June 2, 2011

Kissing the Hems of Ghosts: Vanessa Veselka’s Zazen 5


Veselka gives her characters plenty of rope, and while some end up hanging themselves, others use it to climb upward instead.

May 31, 2011

Mind Control: David Eagleman’s Incognito 7


What we call the conscious mind, Eagleman argues, is far from center stage, and the more we try to find out who—or what—is actually in control of our brain, the more we find out there is, as Gertrude Stein said, “no there there.”

May 27, 2011

Zoo York Revisited: T.J. English’s The Savage City 3


In March 1986, my first winter in New York, I was mugged in a deserted parking lot a few blocks north of Madison Square Park while coming home from a party downtown. It’s a funny story, actually.

May 26, 2011

Under Water: Johanna Skibsrud’s The Sentimentalists 0


The story that surrounds Johanna Skibsrud’s first novel is captivating. The Sentimentalists, published by Canada’s tiny Gaspereau Press in an initial print run of 800, was the surprise winner of the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize. And yet hype, of course, is a double-edged sword.

May 19, 2011

Working the Wound: Meghan O’Rourke’s The Long Goodbye 1


I read this book in batches, putting it out of my reach until I could bring myself to pick it up again. I ran scared from this book, not because I didn’t think it would be worth reading, but because when I read it, I unraveled.

May 18, 2011

Non Sequitur ad Absurdum: David Thorne’s The Internet is a Playground 4


If there is an enduring truth revealed by the internet, it is that the world only seems to make sense when you filter most of it out.

May 13, 2011

I Was A Teenage Grave Robber: Daniel Kraus’s Rotters 0


Lest you fail to detect the skeleton of historical fact that gives shape to Daniel Kraus’s unsettling, baroque, and surpassingly lurid new young adult novel, Rotters, I begin this review with a short history of the resurrection men, vulgarly referred to as grave robbers or body snatchers.

May 13, 2011

Unhappy Trails: Deb Olin Unferth’s Revolution 3


There are a lot of reasons to write a memoir and one of them is to give yourself the chance to live history again, this time with all the events that matter solidly under your control.

May 12, 2011

Mad, Mad World: Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test 7


With 40 being the highest score, the psychopath range starts in the mid-20s, but really, I don’t want you feeding my cat if you get more than 10 (although, to be frank, I just gave my cat a 22).

May 4, 2011

Fountain of Youth: Umberto Eco’s Confessions of a Young Novelist 2


The fruits of Eco’s semiotic detective work are presented so clearly as to become Confessions‘s most fascinating revelations.