A God By Any Other Name

On Mysticism, by Jorge Luis Borges For many, mysticism conjures laughable things. Others allow it to be the freeway to their concept of God. In Borge’s thinking, at least as far as this thin volume of essays goes, mysticism in hidden somewhere in the plumbing of science, philosophy, novels, poetry, or perhaps the urge to…

A Shot to the Gut

Nutshell, by Ian McEwan One of the challenges to writing fiction is deciding on a narrator. Is it your protagonist? The author – on the outside looking in? Some wild and wacky personage – dare I say improbable? McEwan, always inventive in his compact little novellas, has decided to have an unborn child narrate Nutshell….

A Very Brief History of Burned Books

A somewhat obscure placing for a news item of this import: in my local paper, a quarter column piece revealed that the Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar (anything to draw people to books) had been broken into. The miscreants, of course, had made off with some $500 and apparently some of the champagne….

Reading as Conversation

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. ~Joseph Addison ~ I’ve always believed this. Reading is very similar to an engrossing conversation with a friend in which you both explore ideas, some of which you may not agree with. And the conversation is always there, to be redone again. As such,…

The Sensitive But Violent Artist

      The Painter, by Peter Heller It’s always interesting to read the second novel by authors whose first was highly praised. For various reasons too numerable to name here, there’s something of a sophomore jinx afoot that trips up writers who receive literary praise perhaps too quickly in their careers. This is the…

Taking on Today’s Sophists

Plato At The Googleplex – Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away, by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein There are times when I want a challenging read, and when Goldstein’s book came out, with hot to tepid reviews, I knew I had to read it. Philosophy, you see, has been an interest of mine for quite a while, particularly…

Provoking, Informing, and Magazine Success

The Atlantic, March 2014   In a world in which magazines are closing their doors daily, a few have found the key to success, and The Atlantic seems to have that key firmly in its grasp. What makes its mojo work, then? Simple – find a way to entertain as it informs, and do so…