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Title Menu: 10 Great “Minor” Works by Major Writers

August 1, 2014
Title Menu: 10 Great “Minor” Works by Major Writers

The great writers of the ages were hardly (often) one-hit wonders. In praise of diversity, the staff at OLM celebrate the lesser-known b-sides of some pretty well known pens.

It’s a Mystery: “My world is a jungle of threats”

August 1, 2014
It’s a Mystery:  “My world is a jungle of threats”

A Colder War is the latest from Charles Cumming, one of the best at depicting the frail and brutal world of spydom. Neely Tucker’s The Ways of the Dead marks the debut of what promises to be a first-rate series.

Beethoven in the Soul

July 1, 2014
Beethoven in the Soul

Over time, the books of our youth make way for titles better suited to the grown-up readers we have become. But not all of them: YA or not, some books — such as K. M. Peyton’s Pennington trilogy — deserve a lasting place on our shelves.

Title Menu: 12 Hot Summer Reads

July 1, 2014
Title Menu: 12 Hot Summer Reads

It’s summer at last, and you won’t find any relief from the heat in our editors’ round-up of the hottest books they know.

It’s a Mystery: “It’s hard to be murdered for any reason”

July 1, 2014
It’s a Mystery: “It’s hard to be murdered for any reason”

Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, those supersmart, sophisticated sleuths, are back in The Late Scholar, a savvy new detective story by Jill Paton Walsh.

From the Archives: Aid in the Labyrinth

July 1, 2014
RJ1914-1965

Randall Jarrell was suspicious of attempts to turn criticism into a science: he wrote as a reader, for other readers, with the work itself foremost in his mind.

Title Menu: 8 More George Eliot Novels

June 1, 2014
Title Menu: 8 More George Eliot Novels

Middlemarch is all the rage now – as it should be! But what if you’ve already read not just George Eliot’s masterpiece but all of her novels? Do not despair: these eight books will bring you close to her in spirit.

June 2014 Issue

June 1, 2014
June 2014 Issue

For a little over two years, shortly before she died, short story master Katherine Mansfield wrote a weekly book review column. Those pieces not only shed light on Mansfield’s particular slant of genius, but have much to say about the embattled art of reviewing.

Peer Review: “We’ve All Been Wrong! Incredible!”

June 1, 2014
Peer Review: “We’ve All Been Wrong! Incredible!”

Thomas Piketty’s great mountain of Gallic macro-economics, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, was the hit of the Western world for one heady season. Then the parade moved on, and we were left, dazed and disheveled, wondering if we’ve been fed un truc de ouf. Our Peer Review attempts to sort out the l’affaire Piketty

It’s a Mystery: “Destiny is invincible; it always triumphs in the end”

June 1, 2014
It’s a Mystery: “Destiny is invincible; it always triumphs in the end”

Our mystery columnist looks at a highly anticipated debut, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker, as well as the second novel in Jonathan Holt’s brilliant Carnivia trilogy, The Abduction.

Title Menu: 8 books where bad decisions make good protagonists

May 1, 2014
Title Menu: 8 books where bad decisions make good protagonists

Characters never go wrong when their poor life choices make for fascinating reading. Kathleen Rooney supplies us with eight unmissable examples.

It’s a Mystery: “The past lies like a nightmare upon the present”

May 1, 2014
It’s a Mystery:  “The past lies like a nightmare upon the present”

A troika of mysteries—one a gripping debut, Precious Thing by Colette McBeth, the others superb new novels from two very special authors: Peter Robinson returns with Children of the Revolution and Donna Leon is back with By Its Cover.

Title Menu: 10 Books that Might be Poetry

April 1, 2014
Tao-Te-Ching-McDonald-John-H-9780394718330

Are these 10 books collections of “poetry”? Does it matter? “As poetry” is the best way to read these hybrid titles.

It’s a Mystery: “Memory: that place where personal recollections collide with history”

April 1, 2014
It’s a Mystery: “Memory: that place where personal recollections collide with history”

The Cairo Affair is an elegant new espionage thriller from the highly accomplished Olen Steinhauer. And in The Revenant of Thraxton Hall, Vaughn Entwistle teams Arthur Conan Doyle with Oscar Wilde – what could be better?

Title Menu: 7 Books on Art Crime

March 1, 2014
Title Menu: 7 Books on Art Crime

Art crimes aren’t really sexy: they are an offense against humanity. Leah Triplett offers up a catalog of recent studies that explain the criminal attraction to art.

It’s a Mystery: “The past lies in wait to ambush the present”

March 1, 2014
It’s a Mystery: “The past lies in wait to ambush the present”

A veteran master of suspense, Gerald Seymour enhances his track record with The Dealer and the Dead. Scott O’Connor’s Half World is a chilling fictional take on a secret CIA mind control program activated in the middle of the last century.

Second Glance: The Wit and Woe of Mavis Gallant

February 18, 2014
collectedmavis

We mourn the death of the great Canadian short story writer Mavis Gallant and are re-running Karen Vanuska’s moving appreciation from 2009 in tribute.

Title Menu: Twoo Wuv

February 1, 2014
Title Menu: Twoo Wuv

February would be unremittingly bleak if it weren’t for the excuse it gives us to ponder the meaning of love, that many-splendored thing. Our editors offer up their favorite literary treatments.

February 2014 Issue

February 1, 2014
February 2014 Issue

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It’s a Mystery: “Always take the favor over money”

February 1, 2014
It’s a Mystery: “Always take the favor over money”

Martha Grimes’ The Way of All Fish is a delectable satire set in the cutthroat world of New York publishing. Max Kinnings’ Baptism is a taut thriller of unbridled terror in the London subway.

Fifty Years to an Early Grave: The Bittersweet Career of Wallace Markfield

January 1, 2014
Fifty Years to an Early Grave: The Bittersweet Career of Wallace Markfield

Wallace Markfield’s debut has faded from the literary landscape. That’s too bad, writes Matt Nesvisky, as this highly polished novel captures an important moment in American Jewish life.

Title Menu: Books and Birth

January 1, 2014
Title Menu: Books and Birth

Sam Sacks midwifes a new feature into existence with a list of books containing memorable scenes about childbirth.

It’s a Mystery: “There’s no trap so deadly as the trap you set for yourself”

January 1, 2014
Mayhem 72 dpi copy

Two fine, first-rate thrillers usher in the New Year. One centers on a major drug bust in a cutting edge contemporary setting, the other tackles one of the most baffling and notorious crime sprees of the Victorian era.

Our Year in Reading 2013

December 1, 2013
Our Year in Reading 2013

In this annual retrospective, the Open Letters team looks back on the highlights of our 2013 reading.

Our Year in Reading 2013 Continues

December 1, 2013
Our Year in Reading 2013 Continues

More of our annual retrospective, in which the Open Letters team looks back on the highlights of our 2013 reading.

Second Glance: Wretched Creatures

December 1, 2013
Second Glance: Wretched Creatures

John Ford’s story of star-crossed lovers is bloodier than Shakespeare’s and more heart-wrenching, too, for it’s a tragedy of childhood, of innocence lost.

Second Glance: Kapuściński’s Africa

December 1, 2013
Second Glance: Kapuściński’s Africa

Ryszard Kapuściński has courted controversy for the poetic licenses in his groundbreaking works of history. But it’s those leaps of imagination and sympathy that make his 2001 book on Africa, The Shadow of the Sun, a lasting work of art.

It’s a Mystery: “There’s no score worth dying for”

December 1, 2013
It’s a Mystery:  “There’s no score worth dying for”

Shoot the Woman First is the third in Wallace Stroby’s Crissa Stone series, featuring one of crime fiction’s newest and best bad girls

Second Glance: No Lesser Crime

November 1, 2013
Second Glance: No Lesser Crime

“The Moonstone will have its vengeance on you and yours!” Those fateful words propel us into one of the first and best of modern English detective novels — still sensational after all these years.

It’s a Mystery: “A man who lets guilt ruin pleasure is the pincushion of fate”

November 1, 2013
It’s a Mystery:  “A man who lets guilt ruin pleasure is the pincushion of fate”

The splendid Tatiana is Martin Cruz Smith’s eighth Arkady Renko novel, while Sins of the Flesh is the fifth thriller to feature Colleen McCullough’s offbeat detective Carmine Delmonico.

It’s a Mystery: “It is always easier to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission”

October 1, 2013
It’s a Mystery: “It is always easier to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission”

Never Go Back, Lee Child’s 18th Jack Reacher adventure, is a winner; plus, the second in a nifty new series, Mortal Bonds by Michael Sears, redefines “follow the money.”

It’s a Mystery: “Only dead men and idiots believe in coincidence”

September 1, 2013
It’s a Mystery: “Only dead men and idiots believe in coincidence”

Two special thrillers, The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton and Alex by Pierre Lemaitre: They “star” a duo of sexual predators—each a particularly nasty piece of work that makes for heart stopping suspense.

From the Archives: Elizabeth Smart, Queen of Sheba

September 1, 2013
by-grand-central-e-smart

A wild fever-dream of a book, By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept careers between thrilling emotion and absurd histrionics.

Second Glance: The Privy Mark of Irony

August 1, 2013
Second Glance: The Privy Mark of Irony

The Knight of the Burning Pestle began its theatrical run in1607—and concluded it almost immediately. But why? Colleen Shea explores the mysterious failure of this hilarious, satirical, meta-theatrical romp.

It’s a Mystery: “The Devil’s lair never looks like you expect”

August 1, 2013
It’s a Mystery: “The Devil’s lair never looks like you expect”

From the surfeit of Scandinavian thrillers comes one that stands out with the best: Bad Blood by Arne Dahl.

Summer Reading 2013

July 1, 2013
Summer Reading 2013

In our annual feature, the Open Letters team offers suggestions for summer reading that take you off the beaten path of blockbusters and beach novels.

Summer Reading 2013 continues

July 1, 2013
Summer Reading 2013 continues

In part two of our seasonal feature the Open Letters staff recommends another trove of unconventional books – and a few old favorites, too.

Keeping Up with the Tudors: Him Again

July 1, 2013
Keeping Up with the Tudors: Him Again

In the famous jingle ‘divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived,’ Katherine Parr comes last – the sixth wife of King Henry VIII. But she was far more than that – scholar, regent, and passionate young woman – as a new Tudor historical novel attempts to portray

It’s a Mystery: “There is within every man and woman a core of evil only lightly held in check”

July 1, 2013
It’s a Mystery: “There is within every man and woman a core of evil only lightly held in check”

An auspicious debut, The Abomination is a riveting conspiracy thriller by Jonathan
Holt. Plus, Philip Kerr’s cheeky, charismatic Berlin cop Bernie Gunther is back in A Man Without Breath.

From the Archives: Summer Reading 2012

July 1, 2013
From the Archives: Summer Reading 2012

As the haze and heat of summer kick into full swing, the folk of Open Letters break out their annual Summer Reading recommendations!

Keeping Up With The Tudors: Peace, Plenty, Love, Truth, Terror

June 1, 2013
Keeping Up With The Tudors: Peace, Plenty, Love, Truth, Terror

A debut novel of alternate history spins out one of the most tantalizing hypotheticals of the past: what if Anne Boleyn had managed to give King Henry VIII a healthy male heir? Some of the answers – and some of the resulting mysteries – may surprise you.

It’s a Mystery: “If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one”

June 1, 2013
It’s a Mystery:  “If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one”

John le Carré, the pre-eminent spy writer of the 20th century and beyond, dazzles us again with A Delicate Truth. Plus a debut addition to the ranks of the genre, Red Sparrow, might just earn the author Jason Matthews a pat on the back from the master.

American Aristocracy  |  GODS OF COPLEY SQUARE  |  Magic II.

June 1, 2013
American Aristocracy  |  GODS OF COPLEY SQUARE  |  Magic II.

Bohemian Back Bay was as key to Copley Square as aristocratic Back Bay and black artist models figured not only in Sargent’s work, but in Fred Holland Day’s too.

Second Glance: Another City

May 1, 2013
Second Glance: Another City

Mark Wallace’s novels won’t be found at a Barnes & Noble, and that may be a shame beyond words: both Dead Carnival and The Quarry and the Lot reveal haunting truths and wrestle language into terrifying attitudes.

American Aristocracy: Gods of Copley Square – Magic 1

May 1, 2013
American Aristocracy: Gods of Copley Square – Magic 1

A startling triptych illuminates the crossroads of social, racial, and sexual identity in the Copley Square of a century ago, as “The Gods of Copley Square” continues

It’s a Mystery: “Half of the future is buried in the past”

May 1, 2013
It’s a Mystery: “Half of the future is buried in the past”

Two seductive thrillers: one starring a fearless female cop, the other a boatload of washed-up MI5 spies.

Book Review: The Creation of Anne Boleyn

April 2, 2013
Book Review: The Creation of Anne Boleyn

She’s an icon, a cautionary tale, a baleful notoriety – she’s Anne Boleyn, who bewitched a king and drove him to remake a world, all for the sake of a dream she could never give him. A fascinating new book looks at the way all the ways history has made and re-made Henry VIII’s most infamous queen

American Aristocracy  |  GODS OF COPLEY SQUARE  |  Centerpiece 7

April 1, 2013
American Aristocracy  |  GODS OF COPLEY SQUARE  |  Centerpiece 7

“The Gods of Copley Square”s spirited multi-part examination of Boston’s Trinity Church (and its indomitable bishop-saint) comes to its conclusion right where it should: at the heart of worship

It’s a Mystery: “Never share intelligence you don’t need to share”

April 1, 2013
It’s a Mystery: “Never share intelligence you don’t need to share”

In a duo of new thrillers – one a debut, the other by a practiced hand – two tough, enterprising female FBI agents add new twists to the template first popularized by Agent Clarice Starling in “The Silence of the Lambs”

Second Glance: A Virgil or Two

March 1, 2013
Second Glance: A Virgil or Two

He may not have anything new to tell us today, but as Spencer Lenfield demonstrates, Gilbert Highet’s friendly, engaging pedagogy is still rare enough to keep him relevant.

It’s a Mystery: “The most successful criminals don’t look the part”

March 1, 2013
It’s a Mystery:  “The most successful criminals don’t look the part”

Ghostman, by Roger Hobbs, is a dazzling debut that deserves a place as a benchmark of the crime-thriller genre

Absent Friends: “Warm, funny, sad, true … It is Perfect”

February 1, 2013
conflict of interest – brattle – oct 2012

“The proper function of a critic is to save a tale from the artist who created it” wrote D. H. Lawrence, but sometimes – most of the time – despite the best efforts of the best critics, both tale and artist disappear. What do we do with the criti-cal darlings of yesteryear, now filling the library bargain sale? And what of the critics, who called them imperishable?

Humor: Wayward Authors Nabbed!

February 1, 2013
7

The startling revelations in Anonymous turn out to be only the beginning: literary sleuths have uncovered a slew of other authorial misdemeanors.

American Aristocracy: Gods of Copley Square – Centerpiece 6

February 1, 2013
TrinityHarvardLibrary

Lost to history, here re-discovered, Trinity Chancel –”a daring enterprise in its day, as original an expression and as unique as was the genius of the American people.”

It’s a Mystery: “To the dead we owe only truth”

February 1, 2013
It’s a Mystery:  “To the dead we owe only truth”

Watching the Dark, the latest in Peter Robinson’s Inspector Banks series, shows the master crime writer at the top of his form.

Second Glance: Jane Collier’s Burn Book

January 1, 2013
Second Glance: Jane Collier’s Burn Book

Long before Hairpin and Jezebel, Jane Collier, under the influence of Jonathan Swift, was savagely satirizing women’s ettiquette guides in her work An Essay on the Art of Ingeniously Tormenting. Chris R. Morgan revisits the caustic classic.

It’s a Mystery: “Life is what happens to ‘trust no one’”

January 1, 2013
It’s a Mystery: “Life is what happens to ‘trust no one’”

Dan Fesperman’s The Double Game is a complex literary novel of intrigue that makes spy fiction a central character, “doubling” the reading pleasure.

American Aristocracy: Gods of Copley Square – Centerpiece 5

January 1, 2013
American Aristocracy: Gods of Copley Square – Centerpiece 5

A rumor of Narnia at Trinity Church prompts two questions. Can a building have a spiritual life? Can a work of art not? Phillips Brooks and the idea of ecstasy

The Prince of the Powers of the Air

December 1, 2012
The Prince of the Powers of the Air

Anthony Burgess is famous, but not for his best book. John Cotter sees your A Clockwork Orange and raises you the new Europa edition of Earthly Powers.

Our Year in Reading 2012

December 1, 2012
Our Year in Reading 2012

In this special feature, we look back at some highlights of the reading we did in 2012.

American Aristocracy: Gods of Copley Square – Centerpiece 4

December 1, 2012
American Aristocracy: Gods of Copley Square –  Centerpiece 4

“Truth is Catholic, but the search for it is Protestant,” quoth W.H. Auden, and this month Phillips Brooks is at Lourdes, of all places, his liking for which can only be explained by his experiences at Benares.

It’s A Mystery: “Three things that come without asking: fear, love and jealousy.”

December 1, 2012
Blackhouse

A city in northern England and a remote Scottish island are appropriately bleak settings to launch two impressive new series.

Our Year in Reading 2012 Continues

December 1, 2012
Our Year in Reading 2012 Continues

In this special feature, we look back at some highlights of the reading we did in 2012.

It’s a Mystery: “The only way a man learns the true spirit of a rock is to stub his toe on it”

November 1, 2012
It’s a Mystery: “The only way a man learns the true spirit of a rock is to stub his toe on it”

William Kent Krueger and Steve Hamilton, authors of two critically acclaimed series, have winning new detective novels. Irma Heldman reviews.

This Light is Enough

November 1, 2012
This Light is Enough

Renowned reviewer and cultural critic Daniel Mendelsohn has a scintillating new collection of his recent work; John Cotter and Steve Donoghue compare notes on “Waiting for the Barbarians”

American Aristocracy: Gods of Copley Square – Centerpiece 3

November 1, 2012
American Aristocracy: Gods of Copley Square –  Centerpiece 3

“Perhaps a little drunk might answer” was Phillips Brooks’s idea of how to view Pre-Raphaelite art, several masterpieces of which he commissioned for Trinity Church. “Centerpiece” continues.

American Aristocracy: Gods Of Copley Square – Centerpiece 2

October 1, 2012
American Aristocracy: Gods Of Copley Square – Centerpiece 2

Henry Adams on the road to Chartres, Phillips Brooks on the Madonna of the prairie, and John La Farge on why he worried Trinity Church had “no heart” — The Gods of Copley Square continues

It’s a Mystery: “Nobody escaped the desire for vengeance. Nobody.”

October 1, 2012
It’s a Mystery: “Nobody escaped the desire for vengeance. Nobody.”

The seventeenth Lee Child is vintage Jack Reacher and the eighth Louise Penny is, as always, compelling and charismatic

From the Archives: Peer Review: Paul Auster Perplexes

October 1, 2012
scriptorium

Five years ago Sam Sacks surveyed the reviews of Paul Auster’s Travels in the Scriptorium, which caused some confused tail-chasing amongst its critics.

American Aristocracy: Gods Of Copley Square – Centerpiece 1 

September 1, 2012
shades of moscow

Byzantium rediscovered. An American in Venice and a forgotten Madonna (which breaks the rules) in Copley Square. Behold an American Hagia Sophia

It’s a Mystery: “No one is infallible or invisible”

September 1, 2012
FranckThilliez

A rare film is the centerpiece of Syndrome E, a cutting-edge, mesmerizing thriller.

Divorce Corps

August 1, 2012
butbmantel

History’s most famous divorce shook the world and changed history, but it took much more than a king snapping his fingers to make it happen – obscure men on fast horses risked their livelihoods and their lives to line up the paperwork.

American Aristocracy: The Gods of Copley Square – Fanfare

August 1, 2012
CSumner

HH Richardson waxing, Louis Sullivan watching: America’s first school of architecture at MIT. To science and technology add art and religion, and immigrants sculpting the sister of the Statue of Liberty.

It’s a Mystery: “Every man has his price”

August 1, 2012
HouseBlood

Two scalpel-sharp political thrillers that mark the welcome return of the thoroughly winning, charismatic protagonists: Charlie Muffin and Joe DeMarco.

On the Scent: An Interview with Alyssa Harad

July 1, 2012
pr

The author of Coming to My Senses in conversation with our own example of a very special breed of aesthete, the perfume lover.

American Aristocracy: The Gods of Copley Square – Cornerstone

July 1, 2012
bell cellar

Boston’s iconic Copley Square – with its Trinity Church and its Public Library – is a present-day tourist hotspot, but those visitors hardly suspect the deep and rich history of the area. American Aristocracy continues.

What the Duchess of Argyll’s Maid told Dicky Pigg-Wilcott’s Valet at Ascot in ’08!

July 1, 2012
LadyColinCampbell

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was a cherished and beloved fixture of the British royal family for almost a century (and would certainly have stolen the show at her daughter’s Diamond Jubilee, had she lived to see it) – but a new book claims the Queen Mum was just an ordinary human being – and not always a very nice one

It’s a Mystery: “A good detective assumes nothing”

July 1, 2012
PLovesey

Cop to Corpse, the 12th in Peter Lovesey’s Detective Supt. Peter
Diamond series, finds the master at the top of his form.

From the Archives: I Talk & Laugh & Listen

July 1, 2012
war_end_main

She oversaw an shepherded the House of Windsor for a century and did more to shape its present character than anyone. Three years ago William Shawcross wrote an official and none-too-gossipy biography.

Peer Review: Home

June 1, 2012
USA – Television – Oprah

Book reviewers are split on whether Toni Morrison’s new novel is a further triumph or a falling off. Or have these critics only found what they anticipated? We review the reviews, then we review the book.

Keeping Up With the Windsors – The Invisible Woman

June 1, 2012
HMQEIIHC

She’s occupied the throne of Great Britain and the Commonwealth for 60 years, and in June Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Diamond Jubilee. Three new biographies try to understand the woman wearing the crown.

Second Glance: Halberstam’s Vietnam and The Anxiety of Power

June 1, 2012
vietn

McGeorge Bundy, Robert McNamara, RFK, JFK, LBJ–these were the best and the brightest of David Halberstam’s landmark study of American politics during the Vietnam War. The book is now 40 years old and its lessons are as vital as ever.

American Aristocracy – Beethoven In Granite: The Boston Brahmin Aesthetic

June 1, 2012
dst – 2

Intertwining through Boston history: the rich, implacable music of Beethoven and the flinty austerity of the Boston Granite style of architecture – trace the connections, as American Aristocracy continues.

It’s a Mystery: “Life is an ever-unfolding panoply of marvels”

June 1, 2012
nicevillecarstenstroud

Carsten Stroud’s Niceville is a wildly edgy thriller with the heart of a dark comedy–our resident mystery maven reviews

From the Archives: Supping with Glaucus: A Tour of Roman Historical Fiction

June 1, 2012
barba_the_slaver

Steve Donoghue takes the emperor’s box to thumbs-up or thumbs-down an array of Roman historical novels, as “A Year with the Romans” continues.

From the Archives: Second Glance: The Radicalism of Felix Holt

June 1, 2012
Eliot

Felix Holt, the Radical may be one of George Eliot’s least-read novels, but its questions about a democracy that puts power in the hands of “ignorant numbers” still have both moral and political resonance.

Keeping Up With the Tudors: Lizard on a Rock

May 1, 2012
Henry-VII

He survived years of dangerous exile, won his crown on the battlefield, and founded one of the most famous dynasties in human history – and yet we still haven’t embraced Henry VII. A spirited new biography seeks to change that.

American Aristocracy – Civil War: Pride and Shame on the Via Sacra

May 1, 2012
WilliamJames

The clash between Brahmin liberalism and the legacy of slave-trading focuses on a monument to the men who redeemed a city and ransomed a nation. “American Aristocracy” continues.

Second Glance: Seth Morgan and the Kamikaze Novel

April 1, 2012
jhouse

With its headspinning wordplay and lunatic cast of characters, Seth Morgan’s 1990 novel Homeboy blazed like a comet into the literary pantheon. Steve Danziger revisits this grime crime classic.

On the Scent: Adventures in Perfume Layering

April 1, 2012
DSquared HeWood

You choose a perfume, you apply it, and you let it live and breathe on your skin – but you never, never mix and match. Or so goes the conventional wisdom. Our resident maitresse de parfums begs to differ – and shares some interesting discoveries

American Aristocracy – Harvard Pulpit: Boston Brahmin Liberalism

April 1, 2012
MIT postcard

To the quintessential virtues the Puritans lent to a fledgling republic – globality, philantropy, and autonomy – the ‘speaking aristocracy’ of the Boston Brahmins added one more: the love of learning

It’s a Mystery: “The world is a great honeycombed thing”

April 1, 2012
NHarkaway

In Nick Harkaway’s altogether remarkable novel Angelmaker, blistering gangster noir meets Rabelaisian comedy

Cato of the Antipodes

March 1, 2012
1321632

Of his 60+ books, one in particular, The United States, is best representative of his work as a whole and, by readers, best loved. On the Collected Essays of Gore Vidal.

Abandonment, Richness, Surprise

March 1, 2012
VWoolf

Impressionistic, idiosyncratic, unsubstantiated: Virginia Woolf’s literary essays challenge us to rethink, not just our experience of reading, but our expectations of criticism itself.

Seer Blest

March 1, 2012
FormsofAttentionKermode

Frank Kermode consumed all of the tumultuous 20th century’s literary theories without being consumed by them. A look at the work of this wisest of secular clerics.

Shore to Shore

March 1, 2012
ewilson

For two generations, the great American critic and man of letters Edmund Wilson has been instructing and delighting his readers – and inspiring some of them to become critics themselves.

Queen Elizabeth the First

March 1, 2012
HardwickAmericanFictions

Elizabeth Hardwick joined the literary world of mid-20th century Manhattan with every intention of making her mark upon it – which she did, in review after inimitable review, taking American book-discourse to levels and places it had never reached before

The Tigers of Wrath

March 1, 2012
WhyTrillingMatters

Where would Lionel Trilling, godfather of the liberal imagination, fit into our contemporary culture of ideas? And how much of that culture is of his making?

The Knower and the Sayer

March 1, 2012
leaves_of_grass

Most criticism is reactive, but in his essay “The Poet,” Ralph Waldo Emerson proved prophetic. He set a challenge and Walt Whitman took him up on it.

Silex

March 1, 2012
pentopage

a poem

Acts of Rendition

March 1, 2012
PoetryPragmatism

Richard Poirier was one of the great bridge-builders–his sorely neglected classic A World Elsewhere drew upon the writing of Emerson but presciently anticipated the postmodernist ideas that would soon enter the mainstream.

How Pleasant to Know Mr. Lane

March 1, 2012
LaneCurrentCinema

The best of Anthony Lane’s many New Yorker reviews and essays were collected in Nobody’s Perfect, a big volume that amply displays this writer’s wit and subtlety.

A Talent for Deception

March 1, 2012
Curtain

Agatha Christie has received praise from wide and varied corners, and mystery columnist Irma Heldman adds to the chorus with this retrospective on the life and work of the Queen of Crime.

It’s a Mystery: “He’s the gray cardinal of the Kremlin”

February 1, 2012
ChrisMorganJones

The Silent Oligarch is a smashing debut thriller that has Chris Morgan Jones assuming the le Carré mantle in his own very original way

Last Month’s Issue

February 1, 2012
iago

The forgotten Brontë, a new Iago, coterminous terrorists, Prince Albert in 5 volumes, how to listen to music online, DeLillo, Bostonia, brand new editor, Tagore Redux and plenty more …

The Quiet One

January 1, 2012
branwellbronteportrait

Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is usually overshadowed by her sisters’ masterpieces, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, but this gripping novel, a startling exposé of Victorian patriarchy, deserves a turn in the spotlight.

On Reading a Five-Volume Biography of Prince Albert

January 1, 2012
princealbertqueenvictoriawedding

Maligned as nothing but handsome breeding stock, this German import did more to redefine the role of the monarchy than any subsequent royal, consort or king.

American Aristocracy – Brahmin Dreams: In Search of the Capital of The World

January 1, 2012
fatkd

Boston without Brahmins, like Vienna without Jews, frames shifting capitoline visions, visions much more in the spirit than most realize of Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., who actually wrote: ‘It dwarfs the mind to feed it on any localism.’

It’s a Mystery: “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery”

January 1, 2012
prideandprejudice

P.D. James takes on Jane Austen: a match made in elite whodunit heaven.

Our Year in Reading

December 1, 2011
narrow-road-to-the-interior-paperback-book

In this special feature, we look back at some highlights of the reading we did in 2011

Our Year in Reading Goes On

December 1, 2011
festhitler

More highlights from our 2011 reading

On the Scent: A Dip in the Mainstream

December 1, 2011
Perfume Testing

Our resident nose slows down in front of a perfume counter and stops to smell what’s selling

It’s a Mystery: “Small clues save you. Small errors kill.”

December 1, 2011
casinoroyale

Carte Blanche is bestselling author Jeffrey Deaver’s new take on James Bond—bringing Agent 007 into the post-9/11 age.

The Prince of Now and Then

December 1, 2011
william

He lost his famous mother when he was a boy, became a teen idol, had a storybook wedding, and he’s second in line to be King of England. The monarchy Prince William inherits will be like nothing his predecessors have experienced – if it exists at all. “A Year with the Windsors” concludes.

It’s a Mystery: “A Father’s No Shield for His Child”

November 1, 2011
authors

A gripping thriller, the debut collaborative work from a duo of Danish writers, is the first in a trilogy you won’t soon forget.

The Steward

November 1, 2011
harrycharles

He’s been waiting for the throne longer than any Prince of Wales before him, and he’s changed the nature of the monarchy while he’s been waiting. But will we ever see King Charles III? ‘A Year with the Windsors’ takes a look at the heir.

American Aristocracy – Letter from Boston: Toward a New History

October 1, 2011
prendergast-west-church

Boston, so often reproved for living in its memories, may well be poised to lead the future, not in spite of its history but because of it.

On the Scent: A Certain Vintage

October 1, 2011
vega

Our resident nose racks up facts on the tinctures of yesteryear, many of which still prove possible to capture and some of which are well worth sniffing out

One Encounter: El Jaleo

October 1, 2011
One Encounter: <i>El Jaleo</i>

What good are reproductions and what do we lose in keeping them? Our writer returns to a famous painting after a dozen years and finds more than he’d imagined

Chairman of the Board

October 1, 2011
bpimlottthequeen

Lodestar or mirror? Passé or ne plus ultra? Elizabeth II has presided with consistency over an inconsistent age. And what have we learned of her?

It’s A Mystery: “He had never tried to hide from himself his taste for the hazard of sin.”

October 1, 2011
1 R UMAX     PowerLook III    X1.6 [2]

A Death in Summer is the fourth and best addition to the literate, elegant mystery series by Benjamin Black, the pen name of an award-winning author.

Book Review: Mary I

September 24, 2011
mary 1

A quietly stunning new biography of England’s infamous “Bloody Mary”

Kindly Words and Spectacles: The Art of Barbara Pym

September 1, 2011
janeanddprudence

Her merciless social scrutiny and crystal-perfect prose put Barbara Pym in the same league as Jane Austen — and yet she languishes on the edge of obscurity. We offer a re-appraisal — and a celebration.

It’s A Mystery: “This was either an accident, murder or an act of nature.”

September 1, 2011
CCotterill

A promising new series is launched with a thoroughly captivating, quirky mystery set well off the beaten path, in a tiny village in Southern Thailand.

Oblivion

September 1, 2011
chinaberrytree

One of the most significant voices of the Harlem Renaissance was Jessie Redmon Fauset — novelist, essayist, translator, and editor. She’s become obscured behind many of the male writers she published, but Joanna Scutts returns her poignant work to the main stage

‘What a Brain must Mine be!’: The Strange Historical Romances of William Harrison Ainsworth

August 1, 2011
2

Once considered a credible rival to Dickens and Thackeray, W. H. Ainsworth is nearly forgotten today. It’s our loss: his historical novels – full of sensuous detail – run the gamut of romance and horror, tragedy and comedy.

A Very Ordinary Person

August 1, 2011
george vi at sandringham, 1949

When his brother the king abdicated, shy Prince Bertie suddenly became king – and he was just settling in when the World War II threw his kingdom into chaos. ‘A Year with the Windsors’ continues.

It’s A Mystery: “God was not an intelligence officer.”

August 1, 2011
DavidIgnatius

David Ignatius writes superb novels of espionage from the perspective of the consummate insider. The latest is Bloodmoney.

Sophistication and Recklessness: Patrick Leigh Fermor

July 1, 2011
travelsspelofermor

With Patrick Leigh Fermor’s death, the world lost a gracious host, a tireless traveller, and one of the best prose stylists of the 20th century. We pause to appreciate him.

Edward the Last

July 1, 2011
images-1

When he was Prince of Wales, he was the nation’s darling, but when Edward VIII came to the throne, he became the greatest threat the monarchy had ever faced.

It’s A Mystery: “He’s Satan in the skin of Everyman.”

July 1, 2011
JohnVerdon

In the crowded field of new thrillers, John Verdon’s Shut Your Eyes Tight is right up there with the very best and not to be missed.

On the Scent: Materialism

July 1, 2011
35710

Where does perfume come from? Why, from isolated islands, Indian grasses, and sticky beards of goats and sheep. Our resident perfume critic digs into labdanum, vetiver, and galbanum and lets us know where grows the nose.

Summer Reading 2011

July 1, 2011
hbo-rome-2

In last year’s special feature, our team of avid readers offered some suggestions for books a little off the beaten path of summer blockbusters.

Summer Reading 2011 Goes On

July 1, 2011
lindbergh

More of last year’s special feature, where we offered some less predictable ideas for books to tuck into your beach tote or suitcase.

July 1, 2011
the_new_novel

It’s A Mystery: “Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”

June 1, 2011
craigjohnson

The seventh in Craig Johnson’s award-winning Sheriff Walt Longmire series, Hell Is Empty proves that when it comes to putting a contemporary spin on the lore of the old West, few writers do it better.

That Indescribable Something

June 1, 2011
Bride And Groom

She was married to two kings, reigned during the advent of trench warfare and the suppression of suffragettes, and stayed all her life a delightful dinner guest; A Year With the Windsors continues with the fascinating and fastidious Queen Mary.

Grandpapa England

May 1, 2011
nicholas and george

In The King’s Speech, King George V is depicted as a fanatical tyrant; but his legacy is one of dignified flexibility in the face of revolutionary changes, and his temperament may have helped save the monarchy

On the Scent: The Odorants in Deodorants

May 1, 2011
applying

Our resident nose sniffs those most populist of perfumes: the ones we rub under our arms. Join her on a guided tour through the pharmacy aisle.

It’s a Mystery: “No person is without a shadow”

May 1, 2011
mankell

Kurt Wallander’s touching swan song shows why his creator Henning Mankell is an acknowledged master of the police procedural.

Second Glance: Astonish Us

May 1, 2011
Film Critic Pauline Kael

Pauline Kael is out of print today and perhaps known best for the enemies she made. But any immersion into her passionate, intelligent writing shows her to have been one of the best movie critics–or critic of any kind–of the past century.

On the Scent: The Naturals

April 1, 2011
yoshsottile

It seems a given that natural scents would be preferable to synthetics, but might it be that our our perfume biases are too simplistic?

Prince Eddy and the Blackguards

April 1, 2011
prince eddy and princess may

When the heir presumptive, Prince Eddy, died suddenly, the nation and empire was convulsed with mourning – and a century of speculation began! Had the lost prince been a simpleton, a saint, a catamite – even Jack the Ripper?

It’s a Mystery: “A spy causes far more trouble when he’s caught”

April 1, 2011
trinitysix

The premise of this elegantly wrought thriller puts a chilling new spin on the notorious British spy ring, “The Cambridge Five.”

Wife Number Five

April 1, 2011
CatherineHoward

Teenage Catherine Howard weds the older and ailing Henry VIII to serve her family’s ambition, and uses her status to take lovers of her own – risking everything. Novelist Suzannah Dunn spins a fine tale out of the girl’s brief rise and fall.

“My Job Is to Be King”

March 1, 2011
queenalexandra

When the long reign of Victoria ended, her son took the throne with a bonhomie the country hadn’t seen in a century. The new king ate and entertained prodigiously – and mediated prodigiously as “the uncle of Europe.” A Year with the Windsors looks at Edward VII.

It’s a Mystery: “Time ages a person’s soul”

March 1, 2011
It’s a Mystery:  “Time ages a person’s soul”

Irma Heldman reviews Taylor Stevens’ “The Informationist” and concludes that not since “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” has there been a debut novel like it

May the Devil Be His Companion

March 1, 2011
RobertDudley

There was talk that Elizabeth I might make her favorite, Robert Dudley, king – if he weren’t already married. When he wife suddenly died, court and country cried foul, and an immortal mystery was born: what really happened to Amy Robsart?

Learning to Read Perfume: A Talk with Chandler Burr

February 1, 2011
installation

Our poet of perfume and the curator of the brand new Center of Olfactory Art discuss why perfumes demand to be smelled and why “perfume is the only art form in which Americans are more illiterate than poetry.”

History Without the Moon

February 1, 2011
DiamonJubilee

Her reign was epic in length and social impact, but it very nearly didn’t happen at all. She ruled through two generations of her people, and she left the British monarchy very different from how she found it. She is Queen Victoria, and our Year with the Windsors starts as it must: with her.

It’s a Mystery: “As My Whimsy Takes Me”

February 1, 2011
jill-paton-walsh

“The Attenbury Emeralds” is the third novel by Jill Paton Walsh to bring Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey, Harriet Vane, Mervyn Bunter, and their companions back to vividly realized life.

Year with Short Novels: The Nihilism of Nathanael West

January 1, 2011
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His short novels are the ‘ugly stepchildren’ of 20th century fiction, and yet his admirers are legion; A Year with Short Novels takes a look at Nathanael West and his two best-known works.

Of Form, E-Readers, and Thwarted Genius: End of a Year with Short Novels

January 1, 2011
NovellaSpines

In our Internet-fueled new century, can the in-between genre of the short novel survive? Or have novellas – with their speed and feral intensity – finally come into their own? Our Year with Short Novels concludes.

It’s a Mystery: “As we say in the trade, we’re going in barefoot”

December 1, 2010
traitor

John le Carré’s new work is an elegant espionage novel, part Hitchcock, post-Jack Bauer — the kind they almost don’t make any more.

On the Scent: Auteur Theory

December 1, 2010
VanCleefArpelsFirst

The great lie of the perfume industry is that the scents you wear are created by the designers that brand them. In fact perfumers with signature styles are behind those scents, and Elisa Gabbert gives them some overdue recognition.

Year with Short Novels: True Grit & Greatness

December 1, 2010
charlesportis

Charles Portis’s “True Grit” features a young girl who’s all business and a grizzled gunslinger who’s all heart — but there’s far more complexity and humor to the story than the Hollywood pairing implies. Ingrid Norton looks at a great American novella.

A Year with Short Novels: Of Dogs & Men

November 1, 2010
ackerlystill

J. R. Ackerley’s complex and marvelous novella “We Think the World of You”–in which two lonely, repressed people contend for the affections of a glorious dog–is the next work featured in “A Year with Short Novels.”

It’s a Mystery: “There’s nothing, nothing on earth as dumb as a teenage boy”

November 1, 2010
tafoya2

Dennis Tafoya’s second crime novel, “The Wolves of Fairmount Park,” confirms that he is a brilliant new voice with a finely tuned modern noir sensibility.

Keeping Up with the Romans: The Phenomenon of Her

November 1, 2010
Alma-TademaAandCleopatra

She’s one of the most famous names in history, and the only figure in antiquity to rival Julius Caesar’s renown–but what do we really know about Cleopatra? Stacy Schiff’s new biography takes us behind the legend.

Against the Wind

October 1, 2010
gwtw

It’s one of the iconic bestsellers of the 20th century, an epic of love and war — but how well does “Gone With The Wind” hold up, as a book? A personal journey through a problematic classic.

Second Glance: The Daringly Sensible Marjorie Hillis

October 1, 2010
Live alone cover

In books such as “Live Alone and Like It” Marjorie Hillis preached independence and practical style to “live-aloner” working women of the 1930s and beyond

The Scents of Memory Theater

October 1, 2010
perfumebulgarieauparfumeen-210×300

Music and photographs can stir memories, but in the world of scent, only a single molecule — a single note — is needed to take us deep. In this installment of her regular column, our author waxes on how the Eighties and Nineties smelled.

It’s a Mystery: “Every kidnapper who ever did a snatch says no cops!”

October 1, 2010
ontheline

In S.J. Rozan’s “On the Line” the irresistible P.I. partners in crime, Bill Smith and Lydia Chin, unwittingly enter into a high stakes game of cat and mouse with a psychopath.

Keeping Up with the Romans: The Senator Investigates

October 1, 2010
pompeii01

He toadied to a succession of emperors and trembled at the mere thought of being mugged — on the surface, it looks odd to cast Pliny the Younger as a detective. A new mystery novel takes that chance.

Year with Short Novels: Love, the Limits of Narrative, & The Pilgrim Hawk

September 1, 2010
glenway-wescott-1

The twisty boundaries of narrative reliability are at the heart of Ingrid Norton’s discussion the neglected classic “The Pilgrim Hawk” as “A Year with Short Novels” continues.

On the Scent: Difficult Pleasures

September 1, 2010
fot2

Our regular scentstress extols the difficult: sharp notes, throwbacks, and sweaty musks over easy patchoulis and fruity bores.

It’s a Mystery: “After all is said and done, we’re just dust”

September 1, 2010
james_lee_burke,0

James Lee Burke’s 18th novel featuring his slightly crazy, completely charismatic Cajun cop, Dave Robicheaux, may just be his best.

It’s A Mystery: “Truth is the daughter of time”

August 1, 2010
author_upson

The first two novels of Nicola Upson’s highly promising, thoroughly engaging series stars the great mystery writer Josephine Tey as a sleuth she herself might have invented

On the Scent: The Smell of Money

August 1, 2010
092608_kardashian14

What are you paying for when you buy an expensive perfume–better materials? A longer-lasting scent? Placebo effect? Our regular perfume columnist sniffs it out.

Diving into Atwood’s Surfacing

August 1, 2010
surfacing4

This installment of the Year with Short Novels immerses itself in Margaret Atwood’s haunting second novel, Surfacing.

On the Scent: A Dozen+ Roses

July 1, 2010
this one

Roses: they might have smelled sweet to Shakespeare, but what did he know about the perfume industry? Our regular olfactory column takes on the biggest scent cliche of them all.

The Morality of Vanity Fair: It’s All About You

July 1, 2010
67.1

Thackeray’s seminal big baggy monster of a novel is a satiric romp across all levels of English society – and every bit as enjoyable now as it was when it was the talk of London in 1847

Year with Short Novels: Breakfast at Sally Bowles’

July 1, 2010
berlinsally

Readers have adored Truman Capote’s iconic Holly Golightly; they might be amazed, then, by how much Capote borrowed from Christopher Isherwood’s Sally Bowles

Keeping Up With The Tudors: Bernard’s Theorem

July 1, 2010
jane-seymour

At her trial, Anne Boleyn was accused of adultery, witchcraft, and incest – charges long mocked by historians. But a new book asks: is it possible Anne was actually guilty?

Peer Review: Martin Amis, Funny Man

July 1, 2010
Martin-Amis

For good or ill, when Martin Amis writes a new book, critics swarm to it with strong opinions pro and con – a perfect setting for a clarifying Open Letters Peer Review!

It’s A Mystery: “His job was to save her life”

July 1, 2010
Noomi_Rapace_05

The final book in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, leaves no doubt that Lisbeth Salander, his punk hacker protagonist, has no equal in the annals of crime fiction

On the Scent: The Forbidden Fruit Note

June 1, 2010
tootsie

In this installment of our new feature, Elisa Gabbert sniffs out the now-unfashionable subject of ‘fruity’ scents — wherefore their disgrace? and are the critics in error?

Year with Short Novels: The Rooms of the Past

June 1, 2010
So-Long-See-You-Tomorrow

Ingrid Norton’s Year with Short Novels continues in this installment about William Maxwell’s problematically nostalgic novella So Long, See You Tomorrow

It’s A Mystery: “Death, it seems, is taking her own sweet time”

June 1, 2010
normangreen

Norman Green’s Sick Like That features Alessandra “Al” Martillo, a sassy, sexy, edgy, endearing female P.I. whose turf is the mean streets of Brooklyn.

On the Scent: Five from Sonoma Scent Studio

May 1, 2010
sonoma

From ancient Egypt and Rome to the present, humans have always been fascinated by perfume; a new feature looks at the craft and aesthetics of making scents.

It’s a Mystery: “Motive is the mercury of any case”

May 1, 2010
ellenhoran

31 Bond Street, Ellen Horan’s debut novel, is a compelling reconstruction of mid-nineteenth century New York and one of its most sensational murders.

A Year with Short Novels: Awash with Conrad

May 1, 2010
heartofdarkness

It was only a matter of time before our Year with Short Novels got around to the most famous one of them all and traveled deep into The Heart of Darkness.

It’s a Mystery: “Three things come unbidden: fear, love, and jealousy”

April 1, 2010
Erin_Hart2

In her latest novel, False Mermaid, Erin Hart once again connects an ancient Celtic crime to a thoroughly modern mystery.

A Year with Short Novels: On Lifting Veils

April 1, 2010
george

The Lifted Veil, George Eliot’s dalliance with Gothic horror, turns out to be nearly as dense and cerebral as her masterpieces; though of course, in keeping with the theme of this monthly feature, it’s far far shorter.

A Year with Short Novels: “There is a bridge….”

March 1, 2010
bridge3

The jewel-like perfection of Thornton Wilder’s “The Bridge of San Luis Rey” is the subject of Ingrid Norton’s scrutiny in this latest installment of “The Year of Short Novels”

It’s a Mystery: “A violin is always female”

March 1, 2010
pauladam

There is not a false note in Paganini’s Ghost, Paul Adam’s superbly calibrated mystery that unfolds around the intrigue generated by a priceless instrument and its keepers.

Peer Review: DeLillo and the Three Ps

March 1, 2010
delillo

The nation’s book critics naturally congregated when Don DeLillo’s slim new book appeared. In the latest Open Letters Peer Review, John Rodwan supplies a scorecard for the players.

The Lost Library: Donald Windham’s Two People

March 1, 2010
forster

Donald Windham may not have intended his 1965 novel Two People to be trailblazing, but its unsentimental frankness set it apart just the same. Philip Gambone reads it again.

Bad Books, Good Hooks

February 1, 2010
OLMLogo

They don’t work as books, but they do work their way on us – insistently, insidiously. We throw them across the room, but we keep picking them up again.

The Sweetness of Short Novels

February 1, 2010
bridge

Doorstop literary tomes might still be the preferred signature grab for literary respectability, but short novels have always been every bit as compelling–and tougher to do well. Ingrid Norton introduces her Year with Short Novels.

A Year with Short Novels: J.L. Carr’s Chance for Renewal

February 1, 2010
month2

In A Month in the Country, J.L. Carr explores that most challenging emotion to capture in fiction: happiness

It’s A Mystery: “Sometimes the fake relics are more valuable than the real.”

February 1, 2010
louberney

Lou Berney in his fast and funny debut novel, Gutshot Straight, owes more than a little to Elmore Leonard, in the best of all possible ways. As for Elmore Leonard’s latest, Road Dogs, the master is in top form.

Second Glance: “Today belongs to few and tomorrow to no one”

January 1, 2010
Napalm

As Ingrid Norton reports, the eerie and heartbroken poems of W.S. Merwin’s The Lice continue to resonate thirty years on: whispering, creeping, shaking.

It’s A Mystery: “The deity who kills for pleasure will also heal”

January 1, 2010
Louise Penney

Louise Penny’s newest novel, The Brutal Telling, plunges Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, the star of the famed homicide department of the Sûreté du Quebec, into the darkest, most disturbing case of his career. Irma Heldman goes north of the border.

It’s a Mystery: “Sooner or later, everybody pays”

December 1, 2009
ghostsbelfast

Irma Heldman reviews The Ghosts of Belfast, Stuart Neville’s grand Irish thriller debut in which the anti-hero, Gerry Fegan, a former IRA hitman, is “touched” as in crazy, and long ago would have been given the death sentence if they’d had anyone with the moxie to kill him.

The Better Part of Me

December 1, 2009
ovid1

When he was banished for life from Rome, Ovid was trying to alter his artistic forms with his Metamorphoses. Trace the transformations in Steve Donoghue’s final “Year with the Romans”

The Fixer

November 1, 2009
wolfhall

Hilary Mantel’s Tudor novel Wolf Hall recently won the Man-Booker Prize. Each part of that sentence was guaranteed to attract Steve Donoghue’s attention.

It’s A Mystery: Mum’s Always The Word

November 1, 2009
redtoblack

Red to Black, reports Irma Heldman, is a superb debut novel of espionage set in post-glasnost Russia. Its author Alex Dryden is a pseudonymous British journalist with many years experience on the Russian scene—a fact that only serves to heighten the chilling reality behind the riveting read.

Horace in the Afternoon

November 1, 2009
penguinodes

He was everybody’s friend, and his poetry breathes with life even today. He was Horace, and “A Year with the Romans” makes his acquaintance.

Second Glance: A Weight that Won’t Go Away

November 1, 2009
iron2

Readers are familiar with the uncompromising dissections of Apartheid South Africa in J.M. Coetzee’s Booker winners Disgrace and Life and Times of Michael K, but Greg Gerke wants us to be equally aware of the haunting vision of Coetzee’s 1990 novel Age of Iron

#1

October 1, 2009
southbroad

In our second annual Fiction Bestseller List feature, our writers temporarily put aside their dogeared copies of Hume and Mann, roll up their sleeves, and dig into the ten bestselling novels in the land as of September 6, 2009 – in the tranquil days before a certain Dan Brown novel began tromping all over that list like Godzilla in downtown Tokyo. Before you spend your hard-earned money at the bookstore, join us in a tour of the way we read now.

#2

October 1, 2009
thewhitequeen

In our second annual Fiction Bestseller List feature, our writers temporarily put aside their dogeared copies of Hume and Mann, roll up their sleeves, and dig into the ten bestselling novels in the land as of September 6, 2009 – in the tranquil days before a certain Dan Brown novel began tromping all over that list like Godzilla in downtown Tokyo. Before you spend your hard-earned money at the bookstore, join us in a tour of the way we read now.

#3

October 1, 2009
dreamfever

In our second annual Fiction Bestseller List feature, our writers temporarily put aside their dogeared copies of Hume and Mann, roll up their sleeves, and dig into the ten bestselling novels in the land as of September 6, 2009 – in the tranquil days before a certain Dan Brown novel began tromping all over that list like Godzilla in downtown Tokyo. Before you spend your hard-earned money at the bookstore, join us in a tour of the way we read now.

#4

October 1, 2009
thehelp

In our second annual Fiction Bestseller List feature, our writers temporarily put aside their dogeared copies of Hume and Mann, roll up their sleeves, and dig into the ten bestselling novels in the land as of September 6, 2009 – in the tranquil days before a certain Dan Brown novel began tromping all over that list like Godzilla in downtown Tokyo. Before you spend your hard-earned money at the bookstore, join us in a tour of the way we read now.

#5

October 1, 2009
That_Old_Cape_Magic

In our second annual Fiction Bestseller List feature, our writers temporarily put aside their dogeared copies of Hume and Mann, roll up their sleeves, and dig into the ten bestselling novels in the land as of September 6, 2009 – in the tranquil days before a certain Dan Brown novel began tromping all over that list like Godzilla in downtown Tokyo. Before you spend your hard-earned money at the bookstore, join us in a tour of the way we read now.

#6

October 1, 2009
girl_played_fire

In our second annual Fiction Bestseller List feature, our writers temporarily put aside their dogeared copies of Hume and Mann, roll up their sleeves, and dig into the ten bestselling novels in the land as of September 6, 2009 – in the tranquil days before a certain Dan Brown novel began tromping all over that list like Godzilla in downtown Tokyo. Before you spend your hard-earned money at the bookstore, join us in a tour of the way we read now.

#7

October 1, 2009
starwarsfateofthejediabyss

In our second annual Fiction Bestseller List feature, our writers temporarily put aside their dogeared copies of Hume and Mann, roll up their sleeves, and dig into the ten bestselling novels in the land as of September 6, 2009 – in the tranquil days before a certain Dan Brown novel began tromping all over that list like Godzilla in downtown Tokyo. Before you spend your hard-earned money at the bookstore, join us in a tour of the way we read now.

#8

October 1, 2009
smashcut

In our second annual Fiction Bestseller List feature, our writers temporarily put aside their dogeared copies of Hume and Mann, roll up their sleeves, and dig into the ten bestselling novels in the land as of September 6, 2009 – in the tranquil days before a certain Dan Brown novel began tromping all over that list like Godzilla in downtown Tokyo. Before you spend your hard-earned money at the bookstore, join us in a tour of the way we read now.

#9

October 1, 2009
theeleventhvictim

In our second annual Fiction Bestseller List feature, our writers temporarily put aside their dogeared copies of Hume and Mann, roll up their sleeves, and dig into the ten bestselling novels in the land as of September 6, 2009 – in the tranquil days before a certain Dan Brown novel began tromping all over that list like Godzilla in downtown Tokyo. Before you spend your hard-earned money at the bookstore, join us in a tour of the way we read now.

#10

October 1, 2009
lawofnines

In our second annual Fiction Bestseller List feature, our writers temporarily put aside their dogeared copies of Hume and Mann, roll up their sleeves, and dig into the ten bestselling novels in the land as of September 6, 2009 – in the tranquil days before a certain Dan Brown novel began tromping all over that list like Godzilla in downtown Tokyo. Before you spend your hard-earned money at the bookstore, join us in a tour of the way we read now.

2009 Bestseller Feature

October 1, 2009
2009 Bestseller Feature

In our second annual Fiction Bestseller List feature, our writers temporarily put aside their dogeared copies of Hume and Mann, roll up their sleeves, and dig into the ten bestselling novels in the land as of September 6, 2009 – in the tranquil days before a certain Dan Brown novel began tromping all over that list like Godzilla in downtown Tokyo. Before you spend your hard-earned money at the bookstore, join us in a tour of the way we read now.

Second Glance: Reading Anthony Trollope

October 1, 2009
anthony-trollope

He wrote over 40 novels, many of which are classics, and that sheer quantity can be daunting. Rohan Maitzen tells us how best to approach the literary dynamo that was Anthony Trollope.

It’s A Mystery: “Men engaged in warfare are all ghosts in the making”

October 1, 2009
dutytothedead

From Charles Todd, author of the critically acclaimed Ian Rutledge series, comes A Duty to the Dead, introducing Bess Crawford, a World War I nurse, who is feisty, fearless, and fascinating. Irma Heldman joins Crawford on her inaugural adventure.

Verissimus

September 1, 2009
marcus-aurelius-mclynn

Statesmen, philosophers, and serial killers turn to the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, but what was the emperor himself like? Frank McLynn’s Marcus Aurelius tells, and in this month’s “A Year with the Romans,” Steve Donoghue assesses.

It’s a Mystery: History Plays for Keeps

September 1, 2009
armsmaker

In Dan Fesperman’s meticulously crafted World War II thriller, The Arms Maker of Berlin, he opens up old war chests and lets the genies of the past wreak havoc upon the present. Irma Heldman is on the case.

Alexander the Grating

August 1, 2009
alexander-darius-veronese

The only surviving full-length biography of Alexander the Great was written by a Roman. Steve Donoghue looks at Quintus Curtius Rufus as “A Year with the Romans” continues.

It’s a Mystery: With Caviar Comes Money

August 1, 2009
londongradgood

Meet Artie Cohen, a Russian Jewish cop with a conscience. In Reggie Nadelson’s Londongrad, he’s got the weight of the world on one shoulder and New York crime on the other. Irma Heldman follows his travels in the latest “It’s a Mystery.”

‘To the Great Infamy of the King’s Highness’

August 1, 2009
durham

Church and State collided in Henry VIII’s England, and Durham Cathedral was caught in the middle. Steve Donoghue returns to his Tudor beat to review Geoffrey Moorhouse’s The Last Divine Office.

It’s a Mystery: “She has a bag full of gold just like Pippi Longstocking”

July 1, 2009
girlplayed

They’re back! Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Played with Fire marks the return of Mikael Blomkvist, the intrepid investigative journalist, and his sidekick Lisbeth Salander, the world-class punk hacker. Irma Heldman is on their trail.

Miss Hamilton Disposes

July 1, 2009
Miss Hamilton Disposes

No one had ever written about love – in its infinite and profane variety – the way the Roman poet Catullus did; its explication by a scholarly schoolmistress might seem paradoxical – but Edith Hamilton knew something about love herself.

Second Glance: Wave and Say Hello to Frances

June 1, 2009
evelina_oxford

She was a bestseller in her day, now virtually unknown. Fanny Burney, and her great novel Evelina, gets some long-deserved attention from Tracey Kelly.

Second Glance: He Hears Them Speaking

June 1, 2009
busch

You may have passed over Frederick Busch’s many novels on bookstore shelves; Brad Jones convinces you to stop and read the words.

“You can change your name…your job description… But really, nothing changes.”

June 1, 2009
tourist1

With The Tourist, Olen Steinhauer takes his place in the panoply of classic spy fiction—at the very top with Deighton, Greene, and Le Carré. Irma Heldman is on the inside and tells all.

It’s A Mystery: “Ah, what the stage lost when I opted for the police”

May 1, 2009
aboutface

Donna Leon’s eighteenth Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery About Face has Irma Heldman once again seduced by the witty, erudite Venetian cop with a passion for ancient philosophers, modern women, elegant food, and the constant need to make sense out of the often senseless law.

Uncle Livy

May 1, 2009
optiolo2lo

Steve Donoghue’s “Year with the Romans” turns its eye upon Titus Livius, who either wrote poetical history or historical poetry, depending on who you ask.

It’s a Mystery: “I’ve got a mind like a comic book”

April 1, 2009
kerronefrom

Bernie Gunther is back! In the newest incarnations of Philip Kerr’s crime series, the charismatic, cynical P.I.—more ready with a ribald wisecrack than a gun—has survived the decadent dog days of the Weimar Republic only to get down and dirty on the mean streets of Munich. Irma Heldman tags along after him.

Guide

April 1, 2009
dido_and_aeneas

Virgil’s Aeneid has been attracting translators for centuries, and Sarah Ruden’s rendering is notable in more ways than one. (She calls him Vergil, for one thing, but that’s just the start.) Steve Donoghue regards her efforts in the latest “A Year with the Romans.”

It’s A Mystery: “Don’t be so sure I’m as crooked as I’m supposed to be”

March 1, 2009
spade

Dashiell Hammett’s daughter, Josephine Hammett Marshall, hand picked the very talented, three-time Edgar winner Joe Gores to write Spade & Archer, the prequel to The Maltese Falcon. The result, Irma Heldman says, surely has Hammett smiling among the “angels.”

A Year with the Romans: Ten Tips on Terence

March 1, 2009
terence1

He was a slave who wrote his way to freedom – unless he wasn’t, and unless he didn’t. Steve Donoghue’s “A Year with the Romans” looks at the great comic playwright Terence.

It’s a Mystery: The Trouble with Harry

February 1, 2009
redbreastgood

Norwegian Jo Nesbø, a musician, songwriter and economist, is also one of Europe’s most acclaimed crime writers who, to date, has given us two thrillers that are beautifully spun and deeply evocative. Veteran mystery maven Irma Heldman explores the latest hit from Scandinavia.

A Year with the Romans: Sweet Bright Lady

February 1, 2009
consolations

In the 6th Century, Boethius wrote a little tract that has been a guide and touchstone to writers, poets, politicians, and pundits ever since. David Slavitt has produced a new translation of The Consolation of Philosophy; Steve Donoghue explores the world of Boethius in this latest installment of “A Year with the Romans.”

On Finding a Copy of Ovid’s Fasti at the Local Goodwill

January 1, 2009
basket-boy

Among the Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb, Steve Donoghue unearths a rare secondhand treasure in Ovid’s difficult, underrated Fasti. And he celebrates.

It’s a Mystery: Imaginative Eyes

December 1, 2008
larsson

It was a year full of fine additions to the genre, but according to regular “It’s a Mystery” columnist Irma Heldman, two among them were decidedly the cream of the crop. One is a first and one a twenty-first!

“For I am a Brid of Paradise”

December 1, 2008
humphrey

The kings and counts of Tudor England wouldn’t have known the name of minor Cheshire landowner Humphrey Newton, but in reviewing Deborah Youngs’ book on the man, Steve Donoghue illustrates just how much Newton can teach us about the era. “A Year with the Tudors” concludes here.

It’s a Mystery: All Hail the Queen

November 1, 2008
privatejames

With this cheery account of the reigning royalty of murder mysteries, P.D. James, Irma Heldman inaugurates her monthly mystery column in these webpages. Irma once delighted fans of her “On the Docket” column under the pen-name O.L. Bailey, and Open Letters proudly welcomes her back to the beat she made her own!

They Were Almost Tudors

November 1, 2008
tudor_arthur

In the penultimate installment of his “Year with the Tudors,” Steve Donoghue pauses to consider some of the young men and women who didn’t quite make it onto the roster of Tudor monarchs.

The Master Touch: One Encounter with Shakespeare’s Henry VIII

October 1, 2008
henryviii

William Shakespeare lived under the Tudors for most of his life, but he only wrote about them once, in his play The History of the Life of King Henry VIII – or did he? In our latest One Encounter, and also the new installment in his “Year with the Tudors,” Steve Donoghue takes a look at that play and the fractious theories attendant.

#1

September 1, 2008
tribute

It’s been over 30 years since Gore Vidal wrote his penetrating and acerbic essay on the bestseller list, and we thought it was time to give that infamous mainstay of the literary world another look. Open Letters has cracked into the bestseller list and invites you to join us in discovering what’s really there…

#2

September 1, 2008
evanovich-smaller

Fearless Fourteen, by Janet Evanovich

#3

September 1, 2008
lastpatriot

The Last Patriot, by Brad Thor

#4

September 1, 2008
sawtelle

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski

#5

September 1, 2008
swan-peak

Swan Peak, by James Lee Burke

#6

September 1, 2008
patterson-and-roughan-smaller

Sail, by James Patterson

#7

September 1, 2008
thehost

The Host, by Stephanie Meyer

#8

September 1, 2008
tailspin

Tailspin, by Catherine Coulter

#9

September 1, 2008
jane-green-smaller

The Beach House, by Jane Green

#10

September 1, 2008
lovegiffin

Love the One You’re With, by Emily Giffin

2008 Bestseller Feature (complete)

September 1, 2008
jane-green-smaller

It’s been over 30 years since Gore Vidal wrote his penetrating and acerbic essay on the bestseller list, and we thought it was time to give that infamous mainstay of the literary world another look. Open Letters has cracked into the bestseller list and invites you to join us in discovering what’s really there…

A Difficult Woman

September 1, 2008
maaryandphillipii

Mary Tudor’s fierce Catholic faith and merciless persecution of Protestants gave her the immortal nickname of “Bloody Mary.” In our ongoing feature A Year with the Tudors, Steve Donoghue reviews Linda Porter’s The First Queen of England: The Myth of “Bloody Mary.”

Q & A with Linda Porter

September 1, 2008
lindapicture

An in-depth addition to our Year with the Tudors: Open Letters chats with a writer equally hip-deep in the subject, Linda Porter, author of The First Queen of England: The Myth of “Bloody Mary.” Our first Q & A!

My Eyes Are Up Here, Milord

September 1, 2008
elizabethleicester

There’s something going on in the latest trend of Tudor book-covers, and we’re not sure what it is, although a pair (shall we say?) of aspects is quite obvious. What are these publishers thinking? Take a look for yourself! and a second look! and a third!

Second Glance: A Voice Displaced

September 1, 2008
hodasevich_berberova

Exiled Russian writer Nina Berberova (who fled to America when the Nazis invaded her adopted homeland of France) spent her entire career examining the experience of displacement. In this regular feature, Karen Vanuska revisits Berberova’s life and literary achievements and finds them startlingly relevant to our own fractured times.

One Encounter: Eight Hours from Home

August 1, 2008
humanbondage

Out of cash, out of work, bounced from his home, and lost in the world, Steve Brachmann turned to an old friend for help—W. Somerset Maugham. In this installment of our regular feature, we see how a single good book—for Steve, it was Of Human Bondage—can help right a life.

Worthy of a Tale or Two

August 1, 2008
bacon

Without him, there would be no “Year with the Tudors,” and in the latest chapter of his year-long feature, Steve Donoghue examines Henry Tudor, who took the crown from Richard III at Bosworth Field and became Henry VII – the first Tudor monarch.

Peer Review: Is Martin Amis Serious?

July 1, 2008
second_plane

The vituperation that greeted Martin Amis’ collection of essays The Second Plane reached singularly quotable proportions, even for this much-vituperated British author. In our regular feature, John G. Rodwan Jr. casts a cold eye on Amis’ dour detractors.

Extravagant Things

July 1, 2008
smallhenry8

There is so much Tudor fiction in our world today that no one but the Tudors themselves could justify the extent of it. Even Steve Donoghue can’t read it all, but he has read more of it than is healthy, and he reports back in this installment of his “Year With the Tudors.”

Behind the Scenes of Tudor Fiction: an Excerpt and Dissection

July 1, 2008
edward6

An excerpt and dissection of Steve Donoghue’s Tudor novel Boy King

Absent Friends: The Harper in the Hall

July 1, 2008
brucecatton

Though the American Civil War produced more and better books and writers than any single event in our country’s history, Bruce Catton is the greatest of its 20th century tellers. In this regular feature, Steve Donoghue tours the breathtaking work of an unfairly set-aside annalist.

Peer Review: Rumble in the Alley

June 1, 2008
brightshiny

Near the punchbowl, within reach of the finger sandwiches, the early critics of James Frey’s Bright Shiny Morning had an oh-so-polite set of things to say about it. Out back in the alley, other critics were ready to pounce. In this regular feature, Sam Sacks officiates between the Sharks and the Jets.

Lady in Waiting

June 1, 2008
ladyelizabeth

Alison Weir’s new novel The Lady Elizabeth evokes the snakepit of internecine maneuverings, dynastic labyrinths, and the lunges of religious zealotry that characterized the age named for the lady in question. Steve Donoghue’s “Year With the Tudors” continues here.

Anything that Moves: The Tudors on Film

May 1, 2008
the-tudors-season-2-premiere

More than any other dynasty in history, the Tudors are ready for their close-up. In this installment of his “Year with the Tudors,” Steve Donoghue leads us on a royal progress through film archives to access the heart and stomach of these undying superstars.

One Encounter: George & Me

May 1, 2008
EricUs

What do you do when the courageous trailblazing author who formed your youth is accused of an unspeakable crime? John G. Rodwan, Jr. does what Orwell would have done, weighed the evidence and let the chips fall where they may.

Absent Friends: Gentle Poet

May 1, 2008
Tibullus

At a poetry reading on the Palatine 2,000 years ago, you’d have spent a week’s pay to hear him read. Today he’s unknown, except to our Steve Donoghue (and a few of our readers, no doubt). Here, after a long time gone, is the Roman poet Tibullus.

Second Glance: A Compilation Too Far?

April 1, 2008
ebwhitebook

In his lifetime, E.B. White oversaw nearly a dozen collections of his essays; Karen Vanuska appraises a posthumous ingathering edited by Rebecca M. Dale and lets us know whether it adds to White’s legacy or merely overlaps it

Irredeemable

April 1, 2008
janeboleyn

Jane Boleyn took the witness stand and falsely testified that her brother committed incest with her sister-in-law, Anne Boleyn. In this installment of his “Year with the Tudors,” Steve Donoghue tries to fathom the motives of such slander.

Absent Friends: With a Little Help from Saint Martin

April 1, 2008
gregorygood

Steve Donoghue exhumes the sprawling, illuminating writing of Gregory of Tours, the wrongly forgotten 12th-century saint, historian, and natural-born raconteur

Second Glance: Playing Lotto with Wittgenstein

March 1, 2008
dewitt

Since its publication in 2000, The Last Samurai has been defined, but not explained, as a “cult classic.” In this regular feature, Garth Risk Hallberg looks with fresh eyes at Helen DeWitt’s brilliant and jolting novel.

One Encounter: Thank You and Goodbye

March 1, 2008
brendel2

In February, the great pianist Alfred Brendel gave his final performance in New York City. Greg Waldmann was in Carnegie Hall to see it and in this regular feature he shares the experience.

Peer Review: The Opinions on “Strong Opinions”

March 1, 2008
jameswood

A.I. White has burrowed into twenty-three reviews of J.M. Coetzee’s Diary of a Bad Year and in this regular feature alerts us to which critics succeeded in their charge, which failed, and why

Proud Boy

March 1, 2008
esurrey

Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey: commander, courtier, poet. In this installment of his “Year with the Tudors,” Steve Donoghue tells the story of how such an extraordinary young man fell foul of Henry VIII.

Absent Friends: In Primordial Seas, They Glide

March 1, 2008
lowell2

In this regular feature, Steve Donoghue dives deep into the work of James Russell Lowell, whose splendid writing lurks in the basins of bookstore bargain carts, too often passed over for the smaller fry.

One Encounter: Learning to Shudder

February 1, 2008
artm-hot-pursuit-1939-paul-klee

In this regular feature, John Cotter examines two brutal, disturbing pieces of 20th-Century German art—and they come disturbingly close to examining him in return.

‘What Wickedness is Here, Hooper?’

February 1, 2008
eddie

Steve Donoghue continues his “Year with the Tudors” with this look at Chris Skidmore’s biography of Edward VI, the ill-starred son of Henry VIII who might have been the most formidable Tudor monarch of all.

Absent Friends: Oh True Apothecary!

February 1, 2008
physician

In this regular feature, Steve Donoghue celebrates the books of the 17th-Century physician Nicholas Culpeper, whose medicine may be archaic but whose wisdom and literary merit are by no means obsolete.

When You See Me, You Know Me

January 1, 2008
parr

As Steve Donoghue writes, the epitome of what a monarch can be was embodied in the massive form of Henry VIII, and not a year passes without another biographer struggling to tackle the man and his legacy. 2007 was no different….

Absent Friends: Between the River and the Mountains

January 1, 2008
guareschi

In our regular feature, Steve Donoghue revisits Giovanni Guareschi’s Little World of Don Camillo, an eternally comforting fictional oasis set in the heart of the Cold War.

Second Glance: Marilynne Robinson’s Psalms and Prophecy

December 1, 2007
rembrandtt

This month our regular feature is devoted to a study of the small but potent canon of Marilynne Robinson. Sam Sacks dives back into her famous fiction and formidable essays.

Peer Review: Enter Sophist

November 1, 2007
ghostwriter

James Wood, Christopher Hitchens, Michiko Kakutani, and many others have competed to put forth the definitive word on Philip Roth’s Exit Ghost. Sam Sacks is off to the races with them in this regular feature.

One Encounter: On Packing Two Bags for Mexico

October 1, 2007
stew

In our regular feature, Scott Esposito expands on the sublime agony of filling a suitcase with an entire year’s worth of books.

Peer Review: Kernels of Truth

October 1, 2007
mccheese

In our regular feature, Hugh Merwin tucks in to the reviews of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which alternately acclaim and castigate the bellwether bestseller.

Second Glance: Do You Know Squarepusher?

September 1, 2007
squarepusher

In this regular feature, Adam Golaski revisits Intelligent Dance (or “laptop”) Music, discovering unity and poise in a Squarepusher album which critics have short-sightedly misfiled.

Absent Friends: Our Jolly Round Whirling Earth

September 1, 2007
beebebook

Gun-and-net-toting naturalists seldom produce a better writer than William Beebe. In this regular feature, Steve Donoghue revisits the science writing of a more invasive age.

Peer Review: Onion Skins and Grass Cuttings

August 1, 2007
onion

In our regular feature, Joanna Scutts is judge and jury over the reviewers of Günter Grass’s Peeling the Onion, who rather too frequently forgot they were supposed to be considering a book.

One Encounter: On Reading Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris, translated from the French

August 1, 2007
solaris

Reading a book rendered from Polish to French to English is like playing a game of Telephone. In our regular feature, Andrew Crocker expounds on the pleasures of translations.

Second Glance: Dorothy Sayers and the Last Golden Age

August 1, 2007
peter

Joanna Scutts inaugurates this regular feature by revisiting the groundbreaking mysteries of Dorothy Sayers, who’s ability to wryly delight remains undimmed.

Peer Review: Sex on the Beach

July 1, 2007
chesil

In our monthly feature, Sam Sacks clambers over the mountain of
reviews of Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach, spotting perspicacity,
purple prose, and possible pickpocketing along the way.

Absent Friends: Himself

July 1, 2007
ocasey

The only trouble with Sean O’Casey’s brilliant plays is that they overshadow
his magnificent memoirs. In our monthly feature, Steve Donoghue
tries to even the scales.

H.H. Kirst and the Problem of Evil

June 1, 2007
kirst

What do we do with great novels by a writer who was also a Nazi? Steve Donoghue investigates the terrible conundrum of H.H. Kirst.

Peer Review: Running Toward the Truck

June 1, 2007
loveme

Newspaper book pages are under threat. In our monthly feature, John Cotter assesses the reviews of Jonathan Lethem’s novel You Don’t Love Me Yet to learn what (if anything) in our print reviews is worth saving.

Absent Friends: That is Not Sad; This is Not Funny

May 1, 2007
Cat

In this monthly feature, Adam Golaski resurrects the poetry of Paul Hannigan in all its acerbic and ominous brilliance

Peer Review: Arms and the Pan

May 1, 2007
aeneid

In this monthly feature, Steve Donoghue spots a troubling pattern of left-handed praise in the reviews of Robert Fagles new translation of the Aeneid

Absent Friends: It Wasn’t What He Wanted

April 1, 2007
geraldofwales

In this monthly feature, Steve Donoghue revisits the great life and writing of Gerald of Wales, a continuously frustrated candidate for the Archbishopric of Wales.

Peer Review: Martin Amis’s Nasty Glitter

March 1, 2007
housemeetings

In this monthly feature, John Cotter reviews the reviewers of Martin Amis’s House of Meetings, from the gossip-slingers to the fellow fiction writers.

Absent Friends: Nicholas Monsarrat

March 1, 2007
cruelsea

In this monthly feature, Steve Donoghue touts the overlooked sea novels of Nicholas Monsarrat.