Essays

January 22, 2008

America’s Next Top Novelist 6

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1.Those wandering aimlessly through the barren channels in the midst of the writers’ strike are no doubt aware that reality programming, already a staple, has flooded in to fill the void. In fact, the heavyweight of the format, “American Idol,” is now back for a seventh season. “American Idol” is what I like to call […]

December 5, 2007

A Two Part Examination of Cost and Value — Part 2: Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Luster 2

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[See part 1] I recently got married, and at my wedding, I wore a Paul Smith suit. It was the first piece of designer clothing I’d ever purchased, and it was an eye-opening experience. As I tried on various suits from different designers, I found myself appreciating the subtle differences between them: the fine tailoring […]

December 4, 2007

A Two Part Examination of Cost and Value — Part 1. In Defense of Food 1

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Few books caused as much of a stir last year as The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan’s examination of the American food production system. It exposed, among other things, the fact that Americans are eating way, way too much corn. Corn is in nearly everything at the supermarket, from the corn chips (duh!) to the meat […]

November 15, 2007

50,000 Words in 30 Days 6

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This November, three of my bravest (read: most insane) students are participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). While some of you may make fun of NaNoWriMo enthusiasts, I hold my tongue, for writing 50,000 words (no matter how poorly chosen) in only 30 days is impressive. Besides, another student of mine, Kelly Wiles, participated […]

November 7, 2007

Modern In A Post-Modern World 3

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There’s an old Woody Allen nightclub routine, dating back to his stand-up days in the mid-60s, that goes a little like this: “I was in Europe many years ago with Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway had just written his first novel, and Gertrude Stein and I read it, and we said that is was a good novel, […]

November 4, 2007

Literature and History: A Response 3

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A recent post at Pinky’s Paperhaus entitled “The backwards academic,” muses critically on the backward-looking focus of the GRE subject exam in English literature, required for applicants to English department Ph.D. programs, and, in Pinky’s case, Ph.D. programs in Creative Writing. Having cited the breakdown of the GRE subject exam in English Literature (pasted in […]

October 5, 2007

Brooklyn Volleys 0

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I borrowed my roommate’s issue of New York Magazine to occupy myself with some light reading on the subway this week. Also residing in my bag, my copy of David McCullough’s 1776, which I discussed briefly here last time. There is a big difference between a Pulitzer-winning non-fiction book and a somewhat glossy bi-weekly periodical, […]

September 28, 2007

The Nail Polish Method 3

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When the Virginia Quarterly Review recently posted the ten most common story titles submitted to the magazine in the last year, I was relieved that none of my own titles stared back at me from the list. Then again, if I were to name a story “Butterfly” or “Revelation,” perhaps I shouldn’t be writing it […]

September 24, 2007

Confessions of a Non-Linear Reader (What’s That Book About?) 3

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I used to be a monogamist. I honored that voice in my head that intoned “Thou shalt read just one book at a time” (it was the voice of my high school English teacher, Ms. Denize.) But something happened to me this summer – some unnoticed change took place – and now here I am […]

September 18, 2007

Nothing is Dead Yet: The Era of the Trusted Fellow Reader 3

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What if right now is the golden age of the book, or even the golden age of literary fiction? What if we are living in the golden age of reading, writing, and criticism? But all around us, the dominant trope of the day is death. Is it possible that a decade of poor management at […]