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Columns > Books

Sunday, June 27 2010

Confessions of a Political Romantic: Christopher Hitchens’ ‘Hitch-22’

Hitchens often remarks here on his being a late bloomer, and so it is that some will see the core of Hitch-22 as the story of the author’s inner journey in adulthood from firebrand '60s campus radical to geezery Tory of the Anglo-American variety.


Thursday, June 10 2010

The Screwball World of Nathanael West and Eileen McKenney: A ‘Suspicious’ Literary Biography

Marion Meade's new book begs the question: Are literary biographies necessary? Somewhere in the afterlife, Nathanael West is having a good chuckle.


Sunday, June 6 2010

Viewing the World at the Level of the Snail’s Lowly Trail

"... I have crawled most of the way through life. I have crawled downward into holes without a bottom, and upward, wedged into crevices where the wind and the birds scream at you until the sound of a falling pebble is enough to make the sick heart lurch."


Thursday, May 27 2010

Race in America, Race in Music: Different Trains,  Same Two Tracks

It's an American pop music creation myth: that blues and folk music developed along two distinct tracks, with their own distinct traditions, divided along racial lines. The truth is, of course, far more slippery and complicated.


Tuesday, May 11 2010

We Are Fueled by the Fat of Their Land

The "monstrous steel molochs" of industrialized civilization are fueled by petroleum and not literally by the "fat of the natives", though for the Achuar people, the subject of this classic narrative, that might be a distinction without a difference.


Monday, May 3 2010

Barbara Ehrenreich and the Brahmin Fantastic

In Barbara Ehrenreich's Bait and Switch, she experiences an exclusive corporate culture in America that is disturbingly similar to India's privileged genetic intelligentsia; also know as the caste system.


Sunday, May 2 2010

The Pope of Satire

Judging from the worried silence that met Stephen Colbert’s satirical comments about the current president, it seems he stepped over the line from his trademark truthiness that entertains to plain-old truth (or perhaps taboo) that his audience did not want to hear. As comedy routines go, this one died fast.


Sunday, April 25 2010

Cracking the Spine: The Lovely Bones

The author's 'heaven' is a concrete and unexpected place with"lumbering women throwing shot put and javelin"; whereas the filmmaker's interpretation changes 'heaven' to something like a garish, 3-D Hallmark card.


Thursday, April 22 2010

Neurocriticism and Neurocapitalism

The cutting-edge of literary studies uses brain scans and evolutionary psychology to fashion a science of reading, but these techniques have already been at work crafting the latest and most invasive phase of capitalism.


Tuesday, April 20 2010

Isn’t This Where We Came In?

Have you ever combined the first and last sentence of a novel or a song? The results are often amusing, and sometimes revelatory.


Sunday, April 18 2010

Greil Marcus on Van Morrison: When That Rough God Goes Riding

This is the story of a burly monk in shades, of flesh chasing the divine, of a voice ecstatic in southern blues and gospel and Celtic mysticism.


Thursday, April 15 2010

Backyard Fiction a.k.a. the Great American Myth of Suburbia

Suburban discontent in Richard Yates' Revolutionary Road, John Updike's Couples and Richard Ford's Independence Day. The idea or myth of suburbia is just as real as the actual shopping centers, schools, etc.


Thursday, April 8 2010

Hellraisers: They Lived This Way Because Nobody Else Could

These guys were geniuses at life: living fully on their own terms, and after all the broken glass, bludgeoned livers, and wrecked relationships, the sum shined brighter than the scattered bits and pieces.


Sunday, April 4 2010

My Times in Black and White

Gerald Boyd's memoir illustrates that sometimes, those who preach the loudest about diversity and tolerance are in fact the least capable, when it comes down to it, of tolerating any diversity at all.


Thursday, April 1 2010

Harry Smith: The Avant-Garde in the American Vernacular

This book comes very close to being a faithful mirror of the endlessly fascinating Harry Smith and, like its subject, will provoke, educate, and entertain in equal measure.


Monday, March 22 2010

You Couldn’t Ignore Me If You Tried, by Susannah Gora

This book is part cultural analysis of ‘80s youth films, part trivia, and whole bunch walk down memory lane.


Thursday, March 18 2010

Six Years in the Life of Post-Blackness (Or Not)

If the 'black' in 'post-black' means “the last 40 years or so”, black folks are clearly moving beyond that; but to the extent that 'black' means “having to deal with the same-old same-old when it comes to racial attitudes,” then we ain’t post-nuthin’.


Monday, March 15 2010

Last Words by George Carlin with Tony Hendra

Part raucous credo, part comic pilgrim’s progress, this is George Carlin’s celebration of his own human condition and how he became not just a comedian, but a conscience.


Thursday, March 11 2010

Tupac Shakur: An Icon in Context

How do you tell the story of Tupac Shakur? One book tries connecting his life, and sometimes his music, to the social and historical climate of the times.


Tuesday, March 9 2010

Creator: Various

In comics not everyone can write nor draw (nor ink, color nor letter). So, there will always be 'great' works that cannot be attributed to a single talented contributor.


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