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In Fact: Essays on Writers and Writing

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  30 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
In Fact collects the best of Thomas Mallon's superb criticism from the past twenty-two years -- essays that appeared in his GQ column, "Doubting Thomas", and in The New York Times Book Review, The American Scholar, The New Yorker, and Harper's, among other publications. Here are his evaluations of the work of contemporary writers such as Nicholson Baker, Peter Carey, Tom W ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published January 2nd 2001 by Pantheon
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This book was a delight. I had read two of Mallon's books - "Stolen Words" (on plagiarism) and "A Book of One's Own" (people and their diaries) - quite some time ago, and found them both charming and fascinating. So maybe the charm of these essays shouldn't have been a surprise. But I was bowled over, both by the breadth and depth of Mallon's coverage. Not to engage in hagiography, but he comes close to my notion of a perfect reviewer. In many instances his evaluations are a more eloquent expres ...more
Sep 20, 2015 Jonathan rated it really liked it
I remember one (paraphrased) line from this collection: something in an essay about obituaries. ". . . and the first paragraph always ends with the same verb."

If you consider this careful whipping together of style and substance with a hint of allegory to be a genus of wit, you are or were in all likelihood an English major, and you may enjoy these columns.
Mar 09, 2014 LDuchess added it
Recommended to LDuchess by: (gift?)
On a shelf for some years. First half is about other writers/their work. Second half, which I just discovered, is about Mallon's own....and so more interesting (to me), though I don't recognize his name.

I should find his historical novel, "Henry and Clara" (couple who were at Ford's Theatre w/ Lincolns).

Giving this away.....too many books!
Feb 21, 2012 Kristine rated it it was amazing
I had never thought of "essays" as something people read for fun and entertainment - but TM explained it all to me. This book opened up the world of literary nonfiction for me, and made me laugh more than I have with any book, before or since. He is deliciously snarky and erudite as Aristotle, and is truly an artist of prose.
Sep 22, 2010 David rated it really liked it
As much as I like his fiction I think I like Mallon's non-fiction ("Stolen Words," "A Book of One's Own") even more.

A test of a good critic is if you find him interesting even if you disagree with him. That wasn't an issue with this book as Mallon's literary opinions often jibed with mine.
Lauren Albert
Sep 23, 2012 Lauren Albert rated it really liked it
Interesting and diverse set of essays and reviews on both contemporary and older fiction and nonfiction.
Erika Dreifus
Jun 20, 2010 Erika Dreifus rated it it was amazing
Superb book. I've used several of the essays in the "Historical Fictions" section when teaching.
Feb 14, 2008 Mark rated it really liked it
I have only read a few chapters, but I like Mallons criticism.
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Thomas Mallon is a novelist, critic and director of the creative writing program at The George Washington University.

He attended Brown University as an undergraduate and earned a Master of Arts and a Ph.D. from Harvard. He received the Ingram Merrill Foundation Award in 1994 and won a Rockefeller Fellowship in 1987. Mallon taught English at Vassar College from 1979-1991.

Mallon is the author of the
More about Thomas Mallon...

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