Columns > Books

Monday, November 25 2013

In ‘Imperial’ Vollmann Struggles to Understand the Salton Sea as He Would a Mark Rothko Painting

Here as in all his works, William T. Vollman sides with the poor and the marginalized, but he tries to remain fair to all he meets, even as he confesses his prejudice, or tolerance.


Friday, November 22 2013

Albert Camus and the Universal Quality of Human Dignity

Both Elements of a Life and A Life Worth Living offer concise, eloquent, and learned treatments of the life and work of Albert Camus.


Friday, November 15 2013

John Updike Gives the Mundane Its Beautiful Due

Depending on whom you listen to, God, or the devil, is in the details, and that's exactly where John Updike's talent lies, too.


Thursday, November 14 2013

What If God Doesn’t Hate Fags After All?

Both James Alexander Langteaux and Mary Griffith have become leading voices in the discussion about how one can align a deeply personal relationship with God and support the LGBT community. Yet, neither wanted the job.


Tuesday, November 5 2013

Big Books vs Small Minds: The Intellectual & Literal Heft of ‘Night Film’ & ‘A Naked Singularity’

Marisha Pessl and Sergio de la Pava have both found success with novels that are defiant in their length and ambition. Yet critical and editorial prejudice against their 'Bigness' -- in scope and heft -- won't budge.


Tuesday, October 22 2013

How That Flawed Man Flew: Beyond the Myth of Charlie Parker

Chuck Haddix's new biography of the great alto saxophonist unearths fresh details of his early lifeā€”and helps us to see more clearly his genius and his tragedy.


Tuesday, October 15 2013

Guston’s Ghosts: ‘Out of Time: Philip Guston and the Refiguration of American Postwar Art’

Robert Slifkin's book on Philip Guston is an incantatory debut work that shows us a compelling new side of the artist's famous Marlborough paintings.


Monday, October 14 2013

Getting Gone: David Cantwell’s Take on the Iconic Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard's restlessness breaks him out of one prison and sends him towards another.


Friday, October 4 2013

‘Til Your Eyes Bleed & Your Ears Explode: 61 Books You Really Should Read & Have Read To You

More books you'll love than you can swing a cat while shaking a stick at.


Friday, September 27 2013

How John Lurie Made Me Read Fewer Books

The great Elmore Leonard wrote dozens of novels. Some, like Get Shorty, were adapted for film. So why do I associate him with smooth jazz? Well, John Lurie had a hand in that.


Thursday, September 26 2013

The Connoisseur of Crime, John D. MacDonald, Is Shadowing the E-Book World

Available again in ebook form, the crime classic Stephen King called "one of the greatest American novels of the 20th century", The End of Night, is ready for rediscovery by a new generation of readers.


Wednesday, September 18 2013

In Defense of the Influence of ‘Difficult Men’

Brett Martin's latest book serves as a reminder of how enlightening dealing with darkness in television can be.


Monday, August 26 2013

How to Make Political Pop Without Trying

"Dancing in the Street" did not seek the kind of greatness ascribed to it -- it simply woke up one morning and found that greatness bestowed upon it.


Thursday, August 15 2013

Eat, Drink, Draw: Lucy Knisley’s Comic Book ‘Relish’ as a Cookbook

Drawing her recipes for Relish, Lucy Knisley almost literally shows cooking to be more art than science.


Monday, August 12 2013

Thrift, Schemes & Restlessness Characterize Both Katherine & J.F. Powers’ Writing

"I am not by nature cut out for this life, as it's defined in these parts by the chamber of commerce and our bishop, who is devoted to Christian family living, as everyone knows." This deadpan tone suits J.F. Powers and his conflicted, capitalist, Midwestern, mid-century priests well.


Sunday, August 4 2013

Marty Beckerman Talks About Love in the Time of JNCO Pants

Marty Beckerman talks about his hilarious new novella, '90s Island, the "infantilizing" nature of nostalgia, and why the truly cool people never got frosted tips.


Thursday, July 18 2013

Climbing Out of the Transhuman Stew Pot, or, Why I’m Not a Singularitarian

The big trend in apocalyptic thinking is now computer based, and it’s strangely not even billed as apocalyptic. It’s known as the Singularity, a point in the near future when computers become more intelligent than people -- and they absorb us.


Monday, July 15 2013

How to Best Handle Controversial, Racially-Charged Art? Talk It Up, or Shut It Down?

If Disney's Song of the South is as innocuous as its adherents claim, they need to think long and hard about why it’s out of official circulation.


Monday, July 8 2013

Caroline Leavitt at a Crossroads: ‘Is This Tomorrow’

New York Times best-selling author Caroline Leavitt discusses her new novel about a family who must brave the hostile status quo of '50s American suburban life while being as different from their neighbors as possible.


Sunday, June 30 2013

Country Music Ain’t Black & White: ‘Hidden in the Mix’

These explorations of the African-American presence in country music are welcome at a time when country music is treated, by insiders and outsiders, as a purely white genre, and exceptions to that are treated as aberrations, gimmicks or novelty songs.


//Blogs

Authenticity Issues and the New Intimacies

// Marginal Utility

"The social-media companies have largely succeeded in persuading users of their platforms' neutrality. What we fail to see is that these new identities are no less contingent and dictated to us then the ones circumscribed by tradition; only now the constraints are imposed by for-profit companies in explicit service of gain.

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