This Anomalous Experiment

New Criticism was a movement among early 20th century writers and critics of English that argued a strict adherence to a series of absolute truths, the most important of which was that everything that can be known about a work of literature can be found in its published text. Almost a century later, technology and …

Richard Ford’s Jesus of Suburbia

A fortnight after I finished it, Richard Ford’s trilogy-ending novel The Lay of the Land was still with me. And yet, I cannot tell you what happens in the book, what plot developments drive the last chapter in the saga of Frank Bascombe, what the story really is. There are some bits about a funeral, …

In Our Time

James Wolcott beat me to a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while: praise for a wonderful BBC radio program that I’ve enjoyed as a podcast on many a train ride: I also want to direct attention to the excellent trove of replayable broadcasts of Melvyn Bragg’s superb In Our Time series on …

Zoinks Scoob…

Shakespeare’s Sister writes a brief and heartfelt homage to Iwao Takamoto, who created Scooby Doo, and died at age 81: I can’t begin to explain how much I adored Scooby-Doo as a kid. For my birthday one year, all I wanted was a Scooby-Doo record player. Never mind that they didn’t make Scooby-Doo record players. …

Eminence Front

Elderly rock stars have this gift for introspection and analysis; they look back with a clarity not present during the drug binges, and there’s a received wisdom that comes with the long-term attainment of stardom – a been there, done that shrug. Two of ’em – roughly half a rock generation apart – write a …

We Can Be Highline

Twenty years ago, a friend of mine pointed to the rusted and abandoned elevated railway bed in Chelsea, which I’d barely noticed before, and proclaimed: “There are a couple of real estate bigshots fighting for that – it’s gonna be valauble some day.” That day has come, but not in the developer-oriented vision my friend …

Overlooked Calvin Baker

A great post from the always inventive, eminently book-worthy Maud Newton, the famed literary blogger – read it all but here’s a taste: Calvin Baker’s strangely neglected Dominion is one of the books I admired most this year. I understand that a novel so allusive, in which invocations of myth abound and the richness of …

London Calling

I’m not a film completist; with three children and a limited window of screening opportunities outside of video-on-demand, my year’s best, non-kiddie category, is scant by definition. So my “best of” list in the cinematic arts is limited to exactly two pictures, the only two to really cut through the mist of over-production and bad …

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