E.L. Doctorow’s Billy Bathgate

I don’t recall the last time a novel so instantaneously grabbed me, from the opening page, and held me in captivated, rapturous awe for 300 pages. E.L. Doctorow, who passed away in 2015, wrote Billy Bathgate in 1989, but it […]

Stephen Spender’s World Within World

Prior to picking up his only memoir, World Within World, I had little prior exposure to Stephen Spender. I knew him to be a poet, probably from some anthology I read as a teenager, but could not have named even […]

James Q. Wilson’s Thinking About Crime

I ordered Thinking About Crime, a once-influential assemblage of the writings of famed political scientist James Q. Wilson, before the brutal killing of an unarmed, restrained black man by a white police officer toppled COVID-19 from atop its pillar in […]

Philip Short’s Pol Pot: Anatomy Of A Nightmare

I recently came across an article published in a scientific journal nearly a decade ago that warned that the 2020s, in the United States, might be a time of revolutionary fervor. The article purported to analyze the factors that made […]

Derek Raymond’s The Devil’s Home On Leave

I had to search out the second novel in Derek Raymond’s Factory series, for though the whole pentalogy was reissued at the start of the last decade, it has once again fallen out of print. That should not be taken […]

Seamus Heaney’s Opened Ground: Poems, 1966-1996

In my memory, Seamus Heaney only died very recently, but I see now, as I research his life, that it has been seven long years since he passed away. I still remember where I was when I heard the news, […]

Yukio Mishima’s Confessions Of A Mask

Published in 1949 in Japan but translated into English only in 1958, Confessions Of A Mask, Mishima’s second novel, both captivated and scandalized international audiences. The book is entirely dominated by the opinions and perceptions of Kochan, its narrator-protagonist, who […]

Eric Newby’s A Short Walk In The Hindu Kush

In 1956, a decorated British veteran of World War II named Eric Newby abruptly quit his job in a women’s clothing store to travel to, and attempt to climb, the mountains of Nuristan, Afghanistan, specifically the supposedly unscalable Mir Samir. […]

Osamu Dazai’s The Setting Sun

I have been reading post-war Japanese literature of late, in the conviction that Japan’s shock transition from a self-governed empire into an economy neatly folded into the international world order might shed some light on what has happened in the […]

Kanan Makiya’s Republic Of Fear

When Republic Of Fear, an inside look at how the Ba’ath Party ruled Iraq, was finally published in 1989, after three long years of publishers deferring out of sheer disbelief at the horrific details contained within, Saddam Hussein had not […]