labyrinth-wallBorges is Still Dead. (Or is He? And Which Borges?) 
Literary Hub

On the 30th Anniversary of Borges’s death. Maybe my favorite essay I’ve published yet.

“The Other” and “August 25, 1983” are twin stories sharing a mirror: a young man fears the unknown future, while an old man accepts the unchangeable past. (In fact many have dismissed Borges’s later work as “geriatrica” too full of nostalgia.) But as I read Borges’s Selected Non-Fictions, his essays and reviews I considered taking him at his word: maybe there are two Borges in the world, existing at the same time. One is the fiction writer we know, the lover of paradox, the trickster, the forger, the artist who describes fantastical events with straight-faced authority, using the syntax and tone of academia; and then there is this other Borges, the critic, who writes reasonably and clearly, companionably and insightfully, about high-brow and esoteric subjects, whose aim is elucidation rather than bewilderment. As I moved through each review and essay of Selected Non-Fictions, I felt a similar shock that the young Borges did upon seeing his own name on the register: this couldn’t possibly be the same Borges, could it?

1408682984075.jpg-300x0The Most Dangerous Book The Georgia Review, Spring ’15
At Oxford, on the day we began our discussions my professor, an impossibly handsome Irish man, watched me awkwardly flip back and forth between the prose of the novel and the endnotes of my edition. He interrupted me and told me never to reference the notes again. “If you don’t understand it,” he said, “then let yourself not understand it.” He said people had placed too much emphasis on “understanding” Ulysses, as if it were merely some puzzle to be solved. “Listen to the language,” he said. “Joyce wanted you to hear the music of it.” This was the best advice he could have given me. After that tutorial, I read on unencumbered by any fear of my inferiority in the face of the text. Ulysses was something you experienced just as much as something you understood.

spring15currentThe Most Dangerous Book | The Georgia Review, Spring ’15
In the latest issue of The Georgia Review, I review Kevin Birmingham’s The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses. Joyce’s dense and delectable novel is one of my very favorites, and Birmingham’s book does the story of its publication and censorship justice. The issue also features wonderful writers like Stephen Dunn and Scott Russell Sanders. Order a copy here!

570_closeThe Art of Close Writing | The Millions
“Jonathan Russell Clark sits at his desk, writing an essay about free indirect discourse. Surrounding him are books by authors who employ the technique with considerable skill: Jane Austen, Gustave Flaubert, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Joshua Ferris. He recalls a time when he did not even know what free indirect discourse was, and a time, later, when he knew the term but viewed it more as a descriptor than a crucial component.”