James Salter’s Burning The Days

Not for the first time, I have read the memoirs of a novelist whose fiction is unknown to me, though in the case of James Salter this is perhaps excusable, as he would himself concede that his books are more […]

Henry James’ Short Fiction

It seems to me somewhat misleading to speak of the “short fiction” of Henry James, given that the average story in this collection exceeds 100 pages, with one approaching 200 – perhaps novella is the preferred term, though James himself referred to […]

Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes (Selected Stories)

Literature’s most famous sleuth has so penetrated the popular imagination that few people first encounter him in his original form, as envisioned nearly 150 years ago by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Radio, film and television adaptations of the Holmes stories […]

Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying Of Lot 49

I see, by my inscription inside the front cover, that it has been five years to the month since my first reading of Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, and I am happy to report that a second reading has […]

Jane Gardam’s Old Filth

During Britain’s most boastful period, when the sun never set on her Empire, many soldiers, diplomats and dignitaries working abroad sent their young children home to England, to be raised by relatives. Rudyard Kipling was one of these “Raj Orphans,” […]

Adam Nicolson’s God’s Secretaries

After yet another series of terrorist attacks in Europe, a handful of commentators have dared to ask a frightening question: have holy wars returned to the old continent? Europe’s youth does not know – often because they have not been […]

Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club

Mary Karr has a talent for setting a scene, and The Liar’s Club, her first memoir, begins memorably: we are in her childhood bedroom in a small town in East Texas in the early 1960s. A doctor is inspecting her […]

Marshall Frady’s Martin Luther King, Jr.

As a journalist for Newsweek, and while still in his twenties, Marshall Frady witnessed history. He was sent into the American South in the 1960s to cover the Civil Rights Movement, and in that capacity he had the privilege to […]

Robert Sapolsky’s Behave

When I saw, earlier this month, that a new book by Robert Sapolsky had hit the shelves, I immediately ran off to purchase it, mentally reorganizing the month’s reading to accommodate this 800-page behemoth. Such is my admiration for Sapolsky, […]

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel

By my lights, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one of the most admirable human beings alive today, a walking, talking embodiment of the emancipatory powers of education and the courage and power of the individual. But large swaths of the modern […]