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CURRENT EVENTS Blessing Same-Sex Unions: The Perils of Queer Romance and the Confusions of Christian Marriage, by Mark D. Jordan. Chicago, June 2005. $29 A thoughtful and provocatively sustained analysis of gay marriage, Jordan’s book will undoubt [...]

Book Notes

CURRENT EVENTS Water for Sale, by Fredrik Segerfeldt. Cato Institute, June 2005. $12.95 The Cato Institute can be depended upon to publish work which genuflects before the market, abhors government regulation, and searches for situations in which th [...]

The Tortoise and the Hare; Or, Philip Roth, Cynthia Ozick, and the Vagaries of Fiction Writing

In 1959, a thirty-one-year-old writer named Cynthia Ozick was hard at work, in her determined tortoise-like way, on an ambitious novel that, seven years later, would be published as Trust; and also in 1959, a young, in-your-face writer named Philip Roth published Goodbye, Columbus, and Five Short Stories. Not since Norman Mailer set the literary world on its ear with The Naked and the Dead (1948) had a collection of stories so changed the American cultural landscape. Roth was surely the hare of Aesop’s tortoise-and-hare fable, a young man out of the literary gate before most of his competitors had made it to the track. Not only did Roth speed off with what, in those days, was a prestigious National Book Award, but he also set into motion debates about tradition, responsibility, and the individual artist that would dog his heels from then on—book after book, decade after decade.

Book Notes

EDITOR’S PICKAn Unexpected Life, by Joseph Blotner. LSU, March 2005. $29.95 Joseph Blotner will be remembered as a giant of American literary scholarship. His editions of William Faulkner’s works, especially the Uncollected Stories and Selected L [...]

Dead Letter

Coachy, to whom Papa Toussaint had given the two letters for Paul Louverture, led their way south from Point Samana toward Santo Domingo City. Coachy had been to that place before, not so long ago, when Papa Toussaint had sent his army to the Spanish side of the island for the first time, but Guiaou had not. He had not been to Point Samana either before that day, when Papa Toussaint had brought them to look at the ships of the French.

The Contest

There comes a time when Elk Tooth residents no longer take an interest in winter. Toward the end of March the count of semis tipped over by the wind fails to amuse and driving the long way around to anywhere—Angle Iron pass is closed even in a mild winter—has become an odious chore. Elk Tooth residents can take no more of reality. They embrace fads and fancies, and fortunes ride on rash wagers.

The Futurist

The Futurist never saw it coming. But now that he thinks of it, it’s not surprising. Not surprising that she’s telling him in the most intentionally archaic way: a pen-and-ink note slipped into his state-of-the-art carry-on. Written in past tense [...]

The Misunderstandings

The misunderstandings started on a Wednesday, a not-so-unusual, early-February Wednesday when I was supposed to make dinner, but time had gotten away from me, somehow, again, even though I had so much of it—even so, it was already six o'clock and I hadn't yet introduced the pot to the burner, and the kids were staggering around and moaning theatrically about their big hunger.

The New Corporal

It's dusk, the sky still light, but the sand at their feet in shadow. It slides away as they descend the dune, and ahead of him Karsten sees Wolf stumble, struggling to keep his balance with his hands up.

My Uncle Ezekiel

My uncle Ezekiel's body was discovered in a ditch early on Christmas morning, three years ago. Beside him was an empty bottle of cheap whisky; I still remember the red and green label on it, with the inscription: Christian Brothers. Because of the empty bottle and because of his drinking history, people assumed he had drunk himself to death; but actually it was the cold that killed him.

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