Cathleen Schine’s latest novel, They May Not Mean To, But They Do, will be published in paperback this June. (April 2017)


The Wisdom of the Yard

Elif Batuman, Koç University, Istanbul, May 2011

The Idiot

by Elif Batuman
Elif Batuman has generously bestowed her wit and intelligence and insight on journalism, and now, even more generously, on fiction. The Possessed, her 2010 collection of essays subtitled Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, is unforgettable, perhaps because it is so unpredictable. Part memoir, part literary …

No Love Without Delusion

‘Dreaming in the Sun,’ Portofino, Italy, circa 1936; photograph by Herbert List

Enigma Variations

by André Aciman
André Aciman’s subject is exile. His first book, Out of Egypt (1995), was a wry and touching memoir of the richly eccentric existence of his Jewish family in Egypt before they were expelled in 1965. The pace of daily life in Alexandria after Nasser’s rise to power, languid beneath a …


Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin at the press conference announcing his intention to stay in New York’s mayoral race despite new revelations about his explicit text messages to women sent after a similar scandal in 2011 that had forced him to resign from Congress, New York City, July 23, 2013


a documentary film directed by Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg
Anthony Weiner is a secret everyman. He was seen as a hero, then a fallen hero, then a hero for redeeming himself by acknowledging his weakness and getting back into the ring. He captured the political imagination of New Yorkers with this narrative. But nobody likes a fool, least of all New Yorkers, and Anthony Weiner made a fool of himself.

‘Enthralling & Enraging’

Sigmund Freud in his consulting room, Vienna, 1937

A Gushing Fountain

by Martin Walser, translated from the German by David Dollenmayer

My Marriage

by Jakob Wassermann, translated from the German by Michael Hofmann
Two recently translated autobiographical German novels—both about becoming a writer—are deeply unsettling. Martin Walser’s A Gushing Fountain begins in 1933; Jakob Wassermann’s My Marriage appeared in 1934. Now forgotten, Wassermann was a celebrated writer of the early twentieth century who came of age in the nineteenth. Walser is an important …

A Girl, a Horse, a Trap

Mary Gaitskill at the Brooklyn Book Festival, September 2010

The Mare

by Mary Gaitskill
The Mare, Mary Gaitskill’s new novel, is the story of a girl and a horse. It grapples with innocence, possibility, and hope. It is about what happens after all her other books. Gaitskill achieved literary notoriety with Bad Behavior, her first volume of short stories, published in 1988. Her beautiful, …


In the Dark of the Museum

Alaskan Brown Bear, 1980

The rooms that hold the Museum of Natural History’s famous dioramas are vast and dimly lit. What happens in the darkness of the museum itself is quite different from the stillness of Hiroshi Sugimoto’s new book, Dioramas, a collection of his elegant black and white photographs of dioramas.

The Irresistible Charms of Maira Kalman

Maira Kalman: New York, Grand Central Station, 1999

Last Christmas, I gave my mother a copy of The Pursuit of Happiness by Maira Kalman. Like many other adult Maira Kalmanites, I had discovered the book when it ran as an illustrated blog on The New York Times web site. My mother and I have similar taste in books so I thought she would love it. But a few days later, she called me, quite agitated, irate even, saying “What is this bizarre book you gave me? The letters go all over the page. It’s like a children’s book. What on earth gave you the idea I would want to read this?” An hour later, she called back. “Just forget what I said. I just had to get used to it. What a wonderful book!”


Miniature portrait of Jane Austen, 19th century

I met a friend for lunch the other day at The Morgan Library. In honor of their Jane Austen exhibit, they are serving a Regency lunch. Whenever I hear the word Regency, I think not of Jane Austen, but of Dickens’s Old Mr. Turveydrop, celebrated everywhere for his Deportment, who named his son Prince. I don’t know if Old Mr. Turveydrop would have approved, but we thought it was a delicious Regency lunch—Poached Atlantic Salmon, Fricassee of Macomber Turnips & Mushrooms, Mustard Greens, Baked Apple Cobbler—though what exactly about the menu qualified as Regency is somewhat obscure. The turnips? I have never eaten more delicious turnips. I happily imagined Jane Austen eating delicate, sweet Macomber turnips, too. But at home, after a little on-line research, I came to realize how unlikely it is that she did—Macomber turnips seem to be a cross breed of radishes and rutabagas developed by the two Macomber brothers in Westport, Massachussetts in 1876.


Bach’s Christmas Oratorio

Musica Angelica, the wonderful Baroque ensemble for which traffic-averse early music lovers on the west side of Los Angeles are eternally grateful because they are so good and because they are not downtown, is performing Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.