| Jun 22, 2008
New Directions: 176 pp., $24.95 box
The writer B.S. Johnson was one of a handful of modern authors -- among others, Alan Burns, Ann Quin, Zulfikar Ghose -- who extended the range of the English novel by moving...
| Jul 20, 2008
About two years ago, when rats came down from a lowquat tree and began scratching around and scuttling around in the crawl space beneath our Venice home, I made my wife laugh (and wince) by reading to her from Joseph Mitchell's classic 1944 New Yorker...
| Oct 4, 2009
Out this week, just in time for Octoberfest, is "Drunk: The Definitive Drinkers Dictionary." The book contains no fewer than 2,964 synonyms for "drunk." "The English language includes more synonyms for the word 'drunk' than for any other word," writes...
| Nov 15, 2009
Dino Buzzati: "Poem Strip" (NYRB Classics)
This is weird, wild, wonderful. Dino Buzzati was a luminary of the Italian avant-garde around the middle of the last century. His writing started out as straightforward realism but moved toward Gogol and Kafka....
| Nov 25, 2009
Partway through W.R. Burnett's 1956 noir "It's Always Four O'Clock," one of the central characters, a pianist named Royal Mauch, gives a disquisition about jazz.
"It's the only live art in the world today," he tells the novel's narrator, Stan Pawley. "[...
| Jun 17, 2009
Happy the poet whose life and work remain so well-remembered that his name becomes an adjective.
George Gordon Byron, sixth baron of that title, is certainly a poet who stands in that rarefied company, though it's hard to believe that even the linguistic...
| Jul 20, 2009
Frank McCourt, the retired New York City schoolteacher who launched his late-in-life literary career by tapping memories of his grim, poverty-stricken childhood in Ireland to write the Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir "Angela's Ashes," died Sunday of cancer....
| Jul 20, 2009
"An autobiographical fact," the Irish playwright Brian Friel once remarked, "may be a lie and no less true for all of that."
Frank McCourt, who died Sunday just a month shy of his 79th birthday, would have appreciated Friel's sentiment, for "Angela's...
| Aug 9, 2009
Two Dollar Radio: 142 pp., $15.50 paper
"Nog" is a short, strange trip, a cult classic, a blur of a novel. It was published in 1969, the debut brainchild of Rudolph Wurlitzer, child of the upper middle class, college...
| Sep 6, 2009
For a private writer, Nicholson Baker has caused his share of flaps. Wasn't it his novel "Vox" that Monica Lewinsky gave to President Clinton? Didn't his article "Discards" point the finger at librarians who threw away card catalogs and back issues of...
| Feb 25, 2009
Christopher Nolan, an Irish poet and novelist who refused to let cerebral palsy get in the way of his writing, has died. He was 43.
Nolan choked on a piece of food Friday at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, according to a statement from his family in the...