Nick Adams

The Pale King By David Foster Wallace (Little, Brown, 548 pp., $27.99) Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will By David Foster Wallace (Columbia University Press, 252 pp., $19.95) Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace By David Lipsky (Broadway Books, 320 pp., $16.99) I. Today we think of the 1920s as a golden age of American fiction. But to Edmund Wilson, looking back in 1944, the most striking thing about this modern generation, which he did more than any critic to foster, was its failure to reach full development.

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The Idealist

The bomber carried balloons. They were silver and purple, and when he stepped inside the parking garage, they flitted and danced around his head—obscuring his face, as well as his intentions. It was October 2008, just after 4:30 on a Wednesday afternoon, and the workers in the office tower above the garage in suburban St. Louis were still at their desks. Only surveillance cameras saw the man with the balloons as he hurriedly walked to the parking space marked “654,” knelt down, and placed a wicker basket next to the driver’s side door of a late model Acura TL.

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Over Easy

Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins (Random House, 172 pp., $21.95) The associated press report of Billy Collins's appointment as poet laureate in June was a document of startling philistinism. Under the headline "Popular Poet Named U.S. Laureate," it began: "Billy Collins, a popular poet who makes money at the job, is becoming the 11th U.S.

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