April 30, 2007

On the Peculiar Art of Presidential Fiction 4


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


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


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


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 […]

March 16, 2007

Love: A Burning Thing 6


I guess I re-enter the ring of fire at my own peril, but I feel compelled to return to what has become (or so the publish first, ask questions later crowd would have it) “n+1 vs. lit-bloggers.” At times, the whole kerfuffle has seemed to confirm some of the liabilities n+1‘s “Blog Reflex” sought to […]

March 10, 2007

Keepers of the Flame: A Reply to n+1 22


It’s not that I’m biased… or, rather, my biases pull me in two directions. On one hand, I greatly admire the new journal n+1 – its moral seriousness, its elegant writing, its stewardship of the Frankfurt School legacy. On the other hand, I regularly contribute reviews to the blog on which this post is appearing. […]

March 6, 2007

Oprah Going To The Dogs? 2


The latest in the burgeoning genre of book review-cum-anti-Oprah- screed, to which I made a humble contribution some weeks ago here, came courtesy of Peter Birkenhead writing for His excellent piece was featured on Monday, and has thus far garnered upwards of 300 reader responses, by far the most feedback I have seen to […]

February 12, 2007

War Poetry. What is it Good For? 2


During the Second World War – unquestionably the “decisive, ideological struggle” of its time – the government instituted a draft, income taxes rose as high as 82%, food and luxury goods were rationed, and people further participated in the war effort by buying war bonds and planting victory gardens. What the President has often referred […]

January 28, 2007

The Fabulist: Ryszard Kapuscinski 0


At Slate, media critic Jack Shafer cuts through the effusive eulogizing of Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski (here at The Millions and elsewhere) to point out that it was “widely conceded that Kapuscinski routinely made up things in his books.” As a trained journalist, I recognize and respect Shafer’s insistence on this point (though the essay’s […]

January 19, 2007

The Myth of the “R-Rated” Book 1


Want to sound out of touch? Start describing things by using movie ratings. That’s what school board member Wendy Day does in an opinion piece in the Detroit News as she tries to convince readers to back her in her effort to pull a book from school curriculum that she and some parents deem “inappropriate.” […]