A fiercely odd, even unfashionably allegorical book, Second Place would be disappointing if it weren’t so bafflingly good.
The Last of the Storytellers
In his fiction, Nikolai Leskov writes as if he is overhearing the stories being told.
Raymond Roussel’s Stories Are Based on Complex Word Games
A precursor to literary surrealism, Roussel employed pastiche and mathematics to prioritize form over content.
Two Books Take on the Vast Ecological and Social Consequences of Climate Change
A Year Without a Winter looks to the past to imagine how people might grapple with the climate upheavals of the future, while A Moving Border explores how rising temperatures have changed the geography of Europe.
Airships and Reanimated Corpses from the Pages of Early Science Fiction
WASHINGTON, DC — Science fiction rose to prominence in the 19th and early 20th centuries, when authors like H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, and Mary Shelley imagined the extraordinary possibilities of advances in technology and exploration.
Write the Stories of Thousands of Found Polaroids
In the 1970s and ’80s the Polaroid instant camera quickly captured family moments and delivered the images on the spot.
The Many Faces of Eleanor Antin
Let me introduce you to a few of the many selves of Eleanor Antin, as they are represented in the show Multiple Occupancy: Eleanor Antin’s “Selves,” currently on view at the Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University.
The Lonely Books That No One Borrows
What is the fate of a library book that never gets checked out? Does it stay in the library anyway, holding fast in its place, waiting for someone to borrow it? Or does it eventually get cast off, donated to a thrift or used bookstore or incorporated into the collection of a place like Brooklyn’s Reanimation Library? And what does it say about the book itself, that no one has ever wanted to borrow and read it? Is it a failure of its form?
The Work of Fiction in the Age of Digital Reproduction: Alexandra Chasin’s “Brief”
Alexandra Chasin’s Brief, an innovative narrative in the form of an iPad app, is “Exhibit A” in the case that the novel is finding exciting new ways to reinvent itself after the digital turn. Brief, the first novel-app of its kind, would make a rich and wonderful addition to any syllabus or reading list on appropriation, experimental fiction, new media literature, visual studies, violence and representation, or text and image, and I hope in these “brief” paragraphs to adumbrate some of the reason why.
Steve Martin Attempts to Skewer the Art World & Fails
You may know Steve Martin from being one of our time’s defining comedians, actors and celebrity figures. But along with those first few titles, the man is also a renowned collector of contemporary art, as well as a novelist and a playwright. These pursuits could be called hobbies if they didn’t require quite so much dedication. Martin’s An Object of Beauty (2010), his third novel, attempts to combine the actor’s sidelines in writing and art into a narrative showpiece that aims a satirical skewer at the art world. Unfortunately, the punch never lands. Object of Beauty is too simplistic and editorializing for an art world-savvy audience and too limping for readers just looking for a punchy narrative.