Here we are in December, impossible as it seems, and it's time to begin looking back at the books of the year, as we'll continue to do for the rest of the month. My full-dress report on the Books of 2005 appears in the December issue of First Things. The article isn't yet available on the web, but if you pick up a copy at the newsstand you'll find Richard John Neuhaus' superb essay, "Our American Babylon," as well as excellent pieces by Wilfred McClay, Jonathan Last, Philip Jenkins, and Michael Behe, among others. I won't go over territory already covered in the article for FT, but no one surveyno ten surveyscan begin to comprehend the annual harvest of books. And in due course, several weeks hence, look for the Top Ten of 2005 and of course The Worst Book of the Year, for which the competition is, as always, intense.
Whenever I talk about this book or that book, I'm conscious of leaving out others equally worthy of mention. But sometimes the omission is simply a matter of forgetting. In the piece for FT, I remarked that I'm not predisposed these days to open a memoir, and then noted some exceptions that seduced me anyway. In doing so I forgot to mention one of my favorite memoirs of the year, Priscilla Buckley's Living It Up at National Review (Spence). Maybe George Clooney could be persuaded to turn it into a movie, set almost entirely in the magazine's offices and shot in black-and-white. But probably not. (Casting question: Who would play WFB?)
We've noted in the past the astonishing accomplishments of the Plantinga family. This year let's give a tip of the hat to the Brothers Sweeney, Jon and Douglas. You may have seen Betty Smartt Carter's review of Jon's memoir, Born Again and Again: Surprising Gifts of ...1
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