Maud Newton

  • South of Sane

    “Nude face-eating cannibal?” Carl Hiaasen wrote last year, when the infamous video surfaced. “Must be Miami.”

    It sounds like a joke, but throw in the overpass, homeless victim, and fundamentalist drug-addict murderer, and there really are no other contenders. At least the rest of the world has some inkling of this now. As Hiaasen says, explaining the Sunshine State’s endlessly inventive dysfunction has gotten easier since the 2000 presidential election. But even natives may be surprised, reading T. D. Allman’s tremendous, five-hundred-year history of the state, Finding Florida, at learning

  • For Vassar or Poorer

    “WHEN MOST PRETTY GIRLS smile at you, you feel terrific,” Mary McCarthy’s friend Dwight Macdonald once said, but “when Mary smiles at you, you look to see if your fly is open.” Her 1963 novel, The Group, has the same effect. McCarthy thought of the book as “a kind of mock-chronicle” rebutting the notion of progress in “the female sphere”—“home economics, architecture, domestic technology, contraception, child-bearing”—through the stories of eight upper-middle-class girls who graduate from Vassar during the Great Depression. Although they expect exciting careers and equal relationships, most of

  • culture August 22, 2011

    Another Thing to Sort of Pin on David Foster Wallace

    Ten years ago, David Foster Wallace admitted in “Tense Present,” one of his best and most charming essays, to being a “SNOOT,” which he defined as a “really extreme usage fanatic, the sort of person whose idea of Sunday fun is to look for mistakes in Safire’s column’s prose itself.” He outed himself while writing in Harper’s on Bryan A. Garner’s Dictionary of Modern American Usage, a book, he says, that serves to confirm its author’s “SNOOTitude while undercutting it in tone.”

  • culture October 14, 2009

    The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt

    Mashing up genres, switching historical periods, and unfolding tales with supple and convincing omniscience, Possession author A.S. Byatt continues to challenge and entertain her readers.

  • syllabi July 14, 2009


    The narrator of my novel in progress has a storefront preacher mother and a family legacy of extremism that seem, the more she struggles against them, destined to determine her future. While her life goes in a very different direction from mine, I've taken quite a bit of material from my own experiences and neuroses in imagining her story. I'm a doubter by nature—committedly, almost compulsively so—and gravitate toward works by other agnostics. Skepticism is as old as faith, and its manifestations are complex and varied.

    Maud Newton hosts the literary weblog Her writing was most

  • What Would Jesus Buy?

    Books claiming to decipher evangelical Christianity for the secular reader are nothing new, but the Bush years ushered in the genre’s golden age. Following the 2000 election, scores of pundits sought to explain the rise of the Christian right, and some of their efforts were worthwhile. For The Great Derangement, Matt Taibbi went undercover at a fundamentalist retreat that culminated with a mass exorcism where he was encouraged to vomit up demons, and he walked away understanding how easy it could be to “bury your ‘sinful’ self far under the skin of your outer Christian.” D. Michael Lindsay