Wordsworth in the Month of May

William Wordsworth is a springtime poet. Even if read in a different season, his best ballads and sonnets seem fixed fast within the spring season — particularly, it seems, during the 31 days of May. Reading Wordsworth, you don’t come looking for autumn odes or lines composed on a January morning. No, if you could assign the … Continue reading

William Gaddis’ The Recognitions

The introduction to the Dalkey Archive edition of The Recognitions, William Gaddis’ first, longest, and most difficult novel, references a moment when the self-effacing author drew a picture of himself for a collection of essays. Appropriately, he left out the head. In a century that would have no shortage of “invisible novelists” Gaddis was not only … Continue reading

A 4 Million Word Betrayal

By some estimations, Marcel Proust’s  In Search of Lost Time is the longest novel ever written. It is also considered one of the best. Though broken up into seven volumes, with the last three still rough drafts at the time of Proust’s death, the 1,200,000 word novel is lauded as a singular work of “daily epiphanies.” Christopher Hitchens … Continue reading

Atlas Slogged – A report on reading an almost unreadable book

Richard Dawkins, the puckish and quotable standard bearer of the new atheism, once called the God portrayed in the Old Testament “the most unpleasant character in all fiction.” Of the OT God’s legion of fans, Dawkins then added, “I suspect they… haven’t read the Old Testament or they’re not the kind of people I would … Continue reading

Comma, Confession

I admit it: I have read several books on grammar. Perhaps five or six all the way through. And yet, as you can see from the previous sentence fragment, I am not much of a stickler. Knowing grammar is fine, but the passion some readers and writers have for grammar is alarming. I believe you should … Continue reading