Alexandra Schwartz

  • Into the Wild

    It’s always pleasing when a strange and distinctive novelist comes outfitted with a name that she might have invented for one of her strange and distinctive characters, and still more pleasing when the actual facts of her personal history seem to have sprung directly from the cortical folds of her own weird brain. Take Nell Zink, an American writer in her early fifties who lives in Germany. Born in California and raised in Virginia, Zink has been, among other things, a construction worker, a secretary for the VP of European marketing for Colgate-Palmolive, the editor of an animal-themed post-punk

  • culture February 08, 2013

    Artful by Ali Smith

    How to classify Artful, the latest offering from Scottish writer Ali Smith? An introductory note declares the book to be a faithful adaptation of the four Weidenfeld lectures on European comparative literature she delivered at Oxford last winter, but Artful is far from a rigorous academic talk; its literary criticism comes in the form of a fictional story shaped as a soliloquy of yearning. The premise is this:

    How to classify Artful, the latest offering from Scottish writer Ali Smith? An introductory note declares the book to be a faithful adaptation of the four Weidenfeld lectures on European comparative literature she delivered at Oxford last winter, but Artful is far from a rigorous academic talk; its literary criticism comes in the form of a fictional soliloquy of yearning. The premise is this: In a house in London, a woman mourning the death of her partner turns to their shared library for distraction from loss, only to find that her beloved has come back, unannounced, for a visit. The satisfactions