Essays

February 1, 2012

I Greet You in the Middle of a Great Career: A Brief History of Blurbs 45

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Hyperbole, fakery, shameless cronyism: blurbs, like bullshit, existed long before the term coined to describe them.

January 25, 2012

Copyrights Wake: SOPA, James Joyce, and the Future of Intellectual Property 4

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We are going to need a completely new online framework for supporting creators, and to get there, we might have to move beyond a tired notion of “copyright” and towards “author’s rights.”

January 24, 2012

Fragmentary: Writing in a Digital Age 23

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Fragmentary writing captures the tension between “digital” and “analog” reading better than anything else out there. And that tension, in many ways, is the defining feature of the contemporary reading experience.

January 23, 2012

Where Parents Get Their Power: Evidence from The Brothers Karamazov 10

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It occurred to me that the Grand Inquisitor’s interpretation of the Temptation of Christ effectively describes the power I hold over my two sons.

January 20, 2012

The Literary Pedigree of Downton Abbey 9

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The current PBS Masterpiece series mashes the “class” buttons hard, in both the literary and the economic senses. But its relationship with the English novel is more complicated than it might appear.

January 20, 2012

HBO (Isn’t) Filming The Corrections at My Parents’ House: TV and Fiction 16

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She cut me off and asked whether she should call HBO. She added that they offered anywhere between $1,000 and $3,000 for every day they were filming. My response was something along the lines of: “YOU HAVE TO TELL THEM THAT YOU WILL DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO FILM THIS SHOW IN OUR HOUSE.”

January 18, 2012

Escapism for Moms: Three Chronicles of Fatherhood 6

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I found myself cheering these elusive mothers: Let her work! Let her sleep! Let her leave town! Some of my fondest feelings toward my daughter, I must admit, rise up in me when I imagine her at home with her dad.

January 11, 2012

My Hour of the Star: On Clarice Lispector 5

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Whether through direct address or the urban intensity and flat out strangeness of the prose, the reader cannot lurk behind the book’s spine, but rather is constantly called upon.

January 10, 2012

Writing the City 6

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They say fiction requires conflict; well, when New York was a war of all against all, you had all the conflict you could handle any time you put your feet on the street.

January 9, 2012

The Story Behind the Story: An Appreciation of Authors’ Acknowledgments 18

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At their best, acknowledgements can be finely-wrought short stories with the author as protagonist. At least one acknowledgements has made me cry.