JOYFUL NOISE

THE NEW TESTAMENT REVISITED

A bid to shed fresh light on the New Testament, weighed down by a disappointingly predictable party line: Jesus-as-radical-moral-teacher. These baby boomer writers have mostly ``revisited'' only a fraction of the New Testament, the Gospels, which novelist Moody (Purple America, p. 164, etc.) sees as ``great liberal documents in strong support of ethical universals.'' In rescuing the New Testament from the Christian Right, though, these writers don't realize that by almost exclusively using the Gospels, they've ceded some of the richest territory to the fundamentalists. That's why Joanna Scott's marvelous essay on Revelation is nothing short of a revelation (her discussion of symbols as ``masks'' in the text is truly stunning), and why Ann Powers's contribution, ``Teenage Jesus,'' falls flat. In her zeal to make Jesus culturally relevant to bohemian boomers, Powers utterly trivializes his message and mission. Portrayals of Jesus as a rebel with a good cause, or a misunderstood ethical teacher, are beyond prosaic. Several of the writers mention that their views of Jesus were heavily influenced by the rock-opera movie Jesus Christ Superstar, which helps explain this book's unidimensionality. Why not try new turf and explore the irascible Paul? Aside from one obligatory essay on 1 Corinthians 13 (de rigueur at American weddings), Paul is completely ignored. Standout essays include bell hooks's creative offering on the transformative power of love; Benjamin Cheever's offhanded appeal to ``judge not,'' and Jeffrey Eugenides's witty portrayal of the Holy Ghost in Acts: ``Jesus gets all the attention, all the reviews,'' Eugenides wryly observes. The editors of this anthology should have heeded his remark. In its narrow purview, this New Testament revisited is considerably less juicy than the original.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-316-57928-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1997

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

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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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