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Boy on the Temple Roof

Young Rabbi Binder has opened the floor for a “free discussion” period at the afternoon Hebrew school housed in the synagogue, where the minimal Jewish education he dispenses to postwar Jewish boys is a prerequisite for their bar mitzvah ritual. As usual, most of the kids are indifferent, even . . . . Continue Reading »

The New Lazarus

The Aviator by eugene vodolazkin translated by lisa c. hayden oneworld, 400 pages, $26.99 In one of the greatest memoirs of the Stalin years, Nadezhda Mandelstam wrote, “We have to get over our loss of memory.” Beginning with Gorbachev’s glasnost, and especially after the fall of communism, . . . . Continue Reading »

An Irish Dante

The Five Quintets by micheal o’siadhail baylor, 381 pages, $34.95 Sartre famously wrote that “hell is other people,” but for the poet Micheal O’Siadhail, hell is a highly specific group of other people. Among the damned are Franz Kafka, Karl Marx, and—you guessed it—a certain . . . . Continue Reading »

The Art of Spiritual Warfare

This Present Darkness by frank e. peretti crossway, 375 pages, $14.99 As a teenager, I was convinced that a spirit of false prophecy had attached itself to my neck. This spirit’s name—according to one of our youth group leaders—was Python, after the ­Pythia, or Oracle of Delphi. I did . . . . Continue Reading »

Postnatural Intelligence

Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus belongs to the literature of the uncanny. But the young Mary ­Shelley who wrote it—or rather, the teenaged Mary Godwin who sketched it in a summerhouse near Geneva—was nothing if not canny. Her 1818 debut novel was and still is hugely . . . . Continue Reading »

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