“The More Mysterious Life”: Jewish High Holiday liturgy, Leonard Cohen songs, and Geraldine Brooks’ new novel

As summer turns to fall, the season rolls into a celebration of Jewish holidays, one stacked upon another. This week is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, and it begins a ten day period known as the days of repentance. A traditional prayer, the Unetaneh Tokef, said during both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, acknowledges […]

Mapping the Promised Land: A Review of Jacksonland by Steve Inskeep

I find maps fascinating, not so much for their directions, as for what their place names reveal. Take Georgia’s map, for example. First, some patriotic names: Jackson (also Jackson County, Jacksonville), Rossville, Jefferson (-ville and County, too), Madison, Monroe, and Washington (& County). Next, names suggesting  homesickness, longing to travel, or even beauty: Oxford, Rome, […]

A Burnable Book of Prophecy and Treason

 Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger begins with a young woman shoving a book to the maudlyn Agnes, hidden in a copse in the Moorfields outside London gate. Only seconds later, Agnes witnesses the woman’s torture and murder by a man who keeps demanding, “Doovay leebro?” And the woman’s last words, “Though fawn escape the falcon’s […]

Beauty and the Monster: A Review of Rene Denfeld’s The Enchanted.

I like mysteries and I like fiction that explores controversial subjects. So the BBC Outlook interview with Rene Denfeld immediately captured my attention. Denfeld’s first fictional work is a mystery set on death row with the surprising title The Enchanted. The Enchanted tells the story of three very broken main characters. “The lady” is a […]

Battle of the Books

Écoutez bien: In one corner is Picnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard. This is a memoir-cookbook out April 7th of this year. It’s the sophomore book from Ms. Bard, a sequel to Lunch in Paris, which was stuffed with delicious and stories of l’amour far from home. Rumbling in the other corner, we have a […]

The Book of Strange New Things: Proselytizing an Alien Nation

“It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime.” Thus boasted a blurb on the back of the book. When folks talk religion, I often get squeamish – especially when they speak with missionary zeal. So when someone handed me The Book of Strange New […]

Welcome to Braggsville: Old Times There Are Not Forgotten

For years, Uncle Charles had rhapsodized about our Snell family roots in tiny Oconee, Georgia, stop #14 on the Central of Georgia Railroad between Macon and Savannah. Oconee (population 280) is the heart of Georgia and site of the Civil War Battle of Ball’s Ferry at the Oconee River Bridge. When I decided I wanted […]