Essays

October 15, 2014

Do Not Tell Me This Is Not Beautiful: On the Collaborative Art of Words and Images 3

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The collaborative medium between prose and photography, poetry and photography deserves a more established home in the spectrum of the literary world.

October 10, 2014

The Afterlife of Travel: On the Work of Philip Graham and Alma Gottlieb 5

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Maybe the ritual of villagers gathering under a sacred tree, spilling the blood of a chicken onto the ground, has a way of motivating a writer.

October 7, 2014

“The Whole Dreaded Terrorist Army of the Past”: Antal Szerb’s Journey By Moonlight 0

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Szerb is an adventurer on the page; the twists and turns of the plot challenge our sense of what a novel can and ought to be. But he is also an ironist. He shows us that our finest resolves are often motivated by shameful secrets or silly desires, and that by fleeing ourselves we end up more self-involved than ever.

October 2, 2014

The Truce Between Fabulism and Realism: On Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the Modern Novel 17

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Garcia Marquez solved an essential problem of the novel; he arrived at a moment of crisis for the form and offered the warring parties a graceful way out of it.

September 30, 2014

A Writer Walks Into a Bar. And Stays. 3

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Raccoon’s has beer-bucket specials starting at 9:30 am. I mean, on a Tuesday morning. This singular fact would qualify it as my favorite bar all on its own.

September 30, 2014

It’s 2014, Do You Know Where You Are? Bright Lights, Big City at 30 6

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The voice at the center of Bright Lights may be spoiled and petulant, but it also is unmistakably American: fatally romantic, distrustful of authority, and democratic to a fault, even as it sounds its barbaric yawp over the rooftop parties of the world.

September 26, 2014

A Thousand Words and Then Some: On Literary Portraiture and Alessandro Baricco’s Mr. Gwyn 0

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Chronicling a fatigued writer’s efforts to reinvent himself as a copyist, a profession which he himself admits doesn’t properly exist, Mr. Gwyn and Three Times at Dawn are the portrait and self-portrait, respectively, of a linguistic portraitist.

September 26, 2014

Kim Philby, Jack Reacher, and Spy-Novel Nationalism 7

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The United States has not developed a spy-novel nationalism able to stand on its own two feet.

September 25, 2014

My Disease Feels Beautiful to Me: On the Work of Raúl Zurita 10

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Zurita was carrying a file, the poems that would become the book Purgatorio, when he was arrested the morning of September 11, 1973, and the arresting officers suspected his papers might include coded messages. The senior military officer who made the final decision about Zurita’s potentially subversive writings threw the poems into the sea.

September 23, 2014

Human Resources: On Joshua Ferris 15

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Rarely has a writer as abundantly praised and rewarded as Joshua Ferris also been misunderstood and even ill-served by reviewers.