Articles by Michael Bourne

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’ 4

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.

December 15, 2013

A Year in Reading: Michael Bourne 3

The Orenda sheds new light on the dark crime at the heart of all North American history, but more important than that, it renders the ostensible victims of that crime, the Indians, as complex, fully realized human beings.

November 21, 2013

Only Connect: A Young Playwright Finds His Audience 1

The 200-odd Bronx high school students did not shut up for one single second once they entered the theater. Guys wolf-whistled at girls across the theater, and the girls hollered back, daring the boys to come down after them. Spitbombs flew. Paper airplanes sailed.

November 20, 2013

Act Two: A Young Playwright Grows Up 1

Moss Hart had talent, an inhuman tolerance for work, and a pair of brass balls, but what set him apart from the thousands of other guys hanging around theater lobbies in the mid-1920s trying to catch a break was that the man was fucking relentless.

October 30, 2013

Beyond Alice Munro: A Beginner’s Guide to Canadian Lit 23

For Americans who have plowed through Munro’s Selected Stories and are looking for a broader taste of Canadian literature — or CanLit, as it is called here — I offer a partial and admittedly idiosyncratic “Beginner’s Guide to Canadian Literature.”