Negative Cultural Space: A note on “Mrs. Dalloway in Bond Street”—Virginia Woolf’s short story may appear disjointed to the modern reader. We’re missing a cultural context that would enable us to see what’s between the lines.
Opportunity Lost: A review of Absence of Mind —Noted novelist Marilynne Robinson attempts to restore "mind" to a place of prominence in intellectual debate. Unfortunately, her Terry Lectures at Yale succeed better as an example of how not to make that case.
The Old Gentleman's Horse: Raising "The Dead"—James Joyce's classic short story/novella "The Dead" concludes with one of the most moving passages in English literature. But what's with the slogging through 13,500 plotless words to get there?
The Steer of Heaven: Annie Proulx's "The Half-Skinned Steer"—Supernatural bulls have a long literary pedigree, but we've come a long way from the innocent heroism of Gilgamesh.
Palin's Moose —When the governor of Alaska goes moose hunting, look out.
Sherlock Holmes and the femme fatale—Victorian Britain may be remembered for prudishness as much as for the supremacy of its empire and machine age industry. The prudishness was only a veneer. Behind it, repressed things steamed and hissed.
Faith and Public Policy—a Sunday address to a Unitarian Universalist congregation in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King. There’s nothing like a dose of Dostoevsky in the morning.
—January 16, 2005
The Great Bureaucrat—Notes from the field regarding the most devastating variety of the genus Bureaucratus.
Ordinary Madness: deep in the pack at Leadville—A middle-aged man gets off the couch to attempt one of the most heinous mountain bike races in the United States, the Leadville Trail 100.