The Prince Returns: In Defense of Lawrence Durrell

And now, in 2014, Durrell has failed to be appreciated in any substantial way by modern audiences. In fact, the opposite is true: he is positively derided in most serious literary circles nowadays, and his books are rarely studied in universities. His novels are said to be antiquated and selfish, indulgent and over-written. His prose, once thought to be incisive and muscular, is now judged as florid and confusing…

Gaza, Ferguson, and the Perils of White Guilt

On Monday night, a ninety-year-old woman named Hedy Epstein in Ferguson, MO, was arrested wearing a t-shirt that said, “Stay Human.” This was the tenth day of protests over the murder of unarmed teen Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. Epstein, a Holocaust survivor and a Jew, said of her arrest, “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I’d have to do it when I was ninety”…

“Real Pretend People”: An Interview with Justin Taylor

The characters are products of that world but they are also the justification for its existence (which I recognize is itself a thoroughly religious notion), so the characters and their world have a necessarily symbiotic relationship, which means that in order to get the story to a point of completion the characters must feel completed too. If anything else could be done with them then the story would simply not be over. But of course nothing is final, least of all completion. That’s just a noble(ish) lie we tell ourselves so we know when to turn the printer on…

Dead or in Jail: Ferguson and the Bounty on Black Life

In Ferguson we see the collapse of the urban economy and the explosion of the defense industry all in a single shot. What we see, in fact, is the buoying of our economy, and the enrichment of the 1%, at the expense of human lives, lives like Michael Brown’s. This is the family portrait of late-stage American capitalism: our weapons, deployed all over the world, have no targets left but ourselves.

Puzzle Trouble: Women and Crosswords in the Age of Autofill

At this point in his speech, Steinberg suggested that the ever-widening gender gap in crosswords might be explained (or “boysplained,” as one puzzle blogger snarked) by the field’s shift to software-facilitated constructions. Like photography, film, and any number of once-analog trades, the process of puzzle-making has been digitized in the past twenty years…

Read Like an American

I recently picked up A Room of One’s Own because I am beginning to write a novel, and I was wondering if my room and income count. Do I have, quite literally, what Woolf thinks it takes to write fiction? It crossed my mind to see if, adjusted for inflation, I make enough money. What would 500 a year in 1928 be in 2014?

Spaced Out: The Other Berlin Wall

The ultimate fate of the wall is not merely to leave remnant spaces, be they lines or open squares. It is, rather, to reinforce, even in its absence, the primacy of inside over outside, of capital over province, of city over town.