Recent waves of newborn nostalgia for the 1980s seem to have bypassed the decade’s notable contribution to the annals of mass delusion, the epidemic of recovered memories of satanic child abuse. Lawrence Wright’s Remembering Satan (1994), a piece of reporting that looks increasingly like a durable
I was visiting Brooklyn last month, and my bag was stolen out of the back of my friend’s car on Bedford and North Fourth Street. The bag was heavy, and the thief discarded much of its contents, including my passport (thanks) and about a dozen of my books. He (she?) made off with my old and failing
If the past couple of decades have seen poetry slip ever further out of the literary conversation (notices in mainstream book reviews often seem pointed at reassuring even avid readers that nothing’s happened since they parsed Wallace Stevens in college), the genre itself might be said to be laboring
It’s hard to imagine how any novel could embody the Bush era without, in some central way, being about 9/11, the war in Afghanistan, and the Iraq war. And yet novels that feature these subjects must do far more than simply include them as a method of injecting seriousness (or, worse, “relevance”).
One of the best journals of the 1990s, The Baffler paired Frankfurt School contempt for mainstream consumerism with a relentless skewering of the “we’re all individuals” paradoxes of its ostensible foe: “alternative” culture. At a time when the template for the present-day hipster was just
In literature, too, imports testify to appetites unsatisfied by the home market. Over the past decade and a half, literary people in the US have developed passions for a series of foreigners: W. G. Sebald, Roberto Bolaño, Karl Ove Knausgaard, now Elena Ferrante. The genius and originality of these
“HE WORE A PURPLE PLAID SUIT his staff abhorred and a pinstripe shirt and polka-dot tie and a folded white silk puffing up extravagantly out of his pocket.” This was not some tea-sipping Edwardian dandy. It was Ronald Reagan announcing his presidential candidacy at the National Press Club in November
IF CLARE BOOTHE LUCE, with her lowly origins and blinding ambition, hadn’t existed, she might have sprung fully formed from the imagination of Henry James—or, perhaps, Candace Bushnell. The very fact that it’s hard to figure out which universe of discourse Luce belongs in—the nuanced world
The champions of innovation-speak are as confused by the subject as anyone. To them, technology is a thing with a life of its own. And it can evidently only be understood via the ministrations of a class of reverent spiritual adepts, duly catechized in treating its essence as holy and its creators as demigods.
Two new works of fiction about war, Phil Klay's Redeployment and Hassan Blasim's The Corpse Exhibition, share a nightmarish view of Americans' role in Iraq. If you think these have been unjust wars, fought for specious reasons, and therefore productive of great evil, these books will only fortify your opinion.