The Closed Circuit Game: a Hippie Noir

The end ennobles every act. — Honoré de Balzac, “The Atheist” But wait, there’s more! — Ed Valenti Thomas Pynchon is too difficult. He is overly tortuous (and torturous). In…

Medium Heat: The Essays of Leonard Michaels

Wine enthusiasts and literary critics share a vocabulary on all too many occasions: scintillating, tasteful, nuanced, and so forth. From time to time, though, one comes across an author who…

Nostalgia on the Bookshelf

It is impossible to talk about books, nowadays; to talk about books without nostalgia creeping into the discourse; though perhaps, to speak the lingo, perhaps ‘twas always so. Whether the…

The Sensuous Archaism of C.P. Cavafy

W.H. Auden famously observed that Cavafy’s poetry seemed to survive translation remarkably well, and that it was marked by “a tone of voice, a personal speech immediately recognizable as a…

Writing by Degrees: the Program Era

Just as Hugh Kenner’s formidable 1973 classic The Pound Era traces innovations in literature between the world wars by following the literary juggernaut Ezra Pound, Mark McGurl takes the period after World…

London Flambé: Monica Ali in the Kitchen

One need only take a brief look at the TV Guide or the magazine aisle at the supermarket to know that we are a culture recently obsessed with kitchens, celebrity chefs, and…

To Wit’s End Postmodern Fiction?

I was sent Karen Joy Fowler’s new novel Wit’s End (published in Great Britain under the titleThe Case of the Imaginary Detective) by someone from Penguin, who had noticed from my own…

Writing Out of Time: J.M.G. Le Clézio

J.M.G. Le Clézio is an adherent of extreme environments. The author spent about one-third of his Nobel speech fondly recounting his travels through the Darién Gap, the mostly lawless and…

The Budding Bucolic D.A. Powell

In the course of just three collections — Tea, Lunch, and Cocktails — D.A. Powell has proven himself to be one of the most exciting and enjoyable American poets writing today. His work is…

Kid-Gloved: New & Selected Poems by Andrew Motion

Andrew Motion has now been an acclaimed poet for more than thirty years—he won Oxford University’s Newdigate prize while an undergraduate in 1975—and has been Britain’s poet laureate for the…

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