When I starting reading Nicholson Baker, so as to write my homage, B & Me: A True Story of Literary Arousal, I quickly grew concerned, because Baker's many writerly interests got all jumbled up in my mind. It's just this kind of jumble that triggers the taxonomical reflex in teachers of writing and
Andre Dubus's literary superpower is to hit upon that one thing about a character that makes him him, or her her. And in so doing, with subtle, clever details—breadcrumbs on the trail to the nucleus of a character—he makes a reader want to keep going, because she knows exactly who these people
"Writing about music," the saying goes, "is like dancing about architecture." If it's meant to dissuade, the warning has gone unheeded: Over the years, a number of novels about music have ingeniously translated this notoriously languageless experience into English. In rock novels or the burgeoning
There's good sex and there's bad sex. And then there's weird sex—a Freudian purgatory that somehow neither stimulates the libido nor inhibits it. In art and life, we're inclined to seek out pleasure to combat unpleasant reality. The sex in these books is too odd or awkward or off-kilter for that.
What does it mean for a movie adaptation to be "true to the book"? Many movies based on novels unimaginatively transcribe plot and dialogue, as if the difference between literature and cinema were linguistic, and adaptation a simple matter of translation from one language to another. Filmmakers who
What should we call the design, construction, and study of the built environment? "Geography" is too broad. "Regional planning" sounds like a job reserved for bureaucracies. "Urban planning"—the usual catchall term—is a holdover from the profession's early years, when industrial blight was one
Figure skating is perhaps the least understood sport. The average layperson refers to every movement a skater completes as a "triple Axel" and forgets about the sport for four years at a time. Yet skating is, for some, an all-encompassing passion. A global sport, skating provides a lens through which
The greatest fear I harbor about having kids is that I will, as Philip Larkin puts it in "This Be the Verse," fuck them up. I will fuck them up in some imperceptible way at first and there will be big consequences for it later. I fear that something will be "off" with my Hypothetical Child and I will
If on a winter's night a traveler, in a taxi headed south from Bombay's airport with a heavy suitcase full of hard drives, handmade electronics, and newly bought used books, were to consider his or her recent trip from New York to a village in Europe, to suburban London to Cork to Cairo (via Amman),
In Flannery O'Connor's recently published prayer journal, which she wrote in her early twenties, her ambitions as a fiction writer often get entangled with her aspirations to summon God into the work itself. "Start with the soul and perhaps the temporal gifts I want to exercise will have their chance.