Essays

June 6, 2007

Confessions of a Cat Lady 3

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The reviewer would like to confront, at the start of her first review, the occasionally embarrassing fact that at some point in the recent past she was considering – never mind with what degree of seriousness – a dissertation on eighteenth-century cats and their literary and cultural significance. Having been told by the advisor seemingly […]

May 22, 2007

Bitter Pill: The Modern Medicine Lament 4

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“My Best Friend, my doctor, won’t even say what it is I’ve got.”-Bob Dylan I recently became aware of a trend, the Modern Medicine Lament, in which American writers struggle to make an uneasy peace with a system from which they feel alienated. And it begs the question: has it always been this way? Doctors […]

May 20, 2007

Scrimping on Syllables: Aikin’s Unusual Adaptations 2

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I got an email the other day from long-time Millions reader Laurie, who sends us links and dispatches from time to time. Her email included a link to a peculiar book called The Swiss Family Robinson in Words of One Syllable. “Have you seen this?” She asked. “Is this for real?” I hadn’t seen it, […]

May 13, 2007

Tempering Expectations for the Great 9/11 Novel 3

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Jerome Weeks has published a long, thoughtful essay asking why all the talk about our culture needing a great “9/11 novel.” Don Delillo has this discussion back in the book pages with his new book, Falling Man, though Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Deborah Eisenberg’s collection Twilight of the Superheroes among […]

May 5, 2007

Reports of Novel’s Death Greatly Exaggerated 2

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For better or for worse, Salman Rushdie is never at a loss for words. At a star-studded PEN reading last week, Rushdie surveyed the youthful audience and said something to the effect of, Maybe the novel’s not dead after all. Hermione Lee makes the same observation, though for different reasons, in the current issue of […]

May 3, 2007

The Great Escape: Journey from the Center of the Earth 0

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Bob Seger, rock ‘n roll troubadour, once announced that he’s going to Katmandu – if, that is, he ever gets outta here. I used to listen to that song quite a lot. I liked Seger’s escape fantasy, sung-shouted in a voice like a gravel crusher, the voice of a guy who’d had enough of being […]

April 30, 2007

On the Peculiar Art of Presidential Fiction 4

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As Peter Morgan’s Frost/Nixon opens on Broadway, I find myself free-associating, as is my habit… in this case, on the subject of presidential fiction. Frank Langella, the actor who portrays Nixon in the play, has spoken in several interviews about the odd empathy he feels for our 37th president, who was by all accounts a […]

April 15, 2007

Niche Bookstores: A Dying Breed 4

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Earlier this week I happened upon a story in the Windy City Times about trouble at a Chicago bookstore called Women & Children First. I had just finished a three-year stint at a terrific independent bookstore in Los Angeles when I first moved to Chicago in 2004, and I was inspired at the time to […]

April 3, 2007

The Road To Baghdad: Remembering Michael Kelly 1

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1.Four years ago today, Michael Kelly became the first journalist to lose his life in Iraq while covering The U.S.A.’s most recent war there. He was young, 46, and remarkably accomplished, having recently been named editor of a reinvigorated Atlantic Monthly. This after he had made a name for himself writing for some of the […]

March 29, 2007

Secret Histories: The Jamestown Colony in Postmodern Fiction 0

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In this week’s New Yorker, Jill Lepore offers a bemused consideration (not available online) of the Library of America’s new edition of John Smith’s works. Collected fact, or collected fiction? she asks. In True Travels alone, Smith [claims] to have defeated armies, outwitted heathens, escaped pirates, hunted treasure, and wooed princesses – and all this […]