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  • What can we expect from artists we love? Do they owe anyone (us, themselves and, yes, I’ll say it, me) anything, in terms of output? This isn’t mere philosophy for me. There are a number of writers I check in on periodically on the off chance they have something new due out soon. I don’t stalk anyone. I don’t send them encouraging or disparaging emails. My twitter account is not @WriteanotherdamnbookbeforeyoudieGeorgeRRMartin. (Actually, Editor, can you look into that for me? If it doesn…
  • What can we expect from artists we love? Do they owe anyone (us, themselves and, yes, I’ll say it, me) anything, in terms of output? This isn’t mere philosophy for me. There are a number of writers I check in on periodically on the off chance they have something new due out soon. I don’t stalk anyone. I don’t send them encouraging or disparaging emails. My twitter account is not @WriteanotherdamnbookbeforeyoudieGeorgeRRMartin. (Actually, Editor, can you look into that for me? If it doesn…
  • The official book categorizations we use have gone haywire. I remember the very moment I had that realization: I was looking up a specific title and found it listed in fiction, subcategories historical fiction and bildungsroman. I confess, I had turn to trusty old Wikipedia to find out what  “bildungsroman” even means. (In case it’s also new to you: I’m simplifying a bit, but at essence the word denotes a coming of age story.) We’re well beyond the simple taxonomies of fiction and non…
  • I’m not interested in writing reviews of books, not in the usual sense, at least. I’ll be writing about reading here, but I won’t spend much time telling you what to read or what not to read. My reading life is messy, as haphazard as anyone else’s. There is no a-then-b-and-c to my choice of books. (If there’s any sense to it at all – and sometimes, there isn’t – the logic looks a lot more like a-q-d-b-y-c.) I read for armchair traveling; I love travel guides, atlases and maps. …
  • 2014 ended as a real slog for me, at least in terms of my reading life. Through some combination of choosing the wrong things at the wrong time or beginning worthwhile books I just couldn’t give the proper amount of attention (Marlon James’s fascinating behemoth novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings), and the persistent and easy distraction of magazines, I could feel the wheels just spinning. Lack of time had much to do with it -- all those mandatory holiday events with family and friends…
  • I’m not interested in writing reviews of books, not in the usual sense, at least. I’ll be writing about reading here, but I won’t spend much time telling you what to read or what not to read. My reading life is messy, as haphazard as anyone else’s. There is no a-then-b-and-c to my choice of books. (If there’s any sense to it at all – and sometimes, there isn’t – the logic looks a lot more like a-q-d-b-y-c.) I read for armchair traveling; I love travel guides, atlases and maps. …
  • Susannah Schouweiler updated the Article War Letters
    I’ve been struggling with this column on the literature of war for well over a month. How can I do these books, and this huge subject, justice? Yet my mind keeps returning to the idea; I find myself compulsively reading on the topic. So, I’m forging ahead, adequate to the task or not, because such books have never been timelier or more important. In recent months we’ve seen (or, depending on your point of view, not seen enough of) the horrors involving Israel and Gaza. The total death toll…