Logistics: Tom McCarthy’s “Remainder.”

“All great enterprises,” the unnamed narrator of Tom McCarthy’s brilliant novel Remainder says, “are about logistics. Not genius or inspiration or flights of imagination, skill or cunning, but logistics.” Unsurprisingly, one of the chief concerns of Remainder is management: after the narrator is hit by something that fell from the sky—we never find out more—he receives an £8.5 million […]

Poems as Machines: Ben Lerner’s “Leaving the Atocha Station”

I watched the poet Richard Blanco’s inaugural reading with an additional layer of skepticism. His poem, One Today, which opens with plain verve (“One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores”) dissolved in the moment. Obama had just roused the crowd with progressive promises, and while his speech was not filled with detailed […]

Zadie Smith on Joy.

Zadie Smith, in the NYRB: The thing no one ever tells you about joy is that it has very little real pleasure in it. And yet if it hadn’t happened at all, at least once, how would we live? Another great essay from one of the most incisive working writers these days. If you like […]

Of the books I read published in 2012, these are my favorites.

You have probably seen many of these lists, from the New York Times Ten Best Books of 2012 to the Millions’ Year in Reading series. (Both are highly recommended, by the way.) Not that my opinion is terribly important, but I thought I would contribute to the lists, as well, if nothing else because I read […]