The germ of Gary Shteyngart’s honest, poignant, hilarious new memoir, Little Failure, was planted in 1996, when he was a recent college graduate, living in Manhattan with “a ponytail, a small substance-abuse problem, and a hemp pin on his cardboard tie,” his novelist dreams still out in front of
In July at the Manchester International Festival, I saw a preview of Matthew Barney's seven-part film opera River of Fundament, loosely based on Norman Mailer's 1983 novel Ancient Evenings. Here was the appropriately bizarre second coming of Norman Mailer: celebrity laden, anally fixated, overlong (it's said that the film will be five hours in full when it premieres in February), and very expensive.
Two impassioned new books, Rebecca Mead's ode to Middlemarch and Wendy Lesser's Why I Read, are convincing love letters to the act of reading. Both authors thrill with their insights, but are also conversational enough to encourage us to formulate our own critical responses—and to participate in a larger literary conversation.
In the spring of 1947, when German-émigré film scholar Siegfried Kracauer published his groundbreaking history of Weimar cinema, From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film, theater critic Eric Bentley accused him, in the pages of the New York Times, of being “led into
In Promise Land, Jessica Lamb-Shapiro recounts her efforts to conquer one of her multiple phobias by attending a support group called Freedom to Fly. The group’s course, led by a psychologist, met at the Westchester airport and culminated in a round-trip flight to Boston. Lamb-Shapiro secretly had
I always used to feel sorry for myself, having suffered four debilitating episodes of clinical depression and many years of moderate-to-severe dysthymia. No longer. In fact, I feel rather fortunate not to be Scott Stossel, whose lifetime of psychic agony—suffering is too weak a word—is chronicled in excruciating, enthralling detail in My Age of Anxiety.
Hilton Als knows how to make an entrance, and the thirteen essays collected in White Girls all jump off spectacularly. His lead sentence for "White Noise," on Eminem: "It's outrageous, this white boy not a white boy, this nasal sounding harridan hurling words at Church and State backed by a 4/4 beat." The opening lines from "You and What Army?," told from the perspective of Richard Pryor's older sister: "Some famous people get cancer. That's a look."
In the early chapters of Lawrence in Arabia—note the “in”—Scott Anderson describes how the young T. E. Lawrence reacted to the death of his brother. Though the book is named for the British intelligence officer who improbably led an Arab revolt against the Ottoman Turks during World War I,
Of the major German-language writers of the past century, we may have a harder time pinning down the satirist Karl Kraus, who sat in judgment over the hothouse of Vienna from its combustible fin de siècle to the run-up to the Anschluss, than any other. We shouldn’t feel bad about it. Forever