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Debt: The First 5,000 Years
Definitely one the most interesting anthropologies I have read in years, almost like a Discours sur l'inégalité for the 21st century. It is a startlin...more
Feb 24, 2013
Jan 31, 2013
Camp Concentration
I am, perhaps, prejudiced (and maybe still in shock). Tom was a friend. I am glad I didn't read his SF, though, while he was still around: I would hav...more
Jul 12, 2008
Jul 09, 2008
Vanity Fair
Deserving and more of its reputation: this "loose, baggy monster" is of a piece with the great, sprawling social novels of Tolstoy, Dickens, Eliot, an...more
not set
Jun 20, 2009
Martial's Epigrams: A Selection
It's exceedingly difficult to make the couplet stand in for Latin's inflection-bending, and Mr. Wills is no Dryden. That said, he has an eye for the g...more
Jul 12, 2008
Jul 09, 2008
Earth Abides
Tom Disch called this book "anti–science fiction science fiction," but not from any sense of disrespect. He meant, rather, that it is science fiction...more
Apr 16, 2010
Apr 09, 2010
A Canticle for Leibowitz (St. Leibowitz, #1)
The first two parts of the book, which take place in a monastic scriptorium following a nuclear holocaust—during a dark age and a renaissance, respect...more
not set
Feb 09, 2012
The Ask
While it's very ably written, The Ask fails in being the pitch-black comedy--a sort of howl of the last man, raging at the last men--Lipsyte intended....more
not set
Mar 09, 2010
Queen Bee of Tuscany: The Redoubtable Janet Ross
Janet Ross, the subject of Queen Bee of Tuscany, was a fascinating woman: she was connected to almost every eminent Victorian (and Edwardian) that you...more
not set
Apr 19, 2013
A real curio of 50s dystopian writing, antiwar and skeptical of pacifism at the same time. The prose is uneven–elegant and ponderous by turn–and Wolfe...more
Jan 12, 2011
Dec 30, 2010
Pier Paolo Pasolini - Poems
It's the same old story: traduttore, traditore. I know, I know, it's much easier to rhyme in Italian than English. That still doesn't excuse the would...more
Jul 2008
Jun 28, 2008
The Napoleon of Notting Hill
Chesterton's first novel is framed beautifully on both ends. His mockery the human condition is funny, instructive, and never shrill. The middle porti...more
Feb 12, 2010
Jan 28, 2010
Shadow Country
Matthiessen, always sensitive to the natural world, ably captures the sights, smell, and feel of the swamp in his Faulknerish epic. The swamp stands a...more
May 25, 2011
Apr 05, 2011
Enemies of Promise
Connolly is a true pleasure to read. Pay no attention to his complaints—those Eton-types were chaps who could turn a phrase or two. Book I provides a...more
Jun 28, 2008
Jun 15, 2008
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
I am not going to spray-paint the outside my car with selections from Murakami's prose, but I'm glad I finally choked down the anti-hipster bile (who...more
not set
Aug 24, 2010
Mad Mary Lamb: Lunacy and Murder in Literary London
This the worst kind of biography: it forgoes discipline, style, and scholarship and, instead, relies on its sensational subject to tell a tale. I made...more
Jan 26, 2009
Jan 26, 2009
On Wings of Song
Not Disch's best, despite all the awards. The devilish imagination and brilliant prose from 334 and Camp Concentration haven't disappeared entirely, b...more
not set
Jan 20, 2009
Caligula: A Biography
Review in the September 2011 New Criterion.
not set
Sep 06, 2011
The Devil in the Holy Water, or the Art of Slander from Louis XIV to Napoleon
Top-flight academic history. Darnton, as usual, is in masterful command of his subject. The comparison between the libelle and blogging--presumably ma...more
Mar 2010
Feb 15, 2010
Cloud Atlas
Let's say 3.5. A damn good set of yarns. The Corpocracy story was far and away the weakest link.
not set
Nov 13, 2012
The Dreams Our Stuff is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered the World
The subtitle of the book should be Lies and Liars that We Like. Marvelous performance by Disch.
not set
May 03, 2012
Man: An Autobiography
An admixture of evolutionary biology and the kind of anthropological history that can be found in Jared Diamond's work, this slyly narrated book was y...more
Feb 25, 2012
Feb 09, 2012
The Prague Cemetery
Completely entertaining. Notes from the Underground meets The Double meets Zelig.
not set
Feb 09, 2012
Joy in the Morning
Top notch middle-period Jeeves, mostly written while interned in a Nazi camp.
not set
Dec 18, 2013
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Charming epistolary satire about winning hearts and minds in the Middle East.
not set
Feb 25, 2012
Your Face Tomorrow, Vol. 1: Fever and Spear
If spare prose is your thing, hang a big old no on this one. If, on the other hand, you take pleasure in books that must be read with some effort—if y...more
May 05, 2008
Apr 23, 2008
A Life of Travels and Researches in North America and South Europe; Or, Outlines of the Life, Travels and Researches of
An extraordinarily valuable document but wildly self-serving without any prose to write home about.
not set
Mar 30, 2011
The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science
Another cabinet of wonders from Holmes, in some ways even more ambitious than his previous work: he plays biographer now to an entire era.
not set
Jul 05, 2009
White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf
This book should have been titled Reconciling Trotsky with Trimalchio & Other Preoccupations of the Foodie Left. I am going to be nasty about it e...more
not set
May 03, 2012
A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)
A friend left a copy of A Game of Thrones at my house. During a recent illness, in search of a trashy, plate-mailed time-passer to mix with the theraf...more
not set
Jan 24, 2011
Not Plutarch but I was in need of a slender bio and it did the trick.
Nov 17, 2009
Nov 06, 2009
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