Good Prose, No Win Satire

The Sellout, by Paul Beatty You might be in the den with some pals waiting for the Super Bowl to begin, and someone cracks a joke, then another. Then another. And you think, “Jokes and satire can’t be all that hard; maybe I could do a stand-up act, or write a satirical book.” So weeks…

Vonnegut Lives Again

Years ago, if you were like the rest of us, you were a little bit wacky and a little bit cynical, and that led us to Kurt Vonnegut’s books. He wrote as if he were a good-hearted anarchist, and he wrote plenty, and so we had a lot to read. Now his books – and…

Wanna Satire?

It’s been said that humor is a corrective social device – it presents imaginary or exaggerated situations that poke at falsity, whether in an individual’s ego, or in the more collective social sense, but it does so without being seen as a diatribe or personal attack. I

Mark Twain, Meet NEWSWEEK

Like Salinger, Twain (Samuel L. Clemens) has retained his hold on the U.S. imagination. That his The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn has been banned over the last century-plus – for varying reasons – would no doubt please the author. The U.S. is a country that, in wholesale fashion, superficially espouses certain moral poses while violating…

NCW–What the Critics Say About Ron Hansen

   Once in a while I have to brag on the writers who inspire me. Hansen is one of a shortlist of these – a writer of great range who can occasionally leave me slack-jawed at his turns-of-the phrase. He's hardly a genre writer – and that too inspires me – moving between literate westerns, literary,…