In Israel the ultra Orthodox have attempted to inflict their values on a population that doesn't always cotton to their values. In an age of increasing terrorism, there will be a tendency to constrict both the exercise of beliefs as well as the right to express opposition and outrage at those self-same beliefs. The Supreme Court will have its work cut for it.
But this was an unusually interesting night at the Morgan, the eve of the PEN gala, and many in the room were slated to attend the writers' annual dinner that would honor Charlie Hebdo's Gerard Biard and Jean-Baptiste Thoret accepting the Freedom of Expression Courage Award on behalf of the magazine.
I'm writing five handwritten pen and ink letters to people each month for 12 months and see what comes of it. No typing as I somehow feel that would be cheating. And definitely no cards. Flat paper stationary and ink pens held with fingers. I want to remember what it's like talking to someone directly on paper with a pen in my hand.
The Governor of California, Jerry Brown, looked uncomfortable at the head table in the Beverly Hills Hotel ballroom where we had come to celebrate Joan Didion's PEN Lifetime Achievement Award. He struggled for the words; "I'm so sorry to have to tell you," he said, "Joan Didion will not be with us tonight."
Philip Roth's latest honor was as much for what he has done for other writers as for his own work. Roth received the PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Se...