:: books & culture ::

I subscribed to Books & Culture: a Christian Review several years ago with no complaints. The publication was right up my intellectual alley; full of eloquent, lengthy book reviews spanning literature, poetry, politics, philosophy, Christianity, history, the arts, science, etc.. Of course, it fed my book addiction, but there are worse cravings in life. At some point, I decided to cancel my subscription, and it was an extremely difficult choice for me. I dwelt alone in an old, charming studio apartment behind one of my favorite cafés in Houston (Empire), and well, my budget was tight. I missed finding Books & Culture in my mailbox, but somehow I found the strength to go on. Mostly through inexpensive paperbacks from Half Price Books.

Fast forward to now - I'm married, live in a house, and our budget is not so lean. And, I recently received a writing opportunity made of the stuff of my dreams. I can't share much about it yet. What I can divulge is that it's a forthcoming online magazine called The Curator, it's tied to IAM, Alissa Wilkinson is the editor, and I'm one of the writers. While I'm slightly intimidated, I'll get to write about most of the eclectic, artful things my brain leans toward - books most definitely included. I am grateful and excited.

All of that to say, I honestly believe it was important to renew my subscription to Books & Culture. I did so a few weeks ago, and since then, I've impatiently awaited the arrival of my first issue. Really, patience is not one of my top five virtues. Yesterday, finally, the May/June 2008 issue was folded in our mailbox. Oh boy, oh boy! It felt great to hold the oversized periodical in my hands again. Here's a glimpse of this incredible issue:

-Philip Yancey on pain.
-Rayyan Al-Shawaf on headscarves.
-Jon Shields on hippies of the religious right.
-Lauren Winner, Heather Curtis, and David Graham on healing.
-Chandra Mallampalli and Robert Frykenberg on India.
-An interview with Christian Wiman - poet, essayist, and editor of Poetry magazine.
-A poem - "Celan" - by Marly Youmans.
-A long, fascinating review of a movie I want to see ASAP: There Will be Blood.
-And so on.

By the way, you ought to read the following by editor John Wilson:

"In the very first issue of Books & Culture, September/October 1995, I quoted from an interview with the Native American poet Joy Harjo that appeared in the Spring 1995 issue of the Indiana Review. 'There's no sense engaging evangelical Christianity,' Harjo said in that interview. 'You can't engage something like that, because they don't encourage interaction and thinking for yourself.' In one respect, Harjo was dead on. Not only evangelicals but all orthodox Christians share a sense of our fallenness. We need help. 'Thinking for yourself' is a prideful delusion.

But that doesn't mean we stop
thinking, period. And it shouldn't mean that we retreat from engagement with others who think differently - like Joy Harjo, whom I've read with interest for years now - though that temptation is one to which evangelicals have sometimes succumbed. Retreat into a cozy enclave? Not at all. We hope that readers of Books & Culture glimpse in our pages the largeness of Creation, God as maker, as artist (not least as musician), God as gratuitous giver, God as always exceeding our grasp. The unpredictability and many-sidedness of things. The need for historical perspective, whatever the subject."

If Books & Culture appeals to you, too, visit their web site to sign up for a free trial issue. How 'bout that?

Now I'm anxiously waiting for my first issue of Poetry magazine. Yep, I subscribed to that one as well. I love to read good poetry. My friend Allison gave me a back issue with a lovely cover, and then I was hooked:

Who agrees that good cover art is essential for books and periodicals alike?


Lindsay said...

I love Books & Culture too, though I don't get it anymore. You subscribe to a bunch of periodicals and journals I'd love to get if I had the funds. Maybe someday.

And your opportunity with Alissa sounds really interesting. I can't wait to see what you folks are cooking up.

jenni said...

I hear you, Lindsay. There are other subscriptions I'd love to have, but our funds (and my time) don't permit those, either. The good thing is that a lot of Books & Culture (if not all?) is online - I added a few links to this blog entry. You should read that interview with Christian Wiman....

Libby said...

Hi Jenni, as always ,loved reading what you wrote.
I'm in the middle of Gilead that you recommended. Did a little background on John Brown to understand the conflict between father and son and understand more now. I hope your body is being strengthened as is your spirit. Libby

jenni said...

Thanks, Libby! I'm so glad you're reading Gilead. Be sure to tell me your opinion when you are finished, please.