Articles by Kevin Hartnett

December 15, 2008

Manners and Morals in The Death of Ivan Ilych 2

The next time you have an hour to read, devote it to Leo Tolstoy’s novella, The Death of Ivan Ilych. It is a brisk and deeply subversive critique of 19th-century Russian society, and Tolstoy states his case with an elegant sensitivity to the theatrics of social life and a breathtaking sweep of moral judgment. Ivan […]

December 8, 2008

I Admit, I Didn’t Like “A Walk in the Woods” 1

Up in Minnesota this past weekend at my uncle-in-law’s cabin, I picked up a copy of A Walk in the Woods, which for sometime now, my sister has been urging everyone in our family to read. That the book is very funny is the first thing anyone will tell you about it, and it’s true, […]

November 21, 2008

Zadie Smith Looks at the Avant-Garde Novel 1

In the current New York Review of Books, Zadie Smith dives deep into the philosophical frame of avant-garde novels in a review of Tom McCarthy’s Remainder. The article is, generally speaking, written more for an academic audience than a casual reader (if you don’t have a precise working definition of “lyrical realism” it can be […]

November 12, 2008

The Campaign Over, Time to Read Again 0

Between July 1 and November 5th, I don’t think I read anything longer than a three-page spread on Politico or anything more literary than a New Yorker cartoon. Political campaigns are experiments in all sorts of deprivations. The days are long and narrow, filled with fast food containers and the sounds of vibrating Blackberries. I […]

September 24, 2008

On DFW’s Death 0

I first heard the news of David Foster Wallace’s death the morning after my wedding. I was walking around the small downtown that hosted the weekend’s festivities and ran into a couple, friends of the bride. They had left the wedding the night before with my college roommates, the group steaming back to a rented […]

August 20, 2008

We don’t live in Rabbit Angstrom’s world anymore, though maybe we wish we did 1

The early years of this century have inspired an uncommon amount of speculation about America’s advancing age. The Olympic Opening Ceremony in Beijing, and the ensuing changing-of-the-guard buzz it inspired, was only the latest, and most pointed, example of the creeping feeling that America, while hardly a senior citizen, might be past its prime. The […]

July 18, 2008

David Brooks and Pop-Intellectualism 2

This morning’s David Brooks column has reinvigorated my long-running discomfort with pop-intellectuals. “We’re entering an era of epic legislation,” his column begins. “There are at least five large problems that will compel the federal government to act in gigantic ways over the next few years.” The bold assertion is a classic move of the pop-intellectual, […]

July 7, 2008

Rafael Nadal as Religious Experience? 2

In August, 2006, a few months after the first Federer-Nadal Wimbledon final, David Foster Wallace published “Roger Federer as Religious Experience,” in the New York Times, a lengthy footnoted essay describing the sublimity of Roger Federer and the elements of top-flight tennis that can only be captured watching it live. The essay is not only […]

June 26, 2008

An Absence of Feeling: A Review of Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland 5

Netherland is a good book, and much has already been written, here and elsewhere, to that effect. Its central conceit, that of the New York City immigrant subculture of cricket, provides a fresh perspective on a city about which so much has already been written, and the parallel story, of the dissolution of lonely Hans […]

June 13, 2008

Palace Scenes: Ceridwen Dovey’s Blood Kin 0

Sitting down to reflect on Blood Kin, Ceridwen Dovey’s debut novel, I realized that there are many ways to approach a book, and a review, and that in this particular case, circumstances have handed me one. Dovey was a classmate of mine in college and when I saw that she’d published a book, I went […]