October 27, 2014

Home of the Brave: On Chris Walsh’s Cowardice: A Brief History 1


Cowardice is the flaw that dare not speak its name, or as Walsh wryly puts it: “Every other species of human baseness, it seems, has rated a monograph.”

October 24, 2014

The Duality of the Human Psyche: On John Lahr’s Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh 1


Lahr states in the preface that he constructed the book closer to a profile than a traditional biography. In this way, he listens to the music. Texture, seemingly improvisational moments, comes from the layering of different sounds. Elements overlap and knock up against each other.

October 23, 2014

Ruined, Old, Endless: On Blake Butler’s 300,000,000 9


Butler’s central trope has always been the idea of homes, our private Americas. But Butler’s house has many rooms. 300,000,000 is a new testament; what happens when prose becomes prophecy.

October 22, 2014

Cage Fighting Literature: Kerry Howley’s Thrown 1


I don’t care about cage fighting, ultimate fighting, MMA; Kerry Howley made me care.

October 21, 2014

An Invite to the Crush Party: Andrew Durbin’s Mature Themes 1


Mature Themes, a collection of prose, poetry, and essays—doesn’t draw a cohesive biographical character so much as barrage its reader with an array of technicolor scenes, replete with camera flashes, expensive art, and totally fictional anecdotes about celebrities.

October 20, 2014

Art After Tragedy: The Narrow Road to the Deep North 2


The strange euphemism “Prisoner of War” eventually comes to describe every character in the book.

October 3, 2014

Kindness Is Voluntary: On Ian McEwan’s The Children Act 3


McEwan continues to demonstrate how social truths can best be delivered elegantly by a novelist.

October 1, 2014

An Inoculation Against Mistrust: Eula Biss’s On Immunity 1


Vaccinating oneself is about protecting one’s community more than it is about protecting oneself.

September 29, 2014

God and Gab: The Second Sex by Michael Robbins 1


Michael Robbins is our contemporary poet laureate for beautiful sins of language.

September 29, 2014

The Art of “The Novel” 8


I am going to try to convince you that The Novel is one of the most important works of both literary history and criticism to be published in the last decade.