Literature and Elitism.

Booker winner Eleanor Catton: The reader who is outraged by being “forced” to look up an unfamiliar word — characterising the writer as a tyrant, a torturer — is a consumer outraged by inconvenience and false advertising. Advertising relies on the fiction that the personal happiness of the consumer is valued above all other things; […]

Review of “The Lowland.”

My review of “The Lowland” by Jhumpa Lahiri is now available online. A sampling: Michiko Kakutani has said that Lahiri’s stories have “the hushed intimacy of chamber music,” but sometimes “The Lowland” is too quiet to hear the characters, and sometimes Lahiri’s symbolism — such as the frequent reference to the lowland of the title […]

Tarantino’s “The War of the End of the World.”

It’s been all around the interwebs that Quentin Tarantino has dropped work on his upcoming film (“The Hard Eight”) after the script leaked. If he’s looking for new projects, I would suggest an adaptation of The War of the End of the World—it has everything (outlaws, huge fight scenes, a western vibe, crazy idealists) that […]

Trimming “Nebraska.”

At Vulture, writer Bob Nelson discusses revising a scene in Nebraska, where Woody and his son, late in the movie, walk through Woody’s childhood home. It’s scenes like this—and by that, I mean the version of the scene that Alexander Payne and company finally cut it down to and filmed—that make Nebraska one of the best movies […]

Beautiful Bookcases.

So much to love about this list of beautiful bookcases. (Except, of course, the prices.) The Trailing Spiral is my favorite. (kudos to The Loop)


I’m thrilled to be able to publicly announce I’ll be using my lawyering and attorney-ing (or, rather, judging) skills a little different way this year: as a reader judge for the Morning News’ tenth Tournament of Books (ToBX). For those unfortunate souls who are unfamiliar with this great competition: In case you’re new to all […]

Writers’ daily routines.

Brain Pickings, always a fantastic site, has developed a nice collection of various writers’ routines. I find DeLillo’s evocation of a desk portrait of Borges the most interesting: To break the spell I look at a photograph of Borges, a great picture sent to me by the Irish writer Colm Tóín. The face of Borges […]

Gatsby and “Stoner.”

There have been a lot of “rediscovery” essays about John Edward Williams’ Stoner, but none of them seem to quite give the book the attention it deserves: “Stoner” is undeniably a great book, but I can also understand why it isn’t a sentimental favorite in its native land. You could almost describe it as an anti-“Gatsby.” I […]

Stephen Breyer on Proust.

Strangely—beyond strange—of all people, Stephen Breyer has made me want to read Proust: Proust is a universal author: he can touch anyone, for different reasons; each of us can find some piece of himself in Proust, at different ages. And this is quite nice: It is the work of art that allows us to rediscover lost […]