Novels of the Great Recession

For a long time, critics were in the habit of complaining that American authors had given up trying to write the Great American Novel. That is, they’d stopped trying to create plots and characters that embodied social trends with wide-ranging significance. In Balsamic Dreams, Joe Queenan writes: “Baby Boomer literati absolutely refused to go for [Read More...]

Bring on the Dirt!

What a prince Bill Keller is. In reviewing John Julius Norwich’s Absolute Monarchs, he warns that this “rollicking narrative” featuring “265 popes (plus various usurpers and anti­popes), feral hordes of Vandals, Huns and Visigoths, expansionist emperors, Byzantine intriguers, Borgias and Medicis, heretic zealots, conspiring clerics, bestial inquisitors and more” might not appeal to “devout Catholics.” [Read More...]

Scolding the Scolds, Cuddling the Curmudgeons

Yesterday, a friend and I were talking about a columnist whose work she esteems to a point, but which I find insufferable. If I’m being fair, I have to admit that this person has a lot to recommend him. He oozes integrity and wears diligence and passion like a set of (tastefully understated) cufflinks. If [Read More...]


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