Articles by John Yargo

February 24, 2016

Taste Is the Only Morality: On Han Kang’s ‘The Vegetarian’ 0

The Vegetarian is dark, cynical, even antinatalist.

February 17, 2016

Experiments in Biography: On Chris Offutt’s ‘My Father, the Pornographer’ 0

In 1994 alone, John Cleve wrote 44 novels, including Punished Teens, The Chronicles of Stonewall 7: Captives of Stonewall, and Buns, Boots, & Hot Leather.

August 12, 2015

Kafka’s Vanished World: On Reiner Stach’s ‘The Decisive Years’ and ‘The Years of Insight’ 1

Kafka remains singular because his choices are not inevitable. There are no clear lines between his work and his aesthetics, history, biography, and philosophy. His literature is defiant, organic, and idiosyncratic.

April 15, 2015

Reign of Terror: Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s ‘Guantanámo Diary’ 0

The CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program was, in every sense, a moral and strategic catastrophe.

February 10, 2015

Let Us Now Praise Authors, Artists, Dilettantes, and Drunks 2

I ask myself, in what Kyoto bar might a fellow literary pilgrim relate to me the praiseworthy sexual longevity of one of Japan’s great dilettante artists?

November 21, 2014

Pineapples in a Hothouse: Writing Culture in ‘Dear Committee Members’ and ‘Twilight of the Eastern Gods’ 3

As a promising Albanian writer, Kadare was invited to Moscow, where he met the odd mix of Party sycophants and belles-lettrists that was the Soviet intelligentsia.

September 5, 2014

Sentimental Educations: Alberto Moravia’s Contempt and Agostino 0

Moravia suggests that ratiocination is a poor substitute for taste. One of his great themes is how sensibility is wrecked by negotiations with other people, other classes, other individuals, and thereby reinvigorated.

July 31, 2014

The Academy of Rambling-On: On Bohumil Hrabal’s Fiction 0

Read the stories. Read the novels. Just read Hrabal.

June 3, 2014

Keep the Laurus Nobilis Flying: Edward St. Aubyn’s Lost for Words 5

The Booker shortlist and the eventual winners have been decried for being too populist, too elitist, too imperialist, too predictable. Edward St. Aubyn’s new novel, Lost for Words, is a briskly readable satire on the annual circus.

May 12, 2014

The Other Kind of Country People: On Katherine Faw Morris’s Young God 0

Young God is a strong entry in the tradition of the Southern Gothic Novel (redneck noir subcategory), but, while reading it and after watching True Detective, I began to wonder if the genre still has any explanatory power for contemporary America.