The best parts of Richard Powers’s new novel sound like many of the best parts of his other ten novels, which is to say that they don’t sound like novels at all: They are lyrical, serious explications of difficult, technical, even academic subjects, with plenty of real-world examples and proper
In several recent novels the succinct, startling prose of Jean Echenoz has achieved the condition of a highly durable, transparent membrane, something like the trompe l’oeil mesh often used now to mask scaffolding on building facades under repair. Imposing a Beckettian principle that drastically less
Ferrante's books bleed on you, implicate you, make you uncomfortable, draw you into the compromises, regrets, and masochism of daily life. "In literary fiction you have to be sincere to the point where it's unbearable," she writes. Who cares what color her hair is, if she still smokes, or what her "true identity" is? Ferrante is already entirely exposed.
In 1999, Jenny Offill published her first novel, Last Things, written in the voice of a girl caught between her passive scientist father and her mother, an increasingly unstable fabulist who takes her daughter on the run to nowhere in particular. Startlingly assured in inhabiting a child’s perspective,
A conundrum informs Olivia Laing's heartfelt and melancholy alcoholic travelogue: Why, in America especially, are the production of literature and the consumption of destructive quantities of alcohol so intimately intertwined? Which came first, the bottle or the typewriter?
Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 novel A Wrinkle in Time—one of the best-loved and best-selling children’s books of the past sixty years—was initially rejected by at least two dozen publishers. The story goes that later on, whenever L’Engle attended a literary event, she would carry the rejection letters in
Five years ago, anticipating the birth of my first child, I went to the hospital (my wife came along, incidentally) with only one book tucked into the suitcase: P. G. Wodehouse’s Lord Emsworth and Others (hereafter L.E.A.O.). Its very title suggested grab-baggery, lighter-than-light reading—just
What do we make of the adjective poetic when applied to prose fiction? While meant as praise, the modifier often sways backhandedly—as eclectic does for a menu—warning that what’s ahead may prove puzzling at best or downright indigestible at worst. Certainly the description indicates the presence of
When I was in Chile in the summer of 2001 I stupidly asked a taxi driver, in my bad Spanish, if Pinochet were dead. “No,” he said, and by the way he looked over his shoulder I could see the question made him nervous. “No, he is still alive.” He showed me the National Stadium as we drove through
By now, we know the George Saunders tool kit: his favored verbs, such as to “wonk.” His stylistic tics, such as “such as.” The arbitrarily capitalized phrases, copyrighted and trademarked: I CAN SPEAK! TM And we know the concerns those nouns and verbs betray: the encroachment of advertising into our