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 and the Fire of Life
by Salman Rushdie
Hardcover, $25.00
Random House, 2010

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…

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…

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…

Frivolous Flesh and Stoical Bone: Daryl Hine

For the last 10 or 20 years—until now—one needed to excavate the poet Daryl Hine in order to read him. Most of his work was out of print, almost forgotten,…


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…

Mean Free Path
by Ben Lerner
Softcover, $16.00
Copper Canyon Press, 2010

In the Familiar Ways: Ben Lerner’s Mean Free Path

“The reason the siren slides is because it doesn’t hit you,” said astronomer John Dobson. He was explaining the Doppler Effect, that phenomenon of physics every urban resident knows by…

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…

by Dave Eggars
Softcover, $15.95
McSweeney's Books

Fitting the Form

On September 6, 2005, in an American city convulsing with chaos, an American citizen of Middle-Eastern descent was detained without charge by the U.S. Army, imprisoned indefinitely in a makeshift…

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