May 4, 2011

Albania the Beautiful: Francine Prose’s My New American Life 4


Prose sets up a subtle compare and contrast between America and Albania (there’s more in common than at first blush, especially during the Bush years, when the story takes place).

May 3, 2011

Darkness to Light: Alexandra Styron’s Reading My Father 1


Like many nurtured in the penumbra of genius, Alexandra Styron got a good story out of her privations.

April 30, 2011

A Scarred World: George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones 6


While his world looks like fantasy (bastards! dwarves! whores! knights!), and the action revolves around the question of the seven kingdoms’ throne, the focus is on the clashing relationships and motivations of the people involved in the struggle.

April 29, 2011

Man Hands: Thoughts on Tina Fey’s Bossypants 11


It became clear to me, over the two days that I lapped up this book, that Tina Fey is a true comedic genius, but she isn’t a master of prose. Bossypants was a delight, but it lacked power, intention.

April 28, 2011

A Guest in the Night City 1


If the night city is a territory, Nightshift NYC stands as an essential guide.

April 27, 2011

The Ice Storm: Meg Wolitzer’s The Uncoupling 2


Discovering lust is naturally dramatic in any story, and writers from D.H. Lawrence to Danielle Steele have discovered all the tricks to make our hearts race and palms sweat. But how do you write about desire’s disappearance?

April 26, 2011

A Tiny Inheritance: Edmund de Waal’s The Hare With the Amber Eyes 2


We can never know the people who came before us, but we can own their dining tables, walk the streets they walked, put the Japanese knick-knacks they bought in our pockets, and infuse them with meaning.

April 21, 2011

American Laurels: The Poets Laureate Anthology 4


As a volume in the cultural history of American poetry, there’s no doubt that Elizabeth Hun Schmidt’s The Poets Laureate Anthology is a valuable text. For starters, it’s the only book of its kind.

April 20, 2011

Questioning the Quotidian: Georges Perec’s The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise 1


Perec’s answer is to dwell on our routines and to realize the intricacies of the everyday.

April 19, 2011

The James Joyce Book Club: Julian Rios’s The House of Ulysses 1


Ulysses is the literary equivalent of Angkor Wat or Machu Picchu or any of the world’s other great, beautiful, challenging locations.  Just as there are guides, travelogues and travel television shows designed to communicate a flavor of those locations while providing the traveler with the tools needed to actually visit them, there are guides and […]