After reading Lost Illusions all winter I hated the idea of youth and being young, so I turned to Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim—a novel about a 25-year-old who seems to have no dreams left at all—as a corrective. Two thirds of the way through the book, another character gives him some of the best advice I’ve ever heard. More…

For all his manifest limitations Houellebecq is a writer who bears thinking about—one of few to have emerged from Europe in the last twenty years with any real claim to importance. It is dispiriting that such a preeminent novelist should also be such a tawdry one, and pointless to deny that much of Houellebecq’s force as a writer derives from his ability to tap into base instincts. Still, he isn’t a fraud. More…

The e-book is usually said to have been invented in 1971, when an undergrad at the University of Illinois, Michael S. Hart, decided to upload The Declaration of Independence onto an ARPAnet server. Sitting in the Materials Research Lab among hulking, warmly breathing Xerox Sigma V processors, Hart went on to input and share, with a quixotic singularity of purpose, text after text. More…

Adam Gordon, the narrator of Ben Lerner’s debut novel, Leaving the Atocha Station, is in Madrid for a year on a poetry fellowship. He’s there to write a long, research-driven poem on the literary legacy of the Spanish Civil War. That’s the reason he’s memorized, at least: he doesn’t really know Spanish history, nor Spanish literature, nor—or so he insists—Spanish. More…

Even though The Stranger’s Child is less titillating than Hollinghurst’s earlier novels, I don’t think this has anything to do with an ideological softening. In fact, for all the playful narrative possibilities of Hollinghurst’s other books, with their non-traditional, non-futural, anti-marriage-plot-like couplings, I’d venture that The Stranger’s Child is oddly more uncompromising in its vision. More…

Blog empire Gawker Media, like its magazine counterparts Conde Nast and Hearst, asks readers to sort themselves by advertising demographic. One might be interested in sports, and read Deadspin. Or one might be interested in being a woman, and read Jezebel. When Jezebel launched, I myself was keenly interested in being a woman. I was 20 years old, and I was curious about the ways it could be done. More…