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Articles by Laura Tanenbaum

The Parties Were Hell

July 1st, 2017
The Parties Were Hell

Diana Trilling worked in her eminent husband’s shadow; a new biography hints at the toll that took and brings her accomplishments into the light.

Echoes of Narcissus

November 1st, 2016
Echoes of Narcissus

A strikingly original new book explores what happens when our need to understand our experiences exceeds the stories we can tell about them.

Kindling the Mob

June 1st, 2016
Kindling the Mob

A new biography tells the fascinating story of anarchist poet Lola Ridge, long overlooked by a critical culture that considered politics antithetical to literature. Laura Tanenbaum reviews.

Kafka with a Happy Ending

March 1st, 2015
Kafka with a Happy Ending

As we should expect from someone whose previous work is both experimental and kinky, Miranda July has written a first novel that refuses to play by the rules.

A Walker in the City

September 1st, 2014
A Walker in the City

In the world of Julie Hayden’s stories, the contingency of all experience, let alone of literary creation and reputation, is inescapable.

The Personal Was Always the Political

November 1st, 2011
The Personal Was Always the Political

Vivian Gornick’s biography of Emma Goldman focuses more on the famous anarchist’s love life than her political ideologies–but might those tumultuous relationships offer new insights into her beliefs?

When the Sewing Needles Dropped

May 1st, 2011

Anne Roiphe was raised in privilege, educated at Smith, and joined in marriage to a successful playwright; her new memoir reveals how painfully constricting that life came to be.

Looking at Betty Draper

July 1st, 2010

Mad Men’s Betty Draper is spoiled and uppity, but also tragically thwarted by the chauvinism of the era. As Season Four begins, her fate on the show is coming to a head.

Soothing the Elites

March 1st, 2010

Louis Menand has offered a calm and lucid response to the usual jeremiads about higher education–but is its lecture targeted to an ever-shrinking audience?


August 1st, 2009

J. Courtney Sullivan’s novel Commencement has been compared to fellow Seven Sister Mary McCarthy’s The Group. Laura Tanenbaum assesses how Sullivan fills some mighty big shoes.

All the Sad Old Men

November 1st, 2008

In Vivian Gornick’s The Men in My Life, a committed feminist writes a collection of essays about literary men; Laura Tanenbaum monitors these latest dispatches from the gender conflict.

Scolds in the Agora

August 1st, 2008

For those too addled by Xbox to grasp subtlety, Mark Bauerlein and Richard Shenkman have titled their respective books The Dumbest Generation and Just How Stupid Are We? For the rest of us, Laura Tanenbaum provides a nuanced evaluation of the laments of these cultural Jeremiahs.

Life Is Our Cause

June 1st, 2008

Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon sonically reshaped a generation, and Sheila Weller has talked to almost everyone who saw them do it. Laura Tanenbaum, reviewing Girls Like Us, assesses the job Weller does in letting these women roar.