In Praise of Presidents Who Aren't Good Family Men
September 05, 2012

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama clash on nearly every important issue, from taxes to abortion to regulation to climate change. Yet both men adore their families, and they make sure we know it too. Throughout his administration, Obama has made reference to his daughters when defending women’s rights or describing a hopeful vision of the future; and the first endorsement that he received at the Democratic convention was, of course, from his wife, Michelle. Romney, for his part, made sure to effusively praise his wife, Ann, during his own acceptance speech.

September 02, 2010

John sat on a park bench and, in the inhale that preceded a weightless afternoon sigh, felt sanguinely that all of summer’s agreeable fragrances had come together in this very park, the way the pretty girls in every high school all find each other eventually, which led him to recall how exotic was the elusive and nuanced collective scent that trailed groups of girls in hallways, the vaporous intimation like a mirage; though, if deconstructed, it could also be identified as a fortunately chance blend of base oils and their subtle overlying scents— jasmine, lotus, orchid-plants in his mom’s back

The Furrows of Algeria
January 27, 2010

The German Mujahid By Boualem Sansal Translated by Frank Wynne (Europa Editions, 240 pp., $15) I. From the terrible Algerian slaughter, and its terrible silence, comes this small tale, told by an officer of the special forces who broke with “Le Pouvoir” of his own country and sought asylum in France. It is the autumn of 1994, deep into the season of killing. An old and simple Algerian woman, accompanied by two of her children, comes to the army barracks, to the very building where the torturers did their grim work, in search of her husband and her son.

The Prophet's Pen
December 08, 2009

A Literary Bible David Rosenberg Counterpoint, $30 The quickest way to understand the audacity and originality of what David Rosenberg is attempting in A Literary Bible, the big book of his selected translations from the Hebrew Bible, is to read the introduction to his excerpt from the book of Jeremiah. To countless generations of Bible readers, Jeremiah has been a prophet—indeed, the Hebrew prophet par excellence, his very name a synonym for warning, chastising, and exhorting.

Spaldeen Dreams
October 13, 2003

The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem(Doubleday, 511 pp., $26) I.  Jonathan Lethem’s new novel is a bohemian rhapsody about an unwilling bohemian—a delicate little white pioneer named Dylan Ebdus, whose right- thinking parents decide, in the early 1970s, that a ragged street in swinish Brooklyn is the place before which to cast their only jewel.

A Room With a View
November 19, 2001

A Trial by Jury by D. Graham Burnett (Alfred A. Knopf, 183 pp., $21) Among political theorists today, there is a vigorous debate between those who advocate deliberative democracy and those who emphasize public ignorance. The deliberative democrats insist that it is not enough for laws and jury verdicts to be adopted democratically. Instead they must be adopted for the right reasons.

July 12, 1999

I. Marcel Proust by Edmund White (Lipper/Viking, 165 pp., $19.95) Scarcely halfway between L'Etoile and Place de la Concorde, across from the Grand Palais on the Avenue des Champs-Elysees, lies a row of landscaped parks dotted with trees and chestnut alleys through which runs a very tiny, winding path called Allee Marcel Proust.

The N.A.M. Speaks
July 03, 1915

More ingenious use of Scripture has rarely been made than in a recent preliminary report of the National Association of Manufacturers. The document deals with the legislative minimum wage. It will repay reading by anyone who wishes to mix laughter with his tears. He will find that the discussion begins at the beginning, with Genesis, in fact, from which we learn that Jacob worked seven years in payment for each of his wives, Leah and Rachel, and six years more for the possession of a herd of cattle.