Wesley Yang, The Souls of Yellow Folk

The Souls of Yellow Folk by Wesley Yang My rating: 4 of 5 stars It was once a pop-socio-psychological commonplace of American foreign-policy commentary that terrorism on behalf of political Islam was motivated less by ideology and more by an intractable reality of gender: young men with no prospects in their societies will inevitably become … Continue reading Wesley Yang, The Souls of Yellow Folk

Gish Jen, The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East-West Culture Gap

The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East-West Culture Gap by Gish Jen My rating: 3 of 5 stars One time, teaching a course on the graphic novel, I described the differences in artistic form and storytelling technique between manga and Western comics. A student raised her hand and offered the opinion that the … Continue reading Gish Jen, The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East-West Culture Gap

Robert Pogue Harrison, Juvenescence

Juvenescence: A Cultural History of Our Age by Robert Pogue Harrison My rating: 5 of 5 stars Valor consists in the power of self-recovery, so that a man cannot have his flank turned, cannot be out-generalled, but put him where you will, he stands. This can only be by his preferring truth to his past … Continue reading Robert Pogue Harrison, Juvenescence

More Notes Toward a Manifesto on Modern Fiction

(Continued from here.) Let me invoke again D. G. Myers’s Dizikes Rule, which says that you should avoid reading novels less than a decade old. While there is no need to be religious about this rule, I do not hesitate to apply it to vast door-stoppers; life is too short, and I am still only … Continue reading More Notes Toward a Manifesto on Modern Fiction

“Wash Your Windows”: Thoreau and the Prejudices of the Present Day

Virginia Woolf, celebrating Henry David Thoreau’s centenary in 1917: Few people, it is safe to say, take such an interest in themselves as Thoreau took in himself; for if we are gifted with an intense egoism we do our best to suffocate it in order to live on decent terms with our neighbours. We are … Continue reading “Wash Your Windows”: Thoreau and the Prejudices of the Present Day

George Steiner, In Bluebeard’s Castle

In Bluebeard's Castle: Some Notes Towards the Redefinition of Culture by George Steiner My rating: 4 of 5 stars Steiner is a wonderful writer; his prose is rich with allusion, concisely learned, grave in its movements. It does sometimes approach a self-serving melodrama, as James Wood once famously noted; it could stand to be aerated … Continue reading George Steiner, In Bluebeard’s Castle

Élisabeth Roudinesco, Lacan: In Spite of Everything

Lacan: In Spite Of Everything by Elisabeth Roudinesco My rating: 4 of 5 stars First, what is "everything"? And second, how does le maître survive in spite of it? "Everything" for Roudinesco includes Lacan's often obscurantist vocabulary; his late belief in mathematics as the key to formalizing his theories of subjectivity and society; his inability … Continue reading Élisabeth Roudinesco, Lacan: In Spite of Everything