Mark Lilla’s The Reckless Mind

In the wake of Donald Trump’s surprise election victory last year, when much of the nation was in a state of shell-shock, a Columbia University professor of history and political philosophy wrote a scathing indictment of contemporary liberalism in, of […]

Gore Vidal’s The Last Empire, Essays 1992-2000

For more than 50 years, Gore Vidal was the preeminent gadfly of the American left, operating across disciplines: as a novelist, essayist, playwright, actor, screenwriter and politician. Today he is perhaps most famous as a public intellectual whose various debates […]

Colm Tóibín’s Nora Webster

We all of us construct nightmare futures for ourselves, built of the fears that keep us up at night, and though these are no doubt highly personal, illustrative of who we are as individuals, surely one of the most common […]

Irving Layton’s A Wild Peculiar Joy

Irving Layton, perhaps Canada’s most acclaimed poet, was born Israel Pincu Lazarovitch, in Romania, to Jewish parents. Within a year of his birth, however, the entire family migrated to Montreal, in Catholic Quebec, creating the identity crisis that would shape him […]

Joby Warrick’s Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS

There is a wonderfully human moment recounted in the early pages of Joby Warrick’s Black Flags, a history of the terrorist group ISIS (The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria): a would-be jihadist, sent into an adult movie theatre by his […]

Kenneth Slawenski’s J.D. Salinger: A Life

There is an Internet axiom known as the Streisand effect, which states that any attempt to hide, censor or prevent the spread of information or ideas inevitably ends up drawing greater attention to the subject in question. The tragedy of […]

Heather Mac Donald’s The Burden Of Bad Ideas

American society has been increasingly influenced by a small number of men and women from a rarefied social and educational background. Through education, politics, journalism and the media, a clique of intellectuals shape opinion and evolve policies that impact millions […]

Rick Moody’s Purple America

The opening scene of Rick Moody’s Purple America involves a son bathing his mother, told in just two sentences. The first reads: “Whosoever knows the folds and complexities of his own mother’s body, he shall never die.” The next sentence […]

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 […]