| Mar 31, 2011
Five years ago, on the eve of the 2006 baseball season, I put together a list of nine favorite baseball books — one for each inning, one for every player on the field. Such a list was not meant to be definitive (how could it be?), but since then I'...
| May 4, 2008
In the long and often embarrassing history of intellectuals' attempts to grapple with pop culture, there are, at least, a few high points. One of them is the work of the late Leslie Fiedler, the garrulous and provocative critic of literature who could...
| Feb 26, 2010
"The Man With Two Arms"
By Billy Lombardo
Overlook, 336 pages, $24.95
The man of the title, really a young man from Chicagoland, has two golden arms. His name is Denny Granville and his baseball-crazed father Henry raises him from infancy to play ball -...
| May 22, 2011
For me, summer reading has always been about freedom. Not the freedom to dumb down with mindless entertainment but the freedom to wise up, to be ambitious, to pursue the passions that, during the rest of the year, often take a backseat to the...
| Jul 1, 2011
| 1:13 PM
He was a man in motion — the beautifully controlled fury of a great athlete.
How, though, to convey that energy and grit and grace on the flat page of a graphic novel? How to suggest the up-and-at-'em vigor of a Roberto Clemente in a venue that...
| Apr 1, 2012
| 6:45 PM
The perfect book for group discussion is one that's challenging but not impenetrable. It transports you to a different time and place, but is smooth enough to avoid motion sickness. It's a book that feels like there's a lot at stake.With those...
| Sep 16, 2011
| 4:06 PM
There should be a Biblical saying — For if a new novel, for which the publisher has paid an enormous amount of cash, lives up to its hype, all shall considered themselves blessed — and if that novel cometh from the Midwest, homeland to Floyd...
| May 22, 2011
1974: Unhappy at summer camp, I holed up in my bunk and read Philip Roth's "Portnoy's Complaint" and Bernard Malamud's "The Natural." The camp might have been awful, but the books were anything but.
1980: In June, I attended a writers conference at UC...
| May 18, 2012
| 11:25 AM
Earlier this year, when Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed a 100-book required reading list for his compatriots, it provoked anxiety, rekindling memories of Soviet-era censorship. The furor underscored an important point: that literature plays a...
| Apr 13, 2012
| 1:42 PM
Each novelist requires circumstance — a situation to describe, from which a conflict arises — and the ivy-covered college hall or dormitory room provides such context readily. It would take research and, thereafter, expertise to write about...