In his introduction to Democracy in America, that epic tale of a young country told by an aristocrat from an old one, Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville predicted that many of his readers would criticize his work. His account of the New World experiment was "not precisely suited to anybody's taste; in
It has become a commonplace to say, in the aftermath of the Great Recession, that 'we are all Keynesians now.' If this is so, then Keynes's great biographer, Robert Skidelsky, should have much to say about the recession, its causes and the appropriate cures. And so indeed he does. I share with
Japanese Noh theater would seem to be an odd subject for William T. Vollmann, were it not for the fact that nothing human is alien to him. Indeed, he is one of the very few writers among us about whom the latter statement can be made without irony. His appetite for all human behavior is so truly
In September 2008, at the age of eighty-five, José Saramago was feeling restless. "Here's a job for you", said his wife. "Write a blog". And so the 1998 Nobel laureate began to record his reflections on an almost daily basis, jubilantly freed from the constraints of fiction and awed by the "infinite
Since emerging some thirty years ago as a protagonist and central thinker of Language poetry, Charles Bernstein has been many poets to many people—or so he would have us believe. As he proclaims in the 1999 poem "Solidarity is the Name We Give to What We Cannot Hold": I am a Buffalo poet in
Pearl Abraham's fourth novel, American Taliban, is the story of an American family riven by the disappearance of a young man, John Jude Parish, into the ranks of the Taliban weeks before 9/11. Though glancingly based on the life of John Walker Lindh, the novel differs in particulars: The eighteen-year-old
The afterword to Olga Grushin's second novel, The Line, explains that her book is based on Igor Stravinsky's 1962 visit to Russia, the great composer's return home after fifty years abroad. More than five thousand fans waited a year in line for a concert he would conduct, establishing schemes to
When David Lipsky meets David Foster Wallace, it's 1996, Infinite Jest has just been released, and Wallace is the most famous literary writer in America. The author is also using a Barney the Purple Dinosaur towel as a bedroom curtain in his Illinois home. On the wall is a poster of Alanis Morissette.