Jonathan Dee

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Reviews — From the May 2018 issue

Walk Away

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Helen DeWitt’s uncompromising fictions

Reviews — From the September 2017 issue

The Lives of Others

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Does the social novel have a future?

Reviews — From the September 2016 issue

The Man Who Loved Metaphors

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Jonathan Safran Foer’s authorial intrusions

Reviews — From the April 2016 issue

Disappearing Act

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Mark Leyner’s self-consuming fictions

Reviews — From the October 2015 issue

Residence on Earth

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The genius of Joy Williams

Revisions — From the June 2015 issue

Shhh! Socialism

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Karl Taro Greenfeld and the novel of inequality

Reviews — From the June 2014 issue

Agreeable Angstrom

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John Updike, Yes-Man

Reviews — From the January 2014 issue

The American Id

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Robert Stone returns home

Reviews — From the April 2013 issue

Time’s Current

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The autumnal works of James Salter

Reviews — From the September 2011 issue

The pretender

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Dana Spiotta’s persuasive performances

Reviews — From the September 2010 issue

Speed of light in a vacuum

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Tom McCarthy’s historical avant-garde

Reviews — From the September 2009 issue

Motherless children

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Lorrie Moore tries to keep it real

Reviews — From the April 2009 issue

Suburban ghetto

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John Cheever, misread and misunderstood

Reviews — From the June 2006 issue

Fallen boundaries

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Deborah Eisenberg’s big short stories

Reviews — From the April 2005 issue

Ready-made rebellion

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The empty tropes of transgressive fiction

Reviews — From the November 2003 issue

Sons and monsters

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John O’Hara gains a defender

Reviews — From the January 2003 issue

The “I” spy

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Fiction and the autobiographical question

Reviews — From the November 1999 issue

Exile on Main Street

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A Russian writer tries his hand at the Great American Novel

Reviews — From the June 1999 issue

The reanimators

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On the art of literary graverobbing

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October 2019

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Secrets and Lies·

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In 1973, when Barry Singer was a fifteen-year-old student at New York’s Yeshiva University High School for Boys, the vice principal, Rabbi George Finkelstein, stopped him in a stairwell. Claiming he wanted to check his tzitzit—the strings attached to Singer’s prayer shawl—Finkelstein, Singer says, pushed the boy over the third-floor banister, in full view of his classmates, and reached down his pants. “If he’s not wearing tzitzit,” Finkelstein told the surrounding children, “he’s going over the stairs!”

“He played it as a joke, but I was completely at his mercy,” Singer recalled. For the rest of his time at Yeshiva, Singer would often wear his tzitzit on the outside of his shirt—though this was regarded as rebellious—for fear that Finkelstein might find an excuse to assault him again.

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Seeking Asylum·

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Out of sight on Leros, the island of the damned

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Poem for Harm·

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Reflections on harm in language and the trouble with Whitman

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Good Bad Bad Good·

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About fifteen years ago, my roommate and I developed a classification system for TV and movies. Each title was slotted into one of four categories: Good-Good; Bad-Good; Good-Bad; Bad-Bad. The first qualifier was qualitative, while the second represented a high-low binary, the title’s aspiration toward capital-A Art or lack thereof.

Some taxonomies were inarguable. The O.C., a Fox series about California rich kids and their beautiful swimming pools, was delightfully Good-Bad. Paul Haggis’s heavy-handed morality play, Crash, which won the Oscar for Best Picture, was gallingly Bad-Good. The films of Francois Truffaut, Good-Good; the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, Bad-Bad.

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Life after Life·

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For time ylost, this know ye,
By no way may recovered be.
—Chaucer

I spent thirty-eight years in prison and have been a free man for just under two. After killing a man named Thomas Allen Fellowes in a drunken, drugged-up fistfight in 1980, when I was nineteen years old, I was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Former California governor Jerry Brown commuted my sentence and I was released in 2017, five days before Christmas. The law in California, like in most states, grants the governor the right to alter sentences. After many years of advocating for the reformation of the prison system into one that encourages rehabilitation, I had my life restored to me.

Cost of renting a giant panda from the Chinese government, per day:

$1,500

A recent earthquake in Chile was found to have shifted the city of Concepción ten feet to the west, shortened Earth’s days by 1.26 microseconds, and shifted the planet’s axis by nearly three inches.

A solid-gold toilet named “America” was stolen from Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, in Oxfordshire, England.

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