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Things Fall Apart has been on my bedside table for more than a month, but I am usually so exhausted by bedtime that I don’t even bother to pick it up.



I do not often read debut novels, but I think I will make an exception for John Brandon’s Arkansas.

Chinua Achebe

In The Chronicle Peter Monaghan interviews Chinua Achebe as he looks back at Things Fall Apart and the course of his career.

Wizard of the Crow

“In a novel you have to resist the urge to tell everything,” said J.K. Rowling in a July interview with Meredith Viera on the Today show. I would have preferred that she had said even less in Deathly Hallows than she did, but she’s the Author, and Authors get to make their own Important Decisions About Plots. Rowling has been a curious sort of Author, however, because her resistance to telling everything has weakened like a New Orleans levy the more time has passed.

The Way an American Stood

On the climax of The Golden Bowl.

Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables: lesbian fantasy.

The Family Coach

Of course, as soon as I say I can’t write about it while I’m reading, everything changes. The first chapter in Volume 2 of The Golden Bowl is remarkable.


The novel juxtaposes the nuance and subtlety that exists within a tight social network with a bold action that may (or may not) take place precisely because everything else is so subtle.

Whence came human rights?

Incomplete thoughts, offered in light of a notion that novels were the instigation of human rights in Western society.

Oprah Hates Us

The next pick for the Oprah Book Club is Cormac McCarthy’s The Road!

Notes from Dracula

Why The Essential Dracula, edited by Leonard Wolf, though fascinating, is unreadable.


My boss loved Philip Roth’s Everyman, she said, because she saw something in it that’s true about aging; she also loved its concise prose. Mom too, who read it the weekend she visited last October, liked it for similar reasons.

The Portrait of a Lady

Wrapping up The Portrait of a Lady.

At a Window, Receiving

If you want this stuff on Portrait of a Lady to end, you best hope I finish it this weekend.

Touchett × Osmond

On the villainy of Gilbert Osmond and the structure of a paragraph in The Portrait of a Lady.

Description of a Villa

It would be more appropriate to call what we often call “cinematic” Jamesian, I wager.

The nature of self

Observations on a conversation between Madame Merle and Isabel Archer in The Portrait of a Lady.