Purloined Letters: Gustavo Faveron Patriau’s “The Antiquarian.”

Even if it weren’t all over the novel’s jacket, it would only take a few pages to identify Gustavo Faveron Patriau as having soaked up the works of Roberto Bolaño and Jorge Luis Borges. His debut novel, The Antiquarian, is overflowing with the kind of obsessiveness, literary portents, gothic tropes, and book-fueled intrigue that made […]

Review of “The Bone Clocks.”

I had the pleasure of reviewing the new novel, The Bone Clocks, from one of my favorite living writers, David Mitchell, in the Lincoln Journal-Star. A snippet: As opposed to the six self-contained stories in “Cloud Atlas,” “The Bone Clocks” attempts to trace a single story through the ages and locations of the world, fitting them together in […]

Review of “Lucky Us.”

My review of Amy Bloom’s fantastic new novel Lucky Us is now live at the Lincoln Journal-Star (and in Sunday’s paper). How it begins: In “Lucky Us,” the new novel by Amy Bloom, half-sisters Eva and Iris find themselves living together, suddenly, after Iris’ mother dies, and Eva’s mother inexplicably drops her off at her father’s […]

Review of “Dead Stars.”

My review of Álvaro Bisama’s novel Dead Stars is now live over at Necessary Fiction. Here’s how it begins: Imagine if W.G. Sebald numbered his paragraphs. Imagine if he shucked many of those long, discursive takes on architecture and history. And imagine he abandoned his peripatetic plots and instead wrote about doomed and melancholy lovers. […]

Never doing the same thing twice: On Italo Calvino’s “Difficult Loves.”

Perusing around a lovely used book store in the Federal Hill neighborhood of Baltimore last week, The Book Escape, I stumbled upon an Italo Calvino volume I’d not read, Difficult Loves. In a sort of unexpected Calvino spree, I’d read Invisible Cities and If on a winter’s night a traveller in the past year, and Difficult Loves was […]

Paperback of “The Infatuations.”

The paperback of Javier Marias’ superb novel The Infatuations is now out. A few months ago I wrote what turned out to be a glowing review in The Millions. Just recently, I was walking through a Barnes & Noble in Baltimore only to discover that my review became a blurb in the actual paperback. (On Amazon, you can read my quote […]

Review of “The Bully Pulpit.”

It took some time to get through this massive book, but my review of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s The Bully Pulpit is in today (Sunday’s) paper, and available online here.

Review of “All That Is.”

My review (in time for the paperback) of James Salter’s All That Is was in Sunday’s (May 24) paper. I’m sure it will migrate online soon. All That Is is a great book for writers, but may have less interest for those of us more inclined just to read, rather than create ourselves. It struck me when […]

A Button in the Dark: Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation.

Jenny Offill’s newest novel, Dept. of Speculation, is the antidote to the giant novels that have been grabbing much of this year’s collective literary attention. Not that The Goldfinch was a bad book—it has found a giant place in my heart—but that the big ones provide an entirely different reading experience. (It would be surprising to […]