The Luck of the Irish

Few colonizers have attached to the romance of the country they have conquered as the Anglo-Irish have. It may be that no other colonizers have been quite so literary; it may be that the racial closeness of conqueror and conquered has called forth a marriage like that of intense, doomed …

The Priestly Comedy of J. F. Powers

The recent scandal of Chicago’s late Cardinal Cody was of the innocent, old-fashioned, irresistible kind. Money, power, sex—the ingredients of first-rate scandal all were there, but the tone remained provincial. We felt, in our interest, at once familiar and ashamed, as if we were, eye at the motel room key-hole, …

Poem for the End of the Year

In the seventh century Persian tile we saw, the Tree of Life grew into the heads of the lively animals. My friend says there is only one prayer left us now: “Don’t hurt anybody,” meaning, “Don’t hurt us.” This year the women’s …

What Mary Ann Knew

For at least the last two decades, the desire for sweetness has been a pervasive national hunger. We have tended to see whatever time we are at the moment living through as threatening, feverish, hectic, perhaps dangerous. Our genius is the exile’s or the fugitive’s; we’re always packed to go.

Swim or Sink

Last week, I was in the Columbia gym. Walking up the stairs to the women’s locker room, talking about the possibility of cutting the time for my half-mile swim to fifteen minutes, I listened to my friend: “Ten years ago we were protesting the construction of this gym. Now, nobody …

The Predicament

Abortion is, of all moral issues, peculiarly conducive to displays of bad taste. Anti-abortionists write autobiographies of week-old fetuses for Readers’ Digest and show slides of queerly inhuman creatures in sacs like spaceships. But their pro-abortion counterparts are little better: they wear T-shirts with coat-hangers printed on top of the …