How Beautiful It Is and How Easily It Can Be Broken

When Daniel Mendelsohn was 13 years old, he read two Mary Renault novels about Alexander the Great, Fire from Heaven and The Persian Boy, and with that became enthralled with the ancient world. "I became a classicist because of Alexander the Great?the romantic blend of the youthful hero, that Odyssean yearning, strange rites, and panoramic moments -- all spiced with a dash of polymorphous perversity which all the characters seemed to take in stride -- were too alluring to resist. From that moment on all I wanted was to know more about the Greeks," he recounts in "Alexander, the Movie!," one of 30 essays in his new collection, How Beautiful It Is and How Easily It Can Be Broken. Mendelsohn, whose critical essays appear frequently in the New York Review of Books, describes this book as "a collection of judgments," since critics, by definition, judge everything they review. " word that you might not have suspected is even remotely related to 'critic' -- crisis, which in Gr...

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…

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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.