AS THE HORRORS OF THE SCHOOL MASSACRE IN NEWTOWN, Connecticut, had begun to sink in, and nestle their way into the broken anatomy of the American body politic, another shooting incident took place, this time in the Rochester, New York, suburb of Webster, on Christmas Eve. The gunmen in both incidents
<strong style="font-size: 10pt;">DURING THE 2012 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN</strong>, every Republican candidate but one—Jon Huntsman—questioned, denied, or, in the case of Mitt Romney, openly mocked climate change and its consequences. “President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans and
Renata Adler's newly reissued novels, Speedboat (1976) and Pitch Dark (1983), consist of anecdotes, vignettes, jokes, aphorisms, epigrammatic asides, and longer passages of prose—eclectic inventories of consciousness. Their immediate effect is that of a flea market in Samarqand or Ouagadougou, where the items on display are fractionally different enough, in style and provenance, from their cousins at the local swap meet to look like artifacts of an alternate universe. Adler's eye and ear for the peculiar are unmatched in American letters.
CLARICE LISPECTOR had a diamond-hard intelligence, a visionary instinct, and a sense of humor that veered from naïf wonder to wicked comedy. She wrote novels that are fractured, cerebral, fundamentally nonnarrative (unless you count as plot a woman standing in her maid’s room gazing at a closet
WAVES OF HISTORY, as they subside, leave behind a detritus of facts—“stupid things,” as Ronald Reagan memorably misspoke, since the little darlings never speak for themselves. They require legions of interpreters and translators before they make sense—and even then, they make sense only as
IN CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN CULTURE, intellectual celebrity requires the ability to hear the ideological background music of the historical moment, and to play effortlessly in tune with it. Some people have a special knack for this: One thinks of Francis Fukuyama announcing “the end of history” when
IN 1956, CHINUA ACHEBE, then twenty-six years old, worked as director of external broadcasting at the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation. He was a TV exec by day, but at night he worked furiously on the manuscript for his first novel. He’d been scribbling this thing out by hand, but when he was
OF ALL THE TACTICS and stratagems used by Mao Zedong in his long and victorious career of warfare—overt and covert; military, political, and cultural—one stands out for its almost comical simplicity: The paramount leader of the People’s Republic of China would ask his comrades or underlings—or
Both Flesh and Not is David Foster Wallace at his best and his worst, but the thing about Wallace's best was that it usually contained his worst: He was his most consequentially gracious when his generosity was only barely outpacing his capacity to be a total dickhead.
We know from George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four that he thought of the diary as a potentially seditious form. Diaries are not illegal in the world of Nineteen Eighty-Four because nothing is—Airstrip One’s legal code has been abolished. But Orwell’s protagonist, Winston Smith, understands