Here are some reviews, articles and essays that I’ve written about books, publishing and writers. You’ll notice that they’re listed in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. Click on the links to read ’em, or click here for a wild-card view of these pieces.
REVIEWS and such
- A discussion of the influential and, to my mind, wildly overpraised short story writer Raymond Carver.
- A review of Tyler Cowen’s brain-opening “In Praise of Commercial Culture.”
- A short review of mystery novelist Robert Crais’ first-class “Lullaby Town.”
- A review of John Grisham’s “The Client.” Why is Grisham as popular as he is?
- John Howard was the creator of the immortal “Horny Biker Slut,” one of the filthiest underground comix ever. I’m a big fan.
- A review of Klaus Kinski’s wonderfully crazy autobiography “Kinski Uncut.”
- A review of “Architecture: Choice or Fate,” a gorgeous and brilliant book by the New Classical architect and theorist Léon Krier.
- I thought economist Steven Landsburg’s “Fair Play” was berserk.
- I wasn’t much taken with “Slapboxing With Jesus,” the first book by the celebrated young Victor D. LaValle.
- I found “Respect: An Exploration,” by the PC/multicultural heroine Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, just awful.
- I wound up semi-enjoying “True Story,” a novel by the comedian Bill Maher.
- With “Nobody’s Angel,” the very gifted Thomas McGuane seemed to me to be treading water.
- I enjoyed catching up with the novels of Terry McMillan.
- I love a lot of Haruki Murakami’s books, but not “South of the Border, West of the Sun.”
- “Time and Tide” is one of my favorite Edna O’Brien books.
- John Osborne’s “A Better Class of Person” is appalling but very entertaining.
- I loved Tom Perrotta’s touching and funny “The Wishbones.”
- “Joe College” also brought out the Perrotta fan in me.
- I thought “Blues Up and Down,” Tom Piazza’s book about jazz, was a winner.
- I love a lot of Manuel Puig’s novels, but “Eternal Curse on the Reader of These Pages” wasn’t among the best of them.
- I liked Puig’s “Pubis Angelica” a lot better.
- The jazzy, irreverent work of Ishmael Reed is definitely worth getting to know.
- I’m a better man for having been smacked around by John Ralston Saul’s provocative “The Doubter’s Companion.”
- The New Zealander Maurice Shadbolt was criminally unappreciated in the U.S. but wrote some tremendous novels, including “Monday’s Warriors.”
- I found Josef Skvorecky’s “Dvorak in Love” both dazzling and very moving.
- If it were up to me, Lee Smith would be in the running for the title of “Greatest Living American Novelist.”
- Gilbert Sorrentino was a major talent — even if I found his 1983 “Blue Pastoral” to be an antic drag.
- Stephen Vizinczey deserves to be better-known, IMHO, especially as a critic.
- Douglas E. Winter’s thriller “Run” was nothing if not smart and virtuosic. I didn’t enjoy it much, though.
THEME PIECES and PROFILES
- The advent of the World Wide Web got me thinking about the death of the author.
- What do people get out of reading long, hyper-detailed accounts of movieworld shenanigans?
- A couple of books about moviemaking in the ’70s and ’80s got me musing about that era.
- I indulged my irreverence vis a vis some recent changes in literary publishing.
- What books do the people who work in the book publishing business enjoy reading most for their own pleasure?
- My wife Polly and I were close friends with the great film critic Pauline Kael. We talked to her in 1989 for Interview magazine, and I talked with her again in 1994 for The Modern Review.
- Lynne Munson is a fierce and persuasive critic of both The New Museology and the National Endowment for the Arts. I talked to her when her excellent book “Exhibitionism” was published.
- I talked with that brilliant eccentric Oliver Sacks for Interview magazine.
- The novelist Silvia Sanza brings a true bohemian’s outlook and tone to bear on her work, which is soulful and poetic. I did a short interview with her.
- I interviewed Lee Smith when she published a very touching collection of stories.
- I often prefer comic books to graphic novels.
- I sampled a Japanese pop-lit genre known as the “business novel.”
- Browse a collection of my shorter book reviews.
- In a survey I did for Opera News of Richard Nixon in the arts and the media, I yakked about numerous books that Nixon has featured in.
- I was enthusiastic about two biographies of movieworld figures, one about Mary Pickford, the other about Mae West.