In Praise of Zombies

We need to talk about zombies. In a recent article in Inside Higher Education about the precipitous decline in the number of English majors at my institution, the University of Maryland, College Park, the undead rear their charred and mutilated heads. Our zombie friends, we are informed, promise (or threaten) to help lure resistant students back into the English major: [...]

A Delicious Breakfast Burrito at LARB

My review of William Gibson's newest novel The Peripheral is now up at the Los Angeles Review of Books. NEAR THE END of The Peripheral, William Gibson’s latest novel, there is a short chapter dedicated to the problem one character faces in acquiring a breakfast burrito. The burrito is for one of the novel’s two protagonists, Flynne [...]

Korzybski’s SF Legacy

Earlier this month, an essay I wrote about Alfred Korzybski appeared on io9. Korzybski's the founder of General Semantics, which is  a sort of meta-science that tried to give an account of humanity's relationship to language and abstract thought. I first learned about Korzybski through my research on William S. Burroughs (who was a big fan of [...]

Utopian Foresight

Last week, I had a short essay published in Slate that discusses the failure of recent popular science fiction to imagine Socioeconomically Less Awful Futures. This failure is, in many ways, understandable, given how Socioeconomically Awful the present is, but I suggest that it might be interesting to conceive of science fiction as a genre with a special power to help us think [...]

Infinite Wallace / Wallace infini

I'm going to be participating in the Infinite Wallace / Wallace infinite conference in Paris next month (Sept. 11-13). The conference features a cool-looking lineup of talks. My own talk is entitled "What is a turdnagel?" and will, as the title makes apparent, be a preliminary effort to answer this very important -- and woefully understudied -- [...]

Nealon, Amis, Eggers, Wallace, Pynchon

I've published a few pieces since I last blogged. 1. Over the summer, my review of Jeffrey T. Nealon's Post-Postmodernism; or, The Cultural Logic of Just-in-Time Capitalism came out in Contemporary Literature. My review is mixed. Post-Postmodernism is an engaging book, sometimes even fun to read (a rarity for academic prose), but it's ultimately too beholden to Fredric Jameson's [...]

Review of Lethem’s “Dissident Gardens”

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Review of Books ran my review of Jonathan Lethem's newest novel, Dissident Gardens. IN 2004, The New York Times reported on the effort of the borough of Queens to find a replacement for Hal Sirowitz, its departing poet laureate, “one of those rare New York writers who is willing [...]

A MOOC Roundtable

(From Arcade.) MOOC is, let's face it, an ugly acronym. As almost everyone in the world of higher education learned this past academic year, it stands for Massive Open Online Course.  Despite its inelegance, the word has gained a life of its own -- a (not always positive) conjuring power on the lips of pundits, [...]

New Reviews and Blog Posts

Since I last blogged here, a lot of new writing by me has appeared online. 1. #OccupyGaddis I’ve written a number of posts related to this past summer’s Big Read, #OccupyGaddis. Here’s the complete lineup (which repeat some I listed below) in chronological order: “#OccupyGaddis” (June 8, 2012) “The Failure of William Gaddis” (June 15, [...]

#OccupyGaddis Begins

Over at the LARBlog, I've written a pair of posts announcing the start of #OccupyGaddis, a collective summer reading of William Gaddis's monumental 1975 novel, J R. From my original post: First, get yourself a copy of the J R, either at your local bookstore, your local megachain, online, an unusually literate yard sale, or–you’d [...]