Letters | The politics of abortion, the timing of confirmation, etc.

Readers write in to discuss abortion, hysterectomies, divorce, vasectomies, confirmation, funeral manners, and Amy Winehouse's bulimia.

Reading Left to Right

Biographer Randy Boyagoda paints Richard John Neuhaus as an unusually ambitious and politically engaged priest as public intellectual—but is his narrative too tidy?

Bookmarks | How Racism Speaks

Claudia Rankine’s 'Citizen' and Jeffery Renard Allen’s 'Song of the Shank' both take up the issue of race in America in jagged and beautiful poetry and prose.

Letters | Academic discipline, confirmation, ethnic resentments, etc.

Readers write in on how academic, humanistic, and prophetic cultures should be balanced, when kids should be confirmed, and why nothing's better than the Eucharist.

The Wisdom of the Beguines

Swan’s book does a good job of explaining both the beguines’ spiritual practices in the context of their own times and how their continuing legacy affects us today.

The Road to Character

Brooks thinks character is what’s missing in our self-centered society, yet has written a self-help book for an age he believes values the self much too highly.

Commonweal Interviews

Featuring the best of our interviews—including Woody Allen, Jorge Luis Borges, Mary Gordon, (Sister) Elizabeth McAlister, Christian Wiman, and Mario Cuomo...

Harper Lee Leaves the Club

Even if her new novel gives us pleasure, shouldn't we be able to remember Harper Lee as a member of one of the most unusual groupings in literary history?

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Anne Enright's new novel suggests something simple—family, for good or ill, keeps forming us even when we try to escape it—but her prose constantly surprises.

Embryos under the Microscope

In her new book, Jane Maienschein lays out the history of embryonic science—going back to Aristotle—hoping to answer an old question: When does a human life begin?

An Unlikely Union

Paul Moses's history of Irish-Italian relations in 19th century New York delves into the causes for "race war" between the immigrant groups and how they overcame it.

'James Merrill: Life and Art'

Langdon Hammer's biography of poet and writer James Merrill is "wholly definitive" in scope, and threaded throughout with Merrill’s brilliant, always enlivening wit.
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