Reviews

October 24, 2013

The Curious Paradox of John Updike 15

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Updike was subject to charges of favoring style over substance from the moment he was considered a major writer, but it’s the late-Boomer and early Gen-Xer audience that Updike really annoys.

October 22, 2013

The Smile in the Bone: Lore Segal’s Half The Kingdom 0

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Anyone who has ever passed time in a hospital will find something recognizable and true in Lore Segal’s new novel, Half The Kingdom.

October 18, 2013

A Prism of Hidden Meanings: On László Krasznahorkai’s Seiobo There Below  1

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Moving beyond localized meaning, the stories challenge us to examine the psychology of our moment, a time in which our inability to understand the sacred paralyzes us in its presence.

October 18, 2013

Portrait of a Runner: On Mark Slouka’s Brewster 0

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It gives me great pleasure to picture the Apostle of Democracy doing quarter-mile repeats on the lawn of Monticello, perhaps in preparation for a match race with his Federalist challenger John Adams at the Founding Fathers Relays. But I digress.

October 14, 2013

When the Stars Align: On Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries 6

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Under the sign of Libra, the reading public will be gifted that rarest literary treasure, a book of such dazzling breadth and scope that it defies any label short of masterpiece.

October 9, 2013

A Little Bit Beta: On Dave Eggers’s The Circle 15

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The Circle occupies an awkward place of satire and self-importance.

October 9, 2013

A Poet Goes Commercial: Nicholson Baker’s Traveling Sprinkler 2

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Working poet Paul Chowder from The Anthologist returns in Nicholson Baker’s new novel, Traveling Sprinkler, which isn’t so much a sequel as a remake. It is a novel-rhyme; the two comprise a couplet.

October 8, 2013

The Danger in Cohesion: Tom Perrotta’s Nine Inches 1

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Taken as a collection, Nine Inches reveals a fatal flaw that undermines the skilled artistry: Perrotta’s heavy hand.

October 3, 2013

The Life that Develops In-Between: On Elizabeth Graver’s The End of the Point 7

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Unless you’re kicking it with the Compsons or Buendias, say, it usually takes a little bit of readerly patience to get through a multigenerational family story. One has to be on one’s game, in terms of care and attention. Nobody wants to spend several hundred pages with a bunch of allegorical figures sitting around the dinner table and passing each other the salt.

October 1, 2013

A Slingshot Full of Stories: Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath 12

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In David and Goliath, Gladwell appears to have started with an answer and then gone looking for people to prove him right.