What the Novelist Knows

The novelist and diarist Julien Green described in his diary a conversation he had with a French priest, a Fr. Couturier, about the novelist’s necessary complicity with evil: If he is a believer, the difficulty begins when he sits down at his table to write, for he is obliged to become each one of . . . . Continue Reading »

Write Away

The most electrifying reading experience I’ve had this past year came 656 pages into Donna Tartt’s recent novel, The Goldfinch. A twenty-first-century young American’s adventure story, its action moves from wealthy Manhattan to Great Recession–era Las Vegas to decadent high-end European . . . . Continue Reading »

50 Summer Reading Suggestions

The following is a list of favorite works of imaginative literature compiled by a literary snob. Unlike similar lists you won’t find anything as daunting as Finnegan’s Wake or as faddish as whatever Oprah is shilling to her book club. In fact, on first glance the inclusion of children’s books . . . . Continue Reading »

25 Favorite Short Stories

In his Devil’s Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce defined a novel as “a short story padded.” This is an all too apt description. The inability to prune a story to its essential story is an unfortunate quality shared by many modern writers and the primary reason that bookshelves are filled with . . . . Continue Reading »

The Writing Life

It is the rare reader of fiction who does not at some time or other consider becoming a writer. It comes and goes over the years for many, and some carry it about forever as an unredeemed promissory note to themselves. In their heart of hearts, they regard themselves as writers. When my first novel . . . . Continue Reading »

Talking About Writing

Conversations with Tom Wolfe edited by dorothy scura university press of mississippi, 296 pages, $29.95  Conversations with John Gardner edited by allan chavkin university press of mississippi, 310 pages, $29.95Because Tom Wolfe is a celebrity, there is every reason for him to agree to as many . . . . Continue Reading »