Biography & Autobiography

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The Writer in Pieces

The Writer in Pieces

Let me write fragments without finishing them — at least I’m writing! Even so, this is literature of a kind, in a sense perhaps the only kind. Perhaps it’s impossible for a psychological type li...

Our Own Device

Our Own Device

IN RECENT YEARS, while the bookish among us were bracing ourselves for the bookless future, stowing our chapbooks and dog-eared novellas in secret underground bunkers, the poet and scholar Michael Sch...

Sacred Duty

Sacred Duty

The following is a feature article from the newly released LARB Quarterly Journal: Spring 2014 edition. To pick up your copy of the Journal, become a member of the Los Angeles Review of Books at the $...

Poe’s Paradoxes

Poe’s Paradoxes

ON SUNDAY, October 7, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe died of unknown causes in Baltimore while en route to New York. Two days later, his self-claimed literary executor, fellow critic and occasional rival Rufus...

Bonhoeffer Co-Opted

Bonhoeffer Co-Opted

THE BIOGRAPHY of the German theologian and pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer has been a hot commodity since the publication of Eric Metaxas’s Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy in 2010. Metaxas pre...

Let Me Remind You

Let Me Remind You

“HAVE YOU read Salinger? Very likely you have,” Joanna Rakoff writes toward the end of her memoir My Salinger Year. Everyone has read Salinger — except for Rakoff, who picked up his books for th...

The Sins of the Fathers

The Sins of the Fathers

IF A STANDARD biography arranges a life into digestible arcs of story — makes a life readable, as it were — we know from the outset that Élisabeth Roudinesco’s memoir of the psychoanalyst Jacq...

Donald Rumsfeld: Master of Perception

Donald Rumsfeld: Master of Perception

July 30, 2002, Department of Defense News Briefing: Donald Rumsfeld: [Iraqis] have chemical weapons and biological weapons and they have an appetite for nuclear weapons and have been working on them ...

Shoring Against the Ruins

Shoring Against the Ruins

ON July 7, 1914, a 22-year-old Walter Benjamin, increasingly disillusioned with his time at Albert Ludwig University in Freiburg and in Berlin, wrote to his friend Herbert Belmore: “The university i...

An Invisible Man, A Visible Voice

An Invisible Man, A Visible Voice

A MAN CALLED DESTRUCTION records the life of pop idol-turned-cult hero Alex Chilton. “In titling his 1995 album A Man Called Destruction — his last solo release filled with mostly his own songs ...

We Are Long Overdue for a Paul Robeson Revival

We Are Long Overdue for a Paul Robeson Revival

PAUL ROBESON (1898-1976) was the most talented person of the 20th century. He was an internationally renowned concert and opera singer, film star and stage actor, college football star and professiona...

Eve of Destruction

Eve of Destruction

EARLY ON in his splendid memoir Resister: A Story of Protest and Prison During the Vietnam War, Bruce Dancis asks, “Do we need another book on the ’60s?” One is tempted to answer “no,” at le...

He Worked at the Writer’s Trade

He Worked at the Writer’s Trade

I SUPPOSE it’s now obligatory in a review of a collection of letters to comment wistfully on how quaintly superseded this is, on how we will never again have relationships that exist outside of the ...