October 25, 2011

Genius At Work: Helen DeWitt’s Lightning Rods 13


Shout it from the rooftops, people! Helen DeWitt is back!

October 24, 2011

The Last Slacker: Colson Whitehead’s Zone One 4


In Zone One, as in the original Vietnam-era Living Dead movies, the underlying message seems to be that there is something very destructive in our culture…and it’s spreading.

October 21, 2011

The Impermanence of Memory: Alan Hollinghurst’s The Stranger’s Child 5


There’s something so grim about the idea that even books will be forgotten: memory is fickle, sometimes faulty, but shouldn’t something printed and bound hold more permanence than that?

October 19, 2011

Wanting it Bad: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides 4


On its face, The Marriage Plot appears to be a novel that mentions a lot of novels without talking about any of them. These facile, knowing references disguise the sly ways that this novel engages with its predecessors.

October 5, 2011

Weird, Wild West: Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers 6


The territory he takes us through is bleak and nightmarish, teeming with malice and greed, with violent lusts and blank antipathies.

October 3, 2011

Hear of the Ozarks: Daniel Woodrell’s The Outlaw Album 2


All this amounts to one of the best evocations of rural life that I’ve read in years.

September 28, 2011

Journeys to the Past: André Aciman’s Alibis: Essays on Elsewhere 2


Aciman views the places he visits – Rome, Barcelona, Paris, Tuscany, and New York, among other locales – not with the wondering, landmark-seeking eye of a tourist, but with the speculative, assessing eye of a potential resident.

September 27, 2011

Play It Again: Neal Stephenson’s Reamde 4


Every video game has a guiding story. “PLUMBER’S GIRLFRIEND CAPTURED BY APE!” was the original game story, and they have evolved from that into worlds of moral quandary.

September 22, 2011

The Greatest Story Ever Drawn 4


Despite my initial skepticism, I’m not sure that I’ve read a better graphic novel.

September 22, 2011

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


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.