Lost Library

Bleak Chic

Our books, movies, and television shows are arguably bleaker than ever. What's behind the encroaching, thickening darkness?

You, Too, Can Be Blessed with an Uneventful Life

In Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice, everything happens so much. What about those books where nothing happens, and it's fine?

Smartass Entertainment in the Age of Sincerity

David Foster Wallace's big concerns live on in the interviews of Jaden and Willow Smith.

Who Wears a Belt Buckle? And Other Irresistible Mysteries

Serial has 1.26 million listeners hungry for clues that might only add up to chaos: like W.G. Sebald or Toronto writer Martha Baillie, it plays on our impulse to make sense of it all.

Better in Hindsight

Patrick Modiano’s Missing Person, like Christopher Nolan's Memento, is about the selection of memory; perhaps we're much worse than we recall.

When the Artist Has Too Much Fun

César Aira writes practically off the cuff, creating narrative puzzles for the fun of solving them. Should his readers feel tricked?

Rear-View Mirror

Pere Ubu's new album taps into an old fantasy—leaving your troubles behind on the open road—which is as comforting now as it always was doomed.

Nixon Lives!

Watching Rob Ford ride Nixon's legacy to a possible victory.

Brutally Absurd

How life in communist Czechoslovakia resembles life, for some, in 21st-century America.

|| The 1968 adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
Shakespeare Means Nothing

Does art have to be relatable—does it have to mean anything—to be any good? Maybe not at all, as Ira Glass’s rash tweet—and a short novel by Penelope Fitzgerald—reminds us.