Goldfinch and Lyre Bird

I just re-read The Liar, Stephen Fry's 1991 debut novel, and it's still the funniest thing I've ever read. The antihero, Adrian Healey, careens through life plagiarizing, dissembling, cheating at cricket, and camouflaging his deepest emotions. He's terrified of getting caught (at what? at everything), and fears/hopes that the whole world is just a giant set-up to expose him.It's a heartbreaking book in its own way, scathing but poignant. Adrian's vulnerability comes through from the very … [Read more...]

Snow Day Thoughts

A series of points too small for a real post.* While I was in Boston for the US National Figure Skating Championships (of which more later!! THEY WERE SO GREAT) I also got to go with Ratty to the Museum of Fine Arts. It has some terrific Spanish painting from the Counter-Reformation era--I love this stuff, even in the court paintings you feel like you can smell the blood. The only thing that glows is the flesh of the Crucified. There's an extremism which I think some people find wearying but … [Read more...]

“Identity Theft”: I review (and LOVE) “The Goldfinch”

in the Weekly Standard: When we speak of “the permanent things,” we should mean the enduring, inescapable, and unfulfilled longings of the contradictory human heart: the helpless yearnings found across radically different times and cultures. And among these permanent desires, the need for home and the need for ecstasy stand preeminent.Donna Tartt made her name with 1992’s bestselling murder-by-paganism tale The Secret History, which explored our longing for ecstatic release from the self. Th … [Read more...]

What Are the Right Questions About Catholic Fiction?

Eight thoughts on Dana Gioia's "The Catholic Writer Today." It's a listicle, because we live in a degenerate age.* Look, let me get this out of my system: We all know that First Things publishes basically this same essay once a year, right? Here's me teething on the last one I can remember. Gioia's is the best one I've read so far, but I have read way too many of them, and they all have the same GIANT FRUSTRATING LACUNAE. Stop publishing this article. You've published Gioia's version now and … [Read more...]


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