Romancing the Convention

Romancing the Convention

Think romance novels aren’t worth taking seriously? The Romance Writers of America’s annual convention brings together thousands of smart, self-aware readers and writers ready and able to prove you wrong.

On Venusberg by Anthony Powell

On <em>Venusberg</em> by Anthony Powell

Anthony Powell’s name is synonymous with his twelve-volume behemoth “A Dance to the Music of Time.” But he had a long and varied writing career, and his early novel Venusberg, Levi Stahl contends, is well worth searching out in the shade of “Dance.”

Learning How To Read: William Goldman’s The Temple of Gold

Learning How To Read: William Goldman’s <em>The Temple of Gold</em>

In Stephen Akey’s personal essay, the sex and squalor of William Goldman’s The Temple of Gold appeals to the thirteen-year-old he was when he first encountered it – and prompts an adult reassessment.

Elena Ferrante and the Art of the Left Hand

Elena Ferrante and the Art of the Left Hand

Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels — which form a sprawling epic about art, friendship, and power — are what Goethe called Weltliteratur: books that speak to the world, not just to a nation.

“I am eager to play chess – I have mastered nine skills”

“I am eager to play chess – I have mastered nine skills”

At the beginning of the 19th century, a small trove of elaboratedly carved chess pieces was uncovered on a remote beach – a lively new book traces the history and strange charisma of the Lewis chessmen.

Fosse’s Dark Vision

Fosse’s Dark Vision

Director Bob Fosse dreamed that his 1983 movie Star 80 would put him in the front ranks of Hollywood, but what resulted was both stranger and – our reviewer urges – more powerful than it first seemed.

Boy, Interrupted

Boy, Interrupted

For the protagonist of Jim Shepard’s heartbreaking novel The Book of Aron it is terrible to be a poor Jew in anti-Semitic prewar Poland – but it is hardest of all to be a child, at the mercy of everyone else.

Know Your Name

Know Your Name

Game of Thrones is remarkably faithful to George R. R. Martin’s original epic series, except for one vital element: it transforms his subversive morality into conventional fantasy.

Knowledge of the Life

Knowledge of the Life

What are literary biographies good for, anyway? Do they provide insight into the work or just tittle-tattle about the life? Scott Donaldson’s The Impossible Craft offers a brief on this endlessly alluring genre.

Moving at the Speed of Love

Moving at the Speed of Love

Poet Alex Caldiero’s Some Love is tangled in the poetic complexities of love, and yet, as reviewer Scott Abbott discovers, the poems here can be every bit as fleshy and uncomplicated as the real thing.

It’s a Mystery: “The only species that is dangerous to humans is other humans”

It’s a Mystery: “The only species that is dangerous to humans is other humans”

A mystery trio: Louise Penny’s 11th Gamache novel is a stellar addition to the series; Elsa Hart’s debut is a fine historical murder mystery set in 18th-century China; Bernhard Aichner’s first appearance in English is spine-chilling.

An Impressionistic Outlier

An Impressionistic Outlier

Lesser-known – and perhaps just plain lesser? – French Impressionist painter Gustave Caillebotte gets his first major American retrospective.

From the Archives: Elena Ferrante’s Hunger, Rebellion, and Rage

From the Archives: Elena Ferrante’s Hunger, Rebellion, and Rage

The critical consensus around reclusive Italian novelist Elena Ferrante is enough to make you suspect collusion – but to what end? and at what cost? Rohan Maitzen reviews the reviewers.

From the Archives: A Fine Romance

everything-i-know-about-love-i-learned-from-romance-novels

Is there more to romance fiction than perfect people meeting cute and living happily ever after? Sarah Wendell thinks so, but her arguments in defense of this most reviled of genres may themselves sell it short.