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Carry On, Plum

Jeeves and the King of Clubs:  A Novel in Homage to P.G. Wodehouse by ben schott little, brown, 320 pages, $27 Jeeves and the Wedding Bells:  An Homage to P.G. Wodehouse by sebastian faulks st. martin’s, 256 pages, $25.99 Aunts, Comrades, Gentlemen . . . According to Hilaire Belloc, . . . . 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 »

Spark’s Chance Grace

Appointment in Arezzo:  A Friendship with Muriel Spark by alan taylor polygon, 244 pages, $18.95 Muriel Spark Centenary Editions by muriel spark polygon, 4,156 pages, £219.78 A Good Comb:  The Sayings of Muriel Spark edited by penelope jardine new directions, 96 pages, $13.95 One . . . . Continue Reading »

Dare to Knock

The Kingdom by emmanuel carrère farrar, straus and giroux, 400 pages, $28 The genius and the apostle are alike, according to Kierkegaard, in that both bring new ideas into the world. But there’s a crucial difference. Geniuses are ahead of their time, and, consequently, the knowledge they bring . . . . Continue Reading »

What the Novelist Knows

The novelist and diarist Julien Green described in his diary a conversation he had with a French priest, a Fr. Couturier, about the novelist’s necessary complicity with evil: If he is a believer, the difficulty begins when he sits down at his table to write, for he is obliged to become each one of . . . . Continue Reading »

A Reality Novel

The Once and Future King by t. h. white penguin galaxy, 736 pages, $30 Terence Hanbury White died aboard ship in the port of Piraeus in 1964 on his way back from the United States, where he had been hoping to shore up his income with a lecture tour. His secretary found him alone in his cabin, and . . . . Continue Reading »

Deliver Us From Innocence

God preserve us from all innocence,” Querry tells Mother Agnes in Graham Greene’s 1960 novel A Burnt-Out Case. It’s a jarring assertion. Moral purity isn’t usually cast as dangerous, and people don’t ask God for protection from it. But Querry means it. He has another kind of innocence in . . . . Continue Reading »

A Gallery of American Dreams

Though only the first act of Denis Johnson’s Angels takes place in transit, the book has the feel of a road novel—specifically, an American road novel. The story is straightforward: Two people, Jamie Mays and Bill Houston, meet aboard a Greyhound. One is in flight from an unfaithful . . . . Continue Reading »

Henry James and the Heavenly Light

The Golden Bowl was Henry James’ final novel—and it remains the most morally challenging of his tales. The 1904 book tells the story of an American heiress named Maggie Verver who marries Amerigo, an Italian prince. But she is deceived about Amerigo’s past love affair with Charlotte . . . . Continue Reading »

Christ and Casserole

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 247 pp. $23. Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping, published in 1981, is an extraordinary work of art, and many readers have waited impatiently for Robinson to publish a second novel. I’m among them, although I’ve waited more in dread than . . . . Continue Reading »

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