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I actually learned nothing from assembling my list of all of the novels that I really love

I’ve spend several days looking at the list that I put together a few days ago. And as far as I can tell, I’ve basically learned nothing. I can tell because I actually had an epiphany about my own work the other day. Which is that the works of mine that I enjoy are the ones […]

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I’ve become obsessed with German fiction

There are hundreds of books that I don’t read even though I know I’d enjoy them. I have a copy of Anthony Trollope’s Can You Forgive Her? on my e-reader, and I’ve browsed through the first few pages on a number of occasions. And each time, I’ve thought, “This looks really good.” And I’ve still held […]

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The literature of exhaustion, and the impoverishment of the imagination

The thing that struck me about John Barth’s collection Lost In The Funhouse was that it was as much a literary essay as a collection of stories. Its theme was that our literature was in an age of exhaustion: there’s a sense that all the salient point have been raised; the only thing left is to […]

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Thomas Mann’s _Buddenbrooks_ is the last sprawling 19th century family epic

  I have rarely loved a book as much as I am loving _Buddenbrooks._ I meant to read it years ago, but I always kept getting derailed by thinking, “Hmm, if I’m going to read Mann, I should really read The Magic Mountain.” Well that was silly. Buddenbrooks is its own thing: a novel about […]

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