Alcoholism, racism, rape: Novelist Lore Segal, now 85, has approached grim, horrific material with a mix of gentleness and judgment. She has written a moving account of her escape from Nazi Austria, and also a zany satire about self-centered, backstabbing writers. Throughout her career, we see an effort to maintain high spirits in the face of discouraging things.
Bad enough that a new Norman Rush book appears but once a decade; to be a big tease about it seems cruel. As far back as 2005, Rush was describing his new novel, Subtle Bodies, as a “screwball tragedy,” a book concerned with “friendship, male friendship in particular.” The tease was on, and
Marianne Moore was an American Athena, spawned by no particular school but championed by every major poet of her generation. She was also a beloved pop icon: She threw the first pitch for the Yankees in 1968, palled around with Norman Mailer and Muhammad Ali, and was invited by Ford to name a new car. But the poet presents a challenge to the biographer: She left behind thirty-five thousand letters but few clues to her personality.
The life of the unclassifiable writer, critic, and American philosophe Guy Davenport (1927–2005), spent largely as a university professor in Lexington, Kentucky, seems a cosmopolitan fantasy of how an intellectual might thrive in the provinces. “Living in Kentucky makes every other place
At the beginning of Beatriz Preciado's Testo Junkie, the first-person narrator, BP, takes testosterone. It's not the first time BP has self-administered the clear gel, a fifty-milligram dose squeezed from a small silver packet and absorbed instantly into the skin, but now, fresh grief crystallizes
A colonel in Napoleon’s army is severely wounded during a daring act of valor at the Battle of Eylau, then trampled by cavalry seeking to rescue him. Given up for dead, the “old greatcoat” is tossed in a mass grave. Many years later, having clawed his way out of the earth and been nursed back
“The gates of hell aren’t somewhere far beneath us. They’re right here on earth.” This is the uncompromising perspective of Ma Jian’s hallucinatory new novel, The Dark Road the bleak tone will come as no surprise to those familiar with his earlier work. The word rebel is bandied around fairly
Georges Perec was the author of crossword puzzles, which might lead one to assume that his literary works likewise have solutions. But to say his most famous novel, La Disparition (A Void ), written without the letter e, is solved by its premise is to dismiss its puzzling qualities as literature.
There’s a special place in the annals of the epistolary novel for books whose epistles lie dormant in the dead-letter office, unanswered. In Sam Lipsyte’s Home Land, Lewis Miner’s updates sent to his high school’s alumni newsletter, complete with grandiloquent descriptions of his masturbation
Early on in Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s big, moving, deeply provocative new novel, Ifemelu, a Nigerian attending college in Philadelphia, goes shopping. She is accompanied by a friend from childhood who has lived in the United States for several years. When she goes to pay, Ifemelu’s