Goldstein’s Novels of Ideas: Saul Bellow’s Herzog


This piece completes a series of reviews highlighting philosopher-novelist Rebecca Newberger Goldstein’s list of the best “novels of ideas”. Saul Bellow’s Herzog (1964) was ranked first on her list. Herzog is an excellent contender for the top position on a list of novels of ideas. It was instantly heralded as a literary “masterpiece” when it was published in 1964, and won Saul Bellow his second...

The Spirited Letters of Joseph Roth


Reviewed in this essay: Joseph Roth: A Life in Letters, translated and edited by Michael Hoffman. W. W. Norton & Company, 2012. Some writers do their most interesting work in correspondence; only with the right private audience does their voice reach its full potential. The letters of Kingsley Amis, for instance, are more hilarious, caustic, and inventively crude than any of his novels...

JM Coetzee & Paul Auster: Some Words on the Public Reading of Their Correspondence


A woman in the row behind me yawned, but I didn’t quite know how to respond to the Kingston WritersFest reading that Thursday night by JM Coetzee and Paul Auster at the Grand Theatre in Kingston, Ontario. I was star-struck. And beat, having driven to Kingston for the event. The authors eschewed conversation and based their whole performance on reading their correspondence–on...