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Criticism and Reviews

Essays on stage and screen:

The Avengers (2012): my theory of the “second act expansion” plot device.

Shouldn’t Hedda Gabbler have been a lesbian?

Essays on critics:Frank Kermode

A review of How Fiction Works, by James Wood, questioning Wood’s low regard for plot.

Critic of failed quests: my obituary for Frank Kermode.

Lost, Found, Regained: the importance of Harold Bloom in my artistic life.

The Program amidst the Apocalypse: a mini-review of Mark McGurl’s The Program Era, defending literature and writing in Blakean terms.

Essays on writers:

Introduction to the Romantic Poets, the Wordsworth Method: To understand the Romantic poets Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, and Blake, look at how each of them responded to Wordsworth. The final essay, on William Blake, is pretty great.

Amsterdam Stories, by Nescio: these simple tales of failed Dutch bohemians conjure visions of another world.Virginia Woolf

Cataclysm Baby, by Matt Bell: the world is ending, in flood, famine, and madness, and your child is the problem.

A room for two: an interpretation of the “vision” that concludes To the Lighthouse.

Hemingway, and books about nothing: why the ennui of modern life is not in itself a sufficient topic for a novel.

Image and word: an explication of light and dark symbols in “Sonny’s Blues.”

The confusing pleasures of Saul Bellow: my experiences devoting a season to his novels, essays, and letters.

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