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…

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…


With the Desert Surrounding

I. City of Extremes Is it possible for any one city to represent a nation as diverse and complex as America? Perhaps it is, in times of major crises, when…

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