William Deresiewicz

'A Great Symphony of American Junk'
What David Foster Wallace misunderstood about John Updike
September 08, 2014

What David Foster Wallace got wrong about John Updike.

Your Criticism of My Ivy League Takedown Further Proves My Point
August 16, 2014

My goal was to start a debate. That certainly has happened.

Don't Send Your Kid to the Ivy League
The nation's top colleges are turning our kids into zombies
July 21, 2014

The nation's top colleges are turning our kids into zombies.

The Miseducation of the Tiger Mom
An odd new book by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld gives ambition a bad name
March 25, 2014

A book by Yale Law professors Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld shows an astonishing lack of scholarly rigor or common sense.

Can You Apply Game Theory to Jane Austen?

Was Jane Austen a Game Theorist? Author Michael Suk-Young Chwe responds to William Deresiewicz's review of Jane Austen, Game Theorist. 

No, Jane Austen Was Not a Game Theorist
Using science to explain art is a good way to butcher both
January 18, 2014

Proust was a neuroscientist. Jane Austen was a game theorist. Dickens was a gastroenterologist. Enough with the using science to explain art.

Geoff Dyer’s Renovation of Contemporary Nonfiction
December 07, 2012

Before 2013 begins, catch up on the best of 2012. From now until the New Year, we will be re-posting some of The New Republic’s most thought-provoking pieces of the year. Enjoy. Zona By Geoff Dyer (Pantheon, 228 pp., $24)   NEVER MIND the writing, as superb as it so often is: as agile, as subtle, as witty, as funny, as brilliantly insightful. Never mind the breadth—a book about jazz, a book about photography, a book about a film, a book about D.H.

That is So! That is So!
February 22, 2012

The Sense of an Ending By Julian Barnes (Knopf, 163 pp., $23.95) Is it worth it? Life, I mean—is it worth it? Julian Barnes isn’t sure. “I am certainly melancholic myself,” he says in Nothing to Be Frightened Of, a memoir-cum-meditation-on-death, “and sometimes find life an overrated way of passing the time.” Martha Cochrane, in England, England, thinks about “the thinness of life, or at least life as she had known it, or chosen it.” “She had done little in her time,” Jean Serjeant thinks in Staring at the Sun, and Gregory, her son, had done less.

The Shaman
September 14, 2011

The Anatomy of Influence: Literature as a Way of Life By Harold Bloom (Yale University Press, 357 pp., $32.50) With The Anatomy of Influence, Harold Bloom has promised us his “swan song” as a critic. Fat chance.

Portnoy Agonistes
November 19, 2010

Nemesis By Philip Roth (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 280 pp., $26)  I. Even before it begins, Philip Roth’s new novel tells us something interesting about his career. Longtime readers will be familiar with the shape the author’s “Books By” list—the catalogue of previous work that precedes the title page—has taken on in recent years. Instead of the usual chronological enumeration, a set of categories: Zuckerman Books, Roth Books, Kepesh Books, Miscellany, and a bit forlornly, Other Books.

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