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Geoff Dyer

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Revelations

These are great times for photography and for photographic books. Or so it seems when you have a dozen impeccably produced volumes stacked up on the coffee table. From the publishers’ point of view, the economics of production mean that these stacks are extremely precarious. So this celebration of the......
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This Boy’s Writing Life

Illustration by Jeremy Traum Youth, J.M. Coetzee’s first book after the Booker-winning Disgrace, was published in the U.K. as “a novel” even though it was self-evidently the sequel to Boyhood, his memoir of a provincial childhood in South Africa. You could be forgiven for thinking that something similar is going......
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The Writer and the Place

Illustration by Erik Sandberg I recently read an interview with the photographer Michael Ackerman in which he said, with characteristic single-mindedness, “As I see it, places do not exist. A place is just my idea of it.” I had assumed that the slur and blur of his pictures of Benares......
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French Ennui, Thai Sex and Three-Way

Illustration by Nancy Haver In The Elementary Particles, Bruno — one of two fictional brothers whose lives form the basis of Michel Houellebecq’s last novel — spends a weekend working on “a racist pamphlet.” When he’s finished — (“I had a hard-on all the time I was writing it”) —......
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The Researchers

Photo by Pamela Hanson On a couple of occasions in Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser mentions The Jungle (1906), Upton Sinclair’s novel set in the slaughterhouses of Chicago. Such was the furor generated by The Jungle that President Roosevelt ordered a federal investigation of the author’s depiction of conditions in......
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Art of Darkness

Like everyone else I’ve spent much of the past month regarding the pain of others. Susan Sontag’s new book, Regarding the Pain of Others, serves, almost, as a pre-emptive guide to what I have been seeing — and not seeing. Even the most graphic and shocking pictures, warns Sontag, “should......
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Northern Exposure

Illustration by Geoff Grahn To think that I first read T.C. Boyle's Budding Prospects almost 20 years ago! It hardly seems possible. Back then, Boyle's energetic, simile-intensive prose bubbled with youthful promise and vigor. Now, dozens of books later, the promise more than fulfilled, Boyle is established as a master......
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Terrible Rain

Illustration by Jordin Isip EVEN BEFORE THE DEATH OF THEIR AUTHOR a little over a year ago, W.G. Sebald's books had a strangely posthumous quality about them. His prose felt as if it had been exhumed from the past, as if the spirit of ruined Europe were speaking through him......
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Literary Winter

THE SECRET HISTORY OF MODERNISM By C.K. STEAD | Harvill Press | 224 pages $24 hardcover As a young man, Joseph Brodsky was intoxicated by Ezra Pound‘s famous modernist rallying cry, “Make it new!” Then, in an insight of devastating genius, Brodsky realized that the appeal of Pound’s dictum lay......
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Something To Forget Me By

Where was I? Oh yes, Christopher Nolan‘s Memento . . . This film -- about a man who can’t remember -- reminds us that amnesia is the great theme of our time. We are becoming more and more forgetful. The way that people take such pride in remembering what they......