Best of the Blog
This page gathers a few older posts to give you a sense of what this blog is about. Not the best posts, necessarily, just a few I happen to like.
What does our attraction to crime stories tell us about ourselves?
A futile effort to secure reprint rights for an epigram from H.G. Wells has me steaming about the excesses of copyright law.
Lydia Davis’s wonderful new translation of Flaubert’s masterpiece feels quite modern.
James Hynes’s *Next* is the best novel I’ve read in a very long time.
Lessons for creatives from two famous circles, Giotto’s O and the enso of Japanese calligraphy.
In “The Disenchanted,” Budd Schulberg wrote the final act in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tragedy.
Will e-novels be shorter than p-novels — you know, books, the things made with paper and ink?
Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize-winning “Wolf Hall” re-imagines Henry VIII’s chief minister and henchman Thomas Cromwell as the true modern man and the sainted Thomas More as a mad, hair-shirted religious zealot.
In baseball, the deck is stacked. It’s worse than unfair; it’s boring.
My new novel, Defending Jacob, explores our eternal fascination with crime and crime stories.
An under-appreciated photographer of Boston street life has an exhibit at the Boston Public Library
Why modern realism just doesn’t feel like reality.
The publishing industry is a futures market – a Silicon Valley for books, with every publisher a venture capitalist searching for the Next Big Thing.
To a reader, Dickens absorbs, the web distracts.
Louise Welsh’s “Tamburlaine Must Die” recounts the final days of the Elizabethan poet Christopher Marlowe, whose murder in 1593 is one of the great unsolved historical mysteries beloved by conspiracy theorists.
Jane Campion’s “Bright Star” isn’t simply about the poet John Keats; it is about the poetry itself.
Two notorious Boston crime figures, Gerry Angiulo and Joe Barboza, are reanimated in “The Strangler.”
A burgeoning science suggests that crime is caused in part by biological factors, that is, by traits inherited through DNA or by the brain malfunctioning in very specific ways.
An internet entrepreneur suggests book publishers take a lesson from web start-ups.
A forgotten classic from 1973 is the best movie about Boston ever.
Malcolm Gladwell, like Dickens and Twain before him, knows that while his books can easily be reproduced, the author’s genuine presence cannot.