October 17, 2008 |
Devoted readers of crime fiction can recite the tropes of hard-boiled novels by heart. Tough-talking detectives. Femmes fatales. Prose harder than diamonds. And lots of violence, preferably by someone holding a gun. Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler are the standards, giving rise to the idea that the darker the crime novel, the better -- and more respected by the literati and academia.
November 13, 2005 |
The vision comes and goes. You can still picture, if only barely, Evelyn Waugh arriving back when not everything here had been named yet, and seeing the double meanings laid so bare--oasis and dust, paradise and exile--that he finished a novel in 10 weeks ("The Loved One," his sendup of an immortality-crazed mortuary) after it had taken him three years to write the one before. Of course the ironies have gotten a bit gentrified since then.
March 6, 2005 |
Please Don't Come Back From the Moon Dean Bakopoulos Harcourt: 288 pp., $23 Dean BAKOPOULOS' novel begins with a single stroke of magical realism: In the spring of 1991, all the fathers in the working-class Detroit suburb Maple Rock simply disappear. The rumor, or communal fantasy, is that these middle-aged family men have decamped to the moon.
January 2, 2005 |
American novelists and story writers are suddenly facing the jeering and bickering diminishing the rest of the culture. The vehement reviewer Dale Peck raises his hatchet over colleagues who happen to be his most potent competition, while novelist and literary magazine editor Heidi Julavits, in a lengthy protest against "snarkiness" in the pages of "The Believer," finds little good in criticism that is too critical. The Web pages of Amazon.
December 5, 2004 |
Birds Without Wings A Novel Louis de Bernieres Alfred A. Knopf: 560 pp., $25.95 Louis de Bernieres is an angry man, and the destructive manifestations of nationalism, above all in pointless warfare, make him seethe with fury and contempt. Only those with the strongest of stomachs will be able to read his horrifyingly brilliant account of trench warfare during the Gallipoli campaign without flinching: All five senses are exploited to the fullest.
May 26, 2002 |
"Palefaces" on one side, and "redskins" on the other was how the critic Philip Rahv divided up American writers in 1938, during bygone days of political incorrectness. In the former category, Rahv located figures such as Henry James and Edith Wharton, "palefaces" partly because of their high-society subject matter and partly because of the ironic, introspective, heavily psychological way they treated it.