The latest National Review has a few mini book reviews worth sharing:
Anthony Esolen, an accomplished Dante translator, is also an incisive literary critic. In his generous new book, Ironies of Faith: The Laughter at the Heart of Christian Literature (ISI, 350 pp., $28), he discusses great works from Shakespeare to Tolkien — and points out how the divine mysteries always end up being deeper than we think we know. The worldly-wise are confounded; strength is made perfect in weakness; eros becomes a vehicle of grace. “It is as Mauriac once said: We will be surprised to see not only the harlots and publicans enter before us, but even the persecutors and the atheists. Let us pray we will be in a position to enjoy the irony.”
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The Bad Catholic’s Guide to Wine, Whiskey & Song: A Spirited Look at Catholic Life and Lore from Apocalypse to Zinfandel (Crossroad, 402 pp., $14.95) is even more fun than it sounds. One need not embrace the religious and political opinions of the authors — text, John Zmirak; recipes, Denise Matychowiak — to thoroughly enjoy this book. Among the potent insights: “Devout Guinness drinkers like to explain that food is empty calories — it gets you fat, but doesn’t get you drunk.” And: “If, as Walter Pater wrote, all art aspires to the condition of music” — here Zmirak adds, in a laconic footnote, “it doesn’t” — “then all vodkas distill toward the flavor of moonshine.”
Speaking of Zmirak's book, Phil from Germany (aka Deutschland to those of us in the know, *wink-wink*) has what looks to be a very serious post here on the subject. Or if you didn't pay attention in German class, it's mangled hereby Babelfish.