Some Words on John Milton

In the parlance of today’s academic culture, John Milton is not just a “dead white male,” he is the dead white male, epitomizing all of the pejoratives this neologism connotes: his works are archaic, stylistically and syntactically complex, and long and dense […]

Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

This book was something of an aberration for me: what I read and when is usually the product of much forethought and careful selection out of an ever-growing, increasingly threatening pile of books atop my writing desk. Prior to purchasing […]

Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives

In 1998, Roberto Bolaño published Los Detectives Salvajes and unwittingly catapulted himself into the literary limelight, winning the Rómulo Gallegos International Novel Prize the following year, one of the most prestigious and lucrative of the world’s literary prizes. Nearly a decade would pass […]

Why Read Shakespeare?

We read deeply for varied reasons, most of them familiar: that we cannot know enough people profoundly enough; that we need to know ourselves better; that we require knowledge, not just of self and others, but of the way things […]

In Memoriam – Christopher Hitchens

Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the ‘transcendent’ and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if […]

David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King

Much is owed to Michael Pietsch, the long-time editor of David Foster Wallace, who out of the boxes of manuscripts, character sketches, notes and errata has crafted a coherent and forceful novel worthy of its departed author. In his preface, […]

Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood

Wise Blood is Flannery O’Connor’s first novel, an amalgam of various short stories centered around Hazel Motes, a World War II veteran experiencing a crisis of faith. In a note appended to the novel’s second edition, O’Connor diagnoses what she sees […]

Roberto Bolaño’s 2666

Roberto Bolaño’s opus 2666 is expansive and ambitious, even by the standards of his earlier The Savage Detectives, and manages to exceed its predecesor in the ominous sense of foreboding that pervades the chaos and entropy of his worlds. This is a novel […]

Some Words on Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays”

Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden Sundays too my father got up early and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold then with cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather made banked fires blaze. No one […]