When Ishmael Reed gets celebrated these days, now that he's well past age seventy, it's usually for the work he did decades ago. The novels that enjoy broadest critical approval are Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down (1969) and Mumbo Jumbo (1972), two comic and surreal historical revisions. Reed was hailed
In an interview published in the winter 2010 issue of the Paris Review, Jonathan Franzen said to Stephen Burn, "I've never felt less self-consciously preoccupied with language than I did when I was writing Freedom. Over and over again, as I was producing chapters, I said to myself, 'This feels nothing
In the past decade, a handful of writers have added compelling twists to the classic immigration novel, adding new and unexpected layers to tales of newcomers in new lands. Jeffrey Eugenides, for example, wrote about a hermaphrodite immigrant in Middlesex; in Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of
"The train climbed the steel trestle high over the forest of red and brown buildings that tumbled across the landscape," wrote Harrison Salisbury in his 1958 account of life among Brooklyn's fighting teen gangs, The Shook-Up Generation. "From the platform . . . I looked down in the tenement back
"Since obviously under any analysis I have to do either O or OŽ (since OŽ is not-O), that is, since □(O v OŽ) . . . " Got it? A posthumous book by David Foster Wallace grapples with questions about fatalism and free will.
The first four children of the short-story writer Andre Dubus—he had two more, much later, with his third wife—were all born on Marine Corps bases beginning in 1958. Suzanne was the oldest, then Andre III, his brother Jeb, and finally Nicole. Dubus was a Marine Corps officer and rose to the rank
A writer who actively resists categorization these days might seem to be deliberately flouting common sense. Writing is a lame-duck art form at best, since readers go for data, preferably without having to chop their way through encroaching idiosyncrasies such as style. For all we know, the pursuit
It's rare that anything of substance comes out of the Aspen Ideas Festival, that annual orgy of techno-triumphalism and political self-seriousness, the bastard child of Davos and TED. But something odd happened when Eric Schmidt, until recently the CEO of Google, appeared at the high-powered mogul
In our zeal for artificial light, we have forgotten the consolation of darkness—we have whitewashed the night, erased the Milky Way, and forsaken the moon. When British author James Attlee envisioned a book about moonlight, his inspiration "was not the moon at all but an absence of moon," he writes.
Ancient egypt has been misunderstood since Herodotus put pen to papyrus in the fifth century B.C., though its appeal has never flagged. Exhibitions of Egyptian artifacts still draw large crowds at museums, and the "documentaries" on cable channels continue to flood in. But much of this attention