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Reviews

Keeping Up Appearances

Jennifer Egan’s shallow depths

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New Books

When last we heard from Isabel Archer, she was on her way from London back to Rome, where her husband, the cruel, cosmopolitan aesthete Gilbert Osmond, was waiting. That’s how…

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Lean Out

Feminist struggles are labor struggles

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Horror Show

The nightmare logic of Twin Peaks

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Into the Wild

Henry David Thoreau as prophet, naturalist, and stealth comedian

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New Books

Before he invented telegraphic code, Samuel Morse was a portrait painter. In the winter of 1825, he left his family in Connecticut and traveled to Washington, D.C., for a sitting…

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The Lives of Others

Does the social novel have a future?

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The Escape Artist

Nicole Krauss and her precursors

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New Books

We are ushered into a feminine world on page 1 of David Plante’s DIFFICULT WOMEN (New York Review Books, $16.95), when the author meets Jean Rhys in a South Kensington…

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Liberation Struggle

Discussed in this essay: Chester B. Himes: A Biography, by Lawrence P. Jackson. W. W. Norton. 640 pages. $35. Early in Chester Himes’s first and best-known novel, If He Hollers…

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New Books

I write this month from my parents’ home in New Jersey, to which I have escaped, with my baby son, from the jackhammers tearing down the parapets of our apartment…

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New Books

In Marie ­NDiaye’s novel MY HEART HEMMED IN (Two Lines Press, $14.95), Nadia and Ange, a middle-aged couple from Bordeaux, become outcasts. “What sort of wickedness, I ask myself, are they suddenly…

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Tomb Raiders

The afterlives of Lenin

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It Wants to Go to Bed with Us

John Ashbery’s well-spent youth

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New Books

If you were losing your mind, how would you know? What if instead it were the world that was losing its mind — flouting the usual statutes re: time and…

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Unseen Worlds

Islam’s forgotten reformation

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Head-Scratcher

Can neuroscience finally explain consciousness?

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New Books

Maurice Sendak once said that the subject of all his work was the “extraordinary heroism of children in the face of . . . a mostly indifferent adult world.” Nowhere…

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New Books

An acquaintance once asked Mary Gaitskill and her then husband about their house, which sat at the edge of a college campus, surrounded by woods. I said it was nice…

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Behind the Fig Leaf

Mary McCarthy’s sexual revolution

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Door to Door

Mohsin Hamid’s displaced persons

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New Books

Conversion tales are perennially popular, but there is less of an audience for stories about what comes after — the daily struggle to live out your faith when the first…

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Good Plain English

The problem with writing manuals

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No Fool

Elif Batuman takes on the M.F.A.

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New Books

George Saunders is the most humane American writer working today. He need not ask, as Sheila Heti did in the title of her novel, how a person should be. He…

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Life Choices

Paul Auster’s multitudes

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New Books

Until the U.S. government got wind of it, the sharpest critic of the Mormon practice of polygamy was Joseph Smith’s legal wife, Emma. But as Laurel Thatcher Ulrich explains in…

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December 2017