It is impossible to talk about books, nowadays; to talk about books without nostalgia creeping into the discourse; though perhaps, to speak the lingo, perhaps 'twas always so. Whether the specific tone is wistful, elegiac, defensive, hostile, or whether the talk is of an imminent and lamented end,
"I do not know a better training for a writer than to spend some years in the medical profession," Somerset Maugham once wrote, describing how his training at St. Thomas's Hospital in London presented him with "life in the raw" — the substance from which fiction writers educe their stories. Our
The bleak, rapid-fire sentences of Mexican writer Mario Bellatín’s Beauty Salon give the spare novella an airless hyper-immediacy—and a terrible, unstoppable momentum. When a mysterious and incurable disease devastates an unnamed city, a lone transvestite hairdresser finds himself in the unlikely
Dan Chaon’s latest novel, Await Your Reply, starts in the middle of a particularly bloody scene: A severed hand on a bed of ice in a Styrofoam cooler is being rushed, along with its owner, to a hospital in Michigan. Chaon offers no further information; the details—teeth chattering, calluses on the
Despite their ever-present flora, it's somewhat false to call the poems in Micrographia "nature poems." While their topic may be the natural world—sumac and juniper, sparrows, lilacs, jots of fir—the book revolves on a much more ontological axis. An appreciation of nature is present throughout
"My life seems like a stranger's house to me," writes Werner Herzog late in Conquest of the Useless, less a straightforward diary of 1979-81, when he was working on Fitzcarraldo, than a series of "inner landscapes, born of the delirium of the jungle." The film tells the story of the title character
In “An Anxious Man,” the first story in James Lasdun’s new collection, It’s Beginning to Hurt, the protagonist, who is vacationing on Cape Cod, grumbles self-consciously about the falling prices of his stocks: “Joseph felt the petulant note in his voice, told himself to shut up, and plunged on.
Homer and Langley Collyer, two human relics from Edith Wharton’s New York, became legendary in late Spring of 1947 when they were discovered dead in their decaying Harlem town house on upper Fifth Avenue, immured behind a reported hundred tons of carefully hoarded debris. Most of that tonnage
In his 2001 novel, Erasure, Percival Everett conjured up the unforgettable Thelonius "Monk" Ellison, a middle-class writer of challenging fiction who enjoys a decidedly quiet (think polite applause) career until, fed up with a publishing industry and reading public interested only in "authentic"