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Fiction Chronicle

November 2012

Go walkabout

by Stefan Beck

Coverage of Lionel Asbo: State of England by Martin Amis, A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers, The Lower River by Paul Theroux, and Voss by Patrick White.

Before tourism there was travel,” wrote the critic Paul Fussell, “and before travel there was exploration.” This statement, from Fussell’s Abroad: British Literary Traveling Between the Wars (1980), seems uncontroversial, even banal. But he didn’t mean merely that exploration was a precondition for travel, and travel for tourism. Rather, he meant that travel was all but dead, and that the ashes of exploration had been scattered to the four winds: “Because travel is hardly possible anymore, an inquiry into the nature of travel and travel writing between the wars will resemble a threnody, and I’m afraid that a consideration of the tourism that apes it will be like a satire.”

It’s possible to read this part of Fussell’s critique as satire with a straight face, but nevertheless, it caused some offense. In The New York Times, Jonathan Raban called Abroad

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Stefan Beck is a writer living in Hudson, New York. He has contributed on fiction and other subjects to The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, and elsewhere.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 31 November 2012, on page 31

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Bad luck & trouble

by Stefan Beck

On Quicksand, by Steve Toltz; Paris Nocturne, by Patrick Modiano; The State We’re In, by Ann Beattie; and The Night Stages, by Jane Urquhart.

Getting away from it all

by Stefan Beck

Time on an island in Hudson, New York, occasions some musings on the greatest shipwreck survivors in literature.

The story of the grail

by Stefan Beck

Reviews of The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro; John the Pupil, by David Flusfeder; Know Your Beholder, by Adam Rapp & Notes from a Dead House, by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

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Wars & rumors of wars

by Stefan Beck

Reviews of Perfidia, by James Ellroy; In the Wolf’s Mouth, by Adam Foulds; The Zone of Interest, by Martin Amis; and The Laughing Monsters, by Denis Johnson.

Man up

by Stefan Beck

Reviews of On Earth as It Is in Heaven, by Davide Enia; All the Birds, Singing, by Evie Wyld; Three Brothers, by Peter Ackroyd; and Mount Terminus, by David Grand.

Facing the music

by Stefan Beck

Reviews of Play Pretty Blues by Snowden Wright, The Love Song of Jonny Valentine by Teddy Wayne, The Guts by Roddy Doyle, and Traveling Sprinkler by Nicholson Baker.

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The Walter Duranty Prize for Journalistic Mendacity
On May 5, 2014, The New Criterion and PJ Media presented the second Walter Duranty Prize for Journalistic Mendacity. The award is given to highlight egregious examples of dishonest reporting. Also awarded this year was the Rather, a new award for lifetime achievement in mendacious journalism.
The Duranty Prize is named after Walter Duranty, the New York Times Moscow corresponded in the 1920s and 1930s who whitewashed Joseph Stalin’s forced starvation of the Ukrainians (the Holodomor) and many other aspects of Soviet oppression. Duranty was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for his efforts. It has never been revoked.
Audio copyright Ed Driscoll,

Introduction to The Kennedy Phenomenon
Roger Kimball introduces The Kennedy Phenomenon, a conference presented by The New Criterion on Tuesday, November 19.

The Kennedy Phenomenon: "Watching the Kennedy Train-Wreck"
Roger Kimball reads Peter Collier’s paper on oft-overlooked unsavory details of the Kennedys' lives. Much of the paper is drawn from Collier’s book, coauthored with David Horowitz, The Kennedys: An American Drama.