I’m the book critic at Time magazine. I also write about technology and, occasionally, other things. You can see an archive of my articles here.
I occasionally write for other magazines besides Time. Below are a few of the freelance pieces I’ve done:
“The Death of a Civil Servant,” The Believer, May 2010
When he was a young man Leonard Woolf spent seven years as a colonial administrator in Ceylon. While he was there he roomed with an early fantasy nerd, and their complicated relationship says a lot about the complicated interconnections between Modernism and fantasy.
“Good Novels Don’t Have to be Hard,” the Wall Street Journal, August 2009
An essay in the Wall Street Journal about the legacy of Modernism and the revival of plot. I’ve been called an idiot on the Internet a lot in my day, but rarely as often as I was called one for this piece. And yet I still believe I’m right. A concise version of the same argument, with reactions to a few rebuttals, is here.
“Catalog This,” New York Times, April 2002
Rare book libraries often become the last resting place for objects far more bizarre than books. Taft’s underwear, Dante’s ashes, Tennyson’s hair — what’s a librarian to do?
“The Gay Nabokov,” Salon, May 2000
Vladimir Nabokov almost never mentioned his brother Sergei, who was gay and had a strange and colorful life of his own. After Sergei died in a Nazi concentration camp, he haunted his famous brother, and his novels.
“When Words Fail,” Lingua Franca, April 1999
Deep in the bowels of Yale’s Beinecke Library sits the Voynich manuscript, the world’s most mysterious book. Written entirely in code and filled with botanical, astrological and pornographic illustrations, it has consumed lives and ruined reputations, but nobody has deciphered it yet.
“Get Smart,” Time Digital, October 1998
A brief history of Cyc, a decades-long attempt to create an intelligent computer by teaching it everything about the entire world.
Warp: A novel, 1997 My first novel, Warp, was about the lyrical misadventures of an aimless 20-something in Boston who has trouble distinguishing between reality and Star Trek.