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Articles by Liza Birnbaum

This Drifty State of Being

April 1st, 2017
This Drifty State of Being

Two Idiots: Dostoevsky’s classic and the new novel by Elif Batuman. What, if anything, do they have in common, and what do their differences say about each author’s attitude toward fiction?

In Advance of Failure Foreseen

July 1st, 2012
In Advance of Failure Foreseen

John Updike once affably damned James Agee as a wasted talent who failed to cultivate his craft. Liza Birnbaum replies with a defense of the glories of Agee’s ragged, heartfelt work.