Some Recent Publications

A review of László Földényi’s Dostoyevsky Reads Hegel in Siberia and Bursts Into Tears for On the Seawall:

For years I have been susceptible to bouts of vertigo. My toes skid over the lip of a stair, or I take a too-quick glance over a high ledge, or the face of a friend contorts during an ordinary conversation into an expression of sudden emotion — and my sense of balance is gone. The vertigo comes and goes quickly. I’ve learned to respond to its presence with jaw-tight stillness rather than flailing arms and dramatic pratfalls. But the sense never leaves me that I might pitch at any moment into a chasm at the heart of reality. Reading László Földényi’s essay collection (translated by Ottilie Mulzet) is the literary analog to this experience. His essays are vertiginous. (Read on…)

“The Romance of Distance Has Faded,” a short essay about spiders, tall buildings, and Kafka for Lapsus Lima:

The web stretched across a floor-to-ceiling window. I was in Toronto, in a short term rental on the 25th floor of a highrise. It fulfilled a childhood ambition of mine to live, however briefly, in a tower. I would be there for several weeks, and I planned to spend a lot of time standing at the window. But no part of my plan involved watching a spider. Her fragile architecture blocked my view of the skyline I intended to study. In the end, I mostly studied her. (Read on…)

A review of Sheila Liming’s What a Library Means to a Woman for The Los Angeles Review of Books:

IN 1984, George Ramsden, a 30-year-old British bookseller who had never read anything by Edith Wharton, bought her personal library for $80,000. He kept the books in a room above his bookshop where he would invite select visitors to view them by asking if they wanted to come up and see “Edith.” When he finally sold the library (for $2.5 million) to The Mount — the Wharton museum in Massachusetts — he negotiated the right to accompany it across the Atlantic to set up the display himself. He wept as he unpacked the books and demanded solitude as he arranged them. People get weird about libraries, or, to put it another way, libraries seem to accrue values beyond use and exchange. So what does a library mean? (Read on…)

New Publication: On The Bad Side of Books, by D.H. Lawrence

In The Los Angeles Review of Books, I reviewed the new collection of D.H. Lawrence’s essays from NYRB Classics. It’s just another book review, and it’s out at an inauspicious time. Few people are reading book reviews when they could be staring at the doomsday scroll, stoking their anxiety about the pandemic, and sharing disinformation with each other. But I want to note the publication here, because from my perspective it marks a definite advance in my skill with a certain kind of prose and the elements of a certain kind of journalism. The advance may not be visible to others, but I can see it, and so I’m very pleased to have the piece out in the world.