Articles by James Santel

October 24, 2013

The Curious Paradox of John Updike 15

Updike was subject to charges of favoring style over substance from the moment he was considered a major writer, but it’s the late-Boomer and early Gen-Xer audience that Updike really annoys.

October 24, 2011

The End of the End of the Frontier 3

Americans don’t really look for Mexico in Mexico — they look for a more perfect America, at once free of materialism and more conducive to it.

August 24, 2011

Living Out the Day: The Moviegoer Turns Fifty 16

Catch-22 had been important to me as a student of literature, and Revolutionary Road had been important to my early development as a writer. But The Moviegoer was important to me as a human being. Like few other books I’ve ever read, it changed me.

October 21, 2010

No Satisfaction: Keith Richards and the Rock Memoir 9

Rock-and-roll memoirs are among the most persistently disappointing literary subgenre. Genius that relies on fleeting inspiration, gut feeling, and unthinking improvisation is ill suited to the slow, reflective process of writing. It takes an outsider to get inside.