Ian Fleming’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

My first foray into the works of Ian Fleming has not significantly altered my image of James Bond, that most iconic of fictional playboys, but I don’t imagine it was intended to. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, first published in […]

Joris-Karl Huysmans’ Against Nature

One of life’s great temptations, paradoxically, is to leave it behind. Some accomplish this with liquor or drugs, others with a glut of entertainment. Writers and philosophers alike have dreamt of quiet libraries, secluded forest retreats – any quiet place removed […]

Karl Popper’s The Open Society & Its Enemies

Karl Popper’s monumental work on political philosophy, The Open Society & Its Enemies, had sat on my bookshelf for two years, silently rebuking me for my neglect of it, but the political developments of 2016 encouraged me to finally give […]

J.G. Ballard’s The Kindness Of Women

Seven years after J.G. Ballard published his semi-autobiographical World War II novel Empire Of The Sun, about his experiences as a young boy in Japanese-occupied Shanghai, he delivered a sequel that seemed to upend so much of what made the original […]

Joyce Carol Oates’ Soul At The White Heat

The title of Joyce Carol Oates’ latest collection of essays, Soul At The White Heat, comes from an Emily Dickinson poem beginning, “Dare you see a soul at the white heat?” It is a poem about the nature of creativity – […]

Iris Chang’s The Rape Of Nanking

It is a testament to the horror of the 20th century that one of its worst episodes – the capture and occupation of the Chinese city of Nanjing by the Imperial Japanese Army – did not receive due attention until […]

Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle (Book Four)

In a public conversation between Zadie Smith and Karl Ove Knausgaard, part of the Lannan Literary Series, Knausgaard relates how his editor’s description of his first novel as a “monument to male shame” took him utterly by surprise. “I wasn’t aware that […]

Christopher Hitchens’ And Yet…

The year is coming to a close, and it has proven to be an eventful one for global politics. Britain stunned the world – and many of its citizens – by voting to leave the European Union and end 40 years […]

Elmore Leonard’s Maximum Bob

My introduction to Elmore Leonard came through television: FX’s Justified was based on an Elmore Leonard short story and character, and Leonard played a key role in the show’s development, for which he won a Peabody Award. Sadly, three years after […]

Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter Of Maladies

I found Jhumpa Lahiri’s debut collection of short stories, Interpreter Of Maladies, tucked between young adult books at a local used book sale. I did not know it had won the Pulitzer Prize until I saw the badging on the front […]