Darkness Visible, William Styron (1986)

First appeared as an article in Vanity Fair but later expanded into the best-selling memoir, Darkness Visible.  For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of Is come into me. I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; Yet trouble came. —Job To many of us who knew Abbie Hoffman even … Continue reading Darkness Visible, William Styron (1986)

On Exactitude in Science, Borges

Collected Fictions, translated by Andrew Hurley. …In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, … Continue reading On Exactitude in Science, Borges

The Endless Depths of Moby-Dick Symbolism

Originally published in the Atlantic Monthly on August 20 2013 A great herd of readers profess devotion to Herman Melville’s classic Moby-Dick, but novelists especially seem to love saying they love it. On The Top Ten, a website that lists authors’ favorite books, Moby-Dick is cited more often than not (and by writers as dissimilar as John Irving and Robert Coover, Bret Easton Ellis and Joyce Carol Oates). But … Continue reading The Endless Depths of Moby-Dick Symbolism

Missing Ink

A German worker gets a job in Siberia; aware of how all mail will be read by the censors, he tells his friends: ‘Let’s establish a code: if a letter you get from me is written in ordinary blue ink, it’s true; if it’s written in red ink, it’s false.’ After a month, his friends get the first letter, written in blue ink: ‘Everything is … Continue reading Missing Ink