Articles by Bill Morris

April 4, 2014

Are We Entering a Golden Age of the Second Novel? 5

If a first novel fails to become a blockbuster, as almost all of them do, publishers are less inclined to get behind the follow-up by a writer who has gained a dubious track record but has lost that most precious of all literary selling points: novelty. Writers get only one shot at becoming The Next Big Thing.

March 31, 2014

Digging Beneath the Cliché of Ruin Porn in Detroit 1

Only a true Pollyanna would try to minimize Detroit’s staggering problems. But buying into the dreary old ruin-porn narrative is, in its way, as myopic as rosy optimism.

March 13, 2014

The Writing on the Wall (Redux): The 2014 Whitney Biennial, Starring David Foster Wallace 0

As the practice of writing on paper (everything from telegrams to letters to books to Post-It notes) is increasingly devoured by technology, words on paper are evolving from widespread tools of communication into the rarefied stuff of art. As things recede, they also expand. As a result, words are becoming as legitimate as the more traditional subject matter of painting, drawing, video and sculpture.

February 21, 2014

The Rise of Jay Gatsby and the Fall of His Inventor: On Sarah Churchwell’s Careless People 4

Churchwell has done something almost unimaginable: she has discovered something new and she has written something fresh and revealing about The Great Gatsby.

February 20, 2014

America Always Gets the RoboCop It Deserves 6

Even as the RoboCop movies have declined in quality, they have served as ever-sharper reflections of what’s going on in the culture at large.

January 23, 2014

Based on a True Story: The Fiction-Free Finalists for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar 0

This year’s five nominees spring from material that varies widely in tone and quality. This source material is not all bad, by any stretch. But there isn’t the handiwork of an untethered imagination in the pack.

January 3, 2014

Ten Who Left Us: Select Literary Obituaries from 2013 6

We lost great talents from every precinct of the literary world last year. Here is a highly selective compendium of the how they lived, when they died, and the books they left behind

January 2, 2014

The Writing on the Museum Wall: When Artists Channel Writers 2

What these very different artists have in common is a hunger for that most writerly of staples, narrative.

December 14, 2013

A Year in Reading: Bill Morris 4

I don’t buy books or movie tickets based on awards, and I’m proud to be able to say that I bought my copy of The Good Lord Bird before it was nominated for the National Book Award and I finished reading it before the awards ceremony.

November 20, 2013

The Ragged Spawn of E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime 6

Doctorow’s selective use of historical figures and events lends Ragtime its air of verisimilitude without robbing him of the freedom to imagine and distort and mythologize. It is, for a writer of fiction, the best of all possible worlds.