Category Archives: Reading



Brown, Wesley. Tragic Magic.

Burns, Anna. Milkman.

Evenson, Brian. Father of Lies.

Foster, Sesshu and Arturo Romo. Eladatl.

Kehlman, Daniel. Tyll.

Lagerqvist, Per. The Dwarf.

Melchor, Fernanda. Hurricane Season.


Cioran, EM. On the Heights of Despair.

Guardino, Peter. The Dead March.

Huxley, Aldous. The Devils of Loudon.

Muchembled, Robert. A History of the Devil.

Sharpe, James. The Bewitching of Anne Gunther.

Wilson, Peter. The Thirty Years War.

American Roman Noir (225)

Both A Kiss Before Dying (KBD) and The Grifters are examples of what William Marling has called the American roman noir. Noir in this instance echoes another genre, film noir, and refers to a whole repertoire of narrative elements including settings, characters, plot devices, and diction. More generally it signifies a degraded moral condition and a pessimistic, even deterministic, view of the world. The noir universe is one where dark impulses drive action and appearances are often deceptive. Though romans noir often play out in the demimonde— cheap bars, casinos, shabby boardinghouses, etc.– moral darkness also pervades sun-struck suburban streets and opulent penthouses.

Continue reading

A Question

I’m thinking of teaching The Clansman by Thomas Dixon next semester. Dixon was a white supremacist, an admirer of the Confederacy, and a staunch supporter of Jim Crow. The Clansman, the second installment of a trilogy about the post-Civil War South, became the basis of one of the most influential films in cinema history, D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation. The novel is replete with racist invective and celebrates the KKK. It is also a historically significant text that provides insight into the ideology of white supremacy and the political uses of the genre of historical romance. Do you think this kind of fiction belongs in the classroom? Would you be interested in reading such a book in one of your courses? If you have any thoughts on this matter please share them, either in the comments field of this post or via email. I appreciate your feedback.