In Thornton Wilder’s powerful and subversive masterpiece Our Town, Mrs. Gibbs of provincial little Grover’s Corners holds forth on the wider world: “It seems to me,” she says, “once in your life, before you die, you ought to see a country where they don‘t speak any English and they don‘t even want to.” The line is delivered with just the slightest undertone of incredulity, of disbelief that such a place could really exist.Read More
Once upon a time, there was only one way to write a novel. You thought up your setting, then you peopled it with characters, and you decided what you wanted to happen to all of them. The endeavor was usually completely solitary, and when it was all over, you had a novel.
Only comparatively recently in the novel’s long history did an alternative to this process present itself. Sometime in the mid 20th century a few writers began abandoning the old method; they began disdaining plot, not caring if their characters were consistent or what happened to them, and complaining about the strictures of tradition.
And so, Jesse Ball.Read More
Larry Alex Taunton, the Founder and Executive Director of the Christian advocacy group Fixed Point Foundation, was a friend and debating opponent of famed atheist Christopher Hitchens, who died of throat cancer in 2011. Hitchens’ book god Is Not Great was a huge bestseller from the instant of its appearance, its serial condemnation of all organized religion capitalizing on the wave of “New Atheism” then sweeping the United States. The book solidified Hitchens’ status as a star of the lecture circuit, and when he embarked on what he unctuously referred to as his “little book tour,” he debated one religious apologist after another, usually using showmanship and bombast to mop the floor with opponents who’d mistakenly shown up in order to debate religion.Read More
Journalist Somini Sengupta’s nonfiction debut, The End of Karma: Hope and Fury Among India’s Young, starts off on a deceptively mild note, with a glimpse of her childhood in Calcutta (a “steamy metropolis of Victoria and jazz”), but it quickly hurtles into the full gear of both reportage and prose. This is a raw, unposed snapshot of the world’s largest democracy.Read More
When Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz became Nazi Germany’s Head of State on April 30, 1945, named by Hitler in his will as his successor, many of his fellow Germans and most of his Allied enemies would have asked the same simple question Barry Turner asks in his even-handed and understated new book, Karl Doenitz and the Last Days of the Third Reich.Read More
Biographers and armchair physicians for centuries have clambered over the wreckage of Henry VIII’s body and sought to know the cause of it. In his final years, the King had grown so fat he could scarcely move himself – he had to be trundled around his various residences by a series of winches and pulleys, aided by the heaving of many courtiers. Partly this was due to unchecked gluttony and lifelong carousingRead More
Edward VI, the only legitimate male heir of Henry VIII, provoked awe at an early age. The Venetian ambassador in later life had no doubt of it: the greatest of all English monarchs died before he could become so.Read More