The verse sparkles and the visuals shine in this volume that examines Genesis.

The Seven Days of Creation

POETRY AND ART INSPIRED BY THE TORAH AND OTHER HOLY SCRIPTURES

A book offers a multimedia celebration of Jewish Scripture.

In the Jewish tradition, words have power—real power. According to the first verses of the Hebrew Bible (or Torah), God created the cosmos with speech. For Jews, then, the story of the world’s making shows that the phonemes that spill from their mouths possess an unimaginable potency. Jinnett (The Olive Tree in the Shadow of the Second Temple, 2015, etc.) reminds readers of this fact in the opening piece of his new collection inspired by the Torah: “In the watery depths / twenty-two fiery letters / swirled; / the aleph-beit of Hebrew, / building blocks of the world.” If God made the universe out of words, then the world is divine poetry. What more appropriate reply than to write poetry in return? The author focuses on the first few chapters of Genesis, in which God builds the world in seven days. Thus, a poem from the section entitled “Fifth Day: Fish and Fowl” gives readers a glimpse of the wonders of the deep: “And—oh—what a sight / was our undersea feast, / with conch shells of food, / near thousands at least.” Yet the book is no slavish retelling; the themes of Creation send Jinnett on flights of fancy that set him down in other parts of the biblical narrative. Hence, the aforementioned “undersea feast” reminds him of the Great Flood of Genesis and the birds Noah releases from the ark. Thus readers have “Raven’s Song,” which opens lyrically: “I remember how it was before the rains, / when waves kissed sand as waters lapped the shore, / gentle sounds like lovers make when they embrace.” Like the scriptural model on which it is built, this volume is fresh, dynamic, and readable. Its only real flaw remains its cumbersome configuration. The first half of the book features Jinnett’s poetry. But the second half awkwardly reproduces those works in their entirety—this time with extensive footnotes that flesh out references to Scripture and commentary. The information is valuable, but the exposition is bulky and didactic. Further, buried among these piles of explanatory text are gorgeous original artworks by Bowden, all of which deserve better placement. A more streamlined structure would make this good book great.

The verse sparkles and the visuals shine in this volume that examines Genesis.

Pub Date: Dec. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5301-2671-2

Page Count: 106

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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