On Nonfiction

Letters in Flight: The Peripatetics of Joseph Roth

Do not read these letters if you admire the novels of Joseph Roth. Do not read these letters if you hope to learn more about the novels you admire. The…

The Collected Letters of Robinson Jeffers

The recently published multi-volume Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers, with easy to read large font in generous layout, is lavish in its design, and the ongoing multi-volume Collected Letters of…

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,…

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…

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…

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