Benjamin Demott is Mellon Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Amherst. His most recent book is Junk Politics: The Trashing of the American Mind. (May 2005)


Jocks and the Academy

Reclaiming the Game: College Sports and Educational Values

by William G. Bowen and Sarah A. Levin
What standards govern the admissions policies of the country’s most “selective” institutions of higher learning, i.e., the prestigious schools with the highest standards of admission? Often not the advertised standards, according to the authors of Reclaiming the Game, a book aimed at exposing and ending a scandal in American academic …

Guilt Stalker

The Black Veil: A Memoir with Digressions

by Rick Moody
“Literature is on a dialectic that has fiction and nonfiction on either end. Together, they form one narrative…. The Black Veil will not be shelved with my [fiction], which is incredibly irritating to me. I want people to read it in the context of everything else I’ve done.” …

Caught in the Curve

Hooking Up

by Tom Wolfe
The title piece in Tom Wolfe’s latest collection looks back jeeringly, from a not very distant tomorrow, on today’s American costumes, affluence, and linguistic, intellectual, and sexual behavior. There’s an account of the life of the “average electrician, air-conditioning mechanic, or burglar-alarm repairman”—“a life that would have made the Sun …

Notes of a Son and Brother

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

by Dave Eggers
In little over a month, in the early Nineties, a twenty-one-year-old college senior named Dave Eggers lost both his parents to cancer. Eggers’s older brother and sister were launched on business lives and postgraduate education, so he took over as de facto guardian of the family’s youngest child, eight-year-old Christopher …

The West Virginian

For Common Things: Irony, Trust, and Commitment in America Today

by Jedediah Purdy
Aided by native intelligence, an unusual upbringing and job experience, and study of a few master texts (The Captive Mind, for one), a youngster just out of college, Jedediah Purdy, teaches himself why not to give up on politics and how to resist high-fashion knowingness. The work that describes this …