I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Kevin Power

Beyond A Joke

A Tale Told by an Idiot: Jordan Peterson’s daring fictional gambit

The Cat Laughs

Are we, like our feline companions, creatures of biology and chance?

Seigneur Moments

Martin Amis’s work can be understood as a series of riffs on the base elements of male friendship: rivalry, companionship, sublimated desire. The bullshit quotient is in some ways an index of the bullshit quotient of male friendships, or maybe just the bullshit quotient of men.

Then Again

Politics has become a pageant of scandals, with high moral dudgeon the preferred rhetorical mode. In flight from uncertainty, we have abjured the ethical obligation to be uncertain – to pause and say maybe, rather than scream yes or no. Enter Zadie Smith, the essayist of contingency.

Talk about a Revolution

Smash the system or read books: the tough academic choice

Who Will Save Us?

As ‘end of the world’ scenarios assume increasing plausibility, the canonisation of Greta Thunberg becomes completely intelligible. It’s just one of myriad ways in which the religious imagination continues to shape the secular world, like a restless sleeper disturbing a thin blanket.

Triumph of the Will

Benjamin Moser’s biography tells us vividly what it was like to know Susan Sontag: it was a tough gig. But it doesn’t tell us what it was like to be Susan Sontag ‑ perhaps an even tougher gig. Nor does it tell us much about her work.

The Botplot

Ian McEwan’s novels tend to set up a clash between opposing worldviews, with the authorial thumb pressed heavily on one side of the scales. His latest, a humanist exploration of posthumanist ideas, is a hugely pleasurable read, but might the author not have tried to surprise us a little more?

Hating Jonathan Franzen

Privileged, pretentious, arrogant, self-indulgent, mediocre, male, white. Those who dislike Franzen certainly don’t hold back. Is it the writing, or that he serves as a handy embodiment of a currently popular bogeyman: the smug elitist who disparages mass culture in the name of a snootily exclusive ‘tradition’?

Channelling God

In 1954 Norman Mailer discovered marijuana. It gave him an insight into the mind of the Almighty, which it turned out was quite a lot like his own. He began to formulate the ideas that would shape his literary work over the next decade. Unfortunately they were not very good ideas.