Essays

February 24, 2011

Modes of Imagining the Writer of the Future 7

by

The writer of the future will crouch in wind-swept aeries miles above the electronic din of the modern world, crafting feathers out of the leaves of old books.

February 24, 2011

The Pen, Mightier 35

by

We care about what our words look like because we somewhere believe that this says something about who we are beyond font or scrawl.

February 23, 2011

The Gospel According to Girl: A Profile of Blake Nelson 6

by

For a certain type of girl wending her way through adolescence in the mid 1990s, the bible was a paperback novel with a hot pink spine. It was Blake Nelson’s debut and it was called, aptly, Girl.

February 15, 2011

To Blurb or Not to Blurb? 27

by

This seemingly innocent question was put to me for the first time a couple of weeks ago when a paperback review copy of a non-fiction book arrived in my mailbox.

February 10, 2011

MFA Grads and Former Acrobats: Approaches to the Author Bio 37

by

The truth is, every published writer has been faced with summing themselves up in just a few sentences. It’s not easy, and a bio isn’t a fixed thing–or at least not until you’re dead. Until then, it (hopefully) evolves with each new publication, each year lived. The decision of what to include and exclude persists throughout one’s career.

February 9, 2011

The Big Show: Franzen, Goodman, and ‘The Great American Novel’ 19

by

The Cookbook Collector’s literary elegance is part of what made the book invisible to a broad public, while Franzen’s roaring crassness is part of what made his book such a smash.  He’s just a lot louder than she is.

February 7, 2011

On Bad Reviews 74

by

Given all the years you spent writing your book or composing your music or perfecting your play before someone came along and spat on it, it’s extraordinarily difficult to respond to a bad review with grace.

February 4, 2011

Her Story Next to His: Beloved and The Odyssey 4

by

In the era of O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Cold Mountain, it is puzzling that more attention has not been paid to the extensive parallels to The Odyssey in Toni Morrison’s Beloved.

January 26, 2011

Jay-Z is Not a Proudhon of Hip-Hop 10

by

All art comes from art.  To admit this is not to concede that there’s no such thing as originality any more than it’s a license to borrow without attribution and then call it your own. 

January 21, 2011

The Posthumous Jim Carroll: What Do We Owe a Dead Writer? 1

by

Jim Carroll may have been gone, but in the comforting, ghostly way that artists do, he would endure.