October 1, 2015

Detoured Genius: On the Work of John Keats 5


Big-hearted and ambitious above all else, Keats’s mistake was to be too hard on himself, conforming to an artistic type when he could have been more sensitive to the nature of his gifts.

September 23, 2015

The City of Lost Things: Rediscovering Fernando Pessoa’s ‘The Book of Disquiet’ 7


The paucity of Portuguese writing is a global deficit, for Portuguese is an undeniably beautiful language to the ear and wonderfully varied, from the lovely sing-songy rhythms of Rio de Janeiro to the muffled notes of Lisbon.

September 21, 2015

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Mutt: On Patrick Modiano 0


Privately, without any basis in reality, without having read a single word by him, I turned my wrath upon Patrick Modiano

September 10, 2015

What Is Dangerous and What Is Just New: On 25 Years of Drawn & Quarterly 0


The initial phase of the comics renaissance is over, and the publication of this anthology offers an opportunity for understanding what defined D&Q, what we readers were looking for in comics throughout the past 25 years, and what we are looking for now.

September 4, 2015

My Summer with Henry: On Thoreau’s ‘Cape Cod’ 0


Buying Thoreau’s Cape Cod on Cape Cod resonates with a predictable sentimentality that I’m all too aware of. It too closely resembles what I think of as Thoreauvian pilgrimage practices: the hajj to Walden Pond, the leaving of pencils on his grave in Sleepy Hollow.

September 2, 2015

That’s Too Much: The Problem with Prolific Writers 23


Lately I’ve been struck by the notion that there might be no books more lost than those buried in the overwhelming bibliographies of authors who have simply published too damn much.

September 1, 2015

The Last Epoch: Tom McCarthy’s ‘Satin Island’ Takes on the Avant-Garde 8


If Remainder represented the abandonment of the pure and sacred self against the apparatus of a long held tradition of realism, then Satin Island seeks to reveal how such distinctions are ultimately meaningless

August 26, 2015

Seeing Myself: In Search of the Inciting Incident 7


The agent said my birth mother had left me under a nearby bridge. I was found with a note that said, “Give him to someone rich.” A policeman gave me a name and took me to an orphanage, but the orphanage had recently burned down, so it, like my birth mother, was unrecoverable.

August 25, 2015

Summer Is Over: On John Cheever’s “The Swimmer” 3


Allow the story to bring you back to the temporary innocence of July and August. Experience the deep melancholy of its final paragraph as you get ready for the cold months ahead, but don’t worry: there is always next summer.

August 21, 2015

The Purpose of Plot: An Argument with Myself 2


I’ve begun to worry that my generally unthinking impulse to read plot summaries at the slightest provocation actually runs completely contrary to the purposes of books and film and television. I’m not helping my reading, I’m defeating it; I’m not becoming more well-versed in modern culture, I’m ensuring my separation from it.