“Review: A Trappist monk tells of a life worth living.” Gregory Hillis reviews a new book by Brother Paul Quenon, a monk who began his life at the Abbey of Gethsemani under the guidance of Thomas Merton. As Hillis concludes, “In Praise of the Useless Life isn’t a guidebook on how to be a contemplative. Yet through the book readers can get glimpses of the beauty and playfulness of the contemplative life, a life that may be ‘useless,’ but by virtue of its uselessness, is all the more meaningful.”
“What Is a Southern Writer, Anyway?” Margaret Renkl reflects on what makes Southern literature distinctive: “What if being a Southern writer is foremost a matter of growing up in a deeply troubled place and yet finding it somehow impossible to leave? Of seeing clearly the failings of home and nevertheless refusing to flee?”
“Walker Percy and the Gift of Influence.” Speaking of Southern writers, Brian Smith reviews Jessica Hooten Wilson’s two recent books about Walker Percy.
“Donald Hall: Work, for the Night is Coming.” If you enjoyed James Matthew Wilson’s reflections on Hall’s place in American literature, you might also enjoy Dana Gioia’s review of one of Hall’s books.
“The Tech Backlash We Really Need.” L. M. Sacasas surveys the recent scandals that have hit Silicon Valley and concludes they haven’t generated the deep reform that is actually needed to change our relationship with technology: “We fail to ask, on a more fundamental level, if there are limits appropriate to the human condition, a scale conducive to our flourishing as the sorts of creatures we are. Modern technology tends to encourage users to assume that such limits do not exist; indeed, it is often marketed as a means to transcend such limits.”