France

She's Back
October 10, 2005

Slow Man By J.M. Coetzee (Viking, 265 pp., $24.95) In the middle of J.M. Coetzee’s new novel, there comes a moment when the reader starts back in soft amazement, murmuring “What the ... ?” This moment occurs at the entrance into the action by the elderly Australian writer Elizabeth Costello, whom devotees of Coetzee will know from his previous novel, which was named after her, and from a curious and curiously memorable book, The Lives of Animals, based on the Tanner Lectures that he delivered some years ago at Princeton University.

Early Sex
July 25, 2005

Lila Says (Samuel Goldwyn) and My Summer of Love (Focus) Sex can be very helpful. For a screenwriter who wants to treat a subject that might seem insufficiently interesting to some viewers, a strong sexual element can serve as hook and medium. As multiple instances have shown, that sexual element can bring along the background material that may have been the first reason for making the picture. The latest example is Lila Says. The screenplay of this French film is by Ziad Doueiri, who is Lebanese-born and has done a lot of technical work in Hollywood, particularly for Quentin Tarantino.

The Missing Joy
July 04, 2005

  Perfect Madness By Judith Warner (Riverhead, 327 pp., $23.95)   How She Really Does It: Secrets of Successful Stay-At-Work Moms By Wendy Sachs (Da Capo, 205 pp., $19.95   White House Nannies By Barbara Kline (Tarcher/Penguin, 238 pp., $23.95) I Midway through my first pregnancy, I began to receive mailings from a company called “One Step Ahead,” which promised “thoughtfully selected products to help with baby … every step of the way.” My son’s needs were still simple, satisfied by umbilical cord and placenta, but once he arrived, I came to understand, matters would get more complicated.

The Missing Joy
July 04, 2005

Perfect Madness By Judith Warner (Riverhead, 327 pp., $23.95)    How She Really Does It: Secrets of Successful Stay-at-Work Moms By Wendy Sachs (Da Capo, 205 pp., $19.95)   White House Nannies By Barbara Kline (Tarcher/Penguin, 238 pp., $23.95)    I. Midway through my first pregnancy, I began to receive mailings from a company called "One Step Ahead," which promised "thoughtfully selected products to help with baby ...

Hardness
April 11, 2005

Dirty SnowBy Georges Simenon Translated by Marc Romano and Louise Varse (New York Review Books, 257 pp., $14) Three Bedrooms in Manhattan By Georges Simenon Translated by Marc Romano and Lawrence G. Blochman (New York Review Books, 158 pp., $12.95) Monsieur Monde Vanishes By Georges Simenon Translated by Jean Stewart (New York Review Books, 174 pp., $12.95)   Georges Simenon famously claimed to have slept with ten thousand women during the course of his lifetime. Or perhaps it was twenty thousand—the figure varies.

Tehran Twist
March 28, 2005

Lawrence Kaplan on Bush's new Iran policy.

When the Skies Part
February 14, 2005

Let patience have a new mettle of love When the legions of unlivable hours marshal And the long-rumored war between good and evil Seems loosed—no, between time and evil.  To look not too keenly, hear their battles not loudly. The war is an ancient one which hurls Time against time on to-morrow’s fields— Which consumes expectation, leaves to-day waiting.  Standing in the shadow of their shadow-world, Let the cries and the thunders fall voiceless to earth, And the flames reach to heaven, that top of hell, Unexalted by our eyes, our amen.  Nor be haggard for an outcome, breath forborne. When ghos

Rumblings
December 20, 2004

Outside the Hotel Ivoire in Abidjan, Cte d'Ivoire's main city, loyalist youths recently milled around the site where as many as ten protestors were killed days earlier in a confrontation with French peacekeepers. As I began talking to one of the young men--a member of the self-styled Young Patriots movement of pro-government militants--a small crowd quickly gathered, watching me closely. Fortunately, I passed the initial nationality test.

Center Right
September 27, 2004

Jerusalem, Israel--The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, had planned on offering the usual complaints when he visited Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last week. There was the stalled road map, Israel's security fence, and the recently announced expansion of West Bank settlements close to the Green Line. But, before he arrived in Jerusalem, something happened that changed Lavrov's agenda: the massacre of Russian children by Chechen Islamist terrorists.

Pop Esoterica!
August 16, 2004

The Da Vinci Code By Dan Brown (Doubleday, 454 pp., $24.95) The Rule of Four By Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason (The Dial Press, 372 pp., $24) Breaking the Da Vinci Code: Answers to the Questions Everyone's Asking By Darrel L. Bock (Nelson Books, 188 pp., $19.99) Q By Luther Blissett (Harcourt, 750 pp., $26) DESPITE PREVAILING GOSSIP in the groves of academe, people still like their Renaissance, with its prancing nymphs, striplings in hose, and Venus on the half-shell, an endless Primavera with Lorenzo de' Medici presiding benignly over the pagan rites.

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