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Radiant Truths:Essential Dispatches, Reports, Confessions, and Other Essays on American Belief [Kindle Edition]

Jeff Sharlet

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Product Description


"Rare is the collection of other people's writing that coheres into something new and original; and rarer still is the one that takes on meaning because we read it through the eyes of the collector. Radiant Truths is exactly that rarity."-Jonathan Kirsch, Los Angeles Review of Books -- Jonathan Kirsch Los Angeles Review of Books

Product Description

Beginning with Walt Whitman singing hymns at a wounded soldier’s bedside during the Civil War, this surprising and vivid anthology ranges straight through to the twenty-first century to end with Francine Prose crying tears of complicated joy at the sight of Whitman’s words in Zuccotti Park during the brief days of the Occupy movement. The first anthology of its kind, Radiant Truths gathers an exquisite selection of writings by both well-known and forgotten American authors and thinkers, each engaged in the challenges of writing about religion, of documenting “things unseen.” Their contributions to the genre of literary journalism—the telling of factual stories using the techniques of fiction and poetry—make this volume one of the most exciting anthologies of creative nonfiction to have emerged in years.
Jeff Sharlet presents an evocative selection of writings that illuminate the evolution of the American genre of documentary prose. Each entry may be savored separately, but together the works enrich one another, engaging in an implicit and continuing conversation that reaches across time and generations.

Including works by:
Walt Whitman  •  Henry David Thoreau  •  Mark Twain  •  Meridel Le Sueur  •  Zora Neale Hurston  •  Mary McCarthy  •  James Baldwin  •  Norman Mailer  •  Ellen Willis  •  Anne Fadiman  •  John Jeremiah Sullivan  •  Francine Prose  •  Garry Wills  •  and many others


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1452 KB
  • Print Length: 425 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0300169213
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (31 Mar. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The much-needed canon of an unnoticed genre 30 April 2014
By Nathan Schneider - Published on
The idea of "religion writing" has mainly been associated with either a sort of cringe-inducing, unreflective piety or scholarly prose that oversells objectivity through unrelenting dryness. All along, however, some of the finest U.S. writers have been engaging with the true complexity, trouble, and intensity of the lived religion around them. For the first time, thanks to Radiant Truths, this tradition has a canon. Here we encounter a taste of how writers often considered safely secular — from Mark Twain to Francine Prose — grappled with the manifestations of belief around them. For any reader, this is a stunning introduction to a side of literary history normally left out of the story. For the classroom, this is a natural accompaniment to standard textbooks on U.S. religion or literary journalism, and it could even form the basis of a new kind of course. Radiant Truths puts on display not merely a new and necessary way of reading familiar writers but an invitation to what Sharlet calls the "cacophony choir" of modern religious experience.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Your Typical Religion Writing 30 April 2014
By B. Wilensky-Lanford - Published on
"Anthology" would be an understatement: RADIANT TRUTHS is a firecracker of impassioned literary journalism set off into the often-overcast, dreary skies of what we call "religion writing." It begins with a manifesto of sorts from editor Jeff Sharlet on why nonfiction is the perfect genre to attempt to illuminate the complexities of religion. And then follows an adventurous path from Walt Whitman's writings on the Civil War to Francine Prose contemplating the Occupy Wall Street movement. Via Thoreau, Zora Neale Hurston, Norman Mailer, Anne Fadiman, Ellen Willis, Amy Wilentz, Meridel Le Sueur and more, this collection coheres into what Sharlet calls a "cacophony choir," testifying to the ongoing energy of American belief. Join in!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't wait to teach this book. (Also, look: Women can write!) 29 April 2014
By Quinner - Published on
Jeff Sharlet doesn't buy the idea that art and fact must abide in separate worlds, and this collection reflects said sensibility, as well as a great ear for stories. And the prose does indeed radiate (as does Francine Prose, in the closing selection - an Occupy Wall Street dispatch that brings us straight back to Whitman). The essays in this anthology make a strong case for the U.S. as the fountainhead of a vital genre.

For all these reasons, I can't wait to use this anthology for my literary nonfiction course.

Also, I'm thrilled I won't have to apologize to my students for assigning yet another volume of primarily white male authors. It's great to see a literary anthology that's not labeled especially for women, but majority features their writing.

This book has a wonderful range of style and tone, and I can't recommend it enough.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, you can buy truth…Radiant Truths. 7 May 2014
By Peregrinator - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I loved this book. Reading Radiant Truths was like crashing a literary party in a time machine and getting to eavesdrop on conversations between magnificently mustachioed Mark Twain and Sixties rock and culture critic Ellen Willis about their recent trips to the Holy Land. Henry David Thoreau tells of howling from a mountaintop, far from the calm shores of Walden, while Whitman recounts sitting by the bedside of a dying soldier. In one room is Amy Wilentz, grappling with religion and politics in Haiti, and in another Anne Fadiman is describing how the pigs were slaughtered at a Hmong exorcism in a California apartment. Even as Francine Prose breaks into tears on the last pages, I didn’t want it to end.

Like much of Jeff Sharlet’s work, religion and belief buzz as an undercurrent through the anthology, but, also true to Sharlet, the bedrock comes from the story-telling revealed by the best of literary journalism. As the editor, he’s curated a collection that represents American authors in full immersion, thick in the search for understanding and comprehension, even if they know “the impossibility of perfect representation of reality, visible and otherwise.” The book is a celebration of the messy wrestling with truth and experience. Who steps into the “swamp of belief” and why?

The book is also a radiant object itself, golden and bound with stitches, a pleasure to hold. And VIDA (Women in the Literary Arts) would heartily approve, with Radiant Truth’s roster full of fabulous writers, many of whom just happen to be women. Whether you follow the commandment that you simply “know there is a God” or “believe that all this God stuff [is] a lot of bushwa,” Radiant Truths will resonate. Highly recommended.
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