Among many delights, Don DeLillo’s extraordinary new novel offers a bracing revision of our certitude about death and taxes. The rich, after all, learned long ago to evade the latter with offshore accounts and IRS loopholes, but in Zero K, the wealthiest have also, possibly, dodged mortality, that
Madness is often said to feed creativity, but the reverse might also be true—that creativity is the fuel that brings madness to fruition. The emotional intensity of that reciprocal relationship is the subject of Adam Haslett’s latest novel, Imagine Me Gone. The ghostly title is given its context a
Sarah Schulman was already working on her third novel when, in the late 1980s, customers at Leroy’s coffee shop in Tribeca, where she was waitressing, told her she needed to get an MFA. She joined Grace Paley’s CCNY class and, as she later wrote, read “a scene from my novel-in-progress After Delores
The game of what is now called “real tennis” was arguably the first modern sport to be played on a standardized court rather than in the messy topography of the real world. It was the first sport to require special shoes, and its baroque rules, written down in the sixteenth century, were codified
Mark Leyner is exhausting. Although often mentioned in the same breath as David Foster Wallace, with whom he appeared, along with Jonathan Franzen, on a classic 1996 episode of Charlie Rose, it is impossible to envision a Leynerian corollary to Infinite Jest that would be anything short of
No novel has taken the task of defining a generation more literally than Generation X, Douglas Coupland’s first-person narrative of post-Reagan, post-college drift, with its long lexicon of neologisms for the 1990s: Cryptotechnophobia, Conspicuous Minimalism, Lessness, McJob, Mid-Twenties Breakdown.
What is it about Jane Austen that makes so many writers pay homage to her by rewriting her books? From the film Clueless (based on Emma) to Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary (Pride and Prejudice)
A novel is not designed to be read in one sitting. A reader finds herself in different moods, and different chairs, over the course of a novel; its pages become saturated with meals and conversations and days good and bad. A short story is read all at once, and alone. It might get knitted into life
A Lebanese pharmacist concocts a mysterious green potion that makes him sexually irresistible to his female customers. An architect dreams all day of emigration while playing a computer game simulating the demolition of downtown Beirut. A son rescues his father’s favorite prostitute, a woman who
For some time I’ve wondered how Michel Houellebecq’s Submission would play when it arrived here in the States, nearly a year removed from its tumultuous publication in France. In that country, of course, it appeared the same morning that terrorists slaughtered much of the editorial staff of Charlie
“The feuilleton,” Joseph Roth once declared to his editor at the Frankfurter Zeitung, “is just as important to the paper as its politics. . . . I don’t write ‘witty glosses.’ I paint the portrait of the age. That ought to be the job of the great newspaper.” Michael Hofmann, who has, over the past
The plot of Clancy Martin’s new novel, Bad Sex, is rickety; it makes the narrative sway. Brett, a writer, is married to Paul, a hotelier with kids. The couple live in Mexico City. When a storm hits Cancún, Brett goes to check on a property there. By chance, her husband’s banker, Eduard, is also
Lucia Berlin was born November 12, 1936, and she died on November 12 sixty-eight years later, which suggests a tidiness to her time on this earth that her time on this earth certainly did not exhibit. She lived in Alaska, Chile, Mexico, and the American Southwest, loved her sister and loathed her
At a time when the notion of a poetic career—with its requisite curriculum vitae, residencies, prize panels, and sabbaticals—has long been in ascendancy, it can seem almost quaint to recall that poverty or a sad demise was once a not-uncommon fate for a poet (think Keats, Rimbaud, Sylvia Plath,
When I was asked to review Jonathan Franzen’s new novel, Purity, I happened to be in the middle of Timothy Aubry’s Reading as Therapy: What Contemporary Fiction Does for Middle-Class Americans (2011). Aubry argues that middle-class readers “choose books that will offer strategies for . . .
Your soul mate is emotionally unavailable. He’s a bastard! He’s a narcissist. (So are you.) He’s great in bed, but he’s a workaholic. He’s an alcoholic. He’s a junkie. In strictly mechanical terms, your apartment is literally too small to have sex in. Let’s not talk about the size of your heart.
Twenty-five years ago, in a review of Abdelrahman Munif’s ambitious “petronovels,” Amitav Ghosh asked why fiction had proved so mute when it came to the momentous story of Middle Eastern oil. Other globally disruptive enterprises—Ghosh’s preferred example is the spice trade—didn’t lack