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New Books

When you consider the savagery of your run-of-the-mill fairy tale, our use of the term to connote “romance” or “idealization” smacks of nothing more than romance and idealization — a…

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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“I understand the large hearts of heroes,” wrote an ecstatic Walt Whitman in “Song of Myself”: The courage of present times and all times, How the skipper saw the crowded…

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Hell hath no fury like a Hitchcock scorned. After the fat man with the famous profile signed Tippi Hedren to a seven-year contract and put her through what was then…

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A motley crew steers Anne Carson’s FLOAT (Knopf, $30). There’s Edmund Husserl, Jean-Luc Godard, Joan of Arc, Pablo Picasso, mad Hölderlin, Hegel, a chorus of Gertrude Steins, and Carson’s noble,…

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It doesn’t matter that Ursula K. Le Guin has been winning awards for writing about aliens, wizards, and imaginary worlds since the 1960s — the label “science fiction” gives her…

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Across the seven volumes of the Recherche, Proust mentions only one living artist by name — the fashion designer Mariano Fortuny. “Is it their historical character, or is it rather…

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Before she showed Pop paintings at the Whitney and the Guggenheim; before her madcap plays were performed at the Judson Poets’ Theater and La MaMa; before she traveled the female…

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The Ohio River runs through C. E. Morgan’s second novel, THE SPORT OF KINGS (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27). It’s a “hungry current,” a “sucking current,” a “swamping weight” whose…

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Halfway through David Means’s brilliant new novel, HYSTOPIA (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26) — a careening metafiction that hallucinates a post-Vietnam America governed by a third-term JFK in which gangs…

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Julia Ward Howe published her first book of poetry on December 23, 1853, when she was thirty-four years old. It must have made a rather nice Christmas present for her…

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THE VEGETARIAN (Hogarth, $21) is the first — there will be more, let’s hope — of Han Kang’s novels to arrive in the United States. Published in South Korea in 2007, the…

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The night before Aeneas set sail from Carthage, Dido, riven with despair, love, and rage, lay awake, set on her own death. Not so the Trojan. He slept easily aboard…

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In the harsh winter of 1895, Tolstoy wrote a story called “Master and Man,” which tells of a merchant named Brekhunov who, on a day that threatens a blizzard, orders…

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I just wanted to tap. But in the mid-Eighties and early Nineties, in the well-to-do suburbs of New Jersey, the price of flapping, winging, and shuffling off to Buffalo was…

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In the year since Patrick Modiano won the Nobel Prize in Literature, translations of his works have glutted the shelves. Part of this influx has to do with the general…

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New Books

It starts with a mistake; most stories do. Ex-model Luz and her ex-military boyfriend, Ray, are squatting in a dusty mansion in what used to be Laurel Canyon but is…

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New Books

Before Europe orientalized its eastern colonies, the Jew orientalized himself. Living in exile — amid the empires of Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, and the four Islamic caliphates — he…

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New Books

In August 1965, Andy Warhol popped two Desoxyn and set out with his Philips tape recorder to capture a day in the life of Factory superstar Ondine. (The two had…

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April 2018