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Sven Birkerts

Sven Birkerts is the author of six books, most recently My Sky Blue Trades: Growing Up Counter in a Contrary Time (Viking, 2002), and the editor of three others. His numerous awards include a National Book Critics Circle Award for excellence in reviewing and the PEN/Spielvogel-Diamonstein Award for the best book of essays. Since 2002 he has edited the journal Agni.


Humboldt’s Gift

Summer 2005 | Essays

Whenever someone asks me to name my favorite novel, I find myself putting on a ridiculous but revealing little performance, pretending to a natural consternation—after all, who can narrow a lifetime’s evolving preferences down to a single title? [...]

A Weekend at Montauk

Winter 2005 | Essays

Max Frisch’s Montauk, packed with these dissolving moments, is one of a small handful of works toward which I feel proprietary, if not downright possessive. I alternately want to pass the book along to everyone I know and to keep it close like some private vice, though I’m not sure what underlies this latter impulse. It’s not as though I believe that a book can be leached or diminished by its enthusiasts. Maybe I’m afraid I’ll find out that my responses and identifications are not nearly as unique as I have imagined them to be.