In honor of Banned Books Week, we'll be publishing our original reviews of frequently banned books. In 1969, a then relatively unknown Michael Crichton—who would go on to write some of the best-selling science fiction of all time—reviewed Kurt Vonnegut's latest novel, Slaughterhouse Five. In an ambivalent take, Crichton called it "hideous, ghastly, murderous—and calm."
If the history of the western moral imagination is the story of an enduring and unending revolt against human cruelty, there are few more consequential figures than Raphael Lemkin—and few whose achievements have been more ignored by the general public. It was he who coined the word “genocide.” He was also its victim. Forty-nine members of Lemkin’s family, including his mother and father, were rounded up in eastern Poland and gassed in Treblinka in 1943.
Billed as “an intense, wild ride into the dark heart of celebrity,” James Franco’s novel Actors Anonymous—which comes out next month—is an intense, wild ride into the ego of James Franco. The book’s format ranges from essays to poetry to Wikipedia entries, and jumps between the perspectives of several actors in a fictional support group called “Actors Anonymous.” Somehow Franco managed to wrangle blurbs from Gary Shteyngart, Amy Hempel, and David Shields, adding to the sense of the book as performance art.
Do you have an eight-year-old child? Is your son or daughter currently being educated by a teacher, in a school? If so, you are a failure as a parent, and as an American. You need to quit your job (or if you are a man, tell your wife to quit her job) and teach your child at home. By “teach,” I mean have your child read a lot of books and watch YouTube videos on his or her own. So says Ron Paul in his new book, The School Revolution.
Earlier this year, the BBC2 programme Horizon affixed “cat-cams” to 50 feline inhabitants of the Surrey village of Shamley Green to learn what the moggies got up to once they had exited the catflap and embraced their inner catness. To anyone who owns—or is owned by—a cat, the results were surprisingly unsurprising.
This town is no worse than your town
I've been having an argument with a friend of mine, a veteran Washington journalist, about whether it can really be true that where I live (an apartment building on the Upper West Side of New York, all of whose residents are Columbia faculty members), people aren’t talking about This Town.
Coetzee has become the preeminent author of evasion, but his new novel is a direct literary delight.
For half a century, Thomas Pynchon has been America's preeminent novelist of paranoia, the writer who sees patterns and connections where others find only the random detritus of history. His emblem could be the spiral horn that Oedipa Maas, the heroine of The Crying of Lot 49, begins to notice emblazoned everywhere, on walls and in corners: The horn is the logo of the Tristero, an ancient, underground mail-delivery service that remains invisible precisely because it is so omnipresent.
The persistent appeal of the single-year book ...
In July of 1922, British artist and author Wyndham Lewis dropped in on Ezra Pound at his studio in Paris and found him boxing with a “splendidly built young man, stripped to the waist, and with a torso of dazzling white.” That young man, a journalist covering Paris for the Toronto Star (who was beating Pound handily), remembered Lewis somewhat less favorably.