Monthly Archives: December 2009

Winter Review Goodness


Christmas has officially come early, as the winter issue of the Quarterly Conversation is now up and so excited and running down the stairs in its pajama-clad feet.

In addition to my review of Sam Lipsyte’s latest novel The Ask, the issue is a stuffed-stocking of reviews and essays. It includes essays on Pynchon’s three California novels, Coetzee’s three post-Nobel autobiographical novels, and the fight/friendship/fictive-philosophical debate between William Gass and John Gardner, those two poles of postwar fiction whom we ideologically scrimmage in between whether we realize it or not.

What’s more, in addition to the standard slate of reviews, there is the epic Translate This Book! panel, where a huge roster of translators, writers, and publishers describe what contemporary works of literature have not yet been–but desperately need to be–translated into English.

See the whole splendid spread here.

The Ask by Sam Lipsyte

Hello, hello, hello.

I am pleased to report that my review of Sam Lipsyte’s newest novel The Ask is now online at the Quarterly Conversation.

Please link right on over there and read it. However, if you are pressed for time now that we are in this Holiday Season, I offer you the abbreviated version of my review:

The Ask is a) awesome, b) a real thigh-slapper, and c) something you should buy right now, right now.

What’s more, it sustains the qualities present in Lipsyte’s last book, Homeland, which I remember buying at the Eliot Bay Book Co. probably around three years ago, while I was in Seattle on a business trip. I remember getting rained on during my long, long walk from my hotel downtown out to Pioneer Square, where the bookstore is located, and thinking that this was a very Seattle experience and that I should feel grateful. Homeland turned out to be one of those books that you start reading before you get off the property, it’s so good, and which I did down in the bookstore’s cafe basement, where I bought a complex brownie and a large coffee. It was all wonderfully warm and cozy.

As bonus, related content, here is a link to an article about that bookstore, which might be closing: The plot thickens for legendary bookstore. It’s from the L.A. Times.