October 20, 2015

Tell It Again: On Rewriting Shakespeare 1


Why do we return again and again to Shakespeare’s plays, why do we keep rewriting them? Is it in hope that some of his genius will rub off? Are we searching for new possibilities for interpretation, hoping to mine new ore out of well covered ground? Or are we going toe-to-toe, trying our strength against the acknowledged genius of English literature?

October 19, 2015

Pulp Nonfiction: The Art and Business of Memoir 1


Whether its practitioners like to admit it or not, contemporary memoir, to a far greater degree than contemporary fiction, is an agents’ and editors’ medium.

October 16, 2015

The Rosenbergs Live: On Nostalgia and Red Scare Realities 4


Neither of our parents deserved the death penalty.

October 14, 2015

What Qualifies as Greatness: On Literary Awards Season 17


Do literary prizes reward greatness or works that, like a fine wine, gain stature over time? Do they simply reflect the taste of the jury at a particular moment in history? Or is it a little of both?

October 8, 2015

The Voice Trap: On the Perils of Authorial Parochialism 10


I’d love to see what Proust might have done in another voice, in, say, science fiction or with the story of a pair of street urchins. Or how Chandler might have written differently to tell the story of a great romance, stretching beyond his comfort zone where something entirely fresh might be born.

October 7, 2015

Closing the Gap: On Teaching High School and College 1


Although our methods and locations might be different, teachers and professors hopefully share the same coda: we wish to leave students a little better off than we first met them.

October 6, 2015

The Mind Behind the Page: On Writing What I Don’t Know 3


Write what I know? I would rather eat glass. It’s hard enough living my life; I write to get away from it.

October 1, 2015

Detoured Genius: On the Work of John Keats 7


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