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Allen Guy Wilcox

ALLEN GUY WILCOX was born in Cooperstown, NY, and grew up on his parents’ farm in the Mohawk Valley. He has lived in Brooklyn since 2005.

Being Grass

As a popular literary novelist, a key writer in the European magic realism movement, and a public intellectual whose work appears in all and sundry forms, Grass’s personal journal is guaranteed an enduring scholastic interest.

The Way We Weren’t

It’s not strictly true to say that humankind came from apes—after all, apes aren’t what apes once were—but it is accurate to point out that we share a common ancestor both with chimpanzees and with bonobos. The single fact commonly learned about bonobos is that they engage in polyamorism with partners of both sexes.

Apples & Oranges

The central thesis of Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander’s massive new tome, Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking, is as follows: “the spotting of analogies pervades every moment of our thought…constituting thought’s core...we swim nonstop in an ocean of small, medium-sized, and large analogies, ranging from mundane trivialities to brilliant insights.” Dredging up the past to compare it with a present circumstance requires an analogy—it is nothing if not analogy.

Bryson, Inc

Bill Bryson is a great renderer: he can take you anywhere in time—or space, for that matter, as he proved in his seminal 2003 work, A Short History of Nearly Everything.

Philosophy Express

“In an Event,” writes popular Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, “things not only change, what changes is the very parameter by which we measure the facts of change.” A natural interpreter of human civilization, Žižek lays a framework for thinking about important change with his new book, Event: A Philosophical Journey Through a Concept.

The Debacle

If we can’t place the words precisely in time, still many of us remember the electrifying phrase, “J’Accuse…” headlining an old French newspaper and set into facsimile in our high school History textbooks.

Earthly Powers

On welcoming a first complete English-language translation of Giacomo Leopardi’s Zibaldone, a 2,500-page philological, philosophical, literary notebook, we find a writer whose intellectual life was among the most comprehensive and assiduously developed in all modern history, whose wide-ranging appetite for knowledge and self-understanding was matched only by his breathtaking perspicacity and his tireless devotion to study.

Recovering Churchill

Boris Johnson, conservative politician and Mayor of London, has penned his ninth book, The Churchill Factor, about that great figure of British resilience, defender of democracy in Europe, Sir Winston Churchill. While the book will undoubtedly serve to advance Johnson’s political rise, The Churchill Factor also operates as a concise, cogent overview of Churchill’s leadership arc and political rise, told in a witty style, which manages (if just barely) to refrain from hagiography.

Why Sebald Matters

The work of W.G. Sebald (1944 – 2001) reminds us that the effects of what Wallace Stevens called “the Supreme Fiction” may be achieved without recourse to the supernatural: consciousness is plenty fantastic, or dreary, without it. As Stevens said, “The imagination loses vitality as it ceases to adhere to what is real.”


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

All Issues