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
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,
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
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.
Joy Williams wears sunglasses day and night. She does not own a computer and she corresponds by postcard. She can be irascible in interviews (one poor interviewer admitted he “cringe[d]” to publish the interview uncut because of her little digs at him). A real live kook, she is widely admired by