Blog Profile / Slate: Books

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Archived Since:July 14, 2009

Blog Post Archive

“He Couldn’t Conceive of a Life Without Being the Editor of the NYRB”

Robert Silvers, the longtime editor of the New York Review of Books, died this week at the age of 87. While the NYRB developed a reputation as arguably the preeminent English-language literary journal, Silvers himself became known as...Show More Summary

In Search of Lost Time

Perhaps you have met a guy like Carter Wallace. Carter—the best friend of Seth, the narrator of Hari Kunzru’s supremely unsettling sixth novel, White Tears—is a recognizable type: a collector. He’s a trust-fund baby with blond dreadlocks and tattoos, one of the cool kids at the liberal arts college in upstate New York where he and Seth first meet. Show More Summary

Our Disheveled World

One of the few things I still remember from a philosophy seminar I took my freshman year of college is the idea of the manifold. The manifold terrified me. It referred to the undifferentiated miasma of reality, a kaleidoscopic churn of impressions and experiences and objects and people. Show More Summary

The Cartoonist Studio Prize Shortlists

The Slate Book Review and the Center for Cartoon Studies are proud to announce the nominees for the fifth annual Cartoonist Studio Prize. The winner in each of our two categories will be announced April 10; each winner will receive $1,000. Show More Summary

Capturing “Take” for the Dictionary

From the book Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries, available now. Copyright 2017 by Kory Stamper. Published by arrangement with Pantheon, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. It was 2001, three years into my tenure as a writer and editor of dictionaries at Merriam-Webster. Show More Summary

The Showgirl

“Why should anyone be interested in my boring, alienated, marginal, messy life?” the British writer Angela Carter replied when approached with the prospect of a biography while she was still in her 40s. Just a few years later, she was so famous the question seemed ridiculous—but then she’d just died, of lung cancer at the age of 51. Show More Summary

The Horror of Sadness

A few chapters into Universal Harvester, you might be forgiven for thinking you were reading an unusually artful novelization of some forgotten X-Files episode. John Darnielle—front man of the Mountain Goats and author of the National...Show More Summary

The Work Love Has to Do

What does it mean to be hopeful right now, when we have a president who is openly hostile to many Americans and hope can feel like a privilege reserved for those who aren’t targets? The day after Trump won the election, the writer and...Show More Summary

Big Little Truths

The HBO series Big Little Lies is a soap opera slathered in a thick coating of California gloss, and it’s impressively addictive. It might even, like Game of Thrones, introduce hordes of new readers to the author of the book on which it is based, Liane Moriarty, although hundreds of thousands of Americans are already pretty enthusiastic about her. Show More Summary

Faceless Masses

Whether due to prescience or good fortune, Mohsin Hamid has written a novel eerily in tune with these bleak times. The fraught issue of migration—the book’s central subject—now forms the symbolic centerpiece of two dueling real-lifeShow More Summary

The Senate Torture Report in Graphic-Novel Form

The 2014 torture report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee is a 500-plus-page denunciation of the CIA’s use of EITs, or enhanced interrogation techniques, during George W. Bush’s presidency. Now Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón,...Show More Summary

Glamorous Wounds

Cat Marnell, the madcap former beauty editor who parlayed her drug addiction into a blogging platform at xoJane, didn’t start her memoir until the day it was due. That book, How to Murder Your Life, emerged three years later, but it still feels like something Marnell dashed off in 24 hours while on speed. Show More Summary

A Novelist in Season

If authors can be seasonal, then Scottish writer Ali Smith is, to my mind, a summer novelist. Her fiction, even when it depicts upsetting events, has an Arcadian atmosphere reminiscent of As You Like It, as if her characters were wandering through a green glade on a sunny day. Show More Summary

The Raw Nerve of Pain

Daphne Merkin’s new book, This Close to Happy: A Reckoning With Depression, is at once an exploration of her own mental health and a memoir of her experiences growing up in an Orthodox Jewish family with a complicated, domineering mother. Show More Summary

“A Great German Joke Is to Say the Meanest and Most Tragic Thing Possible”

Last week saw the publication of Slate columnist Rebecca Schuman’s Schadenfreude, A Love Story, a funny and winning account of the writer’s not-entirely-requited crush on German culture. Schuman’s bildungsroman channels the weltschmerz of a former wunderkind rejected by the professoriat and exiled to the creative lumpenproletariat. Show More Summary

The Misunderstood Ghost of James Baldwin

In his entry to Alain Locke’s 1925 The New Negro anthology, Arthur Schomburg described the black American past as a patch of untilled soil that the “Old Negro” had been content to stand upon rather than cultivate. Titled “The Negro Digs...Show More Summary

Benevolent Imperialism

It’s a hard time to be a Cold Warrior. Donald Trump’s relationship with Vladimir Putin is as toasty as a banya after three shots of vodka. Despite a lingering conflict in Eastern Ukraine, the United States’ diplomatic deadlock with Russia has thawed. Show More Summary

The Abominable Mr. Seabrook

When you consider his infamy during his life, William Seabrook’s present-day obscurity is baffling. Seabrook vividly wrote about his own stays in insane asylums, his alcoholism, and his love of sadomasochism. He profiled Bedouin tribes in the Middle East and introduced the concept of the zombie to American culture. Show More Summary

Visionary Puppies

There is no greater subject of fascination in Silicon Valley right now than Peter Thiel, seminal Facebook investor, PayPal Mafia don, Palantir founder, billionaire venture capitalist, oceanic city-state enthusiast, sworn enemy of political...Show More Summary

Ghost in the Machine

In 1996, the ghostwriter Barbara Feinman endured the worst year of her professional life. Her job—as the title of her memoir, Pretend I’m Not Here, indicates—was to fade into the background. Instead, she had tabloid TV crews camped on...Show More Summary

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