Essays

 

[click to read essay]

Screw Wisdom

In a bold new memoir of female middle age, libido obliterates the usual clichés.

Atlantic, June 2017

Narcissism: A Reflection

Spiked, January 27, 2017

The Clinton Marriage Remains a Rorschach Test for Sexual Anxiety

Vox, October 4, 2016

Girl Manterrupted

What’s the role of cutesy workplace feminism…
Slate, Sept 7, 2016.

Thrall of Mirrors

Kristin Dombek’s adventures in the world of contemporary narcissism.
Bookforum, Sept/Oct/Nov 2016

Critical Condition

A.O. Scott considers the state of criticism–including his own.
Bookforum, Feb/March 2016

My Title IX Inquisition

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 2015

The Deep, Dark, Ugly Thing

Can shame shape society?
Harper’s, May 2015

Marry By 30

Kate Bolick’s Spinster is billed as a progress report for women—but it’s exactly the opposite.
Slate, April 2015

Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe

The Chronicle of Higher Education
March 2015

Resentments of Things Past   PDF logo

The art of not letting go.
Bookforum, Feb/Mar 2015

Me, Myself, and Id   PDF logo

The invention of the narcissist.
Harper’s, Aug 2014

Personae of Interest   PDF logo

Thomas Bellar grapples with elusive literary icon J. D. Salinger.
Bookforum, Summer 2014

 Charged Images

A review of Eric Fischl’s memoir, Bad Boy
New York Times Book Review, June 21, 2013

Crazy in Love   PDF logo

On James Lasdun’s Give Me Everything
Bookforum, April-May 2013

Death by Self-Parody   PDF logo

A review of Michel Houellebecq’s The Map and the Territory
Bookforum, Dec-Jan 2012

I Mean It   PDF logo

A review of RJ Magill’s Sincerity
New York Times Book Review, Aug 10, 2012

Papa Paparazzo   PDF logo

A gilt-edged tribute to Ron Galella, the godfather of celebrity photography.
Bookforum, Summer 2012

Amazing Disgrace   PDF logo

On Wayne Koestenbaum’s Humiliation
Bookforum, Sep/Oct/Nov 2011

Why Is Contemporary Art Addicted to Violence?   PDF logo

A review of Maggie Nelson’s The Art of Cruelty
New York Times Book Review, July 14, 2011

Why Did Weiner Do It?   PDF logo

Slate, June 9, 2011

Why is Eliot Spitzer on TV? Because Disgrace Doesn’t Stick Like It Used To.   PDF logo

Washington Post, October 3, 2010

School for Scandal   PDF logo

The larger meaning of these sordid little tales.
Harper’s, Jan 2009

 Lust and Disgust   PDF logo

A short history of prudery, feminist and otherwise.
Harper’s, September 2007

On Scandal: A 5-week series on Slate.com Aug/Sep 2010

    Why We Can’t Live Without Them   PDF logo

 It’s only when a great scandal breaks after a protracted dry spell that you realize how much delight other people’s transgressions provide the community and how monotonous things get when everyone plays by the rules.

They Produce Very Useful Scapegoats. Like Dr. Laura, for example.  PDF logo

Scandals about race hold a certain queasy fascination for Americans, but why wouldn’t they, given our history?

Roger Clemens, James Frey, and the Thrill of Watching the Overly Ambitious Fall   PDF logo

Which is worse: lying to Congress or lying to Oprah?

What Tiger Woods Didn’t Understand About His Mistresses   PDF logo

Sadly, the traditional sexual entitlements of the celebrity role come with new disincentives.

We’re All Scandal Addicts Now. And That’s a Good Thing.   PDF logo

What ever happened to shame? A real scandal requires shame, but we’re living through a shame recession.