November 17, 2014

In a Toxic Dreamscape: On Denis Johnson’s ‘The Laughing Monsters’ 1


Denis Johnson’s newest novel twists the formula of the spy thriller into a blistering, bleakly funny portrait of modern-day West Africa

November 14, 2014

To Hell with All that Guilty Love: On Steve Almond’s ‘Against Football’ 7


Wrapping up issues of corporate welfare, media sycophancy, sanctioned brutality, and beating them with an angry stick, Almond’s screed is less an assault on football than the organization that aids and abets its worst behavior.

November 12, 2014

Writing Out West: On Charles D’Ambrosio’s Loitering 2


What I admired most about these essays is the way each one takes its own shape, never conforming to an expected narrative or feeling the need to answer all the questions housed within. D’Ambrosio allows his essays their ambivalence.

November 10, 2014

Tossed on Life’s Tide: Richard Ford’s Let Me Be Frank with You 1


For fans of these painstakingly crafted books, the revelation that Frank is existentially adrift might not be news, but it’s rare to see both Ford’s literary approach and Frank’s disconnection laid out with such brevity.

November 7, 2014

Blood Brothers: On Mike Meginnis’s ‘Fat Man and Little Boy’ 2


‘Fat Man and Little Boy’ is what it would sound like if Dylan Thomas wrote about the atomic bomb.

November 5, 2014

Shifting Anxieties: On J. Robert Lennon’s See You in Paradise 2


The stories here are very much about familial love, and all the things can go wrong for, or in, a family.

October 30, 2014

The Restless Dead: On Hadrien Laroche’s Orphans 1


In this meeting ground of living and dead, can anyone find comfort?

October 27, 2014

Home of the Brave: On Chris Walsh’s Cowardice: A Brief History 2


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.