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Beauty Is as Beauty Does

On Beauty by zadie smith penguin, 464 pages, $15 (paperback) In On Beauty, British writer Zadie Smith has turned her attention to the post-September 11 United States and has been widely praised for the result, which is a big comic novel that builds a topical tale on a classic foundation. . . . . Continue Reading »

When Worlds Collide

Snow by Orhan Pamuk Knopf. 426 pp. $26. Two months after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Turkish author Orhan Pamuk published an essay in the New York Review of Books (titled “The Anger of the Damned”) in which Pamuk, who is often mentioned as a contender for the Nobel Prize, tried . . . . Continue Reading »

The End of Magic

Of a fair evening in the mythical but true world of Middle Earth, towards the end of the Third Age, a young hobbit named Frodo is holding private counsel with Galadriel. She is the queen and lady of Lothlórien, the most secret and beautiful reserve of the Elves. Frodo has been gazing into her . . . . Continue Reading »

Grim Tales

For the past two years, I have been the head “Library Mommy” at my daughter’s private nursery school. The children tell me what books they have or have not read, what books they have at home, and what interests them in the school’s library. The nursery school is full of bright, lively, . . . . Continue Reading »

Harry Potter's Magic

By now most readers in this country are aware of what has come to be called the Harry Potter phenomenon. It’s hard to be unaware. Any bookstore you might care to enter is strewn with giant stacks of the Harry Potter books—three of them now that Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban has . . . . Continue Reading »

Derrida, Death, and Forgiveness

Barth, Derrida, and the Language of Theologyby graham ward cambridge university press, 258 pages, $54.95 The Gift of Deathby jacques derrida, translated by david wills university of chicago press, 115 pages, $18.95 Though Jacques Derrida is perhaps France’s best-known living philosopher, his . . . . Continue Reading »

Jeremiah in South Dakota

The Cloister Walkby kathleen norris riverhead books, 304 pages, $23.95 I had read Norris’ previous book, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, and enjoyed the way she consistently unites the exalted and the mundane, finding manifestations of the holy in the most ordinary events and objects. In The . . . . Continue Reading »

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