Simon Baron-Cohen’s The Science Of Evil

We have always had a morbid fascination with evil. You see it in our religions and myths and philosophies. You see it in the many words we’ve developed to speak of evil: wicked, sinful, malicious, reprobate, malevolent, heinous and so […]

Jacques Barzun’s From Dawn To Decadence

I am in awe of Jacques Barzun, as surely anyone who has just finished his magnum opus From Dawn To Decadence: 500 Years Of Western Cultural Life must be. Simply put, this book is an anachronism: it belongs not to our century […]

George Saunders’ Tenth Of December

George Saunders’ latest short story collection Tenth of December was released early last year, to the kind of critical acclaim – “The best book you’ll read this year,” fawned a NYT critic in January – that inflates egos and bank accounts, and turns a […]

Vladimir Nabokov’s Pnin

While searching for a publisher brave enough to put out Lolita, and laboring under the burden of financial necessity, Vladimir Nabokov published Pnin in installments in The New Yorker, and it has lived in the shadows ever since. It is, admittedly, a much less ambitious […]

Alexander Pope’s Selected Poems

In a letter to a friend, Alexander Pope wrote, “My life in thought and imagination is as much superior to my life in action and reality as the best soul can be to the vilest body.” The metaphor is general […]

Richard Ellmann’s James Joyce

I first picked up James Joyce’s Ulysses when I was seventeen years old. I had read a New York Times article that divided the world into two camps, serious readers and non-serious readers, with membership into the former category granted only upon successful completion […]

Ian Kershaw’s Hitler: Profiles In Power

Glance, for a moment, at the face adorning the cover of Ian Kershaw’s Hitler: Profiles In Power. You’d be hard-pressed not to concede that this is the face of an evil man, a man without conscience or moral scruples, just the […]

Robert Hayden’s Collected Poems

Robert Hayden was born Asa Bundy Sheffey, but when his parents felt ill prepared for the responsibilities of raising a child, he was taken in by a neighboring family, the Haydens. His foster parents made an earnest attempt at raising […]

Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From The Goon Squad

I’m a little late to Egan’s party but, considering she only received notoriety with the publication of A Visit From The Goon Squad in 2010, when she was already in her late forties, perhaps so is she. However, given its status atop […]

Alice Munro’s Open Secrets

Canada’s international literary reputation rests on precious few writers: Margaret Atwood, Robertson Davies, Mordecai Richler, Michael Ondaatje, Yann Martel and Alice Munro make up the small handful whose reach extends beyond our borders. How fortunate for us, then, that this […]