Do You Believe?

Teacher and filmmaker Antonio Monda interviewed eighteen prestigious figures from the arts for this book, although the word “interviewed” overstates it a touch: “polled” might be better, given that his questions focus, like those of a telemarketer, on a single issue. Monda wants to know from these eminences whether they believe in God, and if so, what form their belief takes. Some of them seem rather nettled by his presumption. “I’m afraid of banality,” says Saul Bellow. Others, meanwhile, seem not to be afraid of banality at all: “It’s said that God is in the details,” muses Richard Ford. “Or maybe it’s the Devil who’s in the details. I always get those two confused.” But I may be doing Ford an injustice here: Do You Believe? was first published in Italy in 2006 as Tu Credi? and then translated for this edition by Ann Goldstein, which means that the original comments have been rendered into Italian and then back out of it — not a process likely to preserve much of their native zest. So Spike Lee, in these pages, sounds exactly like Jane Fonda, whose diction in turn strongly resembles that of David Lynch. Or could it be that talking about God reduces all but the simplest or most brilliant to the same state of windy abstraction? Certainly, there’d be a hint of divine justice in that. –