I Heard God Talking to Me: William Edmondson and His Stone Carvings
Elizabeth Spires (Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux)
Born in 1874 (probably) on a plantation in Tennessee, the child of freed slaves, William Edmondson had his first vision in his teens while working in the cornfields. The visitations continued over the years. When Edmondson was in his 50s, God told him to begin making tombstones, then to carve figures from stone. He did. This wonderful book combines photos with poems inspired by Edmondson's life and works.
The Final Martyrs
Translated by Van C. Gessel (New Directions)
In The Lost History of Christianity, Philip Jenkins writes about places where the church died—and about its stubborn persistence. One such place is Japan, where the novelist Shusaku Endo (1923—1996), a devout Catholic, offered a view of faith inflected by the distinctive experience of Japanese Christians.
This slim collection of stories, reissued with a new introduction by the novelist and playwright Caryl Phillips, is an ideal Endo sampler.
(The title story was a first run at the story of persecuted Christians in the 17th century, the subject of Endo's novel Silence.) If you like it, you have a lot of reading to look forward to. If you don't, leave the book on a train or in a coffee shop for someone else to taste.
Paranoia: The 21st Century Fear
Daniel Freeman and Jason Freeman (Oxford)
This book by an eminent clinical psychologist and a freelance writer includes some timely observations on what the late Michael Crichton described as the "state of fear" that grips many of the most comfortable and prosperous people in the long history of the human race (us). Alas, it is written in a relentlessly chummy tone that had me ready ...1