Category Archive for "Reviews"

Umberto Eco—The Celebration of Folly

Humanism is a living intellectual tradition in the west; one that many of our greatest luminaries have abandoned in frustration. It is a natural project—the kind of thing that serious scholars tend to fall into once they realize that most…

Read More

The Sixth Extinction: The Middle of the End

Our geological era, often called the Anthropocene in honor of its most influential characteristic, has been a remarkable period in Earth’s history. For her book, The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert travelled extensively to produce a stunning account of just how…

Read More

White Boy Shuffle – The Irony of Race

I recall my introduction to African-American literature as a child. A teacher asked my small-town classroom, full of eager young white children to memorize and report on a Langston Hughes poem. I chose “A Negro Speaks of Rivers.” The poem’s…

Read More
Click!

The Martian

Robinson Crusoe is not a novel that I think leaves a wholly pleasant aftertaste in the western cannon. I don’t mean to suggest that the book is badly written or historically unimportant, merely that it embraces various European fantasies and realities (slavery, white…

Read More

The Song of Achilles

Years ago, when I was very young, I remember sitting in a tree far out in the woods behind my home and reading The Illiad. For some three thousand years now, in a line that stretches back to the early…

Read More

Cat’s Cradle

About seventy years ago, our species made an interesting decision. We tested the first nuclear weapon. These days, we’ve managed to forget a great deal about this choice. But Kurt Vonnegut was a close contemporary to these events, and was one…

Read More

Capital for the Twenty-First Century

Capitalism and democracy have always had an uneasy history together, despite their seemingly complimentary natures. Democracy has always acted a bit like capitalism’s irritating little brother, and has picked countless fights over the years. Some of these it wins, but…

Read More

Mr. Palomar

Italo Calvino has learned to be dead. Like the subject of his novel Mr. Palomar, we have had to see how the world has gotten on without him. In fact, he left us some time ago, much to the consternation…

Read More

Unbroken

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand has already had a great deal of ink spilled over it, and deservedly so. The masterful storytelling and elegant attention to detail mark this as a work of great skill and talent. It tells the story…

Read More

Confederacy of Dunces

At one point in the novel A Confederacy of Dunces the character of Ignatius Reilly quips, “I refuse to ‘look up.’ Optimism nauseates me. Since man’s fall, his proper position in the universe is one of misery.” Ignatius may be...
Read More