the title alone is argument for liking rebecca newberger goldstein's novel: 36 arguments for the existence of god - a work of fiction.
i haven't quite finished the book, but will admit to cheating by having already read the last fifty-two pages which list the '36 reasons' and their studied refutations. the arguments range from 1. the cosmological argument (everything that exists must have a cause) to 36. the argument from the abundance of arguments.
the book continues to astonish and delight. right now i am in the middle of a section on jewish mysticism, which might not be everyone's cup of tea or glass of manishevitz. our hero, cass; his main girl-friend (at least, the one i'm pulling for); and cass's charismatic (to him) professor are visiting a rebbe in a hasidic village, which happens to be in new york state. the village is kept exactly the way it was in the old country when the baal shem tov, the famous rabbi who started the hassidic movement, died so that when he is resurrected, he won't have any trouble finding his way around. cass and roz discover a child genius. we meet once again the 'little child
readers who follow this blog know that i have recently read franny, zooey, and nine stories, all by salinger, who repeatedly stresses the thought expressed in isaiah, 'and a little child shall lead them' to the messianic age. whether it is innocence or genius, it is always the purity of the child that will save us. we'll see where goldstein takes this. the book, which i recommend is 399 pages, including arguments and refuatations. it is published by pantheon books.
i'm happy to report that i have spent an enjoyable week or two on e-mail co-writing a study with a russian colleague. it is always a pleasure to work with larissa sokolova. and the internet makes it so easy.
the last comment this column received was pure spam. any suggestions about how to get rid of such 'contributions'?
readers from northeastern ohio are invited to submit poetry or prose (fiction or non-fiction) for an anthology to be organized and published by the wednesday writers workshop of canton oh.