Robert Towers (1923–1995) was an American critic and novelist. Born in Virginia, Towers was educated at Princeton and served for two years as Vice Counsel at the American Consulate General in Calcutta before dedicating himself to literary studies. He taught English literature and creative writing at Princeton, Queens College and Columbia.

IN THE REVIEW

Look Homeward, Ira

Mercy of a Rude Stream: Volume 1, A Star Shines over Mt. Morris Park

by Henry Roth
The oddity of Henry Roth’s career keeps getting in the way as one reads Mercy of a Rude Stream. Had he written a number of novels during his eighty-seven years, one could try to place the new work by comparing it with the others. But we have only a single …

Far from Saigon

A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

by Robert Olen Butler
The dark horse winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize, a writer named Robert Olen Butler had, it turned out, published six little-noticed novels, with subjects ranging from the war in Vietnam to atomic tests in Los Alamos and labor unrest in a Depression-era steel town. To judge from the two …

Out of the Blue

The Oracle at Stoneleigh Court

by Peter Taylor
In a review of Peter Taylor’s previous collection, The Old Forest and Other Stories, almost eight years ago, I observed that Taylor, among the finest living American writers of realist short fiction, avoided the melodrama and extreme situations characteristic of so many other southern writers, including Faulkner and O’Connor: in …

House of Cards

The Tax Inspector

by Peter Carey
The Australian writer Peter Carey is little known in the US, although for the last few years he has been living in New York and teaching at New York University. His lack of following is as, mystifying as it is regrettable, since his novels contain scenes so powerfully visualized and …

Secret Histories

Vox

by Nicholson Baker

A Case of Curiosities

by Allen Kurzweil
Nicholson Baker is a fiction writer of great charm who may or may not be a novelist. Certainly narrative is the least of his concerns. In The Mezzanine (1988) the “action” begins with the narrator’s entrance into the office building where he works and concludes with his ascent of the …

The World We Live In

The Translator

by Ward Just

Joe

by Larry Brown
Ward Just is in many ways the contemporary American equivalent of the late C.P. Snow. Like Snow’s, his novels are situated with great precision in the “real” world, realistically rendered, and they are concerned with power, with decision making, and with the far-reaching consequences of the decisions made. While they …

Believe It or Not

The Kindness of Women

by J.G. Ballard
Prolific and astonishingly inventive, J.G. Ballard has in the last quarter century established himself as perhaps the most “literary” of contemporary writers of science fiction. His highly idiosyncratic stories and novels have won the enthusiastic endorsement of Anthony Burgess, Graham Greene, and Susan Sontag as well as (more predictably) Ray …

History Novel

Mao II

by Don DeLillo
Don DeLillo’s reputation had been advancing stealthily for more than a decade before the publication of White Noise (1985) and Libra (1989) secured his current position as one of the most original, intelligent, and visionary novelists now writing in America. He had by this time created a distinctive fictional world, …