What Makes Literature Great?

At the Kenyon Review, Amit Majmudar explores the idea of what makes fiction become “great literature.” One of the reasons, Majmudar contends, is how much audiences react to its “excess”: The magic of excess is not to be underestimated. It is the key to permanence. I would nominate Moby-Dick as the consummate work of Excess: Everything […]

On reading bad books.

Michelle Dean, at the Rumpus, on bad books: I understand why, among writers, who are usually endless-appetite readers as well, the reading of books other than Real Books is a vaguely shameful activity. We all live on borrowed time, and there’s DeLillo and Nabokov and Pynchon I’ll never get to because of the hours I’ve […]

Bookforum Interview with Tom Bissell

In case you missed it—it was first posted a couple months ago—Bookforum has an excellent interview with Tom Bissell: So here’s my thing: I think you can only be a snob about one thing. And I’m a snob about fiction. Well, maybe snob is the wrong word to use, but you know what I mean. […]

Reviewing books.

My reading recently has been concentrated on reviewing. While I try to write up something  for most anything semi-relevant/recent/interesting for this blog, I am also reviewing books for a few different places: My write-up of A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers should be appearing soon in the Lincoln Journal-Star. This book I quite enjoyed—I […]