Stephen King’s It

It has been over 30 years since the first publication of Stephen King’s It, his eighteenth novel, and time has not eroded its influence or dulled its ability to scare. Even as I type, Hollywood is busily at work bringing another incarnation […]

Paul Auster’s Mr. Vertigo

Paul Auster’s Mr. Vertigo begins audaciously, testing our credulity: “I was twelve years old the first time I walked on water.” Are we to take this as a metaphor, a reference to Christ, or a simple declaration of fact? Auster, […]

Lawrence Durrell’s Justine

Lawrence Durrell’s Justine, the first in a series of novels known as the Alexandria Quartet, begins at the ending, with our unnamed narrator on a Greek island, reflecting on the events that left him marooned with a child and no wife, his life […]

Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle (Book Five)

After reading the fourth book of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s six-book autobiographical novel, I said that I had come to grasp his design; now, five books in, I feel as if I know the man himself. That’s not so surprising, given […]

Barry Latzer’s The Rise And Fall Of Violent Crime In America

One of the great mysteries of 20th century America is the steep rise in violent crime that began in the 1960s, ravaged the country for nearly three decades, and then suddenly and drastically declined by the late 1990s. For those born, […]

William H. Gass’ Finding A Form

As I write this, birds are chirping outside my window, heralds of the long-awaited spring, and that feels profoundly appropriate, for reading Gass after a long absence renews my sense of the possible and awakens me once more to the beauty […]

Clive James’ Cultural Amnesia

Clive James, Australia’s foremost cultural critic, is living on borrowed time. In 2011, he was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and in 2011 doctors pronounced his condition fatal – and yet he lives on, conscious every day of his good […]

Robert Pinsky’s The Sounds Of Poetry

I first read Robert Pinsky’s The Sounds Of Poetry more than a decade ago, and in the intervening years have found no better guide to the music of verse. This little book was first published in 1998, while Pinsky was serving as Poet […]

Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower

We have an understandable but misguided fascination with people, with strong leaders we perceive to be imposing their wills on the world, but ideas, not human beings, direct the destinies of men. Hitler had his part to play, to be […]

Mark Twain’s The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn

America has undergone incredible changes in the 100-plus years since the publication of Mark Twain’s Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn in 1885, and yet opening this book transports us unfailingly to the antebellum South, to a time of steamships and slavery, of […]