On Nonfiction


Alice Neel: a Radical Portrait

Alice Neel was a handful. She was a visual artist, a proto-feminist, a Thirties radical, and a Sixties icon. She was the mother of four children, an abused woman, and…


Mishandling the Truth

I’m going to review John D’Agata’s new book, Lifespan of a Fact, even though I haven’t read it. But don’t worry. I read D’Agata’s two previous books, Halls of Fame…


America, Goddam

I am an American male of northern European descent. Not terribly handsome, not particularly fit. Reasonably intelligent, unless I’m fooling myself. It’s certainly possible. I was raised in a predominantly…

No Shatner: On Arise and Go!

Projects mixing two genres always face a doubled risk: the alienation of not one, but two core audiences, and a consequently barren existence deep in the canyon between one domain…


With William Dean Howells to Florence

For the modern traveler, the road often leads to Florence. From a cruise ship moored in Livorno, it’s possible to inspect the Duomo, buy some souvenirs on the Ponte Vecchio,…

eco language reader
Brenda Iijima, ed.
Softcover, $19.95
Nightboat Books, 2010

Continual Critique: After the After of Ecology

The texts included in The Eco Language Reader (edited by Brenda Iijima; Nightboat Books, 2010) are not attempts at one sort or another of a genre of “ecopoetics.” They remain usefully outside any…

Dean Young, by Laurie Saurbon Young

Birds, Not (John) Cages: on Dean Young’s Art of Recklessness

In his 170-page paean to reckless impulse, Dean Young spurns consistency, “over-thinking,” and all emphasis on craft, procedures, and technique. He casts out discipline and hard work, perfection and conventional…

This is Not a Book Review

Through the tumultuous first decade of the new millennium there has flowed an ever more articulate stream of eulogies for the book review in print. Lamentations for the death of…

The Art of American 
Book Covers, 1873—1930
by Richard Minsky
Hardcover, $35.00
George Braziller, 2010

A Book by its Cover

It’s an unfortunate truth that—beyond making sure everything is spelt correctly—most modern publishers pay little attention to their hardcover bindings. Thousands of dollars may be devoted to design and artwork…

For You, For You I am Trilling These Songs
by Kathleen Rooney
Softcover, $14.95
Counterpoint, 2010

It Could Be Robinson Calling

Pulp Fiction re-ignited an old narrative trope that was then adopted by many clever popular films: a series of scenes, jumping from one character to another, and forward and backward…