F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is The Night

Francis Scott Fitzgerald completed Tender Is The Night in 1934, six years before a heart attack took his life prematurely, to the surprise of no one who was familiar with his drinking habits. It was his last finished novel. His correspondence up […]

Thomas Paine’s Common Sense

In the history of the written word, few documents have proven more incendiary than Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense.” Published anonymously in January of 1776, at the very beginning of the American Revolution, Paine’s pamphlet was a call to arms that […]

Alan Turing

It was learning about Alan Turing’s life and death that inspired me to create this section in recognition of those people who have contributed positively to our advancement as a species without their due of public accolades or historical renown. […]

John Cheever’s The Wapshot Chronicle

The Wapshot Chronicle was John Cheever’s first published novel and established many of the themes he would become known for: the disconnect between a character’s private and public life, the sense of community fostered by small towns vs. the anomie and […]

William Hazlitt’s Selected Writings

William Hazlitt was a 19th century political radical, art and theater critic, amateur philosopher and lover of literature. He is also widely considered one of the greatest essayists to ever live, a judgement that jars uncomfortably with the fact that […]

Philip Roth’s Sabbath’s Theater

Roth has a talent for provocation, amply testified to in his superb and uproarious Portnoy’s Complaint, and honed to devastating effect in Sabbath’s Theater. First, in the interests of intellectual honesty, a caveat: I abhor those critics who cannot honestly confront a […]

Zadie Smith’s On Beauty

In her collection of essays Changing My Mind, Zadie Smith describes a line delivered by the actress Katharine Hepburn in the movie The Philadelphia Story as being her lodestar for fiction writing: “The time to make up your mind about people is […]

Albert Camus’ The Plague

Albert Camus’ The Plague is the fictional account of a coastal Algerian town’s battle against a plague epidemic in an unspecified year in the 1940s. There are early warnings of an outbreak – rats surfacing from the sewers to die and numerous […]

Philip Larkin’s Collected Poems

Larkin is the most beloved English poet of the post-war era and a major influence on a wide community of writers, in prose and verse, on both sides of the Atlantic. Reading his Collected Poems, comprising his four publications The North Ship […]

Milan Kundera’s The Joke

First, an apposite quotation from Christopher Hitchens: “The struggle for a free intelligence has always been a struggle between the ironic and the literal mind.” The free intelligence (in truth, a tautology, but a useful one nonetheless) admits of no […]