August 29, 2013

Truth and Denial: On Choire Sicha’s Very Recent History 0


To portray gay life in the city as Sicha has done — in a manner that’s both realistic and insightful — would be a noteworthy accomplishment in any era, but must be considered particularly remarkable in today’s publishing climate, in which major publishing houses offer readers more gay characters written by straight authors than gay ones. It’s a beautifully written and carefully documented book about a group of people that, to our society’s collective detriment, continues to be largely ignored, dismissed, and stereotyped.

August 23, 2013

The Walls Come Tumbling Down: On Amy Grace Loyd’s The Affairs of Others 3


This writer gives good sex. Celia experiences sex — when she engages in or overhears it — much like she experiences her city, as both threat and connection, distance and intimacy.

August 20, 2013

The Grief Memoir: On Karen Green’s Bough Down 7


That Green’s text, like her life, is marked by an awareness of suffering — loss, grief, psychic alienation — makes Bough Down, as excruciating as it is, deeply satisfying.

August 15, 2013

The Darkness is Deep Indeed: On Javier Marías’s The Infatuations 4


Javier Marías may be the only significant working writer to also be a king. As the sovereign of Redonda, Marías is the honorary monarch. His two-decade reign has nearly entirely consisted of bestowing titles on various artists — John Ashbery is the Duke of Convexo, for example — as part of an effort at tongue-in-cheek recognition.

August 12, 2013

Over Here, Over There: Said Sayrafiezadeh’s Brief Encounters with the Enemy 0


This is not a book about there. It’s about here, what America feels like, here, and now, while at war.

August 9, 2013

A Literary Hedonist In The Classroom: On Professor Borges 7


We can’t help being impressed by the incredible array of books and authors Borges discusses in his fictions and his essays, but we must remember that he read them because he loved them, because when he opened up those volumes he felt the “secret portals of heaven” opening up over his head.

August 1, 2013

We Can’t Go On, We’ll Go On: William Gass’s Middle C 2


The main struggle is the question of whether or not the human race, given its bloody history, deserves to go on, to survive.

July 31, 2013

A Woman’s Unraveling: On Suzanne Rindell’s The Other Typist 0


The rapidly loosening mores of that time looked like freedom, but the level of risk that comes with freedom is never, of course, the same for everyone. Everyone who frequented the speakeasies of 1920s New York was taking a risk, but some had a net to catch them if they fell, and others didn’t.

July 26, 2013

Pride and Privilege: On Joanna Hershon’s A Dual Inheritance 1


A Dual Inheritance is that most pleasing of literary beasts: a novel of ideas wrapped up in a big, sudsy intergenerational saga of screwed-up families and soul-destroying love triangles.

July 23, 2013

Telling Stories Keeps Us Alive: Rebecca Solnit’s The Faraway Nearby 3


The Faraway Nearby is a work of literary origami, amazing in its construction. Perfect, even.