Garth Risk Hallberg’s stories and essays have appeared in Best New American Voices, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, Prairie Schooner, New York Magazine, Glimmer Train, Slate, Canteen, and The Pinch, as well as at The Millions, where he’s a contributing editor. A 2008 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in Fiction and a two-time finalist for the National Book Critics Circle’s Balakian award for excellence in book reviewing, Garth teaches at Sarah Lawrence College. He’s in the late innings of a novel. (Photo courtesy of Jordan Alport.)
A Field Guide to the North American Family: A Novella.
New York: Mark Batty Publisher, 2007, 2011.
trans. Martin Muller. Berlin: Liebeskind Verlag, 2010.
“That High, Lonesome Sound.” Prairie Schooner. vol. 86, no. 2: Summer 2012.
“Just Wide of the Moon.” Natural Bridge. Issue 20: Winter 2009.
“The Filibuster.” Torpedo. Volume Three: Fall 2008.
“Early Humans.” Best New American Voices 2008. ed. Richard Bausch, Natalie Danford and John Kulka, New York: Harcourt/Harvest Books, 2007.
“Jubilee.” Glimmer Train. Issue 65: Winter 2007.
“Castaways.” The Pinch. Volume 27, Issue 3: Winter 2007.
“Samuel Beckett Shaving.” Hotel St. George Press. Spring 2008.
“A Light That Never Goes Out.” Canteen. Issue 1: Spring 2007.
trans. María Pilar San Roman. Hermano Cerdo. May 2010.
“Autumn in a Box.” [sic]. Issue 2: Fall 2007.
“Lucinda in Reverse.” Pindeldyboz. March 7, 2007.
“Objects in Mirror.” Evergreen Review. Issue 110: Fall 2005.
“The Love Song of Ari Fleischer.” h2so4. Issue 19: Fall 2004.
“For the Man Who Has Everything.” Em. Issue 4: Spring 2004.
“Ghosts of Budapest.” The New York Times Book Review. April 5, 2013.
“Man of the House.” The New York Times Book Review. November 2, 2012.
“The Top 10 Most Difficult Books” [list]. Publishers Weekly. August 3, 2012.
“The Great Pulitzer Do-Over” [squib]. The New York Times Magazine. May 13, 2012.
“Dawn of Creation.” The New York Times Book Review. May 6, 2012
“Why Write Novels At All?” The New York Times Magazine. January 15, 2012.
“Death and Taxes: Why David Foster Wallace Still Demands Our Attention.” New York Magazine. April 11, 2011.
“Why I May Not Be Returning Your Email.” The Late American Novel. ed. C. Max Magee and Jeff Martin. New York: Counterpoint, 2011.
“Playing Lotto With Wittgenstein: On Helen DeWitt’s The Last Samurai.” Open Letters Monthly: An Anthology. New York: Open Letters, 2010. (Reprinted from Open Letters Monthly, March, 2008.)
“Playing Lotto With Wittgenstein: On Helen DeWitt’s The Last Samurai.” Open Letters Monthly. March, 2008.
“The Lost Postmodernist: Joseph McElroy.” The Los Angeles Times. July 7, 2009.
“Watchmen: The Curious Case of a Graphic Novel.” More Intelligent Life. April 15, 2009.
“Is 2666 a Masterpiece?: Roberto Bolaño’s Mysterious Legacy.” More Intelligent Life. November 14, 2008.
“Joseph Mitchell’s True Facts: Notes on a Reporter-Stylist.” More Intelligent Life. August 25, 2008.
“Who is Grady Harp?: Amazon’s Top Reviewers and the Fate of the Literary Amateur.” Slate. January 22, 2008.
“The One That Got Away: Why James Wood is Wrong About Underworld.” The Quarterly Conversation. Issue 9: Fall 2007; reprinted in Best of the Web 2008 (Dzanc Books).
“El Mundo de Manana, Hoy: Un intento de reseña: Against the Day, de Thomas Pynchon.” Hermanocerdo. Issue 13: February-March 2007.
“Racial Reconciliation in a Season of Suffering.” Conscience & Courage. Vol. 2: Summer 2006.
“My Life as Bruce Springsteen.” The New Pantagruel. Issue 1: Winter 2004.
“James Merrill’s Narrative Prose.” James Merrill: Other Writings. Ed. John Hodge. St. Louis: Washington University Libraries, 2001.
[Selected Writings from The Millions]
Outside the Ring: A Profile of Sergio De La Pava * Whatever Happened to the New Atheism? * How Avant Is It?: Zadie Smith, Tom McCarthy, and the Novel’s Way Forward * The Soul-Sucking Suckiness of B.R. Myers * J.D. Salinger 1919 – 2010 * The Millions Interview: Péter Esterházy * Reality Squared: A Profile Of Deborah Eisenberg * The Bolaño Myth and the Backlash Cycle * Dissecting the List: An Excursus * R.I.P., NYT: The Future of Book Reviewing * David Foster Wallace, 1962 – 2008 * Short Story Week: An Introduction * Love: A Burning Thing & Keepers of the Flame: A Reply to N+1 (pts. 1 and 2)
M.T. Anderson – The Extraordinary Life of Octavian Nothing, vol. 1 (pts 1, 2, & 3) * Jesse Ball – Samedi the Deafness * Charles Bock – Beautiful Children * Roberto Bolaño – Nazi Literature in the Americas * Roberto Bolaño – The Savage Detectives * Gregoire Bouillier – The Mystery Guest * Peter Carey – His Illegal Self * Horacio Castellanos Moya – Senselessness/ Francisco Goldman – The Art of Political Murder * Vikram Chandra – Sacred Games * Julia Child – The Way to Cook * Lydia Davis – Varieties of Disturbance * Samuel R. Delany – Dahlgren * Helen DeWitt – Lightning Rods * E.L.Doctorow – Creationists / William H. Gass – Tests of Time * Dave Eggers – What is the What * Deborah Eisenberg – Under the 82nd Airborne * Mathias Énard – Zone * Thomas Frank – Commodify Your Dissent / Michael Lewis – Liar’s Poker * Jonathan Franzen – Freedom * Nell Freudenberger – The Dissident * Robert Graysmith – Zodiac Unmasked * Joseph Heller – Something Happened * Philip Hensher – The Northern Clemency * Clive James – Cultural Amnesia * Denis Johnson – Tree of Smoke * Edward P. Jones – All Aunt Hagar’s Children * Adam Levin – The Instructions * Michael Lewis – The Big Short / Keith Gessen – Diary of a Very Bad Year * Jonathan Littell – The Kindly Ones * Clancy Martin – How to Sell * Jane Mayer – The Dark Side / Barton Gellman – Angler * Kirill Medvedev – It’s No Good * Leonard Michaels – Sylvia * Vladimir Nabokov – Ada, or Ardor * Ngugi wa Thiong’o – Wizard of the Crow * Joseph O’Neill – Netherland * Andrey Platonov – Soul ; Ezra Pound – The Cantos / John Berryman – Dream Songs / Ted Berrigan – The Sonnets * Thomas Pynchon – Against the Day * Thomas Pynchon – Inherent Vice * Philip Roth – Sabbath’s Theater * Norman Rush – Mortals * Christopher Sorrentino – Trance * John Updike – The Maples Stories * John Updike – Rabbit Redux * Lynne Tillmann – American Genius, a Comedy * Tatyana Tolstaya – The Slynx * Lawrence Wright – The Looming Tower * Richard Yates – Revolutionary Road
Inter Alia: A Sporadic Column:
1 (Michael Chabon) * 2 (George Packer) * 3 (James Wood) * 4 (translation) * 5 (self-promotion) * 6 (Helen DeWitt) * 7 (DFW & John McCain) * 8 (Short Stories) ; 9 (Hippie Fiction) * 10 (Authority & Book Reviewing) * 11 (the Death of Literary Spaces) * 12 (Tell No One) * 13 (Fonts) * 14 (Political Blogs) * 15 (Snark) * 16 (“The Unfinished”) * 17 (timeliness)
Odds and Ends:
Is Big Back? * The Literary Pedigree of Downton Abbey * Draft Dave: Why Dave Eggers Should Edit the Paris Review * The Problem with Prizes, or Who Cares About the International Booker? * John Updike, 1932-2009 * Gutenberg Eulogies? * A History of Magic: A Children’s Librarian Reflects on Harry Potter * Shaking The Tree: Lit-Blogs Wrestle with Denis Johnson * Diagramming the Obama Sentence * Fillet of Mockingbird in a Gladwell Reduction Sauce * Grace Paley 1922 – 2007 * So Long, Norman Mailer * Claude Levi-Strauss, 1908-2009 * A Year in Reading, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006
An interview at The Faster Times, not called “Hallberg’s Triumph,” though not for lack of trying.
An interview at Pages to Pixels.
“One of the smartest literary-critical writers writing anywhere,” says New York Magazine, which is a compliment I’ll happily post here, even if it only means New York Magazine should be reading more literary-critical writers.
An interview at Canteen.
Switzerland’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung enters the “Reading Labyrinth,” and comes out “richly rewarded.”
Not sure exactly what this review from Der Spiegel says, but I gather it’s positive.
A Field Guide to the North American Family is “a small Gesamtkunstwerk of great immediacy,” writes Friederike Albaat of Madame magazine. “A terrific social novel building interwoven narratives around the lives of two Long Island families, with cross-references to others chapters, as one might find in field guides about birds or trees. The book is a kind of swan song for the endangered species: the typical American suburban family.”
And a nice write-up in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Approximately: “A savvy postmodern counterpart to the realistic social panorama that is back in vogue with Jonathan Franzen’s latest ‘corrections.’ Ein Naturführer der amerikanischen familie is a novel in the form of a dictionary or an illustrated field guide, which in its open, interactive, and nonlinear structure recalls models such as Milorad Pavic’s Dictionary of the Khazars. . . [and] a novel that deals with almost all aspects of family life. It’s about trust and betrayal, about jealousy and love, about the search for meaning and recognition, about cohesion, alienation, sorrow and indifference. But above all, we see here once again the question of guilt. It floats above all the intricate events that pervade Hallberg’s literary debut. Who is or feels responsible for a separation, a death, an accident, the reckless pharmaceutical experimentation of children? Hallberg grounds his frequently moving, profound and tragic history with sarcasm and humor. . . . A stimulating and, above all, ambitious debut, unusual and very beautiful in its design.”
Early reviews from Germany: A Field Guide to the North American Family is “picture book, encyclopedia, hypertext, satire, social and psychological analysis, all in one. . . a wonderful novel. . . . Create[s] a beautiful effect, as we reconstruct the family and the novel form and see them for what they are: fragile and based on illusions.” -Ulrich Rudenauer, Die Tageszeitung. And: “Extremely well-drawn and well-written, [and] simply different . . . No matter how one moves through the text – by cross-references, alphabetically, or just page-by-page, a bittersweet, finely observed portrait emerges.” – Hamburger Abendblat
Field Guide in German: “An American family saga? A multidimensional book of art? A book that reads differently every time? Ein Naturführer der amerikanischen Familie is all this and more: a firecracker of wit, insight, and storytelling.” -Saša Stanišić, author of How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone.
Ann Kingman of Books on the Nightstand discusses Field Guide: “I really love everything about this.”
“Castaways,” a short story, is a Pushcart Prize nominee.
A press release for the NYFA Fellowship. Awfully nice to be in such fine company.
At The Elegant Variation, Jim Ruland adds Field Guide to his list of “Good Things That Come in Small Packages”: “With its mish-mash of styles…the illustrated novella-in-flash is unexpectedly astute. Perfect for road trips with people you hate.” Which is a good thing (I hope)?
The April issue of PDN profiles A Field Guide to the North American Family: “The Hungates and the Harrisons…in a pre-digital era might have populated the pages of novels and short stories by John Cheever, John Updike and Richard Yates.”
“A Field Guide to the North American Family is a beautiful book,” writes Andrea Chmielewski of Bookslut. “Beautiful because of the gentle way the story of two suburban families unravels for the reader. Beautiful because each of the short entries that make up the novella is accompanied by a photograph, sometimes bizarre or haunting, but always a pleasure to behold. Beautiful because the book itself has all the elements that make the act of reading seem like an event.” Read the complete review here.
FILE Magazine features Field Guide: “Whether you read straight through or by meandering through its entries, by the end you have taken a heartbreaking journey through an chaotic and intense period in […] two families’ lives. But it isn’t just the story, its structure, or prose that makes this book so ingenious. The book is a visual feast as well.” The FILE article also offers an interview and lush reproductions of pages from the book. Check it out here.
“There’s an appealing philosophical sweetness underlying the glancing surfaces,” writes Levi Asher of Literary Kicks. “If you buy this book as a Christmas present for everybody it reminds you of, you’ll be buying a lot of copies, and why shouldn’t you?” Read the complete review here.
“A remarkable collaboration…beautifully produced,” writes Rachel Fershleiser of Grand Street News. “Reveal[s] dark secrets and explore[s] the profound minutiae of modern life.” Read her article about the book’s genesis and the gallery show here.
“Intensely personal,” writes David Willems of Hotel St. George Press. “A sad and beautiful book. [Hallberg’s] writing is luminous.” Read the complete review here.
“One of the smartest voices in the literary blogosphere,” writes Mark Sarvas of The Elegant Variation.
You may also enjoy listening to a September 10 interview on WFMU-FM’s “The Speakeasy” here.
And you can read a recent interview with Shane Mehling of E-Notes here.
I also host the Pacific Standard Fiction Series in Brooklyn, on irregular Tuesdays. Readings have featured Colson Whitehead, Christopher Sorrentino, Samantha Hunt, Francisco Goldman, Joshua Ferris, Martha Southgate, Joseph O’Neill, Lydia Millet, Arthur Phillips, Paul Beatty, and others. Look for more great installments coming soon…