An ambitious if uneven effort to update the Torah.


Debut author Zenz offers a poetic rewrite that aims to make Scripture more accessible.

For readers who find Scripture too difficult, too long, or too boring, the poet aims to remake it in easy, contemporary verse. It’s a great idea, if a hard one to pull off. Zenz admits the religious challenges: for the devout, the Bible is sacred, and adjusting its message, whether by intent or by mistake, is seen as sinful. However, this book, which focuses on the Torah, sometimes seems to ignore these pitfalls. Indeed, the Bible is not only spiritually significant; it’s one of the pillars of world literature, and rewriting it is akin to rewriting Shakespeare. The troubles start in this book’s first lines of Genesis: “In the beginning of the earth, / Of living things, there was a dearth.” It’s hard to improve on the King James Version’s timeless opening, “In the beginning,” so the poet’s foundation is sound. But his addition—“of the earth”—is odd, as Genesis 1 starts out not just before the Earth, but before everything: there are no sun, no stars, no planets, no nothing, so these three extra words are misleading. The second phrase is equally problematic, as its nonstandard syntax—which opens awkwardly with the prepositional phrase “of living things”—sets up a forced rhyme of “earth” and “dearth.” Of course, there are much stronger passages elsewhere, each of which reveals the poet’s skill. One high point is his rendering of the sacrifice of Isaac: “So up Moriah the old man went, / Isaac knowing naught, / With wood and knife and stony flint, / The sacrifice he brought.” Much of the genius of the original Torah comes from its concision, and the poet replicates that effect here, wasting no words as Abraham brings his son to the altar. But it’s hard to maintain that level of quality throughout; as a result, this book serves mostly to remind readers of the Bible’s own poetic genius.

An ambitious if uneven effort to update the Torah.

Pub Date: March 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5127-7314-9

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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