July 19, 2014
Seven Reasons Not to Write Novels.

Javier Marías, listing about the many reasons not to write a novel:

What’s more, it can take months or even years of work to write an average-length novel that some people then might want to read. Investing all that time in a task that has only a one per cent chance of making any money is absurd, especially bearing in mind that these days no one – not even aristocrats and housewives – has that…

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July 6, 2014
Never doing the same thing twice: On Italo Calvino’s “Difficult Loves.”

difficultlovesPerusing around a lovely used book store in the Federal Hill neighborhood of Baltimore last week, The Book Escape, I stumbled upon an Italo Calvino volume I’d not read, Difficult Loves. In a sort of unexpected Calvino spree, I’d read Invisible Cities and If on a winter’s night a traveller in the past year, and Difficult Loves was one of the few tomes I picked up that afternoon that passed the…

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June 15, 2014
Review of “The Bully Pulpit.”

It took some time to get through this massive book, but my review of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s…

Review of “The Bully Pulpit.”

It took some time to get through this massive book, but my review of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s…

June 12, 2014
Knausgaard, Part II.

What a sensation Karl Ove Knausgaard and his six-book autobiographical novel series My Struggle has become. The New Yorker has posted about it. Knausgaard has been interview in Tin House and The New Republic, and created lines around the block when he appeared with Zadie Smith recently in Brooklyn. All for this, basically:

Across its 3,600 pages, Knausgaard recounts the banalities and…

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June 5, 2014
Review of “All That Is.”

My review of “All That Is.”

All That IsMy review (in time for the paperback) of James Salter’s All That Is was in Sunday’s (May 24) paper. I’m sure it will migrate online soon.

All That Is is a great book for writers, but may have less interest for those of us more inclined just to read, rather than create ourselves.

It struck me when I was running the other day that—IMHO—Salter was like Updike, but without any of the overwrought…

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May 11, 2014
The More Mercilessly They Are Served Up.

http://wp.me/p2xqky-Di

Great essay by Updike biographer Adam Begely on how John Updike pulled his fiction from the facts of his life:

No one was spared: not his parents, not his two wives, not his four children—as he conceded in Self-Consciousness, he exempted himself from “normal intra-familial courtesy.” Or, more bluntly: “the nearer and dearer they are, the more mercilessly they are served up.” In a heartbreaking…

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April 28, 2014
Glimmer Train Short Story Contest.

Happy to announce that my short story, “The Thing Speaks for Itself” was named a Top 25 finalist by Glimmer Train for its February 2014 short story contest. This is the second time a story of mine has been a finalist for a GT contest, although the first that it was named to the Top 25.

Thanks to GT for the nice comments; it’s beyond exciting for the story to get some recognition. (And congrats to…

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April 6, 2014
Peter Matthiessen.

Peter Matthiessen has died. Now would be a great time to read this interview over at The Paris Review:

INTERVIEWER

Can you say which writers have influenced your work?

MATTHIESSEN

A terrible confession—none. Try as I might to claim some creditable literary lineage, I find no trace that I can recognize in my writing. I don’t mean to claim that I am sui generis (though one could argue that all…

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April 1, 2014
Tune In Playlist.

If you’re on Rdio (which I just learned, by the way, is pronounced arr-dee-oh, like a cousin of the famous droid), and want to listen to some fine tunes that inspired the Beatles, I’ve…

Tune In Playlist.

If you’re on Rdio (which I just learned, by the way, is pronounced arr-dee-oh, like a cousin of the famous droid), and want to listen to some fine tunes that inspired the Beatles, I’ve…

March 29, 2014
ToBX Wrap-Up.

The Tenth Tournament of Books is over, and crowned a championwhom yours truly passed through the quarterfinals and voted for in the finals. As I mentioned in my rationale for voting, the finals match-up wasn’t a terribly difficult decision. Its competitor (I’m being vague here to encourage you to follow the link) was, I thought, “supremely inventive,” and had flashes [that were] exquisite,” but…

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