The French poet Paul Valéry (1871-1945) once said that he could never write a novel because sooner or later he would find himself setting down such a sentence as "The marquise went out at five o'clock." Why did the marquise leave at five? he wondered. Why not at six or seven? In fact, why did she
I spent my late teens and early twenties in the orbit of the Riot Grrrl movement, a '90s third-wave-feminist punk subculture that spat out the image of girlhood in raw experiments in political activism, music, art, and self-invention. I've only recently come to accept the term "Riot Grrrl" as the
In 1974, two years (or two years and one week, to be more precise) before Georges Perec initiated Life: A User's Manual, his 700-page magnum opus to the fictional 11 rue Simon-Crubellier, the Oulipian mathematician dedicated a rainy, October weekend to musing in Paris's real-life Place Saint-Sulpice.
Maybe for you it was the old man with the bundle of sticks on his back, or the monkey with the halo and the floating numbers, or the two businessmen, one on fire, shaking hands. For me it was the woman on the frozen pond. I looked at the cover of Joni Mitchell's Hejira a lot when I was sixteen years
Racial identity and aesthetics may not spell fun to most, and poems about those topics even less so. But a strong sense of play infuses Thomas Sayers Ellis's Skin, Inc.: Identity Repair Poems. This is a poet who can use the same word eight times in a single stanza without sounding redundant: "coloring
It is no accident that the prologue to David Grossman's new novel, To the End of the Land, takes place in a fever ward. As the stories unfold, the reader discovers that fever is not just a symptom of physical illness. It becomes a description of the existential state of Israel.
Everything you think you know about James Frey is wrong. You're wrong about Eliot Spitzer, too, and Linda Tripp, and any number of those nutty and libidinous rogues in our public pillories. According to Laura Kipnis's coruscating new study of scandal, what we talk about when we talk about transgression
James Ellroy is nothing if not self-aware. Throughout his career, the pulp-crime master has spared himself no quarter, cultivating an alarmingly frank public persona as a creep and a curmudgeon, a speed freak and shoplifter–turned–snarling and sober sexual obsessive. In his new memoir, The Hilliker
"An old crappy dyke with half a brain leaking a book." That's how Eileen Myles describes herself in her autobiographical new novel, and it makes me think of Susan Sontag's journals, in which the late writer anguishes about a phenomenon she calls "leakage": "my mind is dribbling out through my mouth."
"At twenty-six, Karl Floor had had a hard life: father dead, mother dead, stepdad sick and mean, siblings none, friends none, foes so offhanded in their molestations that they did not make a crisp enough focal point for his energies." This is the first sentence of You Were Wrong, Matthew Sharpe's