| Jan 4, 2012
When it comes to sportswriting, I tend to subscribe to George Plimpton's small-ball theory: The smaller the ball, the better the writing about the sport. This has a lot to do with my own biases (I'm a baseball fan, not much interest in basketball or...
| Jul 30, 2011
Henry James once opined that the two most beautiful words in the English language are "summer afternoon." I would like to edit James — alas, who wouldn't? — and bestow the most felicitous phrase award upon the words "summer reading."
| Jul 22, 2011
| 12:41 PM
A boy moves away from his small-town central Illinois home after his father murders a tenant farmer. Years later, an occasional childhood playmate ignores the boy in a high school corridor. Out of that awkward, wordless moment emerged "So Long, See You...
| Nov 1, 2009
The Suicide Run
Five Tales of the Marine Corps
Random House: 198 pp., $24
The business -- and I use the word advisedly -- of posthumous publication is a troubling one. We honor our dear dead. Yet there are certain kinds of attention...
| Feb 28, 2010
Alan Sillitoe, now in his 80s, grew up in Nottingham, in the English midlands, in the kind of squalor and poverty that, a century earlier, gave Charles Dickens nightmares. Sillitoe's father was a violent drunk; his mother, on occasion, was forced to...
| May 17, 2009
Curiosities of Literature
A Feast for Book Lovers
Herman Graf/Skyhorse Publishing: 288 pp., $22.95
This totally silly literary miscellany is "loosely inspired" by Isaac D'Israeli's 1791 bestseller "The Curiosities of Literature." It is...
| May 24, 2009
Spring is impossibly verdant in Raleigh, so lush it's steamy. The path to the door of Reynolds Price's house in the woods is scattered with beechnuts. Tree frogs babble, the screen door slams, somewhere in the pond outside the kitchen an old snapping...
| Jun 7, 2009
My Father's Tears
And Other Stories
Alfred A. Knopf: 292 pp., $25.95
And Other Poems
Alfred A. Knopf: 98 pp., $25
Of course he was going to write until the end.
Several million words, 60-plus books. No American of...
| Aug 23, 2009
Tracy Kidder's 2003 book, "Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World," inspired legions of young people to go out and do something for the poor and disenfranchised. It also lighted a fire under donors --...
| Dec 20, 2009
During the last decade, more than ever before, writers faced the challenge of cutting through the noise. The new millennium began with the enduring influence of W.G. Sebald: his marriage of word and image somewhere deep in the reader's subconscious; his...
| Dec 30, 2009
David Levine, an artist whose witty caricatures illustrated the New York Review of Books for more than 40 years, has died. He was 83.
Levine died Tuesday at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan of prostate cancer and complications from other...