August 22, 2007

Why Bolaño Matters 3


I.Every so often, one feels the great gears of canonization creaking into motion. A long critical essay in The New Republic or the New York Review will direct our attention to an overlooked contemporary poet, or beg our reconsideration of a novelist too long out-of-print. A month later, another such essay will appear in another […]

July 27, 2007

A History of Magic: A Children’s Librarian Reflects on Harry Potter, and Offers a Post-Hogwarts Syllabus 3


As the media phenomenon du jour, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has put pressure on the commentariat to provide Potter-related context or controversy – anything to get readers to spend a few minutes with us, rather than J.K. Rowling! And herein lies a danger: in our zeal to ride Harry’s coattails (broomstick?) to glory, […]

July 22, 2007

Neal Stephenson, Polymath 0


I doubt that I could improve on John Derbyshire’s review of the Baroque Cycle, Neal Stephenson’s “octology” of historical fiction. The Baroque Cycle is actually three big volumes: Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World, all published in 2003 and 2004. There are some well-respected American writers out there who have published bricks […]

July 18, 2007

Notebooks Elevated: On The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus (Cyril Connolly) 0


How to describe Cyril Connolly’s The Unquiet Grave: It is one of those books – like The Anatomy of Melancholy, The Compleat Angler, Minima Moralia, A Tale of a Tub, Urne Buriall – that defies all conventions of genre and, thereby, easy description. Though I have concerned myself much with the academic question of what […]

June 7, 2007

The Golden O: Dispatches from Oprah’s Book Club 5


My wife, Edan Lepucki, is a newly-minted member of the Oprah Book Club. She also has an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a story forthcoming from CutBank. So basically, she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to the books and the reading business. Plus, she’s totally hot. Here’s her […]

June 6, 2007

Confessions of a Cat Lady 3


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


“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


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


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


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 […]