On Elif Batuman’s The Possessed

I’ve been an Elif Batuman enthusiast ever since her work started cropping up in the pages of Harper’s and n+1, so you can imagine my delight when her essays on hapless grad students and Uzbek poetry appeared recently in a collected volume—The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them. You’ll have [...]

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 [...]

On Coetzee’s Summertime

I’ve been a long-time admirer of J.M. Coetzee, but I only recently got around to reading his latest novel, Summertime, because I had some catching up to do first. Summertime is the third in a trilogy of fictionalized memoirs tracing Coetzee’s evolution from angsty teenager to grasping writer. But the book belongs just as much [...]

Introducing Apostrophe

How does one begin blogging?  For me, anyway, with some trepidation.  I suspect I’d have made a better writer of Victorian missives, but I’ve decided it’s no longer quaint—only pointless—to dwell in my natural behind-the-times-edness.
I settled upon the name Apostrophe after much brooding (my first idea, Atlas Smugged, was nixed for its inherent snark).  It [...]

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