Annal: 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism

Results of the National Book Critics Circle Award in the year 2006.

Book:Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences

Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences

Lawrence Weschler

From a cuneiform tablet to a Chicago prison, from the depths of the cosmos to the text on our T-shirts, Lawrence Weschler finds strange connections wherever he looks. The farther one travels (through geography, through art, through science, through time), the more everything seems to converge — at least, it does through Weschler’s giddy, brilliant eyes. Weschler combines his keen insights into art (both contemporary and Renaissance), his years of experience as a chronicler of the fall of Communism, and his triumphs and failures as the father of a teenage girl into a series of articles that are sure to illuminuate, educate, and astound.

Book:Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon

Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon

Daniel C. Dennett

An innovative thinker tackles the controversial question of why we believe in God and how religion shapes our lives and our future.

For a growing number of people, there is nothing more important than religion. It is an integral part of their marriage, child rearing, and community. In this daring new book, distinguished philosopher Daniel C. Dennett takes a hard look at this phenomenon and asks why. Where does our devotion to God come from and what purpose does it serve? Is religion a blind evolutionary compulsion or a rational choice? In Breaking the Spell, Dennett argues that the time has come to shed the light of science on the fundamental questions of faith.

In a spirited narrative that ranges widely through history, philosophy, and psychology, Dennett explores how organized…[more]

Book:Follies of the Wise: Dissenting Essays

Follies of the Wise: Dissenting Essays

Frederick Crews

Best-selling author and Berkeley professor of thirty years Frederick Crews has always considered himself a skeptic. Forty years ago he thought he had found a tradition of thought—Freudian psychoanalytic theory—that had skepticism built into it. He gradually realized, however, that true skepticism is an attitude of continual questioning. The more closely Crews examined the logical structure and institutional history of psychoanalysis, the more clearly he realized that Freud’s system of thought lacked empirical rigor. Indeed, he came to see Freudian theory as the very model of a modern pseudoscience.

Follies of the Wise contains Crews’s best writing of the past fifteen years, including such controversial and widely quoted pieces as “The Unknown Freud” and “The Revenge of the Repressed,” essays whose effects still reverberate today. In addition, his topics range from “Intelligent Design” creationism to theosophy, from psychological testing to UFO zaniness,…[more]

Book:On Looking: Essays

On Looking: Essays

Lia Purpura

Lia Purpura’s daring new book of lyric essays, On Looking, is concerned with the aesthetics and ethics of seeing. In these elegantly wrought meditations, patterns and meanings emerge from confusion, the commonplace grows strange and complex, beauty reveals its flaws, and even the most repulsive object turns gorgeous. Purpura’s hand is clearly guided by poetry and behaves unpredictably, weaving together, in one lit instance, sugar eggs, binoculars, and Emerson’s words: “I like the silent church before the sermon begins.”

In “Autopsy Report,” Purpura takes an intimate look at the ruin of our bodies after death, examining the “dripping fruits” of organs and the spine in its “wet, red earth.” A similar reverence is held for the alien jellyfish in “On Form,” where she notes that “in order to see their particular beauty…we have to suspend our fear, we have to love contradiction.”…[more]

Book:While Europe Slept

While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West from Within

Bruce Bawer

Bruce Bawer has lived in Europe since 1999. While Europe Slept is his enlightening and disturbing report on anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment in Europe and on the egregious failure of European liberals to confront Islamic extremism in their own countries. Traveling to major cities and talking with people in trains, cafés, restaurants, and on street corners, Bawer came face-to-face with the peculiar mix of moralistic smugness and abysmal ignorance that feeds the rising tide of hatred toward the United States. He found, as well, a widespread refusal to grapple with problems caused by a growing Islamic presence in Europe—from the violation of immigration laws to appalling incidents of honor killings to horrific acts of terrorism, including the assassination of a prominent Dutch politician and the March 2003 bombing in Madrid.

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