Monthly Archives: September, 2012

The Imaginary Library of Charles Dickens

It’s corny but true: Book people are always fussing with their shelves. Forget about the cliché of art books artfully arranged on the coffee table; forget about shoving that copy of Vogue underneath the London Review of Books when company’s coming. The tendency to be voyeuristic with one’s own home library and rearrange it now […]


It Ain’t Oeuvre ’Til It’s Oeuvre: Elmore Leonard Wins National Book Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Last month I commended the PEN American Center for awarding its Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction to E.L. Doctorow. Often it seems like that kind of recognition celebrates an author’s longevity, but not necessarily a consistent body of work. It’s not that writers don’t deserve props for sticking it out and keeping […]


NYRB, Lit Up

I’ve long maintained that my love of New York Review Books extended only as far as the realm of print—that aside from the wise choices in backlist matter it’s their graphic presence, their savory cover stock and tasteful graphics, their perfectly portable size, their handfeel—that makes an NYRB Classic such a harmonious physical object. I […]


The Man Booker Prize Shortlist, or: Hilary Mantel’s Preakness Stakes

The Man Booker Prize judges have announced their shortlist, narrowing down their original dozen by half. It’s an interesting selection, made up—as the Booker website is eager to point out— of “two debut novels, three small independent publishers, two former shortlisted authors and one previous winner. Of the six writers, three are men and three […]


Printer’s Devil: Screwtape and Wormwood Take on Academic Publishing

The golden era of social satire is… yeah, OK, kind of over. In this age of irony, its time may have come and gone. But satire once had its uses, primarily to hold up a funhouse mirror to human foibles in an otherwise earnest world. Ideally, this was hoped to bring about social change through […]


Open Letters Monthly, September 2012

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again: Nobody moves to New York for the weather. The winters are harsh, the summers are harsh. So most of us have good reason to love spring and fall; by the time they roll around, we’re more than ready for a change. Hard to say […]