Nathan Englander's new novel, "The Ministry of Special Cases" (Alfred A. Knopf), begins on a dark night in a dangerous time: "Jews bury themselves the way they live, crowded together, encroaching on one another's space. The headstones were packed tight, the bodies underneath elbow to elbow and head to toe.
Here, then, are 10 memorable TV b'nai mitzvah, moving over the years from well-meaning, almost saccharine reverence for ritual to critical, even scathing send-ups.
One of the pleasures of reading "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," Jonathan Safran Foer's absorbing new novel, is that the experience helped me understand why I was so incapable of enjoying Foer's first book, the into-30-languages-translated, into-major-motion-picture-being-made "Everything Is Illuminated" -- or why (to take the blame off myself) that last book, published in 2002, was so ill suited to being enjoyed by me. I'm even thinking of making a peace offering to "Everything Is Illuminated," trying to reach some sort of détente, maybe seeing if we'd prefer each other's company the second time around.
Rabbi Mark Borovitz's memoir of how prison Torah study turned an alcoholic grifter and check-kiter into a successful rehabilitator of Jewish cokeheads, gamblers and other addicts is a blustering and grandiose book, marred by clichés and solecisms. And yet, I liked "The Holy Thief: A Con Man's Journey From Darkness to Light," very much.