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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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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 [...]

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