Author Archive

The Year In Humor

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2015 was an awful, depressing year for current events. The violence was so widespread that to reduce it to a single sentence like this is to vastly undermine the scale and gravitas of human suffering endured. With California out of water and the unsettling winter heat wave currently afflicting

Laughs Online

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In 2003, when I first moved to New York at eighteen, I remember reading The Onion at various coffee shops, clutching it in a mittened hand in Washington Square Park. The Onion was also online then, of course. It’s been online since 1996, which is crazy considering what the Internet looked like

The Fairytale Redux: On Patrick deWitt’s “Undermajordomo Minor”

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The last thing the world needs is another reimagining of the fairy tale. It has been done from every angle: straightforward, post-modern, and (yawn) from the villain’s perspective. So it was with some wariness that I approached Patrick deWitt’s new novel, Undermajordomo Minor, a fairy tale of sorts that

“Cow Country” And The Problem With Pseudonyms

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A recent post on the Harper’s blog has gotten me thinking about pseudonyms. In it, Art Winslow posits that a new novel, Cow Country, from an obscure vanity press was actually authored by Thomas Pynchon under the pseudonym Adrian Jones Pearson. As evidence, Winslow points to certain aesthetic similarities

Rehabbing the Southern Way of Life: On “The World’s Largest Man”

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At a cultural moment when it seems the Southern Way of Life needs some image rehab, the timing of Harrison Scott Key’s memoir of his Mississippi childhood is impeccable. The World’s Largest Man takes on the Southern masculine ideal, violence, race and more, all under the guise of amiable

At Some Point The Writer Should Be Having Fun: An Interview With Arthur Bradford

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An incomplete list of the animals that appear in Arthur Bradford’s latest collection Turtleface and Beyond include a dead cat, a porcupine that menaces a recluse’s outhouse, a dog liberated from the pound, and the eponymous turtle, of face fame. Besides Turtleface, which came out in February, Bradford is the author

Revisiting The Campus Novel

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For the past few weeks, everywhere I’ve gone in New York City, I’ve seen college students in full graduation regalia. New York is home to countless universities, and May and early June is prime season for mortarboards and proud parents from the Midwest boldly venturing on to the subway.

Hilarious Discomfort: On Paul Beatty’s “The Sellout”

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The Sellout — Paul Beatty Farrar, Straus & Giroux March 2015 304 pages Buy now I sat down to read Paul Beatty’s new satirical novel The Sellout knowing I was going to write about it. In fact, I had committed to writing about it. I had pitched it; it was my idea. This

The Funniest Writer You’ve Never Read

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The funniest writer you’ve never read is a deceased Canadian named Mordecai Richler. The author of ten novels, a short story collection, and several books of essays, Richler was—and is—hugely famous in Canada. That he is not well known in this country is possibly a product of our curious

The Long Death Of Genre Distinction

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The latest lit dust-up over genre involved Kazuo Ishiguro and Ursula K. Le Guin. In a review of Ishiguro’s new book The Buried Giant, Le Guin took umbrage at some remarks he made to the New York Times. “Will readers follow me into this?” went Ishiguro’s offending comment. “Will they