From Dinaw Mengestu, “The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears”

Lying on the grass on the edge of Dupont Circle, away from the shade cast by the office buildings and trees, I listen closely to the sirens. They don't fit in with the picturesque scene of office workers lunching on the grass, but there they are, faint, undoubtedly audible, and growing louder with each passing second. The couple that I followed to the circle from my store stand up and exit. As the sirens draw closer, the people lying on the grass look up from their books. Those who are strolling … [Read more...]

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Time Considered As a Helix of Grimy Fingernail Clippings: Samuel R. Delany’s Weirdly Prescient “Driftglass”

I just finished reading a collection of Samuel R. Delany's short stories and novellas from the mid- to late-'60s, Driftglass (link is to the copy I bought at BookMarx, with the ultra-cheesy fishman cover), and man, I always forget just how good his best work is. Here's a rundown of what's in this collection."The Star-Pit": The first story is by far the best--worth the price of admission for this alone. It's startlingly contemporary. It's a story about working-class men and their longing for … [Read more...]

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“Who Dares to Say That Love Is Like the War?”: A Gay, Catholic Poet in the 20th Century

I don't want to be tokenistic but I'm betting the best way to get you to read this terrific article is to show you these paragraphs: In the meantime both men underwent a private transformation. Thompson had abandoned Catholicism at Harvard, though he had never entirely renounced the faith. In 1952 he told his lover (who had been raised an Anglican) that he wanted to practice the Catholic faith again. Trower was initially taken by surprise, but six months later he followed Thompson into the … [Read more...]

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“Friendship with a Future Tense”: I review Wesley Hill’s great new book

for AmCon: Most of the art and literature of friendship is elegiac. From Montaigne to Marsden Hartley, from St. Aelred to Andrew Sullivan, from elegant tribute to anguished lament, our art of friendship is haunted by the death of friends. ...Part of what makes my friend Wesley Hill’s slender new book so intriguing is that it is an attempt to give an account of friendship that is grounded in history, theology, and literature—yet forward-looking. Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Chu … [Read more...]

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Neighbors and Strangers: Edward P. Jones’s Tales of Black Catholic D.C.

The title of All Aunt Hagar's Children gives you an idea of one of the strengths of this short-story collection: Edward P. Jones has woven a tapestry portrait of a community. Or, to switch metaphors, he has laid a table where everyone in the family can come, get their due, and have their say.The stories aren't linked by anything other than their setting: black D.C., mostly black Catholic D.C., from the late 19th century to the latter half of the 20th. These people are farmers and porters … [Read more...]

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Mercy Seat, “I’ve Got a Feeling”–Gospel-Punk with Gordon Gano

Dept of Things I Found on Wikipedia: … [Read more...]

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“Common Hells, Private Heavens”: I’m in Commonweal

reviewing a show at the National Museum of African Art: I’m sitting in hell with a couple of little boys, who are trying to prove they’re not scared. We’re watching a cloth-wrapped figure prostrate itself and bang its fists against the floor, as sobs and wordless singing give way to a howled “I, I, I surrender!” Behind us stretches a huge black coiling thing that looks like a well-fed python. “It’s just a video,” one kid says in a subdued voice.We’re in the depths of the National Museum of A … [Read more...]

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