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Space to Think, a new book celebrating ten years of the Dublin Review of Books More Information 

    The Usual Terror

    Kevin Stevens
    Don De Lillo seems to suggest in his new novel that literature has failed us, failed to correct the inadequacy of language or interrupt the downward curve of history. Yet that implication is denied by the work, not just by the consolation of philosophy but by the joy of his near faultless craft.
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    Body And Soul

    Kevin Stevens
    Ta Nehisi Coates contends that white supremacy is a force so fundamental to America that it is difficult to imagine the country without it. Marilynne Robinson argues that moral revival, though its results are never enough, is also central to the American tradition and that we should not despair.
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    Invitation to the Dance

    Kevin Stevens
    Over twenty-four years, starting in 1951, Anthony Powell wrote a remarkable series of a dozen novels exploring English upper class and bohemian life from soon after the First World War to the 1970s through the themes of war, love, art, class, family, politics and death.
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    The Snug Opaque Quotidian

    Kevin Stevens
    Some critics thought John Updike ‘a minor novelist with a major style’, a misjudgement which may be based on a doctrinaire rejection of the suburban middle class life which was his material and which he represented in all its fullness and lushness, ‘giving the mundane its beautiful due’.
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    The Shining River

    Kevin Stevens
    A chapter-length extract from Kevin Stevens’s new novel, an urban crime drama about money, race, and class set in Kansas City in the 1930s.
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    Lovely Visitors

    Kevin Stevens
    Lovely Visitors
    Lorrie Moore, like Beckett, can find comedy in utter darkness and uses the richness of language as a way of finding, if not solace, at least a way of framing and confronting tragedy.
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    The Grace of Accuracy

    Kevin Stevens
    Jason Sommer’s fourth poetry collection exhibits a master’s command of language, rhythm, and image, a formidable narrative gift and an unflinching willingness to take on themes that are both intensely personal and expansively historical.
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    THE BIG ONE

    Kevin Stevens
    THE BIG ONE
    Though he fell out with the temper of the times in the later 1960s, in the light of history Bellow will be a judged a great American novelist, and Herzog, cerebral and earthy, imbued with two thousand years of learning yet crackling with wiseass Chicago wit, will be accounted his masterpiece.
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    All the Known World

    Kevin Stevens
    All the Known World
    Many critics focus on James Salter’s stylistic precision and love of detail as if he is all surface. In fact, his art ushers us towards a larger view, an understanding of American character that is rooted in history.
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    Keepable Sentences

    Kevin Stevens
    An interview with American novelist Kent Haruf, whose stories of the high plains of Colorado, with their plain but perfectly crafted style and exacting verisimilitude, achieve a mythic dimension rare in contemporary fiction
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    Soundtrack to the Century

    Kevin Stevens

    For fifty years, Duke Ellington was America’s most important and innovative musical figure, achieving distinction as a composer, arranger, songwriter, bandleader and pianist, and writing and producing timeless music of every kind.
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    An Inch From The Everyday

    Kevin Stevens
    Ford’s narrators get into our ears. A master of first person narrative, he creates observers who are lyrical and philosophical yet confused; situated outside the principal action but profoundly affected by it; urged on by a desire for engagement with life but consistently puzzled by and fearful of the world’s random give and take. The lilt and tone and hesitancy of these voices lure us into their owners’ lives.
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    One Hand Clapping

    Kevin Stevens
    Nowhere is this more true than in the United States, where the cult of celebrity holds a special place for authors and relentlessly cycles their work and personae through what Don DeLillo calls “the all-incorporating treadmill of consumption and disposal”. Though American literary life has had no shortage of self-aggrandisers the media is agitated most by those who play hard to get. DeLillo and Pynchon are recent examples. But the gold standard of American literary isolation is JD Salinger.
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    The Need to Disguise

    Kevin Stevens
    Central to Alice Munroe’s aesthetic is the device, though it is really much more than a device, of jumping back and forward in time, enabling readers to hold multiple strands of the narrative in their consciousness, creating cross-sections of event and feeling that allow for rich expression of pathos and irony.
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    Increments of Uncertainty

    Kevin Stevens
    As Updike’s word count mounted, so did the rancour. The New York Times’s Michiko Kakutani, considered by many the most powerful literary critic in America, regularly savaged his work. Over the last decade she accused successive novels of being “bogus in every respect”, “shopworn”, “cringe-making” and “claustrophobic”. Indeed the regularity of her vitriol was such that that when she gave the posthumously published My Father’s Tears a favourable notice, literary blogger Shane Barry commented: “We now know what Updike had to do to get a good review out of Kakutani.”
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    Everything He Hated

    Kevin Stevens
    Like Swift and Twain, Roth is aesthetically propelled by anger; it supplies the energy needed for the massive, self-imposed task of dissecting, novel after novel, the suffocating paradoxes of twentieth-century America. Like Lenny Bruce, Roth in his early work used rant as a way of exercising his vitality and crafting an obscenity-fuelled response to a bland, hypocritical national environment. As he’s matured, however, his anger has grown more complex, manipulated as carefully as the shifting voices and points of view that help make his prolific body of fiction both deeply tragic and rich in comic expression.
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    The Ongoing Promise

    Kevin Stevens
    “Books can contain all sorts of dire and dour information, opinion, behaviour, and not be pessimistic themselves. I hold with Sartre who wrote that we can write about the darkest possible things and still be optimistic, inasmuch as those writings prove that these dark things can be thought about – which to him was saving. And more practically, I think novels are all inherently optimistic, anyway, since they presume that a use will be made of them by a reader in some yet-to-arrive future.”
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