Modern Library Revue

March 31, 2014

Modern Library Revue: #19 Invisible Man 1

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In America it is the privilege of the white man to rollick, even if he is a poor Jew born into moderate squalor. The black man, in this novel at any rate, can only be fucked around; his hope, in this novel, is to discover his own way of doing things.

November 5, 2013

Modern Library Revue: #26 The Wings of the Dove 16

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Let’s say that my previous efforts with this book were equivalent to the disappointing herbal cigarette from a store called Groovy Vibes, or a bag of mulch obtained at the concert from someone’s questionable cousin. But this time I got, so to speak, the good shit. You eat the Henry James mushrooms, you look upon his dense thicket of sentences, his plodding parade of commas, and suddenly the text, and the entire world, come into insane focus.

May 30, 2013

Modern Library Revue: #30 The Good Soldier 1

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One hundred years later, Modernism seems like a biggish tent. But really, it’s about as descriptive a term as “sandwich;” reading the learned essays invoked, in my crude mind, a long-running argument that my friends have about what is or is not a sandwich. Is a taco a sandwich? A hotdog? It is all a darkness.

February 21, 2013

Modern Library Revue: #28 Tender is the Night 10

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I used to feel that the novel output of Fitzgerald was like the literary version of the Myers Briggs test: whichever one a person favored was some fundamental indicator of his or her personality.

October 12, 2012

Modern Library Revue: #90 Midnight’s Children 2

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When you go somewhere new, without the funds to elevate you to the echelon of luxury that is its own country, inevitably there comes a moment when you look around and realize that you have no idea what the fuck is going on. In these moments my Indian book club of one succored me, gave context to the long days of new sights and sounds.

April 20, 2012

Modern Library Revue: #36 All the King’s Men 10

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This novel is written so beautifully, so stylishly, and feels so American — with all the muddled greatness and shittiness that descriptor implies — that my decrepit patriotism pricked up its ears like it sometimes does when I read a stunning novel about America, in fine American English.

January 23, 2012

Modern Library Revue: #33 Sister Carrie 8

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In a state of temporal foreignness, it is not always easy to read the signs of the previous century.

October 7, 2011

Modern Library Revue: #76 The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie 6

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It is a dark and lovely poem, written by the possessor of a sinister wit.

September 16, 2011

Modern Library Revue: #25 A Passage to India 4

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This gets to the heart of both my admiration and my anxieties about this novel. How can we write across culture, or think across culture, even, in a way that is fair? The cowardly answer is that we can’t.

March 17, 2011

Modern Library Revue: #4 Lolita 7

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(A signal event in English, by a Russian, about sex with children, published by a French purveyor of mostly-filth of a pretty banal sort.)