Robert Walser

The READ: Books I Missed
December 01, 2010

One of the perks—and curses—of my work is that new books and galleys arrive at my home at an astonishing rate, often four or five a day. As a person with hoarding tendencies who also happens always to be in search of ideas for pieces, I put an alarming number of them in the “to keep” pile. But when the books, like some out-of-control vine, threaten to choke everything in their path, it’s time for a year-end purge. Sorting through the last year’s accumulation, I discovered a number of books that I had set aside intending to write about but never got to.

The Man Without Categories
June 11, 2008

The Assistant By Robert Walser Translated by Susan Bernofsky (New Directions, 301 pp., $16.95) I. By now the snapshot of the dead Robert Walser has become one of German literature's most often reprinted and commented-upon photographs, its unstaged, accidental existence only reinforcing the image's iconic charge: the last moments of an almost-forgotten great author in an age of mechanical reproduction. Not surprisingly, descriptions of the photograph all bear a striking resemblance to one another.