John Pistelli


Hart Crane, White Buildings

White Buildings by Hart Crane My rating: 4 of 5 stars A friend of mine was once enamored of Bakhtin’s Rabelais and His World; I think he found in it … Continue reading

28 May 2015 · Leave a comment

Don DeLillo, Libra

Libra by Don DeLillo My rating: 5 of 5 stars In earlier times, the bullet had been other things, because Pythagorean metempsychosis is not reserved for humankind alone. —Borges, “In … Continue reading

25 May 2015 · Leave a comment

Vanessa Place, Crowd Power, and the Wisdom of Subcommittees

[UPDATE: I am getting large amounts of traffic on this post from Facebook, where of course I cannot see who has linked to it or what is the fallout. A … Continue reading

19 May 2015 · Leave a comment

Notes on Notes on Notes: Reading Coetzee’s Diary (Vicariously)

I was never much for archival work. I am as vain and arrogant as any unproven writer who occasionally imagines his future book blurbs, as in that chastening passage from … Continue reading

16 May 2015 · Leave a comment

J. F. Martel, Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice

Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice: A Treatise, Critique, and Call to Action by J.F. Martel My rating: 4 of 5 stars [This book was in-demand at the library, … Continue reading

14 May 2015 · Leave a comment

Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis 1

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi My rating: 3 of 5 stars This first part of Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of a childhood spent—in a well-off and liberal … Continue reading

13 May 2015 · 1 Comment

Sublimity Listed: Bloom’s 12 American Writers

Harold Bloom has a new book coming out—rather like my grandmother, he’s been falsely prophesying his imminent demise for almost my entire lifetime. Since the end will come for us … Continue reading

2 May 2015 · 2 Comments

Herman Melville, Billy Budd, Sailor

Billy Budd, Sailor by Herman Melville My rating: 5 of 5 stars (Note: I read the version of this book collected in The Norton Anthology of American Literature; I chose … Continue reading

30 April 2015 · Leave a comment

“Tear Him for His Bad Verses”: PEN, Charlie Hebdo, and the Cosmopolitical Writer in Bad Faith

[The following is more of a collage than an argument, strictly speaking, so please feel free to fill in some of the gaps with your own imagination. For a quality argument on … Continue reading

29 April 2015 · 4 Comments

Toni Morrison, God Help the Child

God Help the Child by Toni Morrison My rating: 4 of 5 stars This is a fine novel. Not perfect, not even really complete in a writing-workshop “craft” sense, but … Continue reading

24 April 2015 · Leave a comment

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