September 10, 2015
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Classic Review: Middlemarch

Middlemarch is a book about marriage. But this is no story of marital kamikaze (like Anna Karenina or Madame Bovary), nor is it the script for a “Love Conquers All” press conference penned by Romance’s PR team (like The Time Traveler’s Wife or anything by Nicholas Sparks).  Middlemarch is a realistic book about marriage—and it should be, as part of the “literary realism”…

September 2, 2015
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A Review of Empire of Deception

“Like a moth to a flame, Koretz had seen the light, but did not know the extent of the darkness that would consume him—and those he loved.” Lauren Jonik reviews Dean Jobb’s new book, Empire of Deception, about Leopold Koretz – an idealistic, generous swindler from the 1920s.

August 10, 2015
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Classic Reviews: “The Magic Mountain”

Let’s start at the very beginning, Sound of Music-style. Hans Castorp (who always goes by his full name for some reason) is a perfectly healthy and “simple-minded” man who goes to visit his tubercular cousin, Joachim, at a sanatorium in the Swiss Alps. He intends to stay for just three weeks but ends up with his own…

July 23, 2015
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Love & Mercy Unpacks the Brian Wilson Legend

Have you ever spent a whole day listening to Pet Sounds, from “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” to “Caroline No,” again and again? Each song is an epiphany, but rapid-fire epiphanies are hard to absorb, so…you have to go back to the beginning. When you step into the world of Pet Sounds, you’ve stepped into the…

June 4, 2015
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Classic Review: The Sound and the Fury

If I had to describe Faulkner’s writing in one word, it would be ABSTRACT. If I had to describe the experience of reading it in two words, they would be ARMY CRAWL. Literary critics called Faulkner’s style “experimental.” This is kind and decent of them. I, for one, tend to view Faulkner more like an incoherent…

May 20, 2015
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The 5 Worst Scenes Directed by Steven Spielberg

I won’t dispute that Steven Spielberg is one of the great American directors. Taken together, his body of work is astonishing in both its breadth and its narrative depth, ranging from explosive summer blockbusters to deeply meditative character studies. But after a recent viewing of “The Lost World,” I realized that even a director of…

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