Thomas R. Edwards (1928–2005) was Professor of English at Rutgers and editor of Raritan. His last book was Over Here: Criticizing America.

IN THE REVIEW

The Awful Truth

Nothing Lost

by John Gregory Dunne
John Gregory Dunne died of a heart attack on December 30, 2003, a very bad year, not least because it brought so many lies to those who care about truth. Politicians, priests, generals, CEOs, journalists, and mere entertainers kept telling whoppers about what they had been doing. Dunne’s first novel …

Unsentimental Education

The Book of Hard Things

by Sue Halpern
Sue Halpern’s remarkable first novel, like many novels, is essentially about education, or that aspect of education called growing up. But the book’s main character must, in effect, grow up all at once, and the story suggests that education happens not because of anything that teachers do but because certain …

After You’ve Gone

A Multitude of Sins

by Richard Ford
A Multitude of Sins, a new collection of short stories, is Richard Ford’s eighth book of fiction, and it prompts some reflections on his literary career. His first two novels were powerful and promising, no less so for the evident literary influences at work in them. Ford has never been …

The Great Sultan

A Few Corrections

Brad Leithauser
Brad Leithauser’s fascinating new novel looks beyond Detroit, where the author was born, up to the Thumb of Michigan, where, not far from Saginaw and Bay City, fictional towns called Restoration and Stags Harbor slowly dwindle, while their younger citizens flee to livelier and more prosperous scenes. Leithauser has a …

The Gang’s All Here

The Half-life of Happiness

by John Casey
When John Casey’s novel Spartina deservedly won the National Book Award for 1989, it was announced as the first volume of “a long cycle of fiction set in Rhode Island”; but its successor, The Half-life of Happiness, set in Virginia and a very different kind of book, is clearly not …

Pulling Down the Temple

Barney's Version

by Mordecai Richler
“I dislike most people I have ever met,” says the leading character of the latest of Mordecai Richler’s tales about smart, ambitious Jewish-Canadian men at war with their culture. Barney’s Version is wildly comic, but as with most good satire those who make fun of others also mock themselves. Richler’s …

Desperate Characters

Bear and His Daughter: Stories

by Robert Stone
Of the novelists who came into their own in the eventful, scary Sixties, Robert Stone remains one of the most serious and truthful. At first the violent worlds he described may have seemed marginal and extreme, but time would show how close they were to the American grain. Bear and …

It’s a Mad World

The Friends of Freeland

by Brad Leithauser

Mister Sandman

by Barbara Gowdy
In The Friends of Freeland Brad Leithauser suggests something of how the modern world might look from a perspective as disorienting and yet revealing as a polar-projection map is to Mercatorized minds. He proposes an island country where no islands are, between Iceland and Greenland, from which the rest of …