Mark Helprin‘s fine and important novel, Paris in the Present Tense (2017), presents, among other things, an elderly man in Paris who unexpectedly kills two Arab anti-Semites engaged in badly beating a Jewish man. In the vision wrought here, “the facts of life,” as Margaret Thatcher said, “are conservative.” Which is why the elderly man admits that “When civilization turned a corner or two, I didn’t.” Too, he believes in God.