Kurt Andersen


Magic, insight, and heartbreak.



Kurt Andersen has an uncanny knack for turning his curiosity into lively cultural landmarks. A co-founder of Spy magazine, a former columnist for New York and The New Yorker, and the co-creator and host of the Peabody Award-winning Studio 360, a radio cabinet of wonders, Andersen has also written the acclaimed novels Turn of the Century and Heyday. His latest book, Reset, surveys, with characteristically buoyant intelligence, the new world created by global financial turmoil. Here he shares three favorite reads.


Books by Kurt Andersen






Winter's Tale

By Mark Helprin


"When I first picked up Winter's Tale 25 years ago, I thought I was immune to the charms of historical fiction, of epic romanticism and, even more, of magical realism. A flying horse? Really? Well, the novel showed me definitively how cramped and wrong my literary prejudices had been: I was wonderstruck. It's a luxurious, funny, ennobling, awesome, deeply pleasurable tale set in an alternate-universe New York City around 1900...Gabriel Garcia Marquez meets Luc Sante, say. I envy people who haven't read it yet. "





The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

By Tom Wolfe


"The literary establishment doesn't really approve of Tom Wolfe, but when I first read this, I was a 15-year-old in Omaha, and didn't know from the literary establishment. I was already an avid reader of newspapers and magazines, but had no idea that journalism was capable of such literary special effects and you-are-there insight. Re-reading it recently, four decades after it was published, I found it stunning all over again. There's no better non-fiction chronicle of the countercultural Sixties."




In the Cut

By Susanna Moore


"Susanna Moore's In the Cut, like so many fine novels before it, was turned into a mediocre film, but I plead with you not to hold that against it. Yes, the novel is a great crime story teeming with sexuality -- that's why Hollywood sucked it up -- but in the scrupulous and troubling fashion of great literature. It's non-retro noir with an unforgettably lovable, damagned, heartbreaking heroine. "

April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.