Tag Archives: Literary criticism

“Women Catch Courage”: Carolyn Heilbrun, The Last Gift of Time

The greatest oddity of one’s sixties is that, if one dances for joy, one always supposes it is for the last time. Yet this supposition provides the rarest and most exquisite flavor to one’s later years. The piercing sense of “last time” adds intensity, while the possibility of “again” is never quite effaced. It’s impossible […]

This Month in My Sabbatical: Not a Bad Start

I’m sort of missing the routine of my weekly teaching posts–not just writing them, but the act of taking stock that they represent. So I thought I would have a go at a similar exercise reflecting on my  progress (if that’s what it is!) through my sabbatical term. It may be even more useful, in […]

Novel Readings 2010

My turn! Here’s my traditional look back at the highs and lows of my reading and blogging year. Book of the Year: Hands down, and entirely to my delighted surprise, since I had no particular expectations going into it, my favourite book of the year was Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom. I raved […]

Writing and Life: Influential Critics

Some time ago one of my most thoughtful readers (hi, Tom!) suggested I write about “a teacher/scholar whose work has had a significant influence on you.” I really liked this idea because, as I said in the resulting post, “It is impossible to overestimate the importance the right teacher at the right time can have […]

Metablogging: Three Interesting Posts

Like conventional academic criticism, lit-blogging is subject to fits of self-consciousness culminating in metablogging. While a few years ago such posts were likely to be forward-looking and exploratory, about the possibilities of blogging as a new frontier in criticism, the latest round of posts from Dan Green, Scott Esposito, and Steve Mitchelmore are more equivocal. […]

Finding My Voice: Posts on Criticism

I’ve been doing some housekeeping here on Novel Readings, setting up some index pages to make my archive of old posts accessible. I’m organizing them according to the categories you see on the tabs above: Academia, Criticism, Fiction, and Teaching. That’s not everything, but it turns out to be quite a lot! The process has […]

Bloggers and Critics: Everything new is old again

My previous post on appreciating book bloggers was in progress as the discussion unfolded on Twitter about ‘book bloggers ruining everything’ (via Ron Hogan, for one, who was watching a discussion from earlier this year between Charles McGrath and Daniel Mendelsohn* that involved a fair number of pot shots at book bloggers [see here if […]

“The Story of an Eye”: Lynne Sharon Schwartz, Leaving Brooklyn

Leaving Brooklyn is hands down my favourite reading of the summer, maybe even of the year so far. It’s also the only book I’ve read in a while that has sent me, immediately on finishing it, straight to the computer because I wanted to blog about it. Having said that, I realize that immediately after […]

Best of ‘Novel Readings’: James Wood, How Fiction Works

This review first went up in March 2008. My brooding over deep vs. broad reading has had me thinking again about Wood’s criticism, which I wrote admiringly about when I first discovered him in 2007. (This remarkably belated discovery speaks volumes, I think, of the divide between academic and public criticism.) I have also been […]

Jane Smiley, 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel

From the Novel Readings Archive One of the reasons I began blogging in the first place was to experiment with writing about books in a non-academic way. One of the first blogging projects I took up, therefore (because research is an academic habit that is hard to give up), was reviewing examples of non-academic writing […]

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