The Eighth Day: Reclaiming a Neglected Novel

3220989233_da89ced170_zIt must be a common occurrence—having certain inanimate things make periodic appearances throughout a life, much like acquaintances who keep popping up in odd places—on the bus, in a crowd, across a room. They’re noticed, but barely so; the conscious mind remarks upon them—“There’s that thing again”—then moves on until they reappear, stepping out from the flood of experience with a gentle tug at the sleeve.

When I was a boy, a paperback copy of Thornton Wilder’s The Eighth Day would appear like this. I remember it on a table; I remember it in a box; the last time I recall seeing it, the book lay on the floor of a garage closet. It was a thick little text, with a cover that bore a sunrise in a yellowish cast and a title in Ten Commandment-size font. Still, I don’t remember ever thumbing through it. At some point, it must have been thrown away; it disappeared and has never resurfaced.

Not physically, at least; but later on, as though it had evanesced into the spiritual world in order to permeate the weightless atmosphere of the mind, someone mentioned the book to me. I was told that a novel I’d written (as yet unpublished) had put her in mind of it. Flattered, amused that the old paperback visitor had come to call once again, I began to use the comparison myself. [Read more...]

The Art of the Authentic: Bill Baer’s Times Square

times squareIn 1973, Orson Welles made a documentary, F for Fake, in which he followed the story of Elmyr de Hory, a famous forger whose work was indistinguishable from the great masters he mimicked.

One of the participants in the film was writer Clifford Irving, Elmyr’s biographer, who was holding forth on the forger while at the very same time perpetrating a literary fraud by penning a false autobiography of Howard Hughes. Welles, the narrator, delighted in reminding the audience that he, Welles, was also one the biggest hucksters of all time, whose radio hoax about a flying saucer invasion caused a national uproar that thousands actually believed. [Read more...]

The Science and Sundayness of Play

This post was made possible through the support of a grant from The BioLogos Foundation’s Evolution and Christian Faith program. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BioLogos.

The other day, I watched a Basset Hound playing with a lizard; to be more accurate, she was harassing him mightily, and he was doing his best to get away. It was one of those summertime lizards, striped and sleek, who’d ventured from beneath the cool protection of the planters that line the terrace. He’d hoped to sun himself in peace, I suppose.

But the dog, Clementine, discovered his siesta, and she was having a marvelous time picking him up by the tail and shoving him around. She barked in pretend anger, her tail wagging as she jumped from side to side. [Read more...]

Facing Calvary

12820770544_c702bd9450_mThere’s a line from last year’s thought-provoking film, Calvary, that’s uttered by a young French woman. She has just lost her husband in a senseless car wreck somewhere along an Irish country road. After Father James (Brendan Gleeson) gives the last rites, he goes to sit with the woman for a time. Their subsequent discussion is the difficult one that follows all such traumatic events, when the comforting banality of the world has imploded, and the unmoored psyche bobs about in a world without physics.

Except there is a difference here, as the woman proves unlike any of the other people in the priest’s life. Instead of being enraged, vindictive, and accusatory, she remarks upon the good marriage that she’d had with her husband. She speaks with a marvelous repose.

I loved him, and he loved me. We were happy together. And now it’s over. It’s not unfair. It’s just what happened. [Read more...]

The Soul of the Law

e7eccc8e1b84a088At the beginning of the old Norton Anthology of English Literature (4th Ed.) appeared this account from the medieval chronicler Gerald of Wales:

The Lord of Chateau-Roux in France maintained in the castle a man whose eyes he had formerly put out, but who, by long habit, recollected the ways of the castle, and the steps leading to the towers. Seizing an opportunity of revenge, and meditating the destruction of the youth, he fastened the inward doors of the castle, and took the only son and heir of the governor of the castle to the summit of a high tower, from whence he was seen with the utmost concern by the people beneath. [Read more...]


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