Articles by Bill Morris

August 2, 2012

Truth Through Deception: On Norah Vincent’s Thy Neighbor 0

Ms. Vincent has produced her first novel. It’s called Thy Neighbor and, like its two non-fiction predecessors, it’s built on the premise that truth is best reached by a road paved with deception. The protagonists in all three books are voyeurs, people who use deceit to make themselves invisible, literally or figuratively, so they can see people in their most unvarnished states.

July 19, 2012

Prescriptivists vs. Descriptivists: The Fifth Edition of The American Heritage Dictionary 22

For all its many virtues, the fifth edition is not perfect. Its one glaring flaw is an introductory essay written by the chairman of the Usage Panel, Steven Pinker, a Harvard University linguist and cognitive scientist who is also an avowed descriptivist. What’s that whirring noise I hear? Is it William Morris, who died in 1994, spinning in his grave?

July 10, 2012

Who Wrote the Great New Jersey Novel? 27

They try to form a band, they do drugs, they light themselves on fire, they fall off roofs. It’s all so New Jersey.

June 26, 2012

At Last, Harley Earl Gets Some Respect 1

We need to talk about Harley Earl. And about how he changed my life and the lives of millions of Americans who have never heard his name.

May 31, 2012

The Mad Music of Kevin Barry’s City of Bohane 9

Thank you, Kevin Barry, for reminding us that the people in the book business are not all idiots simply because they remain locked in slavish pursuit of The Next Hot Young Thing.

May 9, 2012

The Appeals and Perils of the One-Word Book Title 33

At their best, one-word titles distill content to its purest essence, which is what all titles strive to do, and then they stick in the mind. Sometimes, of course, they fall flat, and much of the time they’re just lukewarm and vague or, worse, falsely grand.

April 25, 2012

The Treacherous Journey From Page to Screen 6

The overused word “unfilmable” should be banished from the lexicon.

April 5, 2012

The Riches of White Trash 12

Are poor rural white people really neglected in American literature? Hardly. They might be routinely scorned, marginalized, misunderstood, and reduced to caricature, but they’re not neglected. In fact, the canon is larded with writers who’ve put the riches of white trash culture to wondrous use.

March 29, 2012

The Writer’s Bedroom 1

We recently ran a piece called “Where We Write,” in which our staff writers posted photographs of their work spaces. Apartment Therapy has taken it a step further and revealed where some famous and not-so-well-known writers slept. Turns out a bedroom, like a work space, speaks volumes about a writer. But one question remains: What […]

March 22, 2012

John Leonard Died for Our Sins 6

I’m glad I haven’t read anything Leonard wrote about Nixon after 1975. My guess is it would be like watching someone empty an Uzi into a lifeless Clydesdale.