Alfred A. Knopf
March 15, 2012
What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank By Nathan Englander (Alfred A. Knopf, 207 pp., $24.95) The great mystery about the fiction of Nathan Englander is the rapturous response that it has elicited. The enigma deepens with the accolades for this new volume of stories, which, for reasons I will try to explain, is a great falling-off from For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, his debut collection, which appeared in 1999.
The Problem with Purity
May 05, 2011
Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India By Joseph Lelyveld (Alfred A. Knopf, 410 pp., $27.95) In 1914, the Tamil activist and editor P.S. Aiyar took to the pages of his South African newspaper to appraise Mohandas Gandhi. “Mr.
The New Normal
February 10, 2011
And the Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris By Alan Riding (Alfred A. Knopf, 399 pp., $28.95) By the ghastly standards of World War II, the history of France from 1939 to 1944 was a sideshow. Poland, with a smaller pre-war population, suffered at least ten times as many wartime deaths. The Soviet Union, four times larger in 1939, had fully forty times more losses. French cities, in comparison with Polish or Soviet or German cities, survived the war relatively unscathed.
October 20, 2010
Leo and His Circle: The Life of Leo Castelli By Annie Cohen-Solal (Alfred A. Knopf, 540 pp., $35) I. Annie Cohen-Solal’s new biography of Leo Castelli, the art dealer who will forever be associated with the meteoric rise of Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg in the years around 1960, has set me to thinking about the interest that men and women who run galleries inspire among a fairly wide public.
Mr. Coffee and Mr. Fixit
March 13, 2010
Raymond Carver: Collected Stories By Raymond Carver (Library of America, 1019 pp., $40) Raymond Carver: A Writer’s LifeBy Carol Sklenicka (Scribner, 578 pp., $35) In the summer of 1984, the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami and his wife traveled to the remote coastal town of Port Angeles, Washington, to visit Raymond Carver in the glass-walled “Sky House,” overlooking the ocean, which he shared with his partner, the poet Tess Gallagher. It was more of a pilgrimage than a social call.
December 25, 2009
The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future By Robert Darnton (Public Affairs, 218 pp., $23.95) On the Commerce of Thinking: Of Books & Bookstores By Jean-Luc Nancy Translated by David Wills (Fordham University Press, 59 pp., $16) I. The airplane rises from the runway. Bent, folded, and spindled into the last seat in coach class--the one that doesn’t really recline--I pull my Kindle out of the seat pocket in front of me, slide the little switch, and lose myself in Matthew Crawford’s story of his passage from policy wonk to motorcycle mechanic.
The Puffington Host
June 17, 2009
Right is Wrong: How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded the Constitution, and Made Us All Less Safe (And What You Need To Know To End The Madness) By Arianna Huffington (Alfred A.
January 30, 2008
David Golder, The Ball Snow in Autumn, The Courilof Affair By Irène Némirovsky Translated by Sandra Smith (Everyman's Library, 340 pp., $25) Fire in the Blood By Irène Némirovsky Translated by Sandra Smith (Alfred A. Knopf, 138 pp., $22) Irène Némirovsky: Her Life and Works By Jonathan Weiss (Stanford University Press, 195 pp., $24.95) I. The writer: a Jew who had fled to the French countryside seeking refuge from occupied Paris, eventually deported to Auschwitz, where she would die in a typhus epidemic soon after her arrival.
Getting to the End
May 21, 2007
The Road By Cormac McCarthy (Alfred A. Knopf, 241 pp., $24) IN ADDITION to the 9/11 novel, and the 9/11 novel that is pretending not to be a 9/11 novel, an old genre has been re-awakened by new fears: the post-apocalyptic novel (which may well be, in fact, the 9/11 novel pretending not to be one). The possibility that familiar, habitual existence might be so disrupted within the next hundred years that crops will fail, warm places will turn into deserts, and species will become extinct—that areas of the earth may become uninhabitable—holds and horrifies the contemporary imagination.
May 21, 2007
The Ministry of Special CasesBy Nathan Englander (Alfred A. Knopf, 339 pp., $25) IN ONE OF the best-known stories in For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, the collection of short stories that shot Nathan Englander into the literary stratosphere seven years ago, a middle-aged WASP sitting in a taxi cab has the sudden and inexplicable revelation that he is Jewish. The next day he visits a rabbi in Brooklyn, who informs him that he is a gilgul, or reincarnated soul, and sends him off with a copy of The Chosen.