Pascal’s wager—that saw of Christian apologetics—is conventionally understood to demonstrate that human beings deny the Christian God’s existence at the risk of perdition. The seventeenth-century French polymath Blaise Pascal weighed the infinite torment awaiting unbelievers under God’s Providence against the finite pleasures of living as an atheist in a godless universe. He concluded, regardless of the deity’s actual existence, that the only rational choice is to adopt cautious belief.
We are in the midst of a publishing renaissance of novels about blackness; of literary novels with black protagonists; of novels about race and of novels published by black authors. This wave of publications follows a similar black-literature boom in [...]
These two books, a fortunate pairing, go exceptionally well together. Madison Smartt Bell’s illuminating biography puts Robert Stone’s nonfiction into its proper context.A close and perceptive friend for the last fifteen years of Stone’s life, [...]
During recent snowbound days, I indulged in a bout of binging the second season of House of Cards, the celebrated political drama starring Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, and a brilliantly cast supporting ensemble. Actually, I did the same binge with the [...]
Any scan of the bestseller lists shows a national book culture awash in pulp. But all those hungry zombies, vengeful angels, vampire lovers, scrappy postapocalyptic teens, and fairy princess-warriors with wicked blades and toned physiques bear litt [...]
Jonathan Franzen at the 2011 Time 100 gala / by David Shankbone
I read your essay in the Guardian, and, I have to say, I’m worried about your professional legacy. I agree with some of what you had to say, disagre [...]