Monday, August 1, 2011

Book Review: Words Made Fresh

Author: Larry Woiwode

Title: Words Made Flesh: Essays on Literature & Culture

Description: Larry Woiwode, the poet laureate of North Dakota, presents ten republished essays on Christianity, literature, and culture featuring John Updike, William Shakespeare, Bob Dylan, and John Gardner.

ARC source: Library Thing Early Reviewers

Writing style: I enjoyed Woiwode’s conversational style and his unabashed defense of Christian belief as his standard. The conversation often strayed, however, and the essay ended up discussing something very different than the title subject. For example, an essay entitled “Views of Wendell Berry” ends by discussing Berry’s various publishers.  

Audience: People concerned with literature, culture, and faith. Many of the essays were earlier published in Books & Culture.

Major ideas: Unlike most writers on this topic, Woiwode is quite conservative, which comes out in his essays on guns and his views on CNN (curiously, Fox News is not mentioned). His writing centers around the Christian faith, its treatment by various writers and its preservation in contemporary culture.

Wrap-up: I wasn’t familiar with some of the writers featured in the essays (i.e. Reynolds Price), so those essays were less helpful. The best essays were those that featured Woiwode himself (on guns, home, and Bob Dylan). His essays on other writers were not as good, although this may be partially because I am used to reading academics, not writers, writing about literature. (A sad and somewhat ironic comment). The essays varied in terms of level of interest and level of writing. 3.5/5*

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