Walter Jackson Bate’s John Keats

If I were asked to recommend a single poet to a total neophyte wondering what all the fuss is about, I would hand them a volume of John Keats’ poetry, confident that, if they found nothing in Keats to love […]

Sven Birkerts’ Changing The Subject

My introduction to Sven Birkerts came with his 1994 eulogy to reading, The Gutenberg Elegies, which posited that the advent of the internet was severing us from our literary heritage. More than two decades removed from his initial hypothesis, Birkerts […]

Charles Bukowski’s The Roominghouse Madrigals

There is a popular image of the poet as tortured soul, constitutionally at odds with existence itself, self-medicating with drugs or alcohol and tapping out poetry on a typewriter between hangovers. The poets themselves are often at least partially to […]

Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint

More than a decade has passed since my first reading of Portnoy’s Complaint, and while much of that initial experience remains vivid in my memory, new discoveries have heightened my appreciation for Philip Roth’s most controversial novel. When it first […]

Gabriel Chevallier’s Fear

Next year will mark the one-hundredth anniversary of the First World War, and though there will undoubtedly be all manner of commemorations and teary-eyed speechmaking, not to mention an outpouring of sentiment on social media, I fear my generation is […]

Robert Louis Stevenson’s Selected Poems

I blush to confess that I was unaware that Robert Louis Stevenson, beloved author of Treasure Island and The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde, had written poetry until I came across this small volume at a used […]

Marilynne Robinson’s The Givenness Of Things

Marilynne Robinson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and author of Gilead, Housekeeping and Lila, had been on my radar for some time when her latest collection of essays, The Givenness Of Things, arrived at my doorstep courtesy of a kind aunt and […]

Christopher Browning’s Ordinary Men

The English historian and philosopher R.G. Collingwood once wrote that “The chief business of twentieth-century philosophy is to reckon with twentieth-century history.” And of the many evils perpetrated in that bloody century, the Holocaust looms largest in the imagination – for […]

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 […]