The son of a librarian and a teacher, Brendan's passion for reading caught fire faster than you can say, "Pat sat on a mat." Born in Chicago and raised just east of the Mississippi—behind the sun—his life's been one long corn maze of urban scenes and buffalo dreams.
Reviews & Recommendations
A collection of some of the best profiles written by the all-time great New Yorker journalist, Joseph Mitchell. With profound empathy and his trademark "old testament humor," Mitchell traces the topography of a vanished New York, a subterranean stage inhabited by bearded women and street preachers and roaming gypsy caravans. Much like James Joyce's contributions to the novel and Bob Dylan's approach to songwriting, Joseph Mitchell elevated journalism by mining profundity from the seemingly mundane and overlooked aspects of daily life.
Babitz's brief reflections on her freewheelin' youth in L.A. read like a summer breeze through an open car window. Whether laconically recounting childhood memories under composer Igor Stravinsky's tutelage or revealing where and how exactly to find the best taquitos in the city, Babitz transports the reader into what feels like a prehistoric southern California, existing somewhere between Babylon and Manson.
A single day in the life of both 38-year-old Leopold Bloom and 22-year-old Stephen Dedalus transforms the city of Dublin into a modern-day labyrinth populated by everyday figures whose actions and words have implications just as great as those in any biblical, Shakespearean, or mythical story. In the literary world, Ulysses's fraught publication was akin to the arrival of the glaring monolith in Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Nothing would ever be the same.
A group of bored travelers in fin-de-siècle Amsterdam encounter an aging French dandy in a dank and dimly-lit bar. Having long ago imposed exile upon himself, M. de Bougrelon feverishly guides his compatriots on a tour of Holland's forgotten splendor. Between hasty reapplications of his makeup, which drips freely from his jowls, M. de Bougrelon reminisces on his debauched youth spent in the "heroic" company of his friend, Monsieur de Mortimer. Lorrain so coyly plumbs the depths of urban ennui and the limits of male companionship that it's hard to believe this slim novel came out in 1897.
Taiwanese author Qiu Miajin's second and final novel before her suicide at 26 is a slow burn, unfolding over a series of letters through which the narrator processes her grief after a traumatic breakup. The fragments of her memory function both as a weapon and a prism of clarity and ultimately allow her to transcend her suffering. The result is a shockingly cathartic depiction of depression and a timeless portrait of the artist.