Bret Easton Ellis’ Less Than Zero

Bret Easton Ellis’ first novel, Less Than Zero, was published while he was just 21 years old, an undergraduate student at Bennington College. It was allegedly assembled from journal entries, dating from his early adolescence, which accounts for its plotless […]

Frank Dikötter’s Mao’s Great Famine

In the four-year span between 1958 and 1962, some 45 million Chinese people lost their lives, mostly as a direct or indirect result of starvation. Within China, the figures have been downplayed or denied, and the causes obfuscated. Food shortages […]

E.M. Cioran’s The Temptation To Exist

You pick up Emil Cioran’s writing at your peril. Though he is sometimes witty, he is never very consoling, and if you have not yourself seen the things he describes, looking at the world through his eyes might be fatal […]

Cormac McCarthy’s Child Of God

It has been many years since I last read a Cormac McCarthy novel. Blood Meridian was a high school favourite, now very much overdue for a re-reading, and The Road supplied an exciting summer read in college, but it seems, […]

Ryszard Legutko’s The Demon In Democracy

Imagine, for a moment, that you grew up under Communist rule in Poland. Worse than that, you were born into that unenviable position, and therefore knew no other way of life. By necessity, you become familiar with the absurdities of the regime: […]

Frank Dikötter’s The Tragedy Of Liberation

Consider for a moment the fate of the three most murderous regimes of the 20th century. Hitler’s Third Reich was vanquished by the combined might of the Allied powers, and his ideology thoroughly discredited. German schoolchildren visit Holocaust museums and […]

Émile Zola’s Germinal

Within France, Émile Zola is something of a national hero, though his present popularity obscures the acrimony with which many of his compatriots viewed him. It was Zola, after all, who published the famous “J’Accuse…!” column condemning the government’s rush […]

Steven Galloway’s Finnie Walsh

Steven Galloway is perhaps Canada’s most promising young writer, and certainly Canada’s most internationally celebrated young author, but his professional achievements have been overshadowed by scandal. In 2015, Galloway was suspended from his teaching position at the prestigious University of […]

Leonard Gardner’s Fat City

For a boxing novel, there is conspicuously little fighting in Fat City; the brutality is provided by Leonard Gardner’s expert descriptions of Stockton, California, a dilapidated industrial city, and the lives of the men and women surviving there in the late 1950s. Two […]

Thomas Chatterton Williams’ Losing My Cool

I first encountered Thomas Chatterton Williams’ writing three years ago, in the London Review of Books, where he reviewed Ta-Nehisi Coates’ best-selling memoir Between the World and Me with that rare mixture of sympathy and skepticism characteristic of the true critic, and […]