cover image The Good Book: Writers Reflect on Favorite Bible Passages

The Good Book: Writers Reflect on Favorite Bible Passages

Edited by Andrew Blauner. Simon & Schuster, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4767-8996-5

This collection of essays from 24 eminent authors and journalists offers the reader a rich tapestry of reflections on the impact the Bible has had on the writers' lives. Familiar names such as Cokie Roberts, Lydia Davis, Lois Lowry, Colm T%C3%B3ib%C3%ADn, and Al Sharpton are represented; others will be new to most readers. New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik provides a fine introduction to what he considers the four major modes of engaging a biblical text: aesthetic, moral-metaphorical, anthropological, and antagonist. Little room is given to literalist thinking. Some entries are short and perfunctory, but many delve deep into theological considerations, usually surrounding personal hardship. Andre Aciman writes beautifully about loss and blessings in "Deuterogeniture, or How I Killed My Grandmother." Lowry, in "The Book of Ruth," relates the gut-wrenching yet affirming story of coping with her son's death just a few years after he was married. There is humor in the collection as well, with writers such as Tobias Wolff, A.J. Jacobs, and James Parker providing a discerning eye and a cutting wit to their biblical experiences. Poet and oblate Kathleen Norris provides an outstanding piece in "Desert Stories," which sums the collection up nicely: "[The Bible] is meant to keep reaching out to us and, despite our inattention and indifference and infernal self-absorption, every now and then hit us in the gut." (Nov.)