Essays

February 27, 2012

The Beginning of the Brontes 2

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None of the Brontes’ work would have seen the light of day had it not been for Charlotte. At the age of twenty she wrote to the Poet Laureate, Robert Southey, sending him some of her poems and professing not merely a desire to write but “to be for ever known.”

February 23, 2012

Reading The Brothers Karamazov: Even a Toddler Knows a Funny Name When He Hears One 13

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My son has a long way to go until he’s reading The Brothers Karamazov, but hopefully not so long that he forgets about Stinking Lizaveta before he gets there. I hope I’ll be near at hand, or only a phone call away, when he discovers that the funny name we used to whisper to each other is actually a very sad character in a great novel, and that the line between life and art is arbitrary, if it exists at all.

February 21, 2012

Blink vs. Think: When a Movie Bewitches A Writer 9

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Geoff Dyer, Don DeLillo, and Jonathan Lethem, for all their differences, have one thing in common. Each became bewitched by a movie that spoke so forcefully to him that he watched it again and again until it revealed all of its secrets.

February 16, 2012

The Arcades Project: Martin Amis’ Guide to Classic Video Games 76

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Invasion of the Space Invaders is the madwoman in the attic of Amis’ house of nonfiction; many have heard rumors of its shameful presence, but few have seen it with their own eyes.

February 15, 2012

One-Armed Gunslingers and Germans in Teepees: A Brief Guide to the Euro-Western 3

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There is a spectacular scene featuring three Mexican assassins and a devilish monkey. The masterful silent choreography is a vivid reminder that Jodorowsky is the only trained mime ever to write a Western.

February 15, 2012

On Getting Paid: Literary Magazines and Remuneration 42

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The economy of literary magazines appears to be a closed system. Money is tight, payment is low, and subscriptions and institutional support appear to be the final hope for sustenance. Does it have to be that way?

February 14, 2012

Special Effects: Gone with the Wind and Genre Difficulties 5

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If the takeaway from this essay is that Gone with the Wind lacks the status of an epic romance — that it is, in fact, nothing but a love story with two rather bratty protagonists — my wife is not going to be happy with me.

February 13, 2012

Some Other, Better Bernhard, or the Rights and Wrongs of Readership 6

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How did such an unpleasant author fashion such a stunning coup? Is it because he isn’t as unpleasant as everyone says he is?

February 10, 2012

War Games: On Roberto Bolaño’s The Third Reich 16

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A mail-in card in my copy of “Richtofen’s War: The Air War 1914-1918″ reads, “Please send me your colorful brochure describing all Avalon Hill games and Play-by-Mail kits and your exclusive gaming magazine. I swear that I have the necessary grey-matter to enjoy your games.”

February 9, 2012

Lady Parts: Caitlin Flanagan and H.G. Wells on Wayward Girls 16

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Upon completing A Man of Parts and Girl Land, the new offering from Caitlin Flanagan, I know that our young girls are in extreme peril: if they are not succored by their families, they will wind up in nude animal ecstasy with H.G. Wells.