The [Insert Superlative Here] Books of 2011: My Year in Reading

I recently, and much belatedly, got around to reading Northrop Frye’s Anatomy of Criticism. It’s brilliant—not a word I use easily—and really deserves its own post, but there is a point on which Frye and I disagree, in practice if not in theory.  “The demonstrable value-judgement,” he claims in his introduction, “is the donkey’s carrot [...]

The Saddest Symphony: Teju Cole’s Open City

I got excited about Teju Cole’s debut novel Open City as soon as I read Publishers Weekly’s ecstatic starred review: a young psychiatrist “wanders Manhattan, pondering everything from Goya and the novels of J.M. Coetzee to the bankruptcy of Tower Records”? Yes please. Coetzee is one of my favorite novelists, Goya’s portrait of Manuel Osorio Manrique [...]

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