Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

May 26, 1996|MICHAEL HARRIS

A LIFETIME BURNING IN EVERY MOMENT by Alfred Kazin (HarperCollins: $26; 352 pp.). One of the last of the New York intellectuals who (along with Edmund Wilson, Dwight Macdonald, Hannah Arendt, Richard Hofstadter, etc.) dominated public discourse in the era before talk shows, Alfred Kazin, at 80, shows a more private side of himself in this selection of journal entries from 1938 through 1995. He recalls his childhood in Brooklyn as the son of Russian Jewish immigrants, revels in the American urban scene, nature and music, quotes from favorite authors such as Saul Bellow and Simone Weil, and struggles to reconcile his religious faith with the reality of the Holocaust. We see his career--he is best known for "On Native Grounds" (1942) and "A Walker in the City" (1950)--and his four marriages only sketchily. In recent years, Kazin's tone darkens. He feels the declining importance of writers and thinkers like himself; a liberal, albeit a prickly, independent one, he deplores "the most reactionary and regressive political climate I have ever known." He turns more and more to religion--his compulsion, despite all life's evils, to "pray in secret to our God who lives in secret."

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|