June 11, 2013

My Own Private Iceland 10


Three of Sjón’s books have just appeared for the first time in America. They combine legends and tall tales, magical realism and biblical allegory, landscape and maritime studies, arcane scientific and theological musings, YA-style swashbuckling and personal confession. They’re wonder books, cabinets of curiosity, and extended riffs.

June 10, 2013

Devoutly to Be Wished: Karl Ove Knausgaard’s Consummation 8


With astounding single-mindedness (or monomania, if you prefer), Knausgaard has pursued a writing project that both consumes him and sequesters him from life. He’s Ahab, only he’s gone and caught the whale.

June 6, 2013

A Forgotten Bestseller: The Saga of John Williams’s Stoner 12


What is the story of Stoner? How does an American book first published in 1965 go on to become a bestseller in the Netherlands in 2013?

June 5, 2013

Goodbye, Maxwell’s: On the Demise of Hoboken and Places Like It 23


Nostalgic locals are replaced by the hipster vanguard; the hipster vanguard is replaced again. To the young newcomers who didn’t grow up here, there’s little reason to care: Hoboken is said to boast more bars per capita than any other American city.

June 4, 2013

Bearing the Burden: The Moral Cost of a Professional Army 1


Fire and Forget, written by veterans (and one Army wife), stands as the best fictional account of the wars of the last decade and the contemporary military experience, and as such, is utterly damning of the devil’s bargain the nation and its military have entered into.

June 3, 2013

Will Kindle Worlds Commodify Fan Fiction? 1


Kindle Worlds might seem like a vast step up for your average fanfic writer, the best of whom are paid in praise alone. If it didn’t feel like such a fundamental and remotely insulting misunderstanding of fan culture, if it didn’t feel like a prime chance for corporations to exploit rather than promote, I might even praise Amazon.

May 22, 2013

Nothing Funnier Than Unhappiness: A Necessarily Ill-Informed Argument for Flann O’Brien’s The Poor Mouth as the Funniest Book Ever Written 9


Here’s how funny it is: It’s funnier than A Confederacy of Dunces. It’s funnier than Money or Lucky Jim. It beats Shalom Auslander to a bloody, chuckling pulp with his own funny-bone. It is certainly the funniest book I’ve ever read.

May 20, 2013

George Saunders and the Question of Greatness 14


The hype surrounding George Saunders’s Tenth of December in the early days of the calendar year was kind of staggering. The backlash followed not long afterwards, when it was suggested that someone who can’t seem to accrue enough pages to pen the Great American Novel couldn’t actually be considered the writer of our time. This makes me cringe — maybe because I’m beginning to suspect that it’s true.

May 15, 2013

Still Merry and Bright? Rethinking Henry Miller 8


Few possess Miller’s courage, his willingness to walk away from the American dream and embrace a life without hope. Fewer still manage to be what Miller claimed to be in the face of hopelessness – always merry and bright.

May 9, 2013

The Black and the White: Maus and the Art Spiegelman Exhibit 1


Born from universal ideas, crafted by the hands of artists, written with passion, the comic strip has become the medium for narratives that can be read again and again and images that can be stared at pensively in the hushed space of a museum.