Essays

November 3, 2014

Almost Famous 1

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It wasn’t just that no one wanted to embarrass themselves by fainting or kissing Keith Richards’ boots; it was that we all felt the need to guard against the possibility that his super-abundant existence might envelop our own.

November 3, 2014

What to Read When You’re Not Expecting 4

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I was trying to reassure myself that whatever was happening to me was common enough, normal enough, to easily crop up in my regular life reading.

October 31, 2014

The Art of Terror: Robert Aickman’s Strange Tales 3

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We might be blocked from seeing what lies beneath the surface, but we know it’s formidable and chilling.

October 28, 2014

The Timeless – and Timely – Allure of the Near Future 8

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If today’s crop of books, movies and TV shows set in the near future are an accurate barometer, it looks like we’re in for some filthy weather.

October 27, 2014

When Updike Met Barth 8

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Barth continued to express admiration and respect toward Updike. Updike returned the praise, though more often with soft mentions that he hadn’t quite finished Barth’s most recent books.

October 23, 2014

The Art of Dialogue: A Symposium 7

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Everybody, shut up. Now, I realize that a group of writers like yourselves would jump all over the chance to point out the irony of me beginning a symposium on dialogue by telling everyone to shut up, but I don’t want to hear it, okay? Let’s just get this over with. Jane Smiley, let’s begin with you.

October 21, 2014

Sex, Memoir, and the Real Lena Dunham 45

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Lena Dunham and Helen Gurley Brown are two women who wrote memoir-manuals more than a half a century apart but have been treated very similarly in the press. They weren’t honest enough. They were too honest—narcissistic navel-gazers.

October 17, 2014

The Curious Kick of Hearing an Actor Reading Your Writing 1

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“When I read a book I’m listening to what the author wrote,” says the actor Kevin Kenerly. “Some people look at a novel as a text, but I look at it as language.”

October 17, 2014

Remembering Les Plesko 5

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The tragedy of Les, as well as his greatest virtue, lay in his absolutely uncompromising stance on art and life: the world of commerce and the world of Absolute Art is a Venn diagram with a very small overlap.

October 16, 2014

Natasha: On a Storyteller Raised by a Wolf 6

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I used to think that, until I began reading and writing in college, I had no literary education, but I was wrong. I had Natasha.