This is adversarial criticism, with an eye on the martyred, fueled by grievances political and aesthetic — the return of the repressed as the comeuppance for the comfortable. No wonder Roberto Bolaño’s reviews garnered him fierce detractors as well as admirers.
There are wonderful, beautiful things about The Tree of Life. But despite being innovative and important, despite inspiring awe, it envisions a kind of transcendent greatness that it itself does not quite embody. Tree of Life. Directed by Terrence Malick. By Taylor Adams. Nothing if not prophetic, director Terrence Malick quotes from The Book of […]
Two New York stage productions offer sterling examples of going maximalist in an increasingly minimalist age
If you haven’t before had the keen pleasure of reading David Foster Wallace, THE PALE KING is a fine gateway drug. Its 550 pages are broken into 50 sections, each digestible on its own without reference to the larger work The Pale King by David Foster Wallace. Little, Brown, 560 pages, $29.99 By Michael de […]
Now that dramatist Neil LaBute’s scripts are being produced on Broadway he has fanned the earlier whiffs of amorality in his work away. The obscene language and provocative hooks remain, but those are not a bar to popular success (think of David Mamet).
As long as the wizardly spell of dramatist Mark O’Rowe’s creative versification stays strong, Terminus holds you firmly in its slip-slimy grip. The nimble verse is rappy and snappy, a sort of slangy, obscene, sing-song rhyme (with some breath-taking vocal syncopation) that accentuates rather than undercuts the dark doings of the play, at least for […]
But make no mistake about these two novels; they are not just delicious, hilarious capers. They glow in the mind because they are informed by Elizabeth Jolley’s understanding of our common loneliness and her sympathy with the myriad, ingenious connections we make to try to alleviate it. The Sugar Mother by Elizabeth Jolley. Persea Books, […]
Gish Jen’s novel about New England small-town life in the new millennium, “World and Town,” has just come out in a paperback. We greeted the hardback edition of the book with a Judicial Review, a fresh approach to creating a conversational, critical space about the arts. It is a good time to highlight the innovative approach again. The aim is to combine editorial integrity with the community—making power of interactivity.
Kermit Moyer’s exquisitely written book, conceived with the greatest care and written with an art that conveys artlessness (the highest art of all), is a welcome addition to the American canon. The Chester Chronicles by Kermit Moyer. Permanent Press, 231 pages, $28. By Roberta Silman. As the epigraph for his first novel, Kermit Moyer quotes […]
Jonathan Franzen’s new novel is the talk of the town, but does it have anything to say? Freedom: A Novel, by Jonathan Franzen. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 576 pages, $28. Reviewed by Tommy Wallach. In two days, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux will publish Freedom, the new novel by Jonathan Franzen whose last book, The Corrections, […]