Jonathan Franzen Wants You To Like Him

This week in the Barnes & Noble Review, I take a look at Jonathan Franzen’s latest collection of essays, Farther Away, and his complicated relationship with David Foster Wallace.
Jonathan Franzen wants you to like him. In “Mr. Difficult,” a 2002 New Yorker essay, Franzen identifies two types of authorship: the Status model, devoted to the pursuit [...]

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Performance Art in Prose: Kirsten Kaschock’s Sleight

My latest piece for the Barnes & Noble Review is on one of the stranger novels I’ve read this year: Kirsten Kaschock’s Sleight. A more positive review than mine also ran this week, in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  It’s a polarizing enough book that I recommend reading both.
In her novel Sleight, Kirsten Kaschock has set herself a [...]

Ethnographers of the Everyday

The new issue of n1br has launched with my essay on Stephen Schryer’s new book Fantasies of the New Class—a study of how the post-war American novel dealt with the professionalization of intellectual culture.
The humanities have been looking a little haggard lately. The UK recently saw government-mandated cuts to university programs; American universities [...] virtual fusion bingo

Amitav Ghosh Goes Up In Smoke

I have a review of River of Smoke, the second volume in Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis trilogy, up at the Barnes & Noble Review.  I’ve liked Ghosh in the past, and the first volume—once I got past its faux-historical vernacular—made for a spirited summer read.  The new installment, not so much.
The second book of a trilogy [...]

Heinrich Böll, Postwar Penitent

I have a piece on Heinrich Böll up at the Barnes & Noble Review, prompted by Melville House’s re-release of his “essential” works.  If you have to pick one, read The Clown.
The German Nobel Laureate Heinrich Böll, for whatever reason, has never enjoyed wide recognition on American shores. No less political than Grass, no less [...]

Easy Romance

N+1 is previewing next week’s new issue of N1BR with my review of Gabriel Josipovici’s What Ever Happened to Modernism?
If novelist and critic Gabriel Josipovici has, for much of his career, written from the literary margin, it is because he has deliberately positioned himself as an anathema to the English establishment.  He has [...]

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Günter Grass and the Magical Metaphor

I have a shortish piece up over at the Barnes & Noble Review on Günter Grass’s newest book, The Box, a slippery mix of fiction and memoir.  I wasn’t especially taken with it, but the assignment did have the fortunate side effect of getting me to finally read The Tin Drum, which I heartily recommend.
There’s a [...] us on line casinos

Gary Shteyngart Is Worried About the Future

I have a new review of Gary’s Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story up at the Barnes & Noble Review.
Gary Shteyngart is worried about the future. He is worried about the failure of democracy, about the degradation of language, and about our increasing enslavement to technology. He is worried about money. He [...]

Berlin Trilogy

I have an article this month in N1BR, n+1’s online book review supplement.  It’s on three novels set in Berlin, where I lived for most of last year.  It’s also a meditation on how I managed to spend so many months doing very very little.
The Berlin U-Bahn, like the New York subway, is a surprisingly [...]