Essays Archives - Page 79 of 102 - The Millions

September 10, 2010

Stieg Larsson: Swedish Narcissus 101

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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.

September 9, 2010

How China Miéville Got Me to Stop Worrying and Love the Monsters 32

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I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the novel. Was it just a delicious stew of weirdness? Was it an allegory about the need for solidarity among the underclass as it fights prejudice and oppression? Whatever it was or was not, the book whetted my appetite for more.

September 8, 2010

Is Big Back? 23

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A mini-boom in big books would seem to complicate our assumptions about the Incredible Shrinking Attention Span.

September 1, 2010

Reading and Race: On Slavery in Fiction 12

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As a white reader, I’m simultaneously made to understand the experience of slavery, and I also must wrestle with how I’m implicated in that past.

August 26, 2010

Oral History at the End of the World: World War Z and its Cousins 3

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World War Z is not a shallow book by any means. But World War Z never quite manages the same level of moral pique as The Good War and the now obscure former bestseller Warday, a bleak speculative oral history of America after a nuclear attack.

August 23, 2010

Beauty, Youth, and Their Discontents 1

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Fictional characters enjoy exaggerated attributes, but few have the sort of beauty that marks Julien Sorel, where the beauty is not only essential to his character, elevating his soul, but outside of it, dictating his destiny. If beauty can be distilled from its specific fictional forms, does it have a cogent power of its own in literature?

August 20, 2010

On Coincidence, Love, and The Unbearable Lightness of Being 6

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Death is hidden somewhere in the middle of the book, and it doesn’t mean a thing.

August 19, 2010

The Ballad of David Markson: A Primer 15

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What might you have already read that suggests you’ll like David Markson? Tough call, since, for good or ill, nothing’s like David Markson.

August 17, 2010

Where We Write: The Merits of Making Do 36

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I began to suspect I was too susceptible to the idea of the “writer’s desk” and decided it might be better to do without one. Somewhere along the way, I began to work in libraries. More important, I began to get work done in libraries.