On Fiction

All That Remains: On the Fiction of John Hawkes

In a recent interview, Ben Marcus resisted being called an “experimental writer,” asking rather impatiently, “Does anyone self-identify as experimental? Anyone?” Apparently Marcus is not much aware of his predecessor,…

Ripple Effect: Lawrence Sutin

Lawrence Sutin’s writing caught my eye initially because he’d authored a biography of legendary science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, and I am one of those PKD fans who finds…

Writing the Cry: French and Francophone Literature

Is France still at the center of the French-language literary world? Or, to ask a broader question, is there a center at all? In the fall of 2006, five of…

Sex & Lies in Vintage Hollywood: Chuck Palahniuk‘s Tell-All

Told from the perspective of a surly, intelligent assistant-to-a-star Miss Hazie Coogan, Tell-All is a delicious slap in the face of an archetypal Hollywood of yesteryear. Like his previous novel…

A Herman Melville Summer Vacation

For years I had wanted to visit the house where Herman Melville finished writing Moby-Dick. I knew it was in the Berkshires, and on a visit this summer to the area,…

Luka Pilgrim Saves the World

A book like Luka and the Fire of Life, the latest novel from Salman Rushdie, warrants a personal response. It is tempting (perhaps even easy) to write about the literary elements…

The Audacity of Veracity

1. Historical fiction is an audacious enterprise forever at risk of succumbing to arrogance. After countless hours of painstaking research into an historical event or figure of interest, what could…

The Tidiest of Sprawl

Midway through Jonathan Franzen’s massive new novel, Freedom, Richard Katz, a commercially and critically neglected punk rocker, forms a new alt-country band called Walnut Surprise. The move pays immediate dividends: Walnut…

Human Mysteries: Notes on Wallander

In a Brookline, Massachusetts reading last February, Henning Mankell talked about the motivation behind his famed novels. He said that the first Wallander mystery was, in fact, an exploration of…

Alain Mabanckou’s Broken Glass

The author of seven novels and six collections of poetry, Alain Mabanckou is already well known and celebrated across the Francophone world. His novels have been translated into more than…

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