By Harvey Blume If you want to get a glimpse of a Joseph Stalin you likely had never conceived of before, just turn to the mug shot taken of him by Tsarist police in 1912 or some of the other photos in Sebag Montefiore fascinating, radically revisionist new biography Young Stalin. This Stalin is no […]
There’s a chess opening called the Grob, fully as distasteful as the name might suggest. When white plays the Grob he’s showing disrespect, not only to his opponent but to the game. The Grob does nothing to advance white’s position on the board. That, in fact, is its strength, the one and only thing the […]
by Harvey Blume Ex-Catholic nun Karen Armstrong has, in her long, productive second career as scholar, written 21 books, including A History of God: The 4000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and engaging, balanced biographies of Buddha and Muhammed. I interviewed her about the Buddha biography when it came out in 2001 and enjoyed […]
Doris Lessing has always been massively and productively incorrect, and splendidly fulfills the mandate of a great writer by being so.
The NY Times is running a series of articles about front-runners for the presidency. I’ve read the two about Hillary Clinton carefully, because I’m stuck about her. She’s someone I’d like to feel enthusiastic about but can’t. She always, to my mind, testifies strongly at first, then cancels herself out. She’s an enigma wrapped inside […]
A few years ago, an adolescent boy with whom I liked to discuss books told me about a novel he had read called, The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks. The book, I found, was absorbing, a real page-turner.j It was about a group of Travelers, endowed with the ability to move among a set of […]
Well-crafted fiction about the politics and psychosis of the sixties is becoming a growing industry. The Last of Her Kind, by Sigrid Nunez (Farrar Straus and Giroux); “Eat the Document: A Novel” by Dana Spiotta (Scribner) By Harvey Blume The legacy of the sixties keeps coming at us. By now, even President Bush might have […]
The indispensable octogenarian, Doris Lessing, continues to astonish with her latest books. “Time Bites: Views and Reviews” (HarperCollins) and “The Story of General Dann and Mara’s Daughter, and Griot and the Snow Dog” (HarperCollins) by Doris Lessing. By Harvey Blume When I interviewed Doris Lessing several years ago apropos “Walking in the Shade: 1949-1962,” the […]
Mary Gaitskill’s fine novel “Veronica” explores the links between beauty and ugliness.
Two books by left-wing pundits grapple with why they supported the Bush Administration’s invasion of Iraq. “The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq” by George Packer. (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux) “Power and the Idealists: Or, The Passion of Joschka Fischer and its Aftermath” by Paul Berman. (Soft Skull Press) By Harvey Blume The inescapable question for […]