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Chase to the Cut: DAVID FARLEY with Anne Pelletier

Whatever happened to Jesus’ foreskin? The Apocryphal Gospels reveal that shortly after his birth, Jesus’ mother gave it to an old Hebrew woman who had the prescience to preserve it in a jar of nard.

POETRY: The Poet of Post-modern Life

In his seminal essay, “The Painter of Modern Life,” Charles Baudelaire defined the modern artist, or flâneur, as a “solitary individual endowed with an active imagination.” This figurewas a detached but passionate individual walking through the city, carried along by its tumultuous crowds, observing but unobserved.

FICTION: Bildungsroman and Belonging

Set 30 years before her Commonwealth Prize winning novel, The Secret River, Kate Grenville’s The Lieutenant tells a similar tale of a misunderstood Englishman discovering the Aboriginal people of New South Wales. What differentiates The Lieutenant from The Secret River is a surprising and refreshing theme of belonging and connectivity.

NONFICTION: After the Wall

This collection of 31 pieces by newly-translated writers and well-known authors, plus photos and copies of Communist-era surveillance reports, doesn’t focus on Berlin. As Keith Gessen notes in his breezy introduction, these voices come from the “entire multifarious universe” of former Soviet Bloc countries, and the complexity of that universe gets full respect from the book’s editors, Words Without Borders.

FICTION: Lest We Forget

China, however vilified in the West, whether by the media or human rights organizations, has become an undeniable player on the world stage. This is especially true in matters of economics.

FICTION: Coming to America

Peering into window displays at Barney’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale’s, and Henri Bendel has, for decades, delivered countless smiles. In The Puzzle King Betsy Carter creates Simon Phelps, a display designer on par with the best Fifth Avenue has to offer.

NONFICTION: The Highest Branch?

James MacGregor Burns’s lucid narrative demystifies the Supreme Court, appealing to layman and specialist alike. Burns brings alive the major eras of the Court, along with its key personalities and the presidents who tried (usually unsuccessfully) to mold the Court to their will, or “pack” it.

RAPID TRANSIT

What crime Kazim Ali has committed to explicate his title Bright Felon remains a mystery. But the conviction is certain. A gay Muslim in the West, he is doubly dubious—his self-questioning, intense.

TOKENS

“I can sympathize with people’s pains, but not with their pleasure,” said Aldous Huxley, author of the 1932 novel, Brave New World. “There is something curiously boring about somebody else’s happiness.”

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NOV 2009

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