Pain Demanded of Pleasure

"There is a battering ram quality to the contemporary novel, an insistence and repetition that perhaps permits the reader to hang in despite the frequent interruptions to which most ordinary readers leave themselves open." —Does this piece reference Faulkner? There's only one way to find out.


"Alternative History Fiction" Is the Tackiest Genre

"Novelists trafficking in the present would do well to abandon their lingering prejudices against historical fiction as something ready-made and second-rate," claims Thomas Mallon in today's New Yorker, making the case for the highs and lows of "alternative-history fiction," which is my least favorite genre of all time. I hate it so much! (And that's coming from someone who'll read books with like, wizards and garbage.) It most often contains all the boringness of actual history with the lazy sort of ingenuity of a writer with a desperate trick. Do writers, Mallon suggests (and he is more appreciative) turn sometimes to the genre because of fiction's current lack [...]


"Reamde" and Why

When you finish a Neal Stephenson book, you feel like you've really accomplished something, except you also sometimes feel like you've taken a very long Greyhound bus ride and you're mostly very tired. So, about 30 days after its release, I have finally gotten through the 1056 pages of Reamde, which is his novel about how a computer virus messed up a credit card scam and a video game, which upset the Russian mob which then intruded upon a terror cell, drawing everyone into a giant international mess. The great stuff is so terrific! Particularly the asides, the thoughts on how minds work, on how the modern world [...]