Old Glory – Jonathan Raban

In 1979, Jonathan Raban journeyed down the Mississippi from Minneapolis to New Orleans in a specially equipped 16-foot motorboat. Quite the loner, he makes the trip on his own, exploring a river that has fascinated him from afar since  ...

The Little Friend – Donna Tartt

Robin is nine and hangs from a tree. His neck is broken and no one knows who has killed him. Ten years later, his little sister tries to find out. The Little Friend is of that most vulnerable  ...

The Raven – Lou Reed

Lou Reed’s career is a mystery on at least two levels. The first, of course, is the series of artistic tangents and blind alleys he’s caromed down at one point or another since his emergence with the Velvet Underground  ...

School Days – Steve Lacy/Roswell Rudd Quartet

Soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy played with pianist/composer Thelonious Monk for four months in 1960. He’s made explorations of Monk’s music a significant part of his career and discography ever since. In 1961, Lacy formed this quartet specifically to interpret  ...

Making Museums Matter – Stephen E. Weil

In one of the essays collected in Making Museums Matter, Stephen E. Weil quotes Alfred H. Barr on the principal task of New York’s Museum of Modern Art: “the conscientious, continuous, resolute distinction of quality from mediocrity.” Reading Weil’s  ...

Nonrequired Reading – Wislawa Szymborska

In the author’s note that opens Nonrequired Reading, Polish poet and Nobel laureate Wislawa Szymborska writes about a reader’s freedom: to read intelligent books or stupid ones, to stop long before the end of a book, to eavesdrop, to  ...

Forever: A Novel – Pete Hammill

In his ninth novel, Forever, Pete Hamill tackles a number of classic themes: the longing for eternal life, the sins of the fathers passed to the sons, humankind’s unremitting quest for freedom, and the existential question of what makes  ...