Articles by Jonathan Clarke

February 8, 2016

The Contents of His Head: On A.O. Scott’s ‘Better Living Through Criticism’ 1

This is a rather defensive and sometimes irritable book, an act of muffled aggression by a man besieged and yet conscious of occupying a privileged position in the world.

May 19, 2015

Six Possibly True Observations About Renata Adler 8

From the start, Adler’s work has been sophisticated, well-defended, and willfully provocative. The strong tendency of her career has been to resist the received idea — to unpack that idea, disprove it, and remind the reader whose interests the false account serves.

January 7, 2015

Alive with Disagreement and Dissent: On A.O. Scott, Politics, and Art 3

It is natural to hope, even if that hope is somewhat against the weight of experience, that artists can light the path ahead.

September 23, 2014

Human Resources: On Joshua Ferris 15

Rarely has a writer as abundantly praised and rewarded as Joshua Ferris also been misunderstood and even ill-served by reviewers.

June 20, 2014

Style and the Man: On Adam Begley’s Updike 9

If you are going to make major claims for Updike as a writer, as Begley wishes to do, you must show how Updike’s style and his cosmology correspond, and you must give an account of the effects that style produces.

June 14, 2013

The Silence Artist: On The Selected Letters of Willa Cather 5

Cather was one of nature’s miracles, possessed from an early age of an unaccountable conviction that she was meant for something. Yes, she was female, and she lived in Nebraska. The world of letters was a long way away in every sense. Cather could not have been unaware of these facts. But as Joan Acocella puts it, Cather simply opened the door to artistic freedom and walked through it.

April 30, 2010

Fighting Words: Kasia Boddy’s Boxing: A Cultural History 1

To its critics, boxing is as persistent and as worrisome a social phenomenon as prostitution; and indeed, being a very direct way for poor young men to make use of their bodies, it is a kind of masculine cognate for the female sex trade. The more sympathetic view is that boxing is ugly but necessary.