Articles by Michael Bourne

July 17, 2014

A Vanished World of Readers: On Joanna Rakoff’s My Salinger Year 0

A less-heralded casualty of the digital age is the disintegration of the lower rungs of the ladder that have long led young, smart readers into the caste of professional tastemakers.

June 27, 2014

Betting on Quality: On One Story Collected 0

If One Story Collected is a stethoscope to the heart of contemporary American fiction, the news is good: despite a run of economic shocks to the publishing industry, the muscle that pumps fresh blood into the system is still beating like a tom-tom.

May 13, 2014

Nathaniel P. Gets the Fanfic Treatment: On Adelle Waldman’s “New Year’s” 2

Everyone has had a close relationship that works better as a friendship than as a romance, and at some half-drunken moment of intimacy, everyone has wondered why. “New Year’s” seems a story poised to answer this very human question, and then, for some reason, it simply doesn’t.

April 28, 2014

Screens on the Subway: The Rolling Library Is Going Digital 4

When we talk about books, we tend to think in terms of great works of art and forget that for most people books are merely a handy thing to have around for that idle moment when there isn’t something else better to do. Now those idle moments are being filled by screens.

April 15, 2014

A Story is Worth a Thousand Data Points: Michael Lewis’s Flash Boys 3

Surely, high-frequency trading is more complicated than Lewis’s portrait, but if he hadn’t found a way to boil down this highly technical issue to an emotionally satisfying tale of good vs. evil, most of us would never have known it existed.

March 27, 2014

Filling the Silences: Race, Poetry, and the Digital-Media Megaphone 2

For most white Americans born outside the South, the Civil Rights Movement is the stuff of history books — fascinating, but abstract. For people like Taylor and myself, whose families were profoundly shaped by the civil rights struggle before we were born, that turbulent era is acutely personal, and at the same time distant and exotic.

March 4, 2014

Getting With the Program: On MFA vs. NYC 16

What was clearly intended as a series of artsy-smartsy essays examining the state of play in literary America too often comes off as an extended moan of self-pity from a once-cosseted corner of Brownstone Brooklyn.

February 26, 2014

Like, OMG! ‘Like’ Is, Like, Totally Cool, Linguist Says 19

There used to be a time when my story might have been: ‘I saw her enter the room and I was terrified that she would recognize me and so I crouched down.’ Which is actually sort of boring. But now you can tell that as: ‘I saw her, and I was like, oh my god! I was like, what if she sees me? I was like, oh my god, I’ve gotta hide. I was like, what am I supposed to say to her?’

February 26, 2014

Fear Not, English Is Safe From ‘Satisfries’ 5

What may seem like a frontal attack standard written English is in fact something quite different: a rise of a new public language heavily influenced by oral speech that, supercharged by online and television discourse, does much of the actual persuading in modern life while leaving standard, university-taught English unscathed.

January 22, 2014

Hipster Noir: Sara Gran’s Claire DeWitt Novels 4

In Claire DeWitt, Sara Gran has given the hard-boiled detective a good, hard hipster twist, creating a character with a savagely vigilant mind and a black heart always on the verge of breaking.