Essays

June 13, 2014

Mad Men: It’s All About Family Values 3

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If Mad Men is itself a kind of advertisement — a reflection and dramatization of our deepest desires, the ones we didn’t know we had — then its message is both timeless and markedly modern: family is everything; we are hungry for family; your “real” family are, simply, the people who actually know you.

June 12, 2014

Sad, Strange Brilliance: On Tove Jansson and Moomin 3

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In Moomin, I didn’t stumble upon a strange new universe; I found an atmosphere that matched the strangeness I already felt inside.

June 11, 2014

The Art of the Epigraph 9

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I didn’t have a great need to write that story, but the quote would have fit it so perfectly I actually have an unfinished draft somewhere in my discarded Word documents.

May 30, 2014

The Transformation and Legacy of Soho Press 0

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For Bronwen, joining Soho has become a way to keep her mother closer than she ever thought she could. A book will come up that she remembers her mother reading or acquiring. She’ll stumble across books or a note with her mother’s handwriting. She’s surrounded by hundreds of thousands of pages of her mother’s work and passion.

May 28, 2014

Book Clubs Mean Business 9

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Jenna Blum, whose debut novel became a New York Times bestseller four years after its release, visited with as many as three book clubs a day (an estimated of 800 total), and calls her book a “poster child” for the influence of book clubs on a book’s success.

May 23, 2014

The Survivor: On Magneto, Mutants, and the Holocaust 13

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You can read Magneto as the nightmare of every post-1945 Jewish humanist. He is the Jew who lost the soulful liberalism of the Yiddishkeit, and who has allowed the Holocaust to turn him into everything he despises. He is the Jew who will bomb Gaza and say, with some credibility, that it is for defense while privately acknowledging a pleasure in revenge. He is the Jew who has allowed the Holocaust to instill in him a debilitating paranoia.

May 20, 2014

The Press Novel: From Scoop to Amy Rowland’s The Transcriptionist 1

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“But do you think it’s a good way of training oneself — inventing imaginary news?” “None better.”

May 16, 2014

Thug: A Life of Caravaggio in Sixty-Nine Paragraphs 10

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He never had a chance. Three men held him down while a fourth sliced his face. Afterwards, he was almost unrecognizable. They could have killed him but they wanted him to live, bearing his scars for the rest of his life. Everyone would know what that meant.

May 15, 2014

The Literature of the Standing Desk 2

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The standing desk has entered its heyday. It’s changing the cubicle skyline of corporate America, the open-plan shared workspaces of the startup world, and the studios and work nooks of thousands of writers across the country.

May 14, 2014

Reach the Rafters: On Literary Sentiment 5

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If sentimentality is a sin, it is only because feeling can be so beautiful. One moment of sentiment in literature is worth a thousand failures.