Umberto Eco and the Nature of Europe

Author: | Categories: Reading No comments
In the tradition of all good historical fiction, the past is a mirror to the problems and preoccupations facing its contemporary audience, and in the case of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, one of those problems is Europe. 

Nature and the Mind in Cynthia Ozick’s “The Pagan Rabbi”

Author: | Categories: Reading No comments
In “The Pagan Rabbi,” nature is not a fixed, objective entity, but an animated, unpredictable, menacing presence. Set in the shadow of World War II, the story follows one scholar’s increasingly surreal perception of the natural world.

“Old School” by Allen Gee

In the fall of 1987 after driving across the country to study at the University of Iowa, I found myself enrolled in James Alan McPherson’s fiction workshop, not knowing how I’d ended up there.

Vietnam and the Loss of Innocence

Author: | Categories: Reading No comments
The Vietnam War has long been recognized as a turning point in the United States as a country, in which Americans lost their “innocence” with regards to politics and war.

Bullets into Bells: Gun Violence and the Nuance of Suffering

Author: | Categories: Reading No comments
Days before the fifth anniversary of the shooting at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary school, Beacon Press published Bullets into Bells, an anthology of poetry and prose responding to gun violence. While one might argue such a collection runs the risk of poeticizing violence, it succeeds in quite the opposite.

Remembering Jules Romains’s The Death of a Nobody

Author: | Categories: Reading No comments
In the summer of 1991, I was twenty-two and voraciously read works I was too young to fully absorb. I couldn’t possibly have understood what true regret of a lost love was after a life had already been half-lived.

The Role of the Outsider in Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko

Author: | Categories: Reading No comments
In the Japan of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko, hard-working Korean people are barred from decent jobs, safe housing, and access to protection from crime, forcing characters down non-ideal paths. Lee’s message seems to be that such paths can become honorable.

Review: MEMORY LANDS by Christine M. DeLucia and OUR BELOVED KIN by Lisa Brooks

Author: | Categories: Book Reviews, Nonfiction No comments
We might consider that, in twenty-first century America, we continue to live in the shadows of King Philip’s War. Both DeLucia and Brooks have given us important new frameworks through which to explore the wider nature of those shadows.

Judaism in “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” and “Ask for a Convertible”

Author: | Categories: Reading No comments
How does one raise a child to be culturally Jewish, to speak Hebrew and find meaning in the familial and ritualistic aspects of the holidays, without going to synagogue, fasting, or talking about Hashem? How can we explain to our son that he can be American but also Israeli?

Starved for Affection: Food and Lack in Lori Ostlund’s “Talking Fowl with My Father”

Author: | Categories: Reading No comments
For many people, this was a year of severing toxic relationships. What does it mean to love someone who refuses to communicate? To love a person who hurts you? Lori Ostlund’s Flannery O’Connor award-winning collection The Bigness of the World takes a look at communication (and miscommunication) in numerous