Fiction

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The New New Africa

The New New Africa

AMERICANS have probably learned more in the last three months about Liberia and Sierra Leone than in the previous 10 years. In the unrelieved darkness that comprises a particular Western imagining of...

Carnage Hill, or Frank Bascombe’s Late Years

Carnage Hill, or Frank Bascombe’s Late Years

IN THE SECOND PARAGRAPH of Richard Ford’s 1986 novel The Sportswriter, right after Ford introduces us to Frank Bascombe, the character who has gone on to occupy the author’s attentions for the bet...

God Would Bend

God Would Bend

ABOUT 300 MILLION people reside in the United States, hence the title of Blake Butler’s latest novel, in which he kills all of them. Butler, who has published seven books since his debut in 2009 w...

Notes on a Native Daughter: Joan Didion at 80

Notes on a Native Daughter: Joan Didion at 80

EVEN NOW, even in this century, decades past the pictures with Corvettes and cigarettes and sunglasses, even after her manner, with its uneasy admixture of condescension toward the world and delicacy ...

You Got Pages?

You Got Pages?

 “IF YOU WANT TO WRITE,” my friend Josh Miller said, “go to Les Plesko at UCLA Extension. He’s the best.” It was 1996, Josh was 19 and about to publish his novel The Mao Game with Morrow...

William Gibson’s Breakfast Burrito

William Gibson’s Breakfast Burrito

NEAR THE END of The Peripheral, William Gibson’s latest novel, there is a short chapter dedicated to the problem one character faces in acquiring a breakfast burrito. The burrito is for one of the ...

Is That All There Is to a Novel?

Is That All There Is to a Novel?

JENNY ERPENBECK, born to an intellectual family in East Berlin in 1967, is a critically acclaimed and prizewinning author in her native Germany. She is less well known in the United States, although s...

Freedom from Religion

Freedom from Religion

ARE RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND PRACTICES entitled to special exemptions from laws of general application? Consider that according to a 2006 decision of the Canadian Supreme Court, despite the fact that th...

The Un-Accidental

The Un-Accidental

“WE DO TREAT books surprisingly lightly in contemporary culture,” writes Ali Smith, in Artful, her genre-bending release from 2012. “We’d never expect to understand a piece of music on one lis...