Reviews

September 22, 2011

Rock ‘n Roll Malaise: Dana Spiotta’s Stone Arabia 5

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There’s something particularly sly about publishing a work of fiction built off someone else’s semi-ironic, private fiction — particularly when that person is the author’s family member.

September 19, 2011

The Sea and the Mirror: Reflections and Refractions from a Voyage by Ship in Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s Table 0

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The kaleidoscope as a metaphor for the concinnity of memories, the process by which an adult narrator frames and makes sense of her past is, I venture, the cornerstone of Ondaatje’s fiction.

September 19, 2011

Loving a Monster: Alina Bronsky’s The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine 2

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Imagine Sophia from The Golden Girls in Soviet Russia – spewing insults, exaggerating her own worth, bemoaning the state of things. Instead of being surround by three salty dames who deflect her barbs with their own, she’s surrounded by a husband, daughter, and granddaughter whose will to live she has methodically trampled.

August 31, 2011

Manning Up: George Pelecanos’ The Cut 3

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It wouldn’t be a Pelecanos novel if his hero didn’t advance a tiny bit toward manhood and learn something about himself in the process.

August 31, 2011

Conversations with Cocktails: Amor Towles’ Rules of Civility 4

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It’s reminiscent of Fitzgerald or Waugh, in that “what gay parties we all had in those days, until our inner demons simply couldn’t be repressed any longer” vein.

August 29, 2011

Accidents of Geography: Evan Hughes’ Literary Brooklyn 2

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Despite some deft writing and a G train full of literary gossip, the best that can be said for Literary Brooklyn is that it makes no grand promises that it can’t keep.

August 24, 2011

Living Out the Day: The Moviegoer Turns Fifty 16

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Catch-22 had been important to me as a student of literature, and Revolutionary Road had been important to my early development as a writer. But The Moviegoer was important to me as a human being. Like few other books I’ve ever read, it changed me.

August 22, 2011

The Canon Guard: Harold Bloom’s The Anatomy of Influence 23

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Harold Bloom is not so much the judicious patriarch or brazen egomaniac as he is a grandmother – endlessly harried, fiercely loving, and relentlessly worried about the future of his brood.

August 19, 2011

A Morality Play Where the Moral Keeps Changing: Notes on the Library of America’s At the Fights 3

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It’s hard to love the sport without being, also, deeply aware of what a bestial exhibition it is. It’s uncivilized, dirty, corrupt, and ought to be against the law. It’s a racket that refuses to be rehabilitated, and a volatile, exhilarating vice.

August 17, 2011

Vive la Revolution! Horacio Castellanos Moya’s Tyrant Memory 0

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Our Marxian tradition always returns to this basic assumption: that when societies are overturned, we who are formed in society are overturned as well. In Tyrant Memory, Moya’s counter-lesson becomes apparent: wherever heights are found in the glory of revolutionary action, they do not last. There is no permanent revolution.