March 7, 2012

Fractured World: Hari Kunzru’s Gods Without Men 2


At its center are Jaz and Lisa Matharu, he Sikh, she Jewish, and their severely autistic son, Raj. When the boy vanishes in the Mojave Desert, the parents are eventually accused of murder. Around them, Kunzru weaves a fiendish web of plots and subplots. The effect is exhilarating.

March 6, 2012

A New Salvation: Alain de Botton’s Religion for Atheists 1


A main tenet of de Botton’s thinking is that we should allow ourselves to be transported by secular art and culture, to be moved by it as wholly as religious people are by the Bible or the Koran.

March 5, 2012

Dance in Purgatory: László Krasznahorkai’s Satantango 1


Krasznahorkai is obsessed as much with the extremes of language as he is with the extremes of thought, with the very limits of people and systems in a world gone mad.

February 22, 2012

Arrested Development: Leigh Stein’s The Fallback Plan 17


I’ve been thinking lately about adulthood. When it begins, what expectations we might reasonably have of those just entering through its gates, and how we represent it in our fiction.

February 22, 2012

Fanatic Meets Stalker: Geoff Dyer’s Zona 4


Even if you’ve never given a second thought to quicksand, tried LSD, or watched The Wizard of Oz (Dyer hasn’t), his read of Stalker permits you to square your life with a film that you may or may not know anything about.

February 21, 2012

Two Brits Stew: Lars Iyer’s Dogma 5


This book is surreal, brainy, plotless, and arguably pointless. It is also brilliantly written and very funny, operating like a combination between Waiting for Godot and Withnail and I.

February 17, 2012

Dancing with Memory: On Brian Castro’s Shanghai Dancing 4


Put simply, Shanghai Dancing is the best contemporary book in English that most Americans have never heard of.

February 7, 2012

Running Through the Future, Screaming: Dan Chaon’s Stay Awake 4


Contemporary writers such as Chabon, Lethem, and Whitehead import genre conventions into their literary fiction, but my guess is that their most avid readers tend to be those who never lost their taste for the detective story. Dan Chaon is a writer for those of us who thought we’d left genre behind.

February 2, 2012

Illicit Pleasures: On Edward St Aubyn’s At Last 3


No one I have read has managed to make the anticipation of a cocaine injection sound as cosy but also as infinitely depressing.

January 31, 2012

People Are Strange: Diane Williams’ Vicky Swanky Is a Beauty 1


We can’t escape eccentricity, but we can become habituated to it.