets and string, thinking of how ravel means the same thing as unravel, how cleave means both to sever and to cling.
A Mercy By Toni Morrison (Knopf, 167 pp., $23.95) Last spring, a mysterious object was discovered beneath a street in Annapolis, Maryland. According to The New York Times, the clay "bundle" was about "the size and shape of a football [and] filled with about 300 pieces of metal and a stone axe, whose blade sticks out of the clay, pointing skyward." Anthropologists determined that it was a ritual object, perhaps more than three hundred years old, combining African religious practices with local materials.
Rhythms of Life: The Biological Clocks that Control the Daily Lives of Every Living Thing By Russell G. Foster and Leon Kreitzman (Yale University Press, 276 pp., $19) Man has invented many ways to measure physical time, from ancient sundials to water and sand clocks, from the pendulum to the wind-up pocket watch, all the way to the modern atomic clock. An example of this latter-day timekeeper, introduced in 1950, measures a second as 9,192,631,770 cycles in the energy radiation of the Caesium atom.