Colm Tóibín is fascinated by writers' relationships with their families. In New Ways to Kill Your Mother, a series of review-essays, he works away at and through his obsessions: family, homosexuality, homeland, the anxiety of influence. Along the way, he tells us plenty about himself, such as what
Certain writers are too weird to fully belong to their own time. Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky—a Soviet writer obsessed with Kant and Shakespeare, whose own life barely rippled beyond a small coterie of Muscovite writers before his death in 1950—is among them. Krzhizhanovsky wrote philosophical works of
The Republican presidential nomination contest, which has entered a lull before it presses toward a probable showdown in March and April, when thirty primaries and caucuses will be held, has found its script. It will be a struggle between the "establishment" candidate and one or another "insurgent."
Where Art Belongs, the title of Chris Kraus's latest collection of essays, sounds corrective. As if, instead of in its proper place, art is elsewhere. It has been mislaid, like a cell phone. Or perhaps, like a vase, not so much lost as thoughtlessly positioned. Where is art, and who put it there?
The author of "Once Upon a Secret," Mimi Alford, had an affair with President John F. Kennedy before she was old enough to vote. Having kept this story under wraps for almost 50 years, Ms. Alford now sets off a firestorm of gossip about its sordid details. If there is one question that Ms. Alford's
Ben Jeffery's Anti-Matter is the kind of intelligent, sophisticated response to provocative work that affirms criticism's value as art in itself. The book is ostensibly a long essay about the work of Michel Houellebecq, the controversial French novelist who recently took his country's highest literary
This Valentine's Day, enthusiasts are expected to spend approximately $17.6 billion on romance-related goods—jewelry, cards, flowers and chocolates—a ten-year high, according to the National Retail Federation. That's not even the whole picture, when you include all the other things that go along with
From Lysistrata to Don Quixote to Catch-22, literary comedy works best when a black heart beats beneath the hilarity. The comedic impulse is always transgressive, always an alternate avenue to the two tragic truths at the center of our existence: suffering and death. Levity must be rooted in
From Hanne Blank comes a chewy piece of scholarship—Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality (Beacon)—that puts a spin on the hip-hop catchphrase "no homo," explaining that there was no hetero until social science and pseudo-science invented a need in the middle of the 19th century.
Early in his biography of the defiantly unorthodox poet William Carlos Williams, Herbert Leibowitz makes it clear that he intends to be just as unconventional as his subject. In the book's first chapter, Leibowitz, the longtime editor of the literary magazine Parnassus, mounts a sustained assault on