The Bush administration sold us a war based on phony intelligence; Bernie Madoff sold investors invisible stocks. The art of peddling snake oil may be age-old, but something about the deceit of recent years makes Clancy Martin’s debut novel, How to Sell, feel very timely. Set amid the Fort Worth
At its worst, the travel memoir can be formulaic to the extreme. A typical narrative begins with the author’s nagging sense of mediocrity and boredom, which then feeds into a desire for adventure and change, and often culminates in some form of the New Agey idiom “wherever you go, there you are.”
Although recent novels have presented sophisticated tales of the 1960s and ’70s political underground—including Dana Spiotta’s Eat the Document, Christopher Sorrentino’s Trance, and Hari Kunzru’s My Revolutions—latter-day radicalism continues to be fetishized, from the recurrent use in fashion and
Charlotte Roche’s controversial novel, Wetlands, is an uneven yet adventurous catalogue of filth, a feminist critique of what cultural theorist Lauren Berlant calls “hygienic governmentality.” In the case of Wetlands, this means a politics housed in the anarchic, messy body of German teenager Helen
IT'S PERHAPS AN UNDERSTANDABLE, if by no means a pardonable, oversight to greet the spectacle of a corps of well-dressed, extravagantly staffed, rhetorically skilled lawmakers and imagine that they are devoted to the public's business.
There is a difference between the sexes that has always fascinated me. We women—we're always apologizing: We could have; we should have... Men, on the other hand, they always have an explanation, an excuse—even if they are, like former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, standing over the violently debauched corpse of our present economy, the knife in their hands still dripping blood.
About four-fifths of the way through this collection of letters, Malcolm Cowley writes: "I'm weak, deplorably weak, in knowledge of the sixteenth century lyric." Nobody's perfect! The remark doesn't come off as disingenuous; instead, it reflects Cowley's enduring engagement with literature as a critic, an editor, and one of the most influential men of letters (or freelance intellectuals, if you prefer) of the twentieth century.
It's harder than ever these days to get ahead. But some do. Who are they? To Malcolm Gladwell, it's easy enough: You just have to nearly get bombed, lose a parent as a child, have dyslexia, be less talented (but secretly more talented!) than your competitors, or go to the University of Maryland instead of Brown. Wait, what? you say, just as the author wants you to. It's all so very counterintuitive.
Near the outset of The Skin, Curzio Malaparte’s novel about Naples following its occupation by Allied forces in October 1943, the author drily notes that it is harder to lose a war than to win it: “While everyone is good at winning a war, not all are capable of losing one.” Three hundred and
Marcos Giralt Torrente’s short-story collection The End of Love is haunted by an ellipsis. There it is in the first story, “We Were Surrounded by Palm Trees,” right where the eye rests, intervening with a pause before we’ve even read the opening lines: “. . . I remember when it started. There
An Arabic poem about Baghdad, like a Hebrew poem about Jerusalem, inevitably evokes the collective memory that binds the place, the language, and its people together. Iraq’s 1,251-year-old capital was built by a Muslim empire that held the torch of civilization in the eighth and ninth centuries.
The Everything Store, Brad Stone's reverential biography of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, isn't a book you should feel obliged to read. It doesn't bristle with character development, narrative arc, or unexpected lessons.
Henri Lefebvre's notion of "Revolution as Festival," which the great French political thinker developed in his account of popular uprisings of the twentieth century, continues to inspire today's global Left and its ideas of "people power." Cultural theorist Gavin Grindon cannily sees this vernacular
Flannery O'Connor's readers either revere her fiction because it's immersed in the mystery of Christianity or admire the work in spite of this. A Prayer Journal will naturally be embraced by the first group. But the book should also appeal to those who find this writer's concern with "the action of grace" a puzzling aesthetic curiosity—because the prayer journal is also the journal of a writer scouting her own cosmology and beginning to discern its grand and peculiar design in her art.