A Book of Elements
By Michael Novak

Online Digital Version

Available at Open Library

A Book of Elements

Reflections on Middle-Class Days
Drawings by Karen Laub-Novak


Perhaps one of the most consistently innovative popular liberal Catholic writers, Novak collaborated with his wife, artist-sculptor Karen Laub-Novak, in this series of explosive pensées concerning "the reliable elements of life."

Both Ms. Laub-Novak's illustrations (which we have not seen) and Novak's reflections deal with the "thick irrationality which presses outward from the center of life." .... He comments on the American way of life which he sees as mechanistic-bound, "not at all on the human scale."

Perhaps we might feel more, do more and be more with a realization of the "tragic sense of life." Novak also deplores the insistence on the "normal" and delights in a zany society in which "Each day members smash a jar of catsup, peanut butter or anything homogenized." ....

Novak's perceptions of spiritual awareness, particularly the "translucent" knowledge of God as related to action and thought, will appeal to many of those drawn to the storm centers within a changing church.

Publisher: Herder & Herder (1972)

Inside Book Cover

"Here are reflections of two artists, one in drawings, one in words, on what they make of their lives, separate and together. With the intensity of poets, they treat of loneliness, anger, love, mistrust, nothingness, hatred, children, prayer, war, career, the demands of art, neighborhood, the late-night terror, roof repairs, parents, death...all the things we know so well, without knowing." 
"The book is a song -- a cry -- to circuses and death masks and all the basic fire, water, earth, and air of which life is commixed. 
"A book for slow absorption and, occasionally, for tears."