Essays

October 6, 2010

The Hardy Boys Need No Eulogy 8

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Inertia kept the long line of Hardy adventures on the top level of my bookshelf until I finally packed them all in a box and packed the box down in the basement, exhumed only when I decided to eulogize the brothers here.

October 5, 2010

The Un-Ironist: A Primer on Douglas Coupland’s Novels 8

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How ironic that Douglas Coupland, the man who popularized the term “Generation X”, turns out to be one of the least ironic novelists of his generation. His novels may, on the whole, be loaded with typographical trickery, brand names of the nanosecond, slacking youngsters, and Simpsons references, but he’s also deep into a suite of timelessly, radically un-hip novelistic themes.

October 4, 2010

Does School Kill Writing? 19

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School wasn’t my death as a writer, it was my birth; and it would not have happened without the guidance and support of inspiring teachers, access to magnificent libraries, and every student’s most precious gift, free time.

September 27, 2010

Bulletin: Interview with Tom McCarthy, General Secretary, INS 8

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This arboreal carnage seemed fitting, however, prior to a meeting with a man who teaches a class on Catastrophe, and who founded the International Necronautical Society, whose mission is to “map, enter, colonise and, eventually, inhabit” the space of death.

September 22, 2010

My Favorites’ Favorites 12

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Where I formerly swallowed recommendations whole, I now cull through them – not exactly on my own but in a more independent fashion. I find books, I do not just receive them. Or, I try to.

September 16, 2010

Two Novellas 5

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I’ve noticed an interesting trend recently toward what seems to me to be the deliberate miscategorization of books. Specifically, an insistence on the part of some publishers that practically everything’s a novel. I understand the reasoning behind it—novels, the argument goes, are somewhat easier to sell than either novellas or short story collections, and all’s fair in love, war, and literary fiction sales strategies—but it still seems unfortunate to me.

September 16, 2010

Dreaming of Hogwarts and Hunger Games 16

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The plainspoken pulse of The Hunger Games series doesn’t beg you to stop and savor the language. But I’m not reading Mockingjay for those reasons. I’m reading to find out whether the Capitol mutations bred deliberately to hunt Katniss are going to tear her to pieces before she manages to kill President Snow.

September 14, 2010

Living Together, Being Apart 0

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While Tony Judt wants to see our society reflected in romantic train stations, Alain de Botton actually finds it in the airport.

September 10, 2010

Stieg Larsson: Swedish Narcissus 100

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In any other book, I would see these tactics as pandering to the baser instincts of the reading public. But in this book, in which Mikael is so obviously a stand-in for Stieg, it’s just tacky. Especially since this Stieg/Mikael amalgamation has also appointed himself head of the Respecting Women Committee.

September 10, 2010

Reading Just for Pleasure 13

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While it is plainly true that one can read a book more or less closely (substitute a beach blanket and a daiquiri for a pencil and a desk), it is equally true that something of everything we read is retained, to be recalled, by chance more often than design, on some or another future occasion, a dinner conversation, a tutorial essay, or a game of Trivial Pursuit.