"While I wouldn’t presume to single out one of [E.L.] Doctorow’s dozen novels or story collections as his ‘best’ book, I do think it is fair to say that, so far, his best known and best loved work is the novel Ragtime. And I would argue that this has also been his most influential book, the one that has done more than all the others to change the way American authors approach the writing of novels.”
To read Jason Schwartz is to enter a fugue state, in both senses of the word. His writing is, like a musical fugue, a mesmerizing series of themes stated successively in different voices; it is also, in the psychiatric sense, a state marked by wandering and an inability to remember one’s past accurately. It is a state unlike any other.
"What could have been just another drug-fueled bloodbath turns into something much more compelling in [Cormac] McCarthy’s hands: an examination of how a man’s choices become his fate, because they start out inevitable and then become irreversible and finally become lethal. Especially when you choose to play with a Mexican cartel.”
"One reviewer of The Counselor remarked that the man who wrote the script, Cormac McCarthy, appears never to have read a screenwriting manual. I can think of no higher compliment for a screenwriter.”
“I think Elmore Leonard’s achievement went well beyond what was in his books — and in the uneven movies they inspired. He won the favor of some high literary types, including Walker Percy and Martin Amis, a sign that he had accomplished something that once seemed unthinkable: he lifted genre writing out of the ghetto and made readers and critics see that fine writing cannot be bottled or diminished by labels.” Our own Bill Morris looks back on the life of the late author.
1. Book Store Closings
Every year the staff at my favorite bookstore, St. Mark’s Bookshop, has to pass the hat because the store can’t afford the grand-larceny rent. Other bookstores, from huge chain outfits like Borders to small independents, keep going out of business. Under my administration, no bookstore will be allowed to close. Stores suffering financial difficulties will be eligible for no-strings grants that enable them to stay in business, hire more staff, and stock more titles. How will I pay for the grants? By levying a modest 0.001% income surtax on the city’s billionaires (sorry, Mike, but you can afford it!) and aggressively collecting unpaid back taxes from Bank of America and other corporate cheats.