Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies

Evelyn Waugh was a British journalist and author known for his biting social satire and his unfortunate personal failings (racist, elitist, fascist sympathizer…the list is long). Nevertheless, he remains one of the great English comic writers and his second novel, Vile […]

George Saunders’ The Braindead Megaphone

George Saunders’ The Braindead Megaphone is a collection of (largely) non-fiction essays collected from publications like GQ and The New Yorker. This is Saunders’ first non-fiction collection, but I doubt it will be his last: the formula is to take work for which an author […]

Paul Mariani’s The Broken Tower: The Life Of Hart Crane

I arrived at Mariani’s biography courtesy of Harold Bloom, who of all living critics must surely have the deepest and most abiding love for Hart Crane, having discovered him when he was only ten years old. Crane is a haunting […]

William Giraldi’s Busy Monsters

I have fallen in love with William Giraldi. I discovered him haphazardly during an insomnia-fueled whirlwind tour of literary blogs I frequent. Amidst the usual detritus was an essay entitled “Letter to a Young Critic,” which gave me the uncomfortable […]

Paul Robeson

Paul Robeson may very well be the most talented man you have never heard of. He was a  professional football player, internationally recognized star of stage and screen, civil rights advocate of high moral principle and remarkably little regard for […]

Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep

Raymond Chandler published The Big Sleep, his first novel, in 1939, when he was already 50 years old, but that did not stop him from revitalizing the detective story and inventing a new genre, gritty and dark and cynical. Cinephiles use […]

Franz Kafka’s The Castle

The Castle is one of Kafka’s three unfinished novels and, together with The Trial and “The Metamorphosis,” widely regarded as his masterwork. The plot, in brief: a man named K., a land surveyor by trade, is called into a village at the behest […]

Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall

Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall was published in late 2009 to great critical acclaim, winning both a National Book Critics Circle Award and the Man Booker Prize; its sequel, Bring Up The Bodies, appeared just last year, and it too won the Booker Prize. […]

Hart Crane’s Collected Poems

Harold Hart Crane was born in 1899 and took his own life, 32 years later, by throwing himself into the Atlantic ocean. We will never know the magnitude of the loss we suffered by his early death, but he is […]

George Saunders’ In Persuasion Nation

In Persuasion Nation is Saunders’ third published short story collection and my second foray into his works. Originally published in 2006, it collects his short fiction from The New Yorker, Esquire and Harper’s, but, as with CivilWarLand In Bad Decline, there is a unifying theme. In […]