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Books & Culture

November 25, 2008

John Wilson, Editor of Books & Culture, consistently recommends good reads while offering thoughtful cultural and theological reflection. Today he points to the following books, all of which sound very interesting.

The Good, the Bad, and the Puritans READING IN THE COLD
The Good, the Bad, and the Puritans

The Puritans are still with us. Such, at least, is the message of Sarah Vowell’s latest book, The Wordy Shipmates. And indeed, the lesson seems born out by politicians and pop culture. While tourists traipse through a reconstructed Pilgrim village, presidents (and would-be presidents) argue about the meaning of a speech delivered almost four centuries ago—a lay sermon in which Governor John Winthrop proclaimed New England “a city upon a hill.” Ronald Reagan added the modifier “shining,” while Walter Mondale fruitlessly argued about the makeup of Winthrop’s “city.” Click to continue.

The Imagination of Man's Heart READING IN THE COLD
The Imagination of Man’s Heart
A novel that belongs in the company of Infinite Jest, Ulysses, and War and Peace.

For fifteen years, young women have been disappearing in Juarez. They share a phenotype (petite), an economic status (marginal), and a fate: their bodies turn up weeks after their disappearances, usually raped, often mutilated. The confirmed death toll numbers in the hundreds. Journalists who investigate the killings receive death threats and find themselves tailed by well-dressed men; women who try to report their daughters’ disappearances find themselves laughed out of the police station. Few arrests have been made, and the resulting trials, even rarer, are rife with evidence tampering. In 2006, as the body count reached a statistical peak, the Mexican government announced that its investigation was concluded. Click to continue.

Who Is This Writer? How Does He Know Me? READING IN THE COLD
Who Is This Writer? How Does He Know Me?
An encounter with Roberto Bolaño.

Setting aside Osip Mandelstam’s contention that everything a poet writes is actually a gloss on himself, no matter the topic, I normally don’t write about myself. But I have an uncanny relationship with Roberto Bolaño. Click to continue.

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