Essays & Reviews

More than forty of my essays are now available in one volume as The End of Solitude: Selected Essays on Culture and Society. The pieces below are either too new to have been included (“Recent”) or are literary reviews and thus fall outside the scope of the collection (“Selected Older”).

Selected Older

Where Have You Gone, Annie Dillard?

Annie Dillard. The Atlantic, March 2016.

Their Struggle

Elena Ferrante, The Neapolitan NovelsThe Nation, October 12, 2015.

Controlled Rapture

John Updike. The New Republic, September 15, 2014.

Dread and Wonder

Ludmilla Petrushevskaya. The Nation, March 5, 2014.

The Jewish Mark Twain

Sholem Aleichem. The Atlantic, January/February 2014.


Anne Beattie, The New Yorker Stories and Mrs. Nixon. The Nation, December 12, 2011.

The Children’s Hospital

David Foster Wallace, The Pale King. The Nation, July 4-11, 2011.

The Whole Human Mess

Saul Bellow. The Nation, December 13, 2010.

The Renunciation Artist

Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories. The Nation, March 1, 2010.

Aracataca and Sucre

Gabriel García Márquez. The Nation, September 21, 2009.

Last Evenings on Earth

Roberto Bolaño, 2666. The New Republic, February 18, 2009.


Deep Reading Will Save Your Soul

The humanities move off campus. Persuasion, May 29, 2024

How Pseudo-Intellectualism Ruined Journalism

Persuasion, March 8, 2024

Thirteen Ways of Looking at Art

Salmagundi, Fall 2023-Winter 2024.

The Quality to Be Tragic

Elizabeth Hardwick. Liberties, Fall 2023

Take A Position, Not A Side

Toward a healthier political discourse. Persuasion, October 2, 2023.

Chuck Your Privilege

A back-to-school message for elite college students. Persuasion, September 6, 2023.

We’re All Bored of Culture

Why the arts are safe and predictable now. Tablet, May 16, 2023.

Partisanship & Denial

The partisan mentality and the left/liberal bubble. Salmagundi, Spring-Summer 2023

There Is No Right Side of History

Against the progressive myth of history. The Free Press, January 2, 2023.

On Not Drinking the Kool-Aid

Woke art, and art and politics more generally. Salmagundi, Fall 2022-Winter 2023.

Why I Left Academia (Since You’re Wondering)

Quillette, August 17, 2022.

Soul-Making Studies

A defense of great books courses. Liberties, Summer 2022

We Aren’t Raising Adults. We Are Breeding Very Excellent Sheep.

The intersection of wokeness and excellent sheephood. Common Sense, May 24, 2022.

On the Bobos

The political stupidity of the liberal elite. Salmagundi, Spring-Summer 2022.

American Education’s New Dark Age

On campus wokeness. UnHerd, March 2022.

Escaping American Tribalism

Learning to question my beliefs more deeply than I ever had before. UnHerd, March 2022.

Disenchantment and Dogma

On the limits, and virtues, of secularism. Salmagundi, Fall 2021-Winter 2022.