Ulterior Lives

From the April 2014 Print Edition

Richard Rodriguez has been an occasional companion of mine for more than thirty years, since the publication of Hunger of Memory in 1982. I feel I know him well enough, in part because so much of his writing is autobiographical; but until last September, I’d known him only on the page. Then I . . . . Continue Reading »

Impossible Pluralism

From the June/July 2013 Print Edition

Robert Bellah understands religion as an activity that takes us beyond the quotidian. The everyday world is ordered by lack, of food, shelter, sex, and so on; it is a world of demand and pressure and need. The non-quotidian world is ordered by excess; it is a world of play and sleep and is . . . . Continue Reading »

Our Stories and God’s

From the March 2012 Print Edition

The Sense of an Ending ?by Julian Barnes ?Knopf, 163 pages, $23.95 You’re not the person you take yourself to be. That’s because the person you take yourself to be is a creature of narrative, and narratives are inevitably fabulous and fabricated, which is at least to say that they are . . . . Continue Reading »

From Eire to Eternity

From the January 2010 Print Edition

A Very Brief History of Eternity by Carlos Eire Princeton, 258 pages, $24.95 Carlos Eire, A Yale professor and the author of the 2003 National Book Award winner Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy , is clearly capable of remembering and writing about the smells and tastes and . . . . Continue Reading »

The Nature of Desire

From the December 2009 Print Edition

This is the monstrosity in love, lady,” Troilus tells Cressida in Shakespeare’s play, “that the will is infinite and the execution confined, that the desire is boundless and the act a slave to limit.” Human desire, in other words, is doubly infinite: We are perpetually unsatisfied when we . . . . Continue Reading »