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Category: Books

David Foster Wallace

I first stumbled across his work when I read “Shipping out: On the (nearly lethal) comforts of a luxury cruise” in the January 1996 issue of Harper’s. Harper’s continued to publish several of his essays over the years, such as Ticket to the Fair, a postmodern deconstruction of a midwest county fair. [sorry, these links…

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Richard Matheson

Shopping the local B&N late one evening for some trashy sci-fi to read, I spotted a copy of a book of stories by Richard Matheson. I’d never heard of him, actually, but I had indeed heard of “The Incredible Shrinking Man.” You remember the classic black-and-white movie, featuring the climactic battle between the title character…

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Themistocles Rodis

A former professor of mine died last week. Here’s his obituary from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He was my European History prof when I was a freshman. As a freshman in the music school my interest in the subject was, shall we say, not exactly obsessive. Nevertheless, he hung in there and tried his best…

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Top 100s

The nice people at Entertainment Weekly have been good enough to entertain us with a set of “new classics” top 100 lists. These lists, thank goodness, recognize the inherent bias in the “of all time” lists I’m always griping about and make it clear that these are the top 100 of the last 25 years.…

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Robert Fagles

The Princeton professor and noted translator died today. If you’ve ever labored under the idea that the Greek classics were boring, stuffy, or just not action-packed enough for today’s modern world then you’ve never read his translation of The Odyssey. The credit for the brilliant pacing and development of Odysseus’ long journey home, and which…

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No Country For Old Men

Going to a movie is one thing. Reading a book is another. For many years I’ve been an avid reader of Cormac McCarthy. I’ve made it a point, in fact, to read everything by him at least twice. McCarthy’s style is heavy on landscape and theme, with plot somewhat de-emphasized. There is plot, and sometimes…

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A Strange Sense of Deja Vu

Flipping through tomorrow’s New York Times Book Review I see reviews of two books that are, uh, less-than-recent. Richard Rhodes’ “Arsenals of Folly,” which I touched on briefly here close to four weeks ago, and John Dean’s “Broken Government,” which has already got a thick layer of dust on it wherever it is I set…

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Reagan and Gorbachev

I’m not even done reading Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race yet, but it looks like Richard Rhodes has hit another home run. I was totally blown away, so to speak, by the chapter “Looking Over The Horizon” last night. It’s a minute-by-minute account of the Reykjavic summit of 1986, when…

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The Road

Post-apocalyptic fiction in its postwar versions has at least two common threads. One is, they tend to be cautionary tales. The most common of course being the threat of nuclear annihilation. There are too many examples of that to even list. But others themes include, “it’s not nice to mess around with germs” (“28 Days…

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