Ryan Bloom

Ryan Bloom is an English lecturer at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He has written for The New Yorker, The Arabesques Review, The Baltimore Sun, The Current, Horizon Magazine, The Orlando Sentinel, and other publications. His translation of Albert Camus's Notebooks 1951-1959 (Rowman and Littlefield) was nominated for the 2009 French-American and Florence Gould Foundation's excellence in translation award.

Recent Articles

The Best of David Foster Wallace

When the novelist learned to escape his own mind, he got a little closer to the greatness he sought.

(Flickr/Courtesy of the Lannan Foundation)

May 2005, Kenyon College, Ohio. David Foster Wallace steps to the podium and looks out at the graduating seniors before him. He tugs at his academic robe and bends toward the microphone, hair falling onto his face. Sweat beads and drips over his body. “If anybody feels like perspiring,” Wallace says, “I’d invite you to go ahead, ’cause I’m sure goin’ to.” He reaches into his pocket for a handkerchief and begins to relate the first of several parables: “There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, ‘Morning, boys. How’s the water?’ And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, ‘What the hell is water?’”

Nationals Pride

After 79 years, Washington, D.C., finally has a major league baseball team in the playoffs.

Ryan Bloom

It’s a blazing hot Sunday afternoon on Half Street, Southeast, just outside of Nationals Park. The heat is nothing new for D.C., though. Washington’s summer scorchers were well known to even the capital’s earliest residents—an assemblage of land speculators, slaves, and government workers—but this Sunday feels especially sticky and unbearable. Not even the breeze off the Anacostia River helps. Despite the weather, packs of baseball fans crowd Half and First and N streets, many clad in sweat-stained jerseys and red wool hats stitched with a curly “W.” Vendors mill around makeshift tents and collapsible tables set up along the sidewalks; some stands teem with T-shirts and jerseys, some with bottled water, “ice cold, ice cold,” and some with the traditional peanuts and Cracker Jacks. Unanchored entrepreneurs roam the area, their arms lined with knockoff caps, hawked to the tirelessly repeated tune, “Five dollars, get your five-dollar hat here, five dollars.” Streams of potential buyers file off the humid, underground Navy Yard Metro, up the station’s escalators, and out into the daylight. Scalpers wade through the crowds chirping, “Tickets, tickets, tickets.”

The Making of a Madman

A.N. Wilson's new biography explains how losing money, mother, and mind created Hitler.

(Flickr / Daniel Semper)

How are monsters made? How do the Neros and Caligulas, the Stalins and Maos come into existence? One of the most frequent explanations for those preternatural torturers of small animals, those psychopathic murderers and genocidal maniacs is actually quite simple: It’s all the parents’ fault. As poet Philip Larkin wrote, “They fuck you up, your mum and dad.” And it’s not just physical abuse that begets monsters but emotional and psychological abuse as well.

Under the Covers, Between the Sheets

With the new translation of the Kama Sutra, it's not all about sex.

(Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition/Malika Favre)

(Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition/Malika Favre)

Cover image of A.N.D. Haksar's new translation of the Kama Sutra, illustrated by Malika Favre.

And Then There Was Light, Man

Mimicking a familiar format, Alan Lightman's Mr. g fails to create a unique world.

As an undergraduate student, in order to acquire financial aid, I agreed to take a special first-year seminar called The Creative Process. In the class, we discussed such questions as “What is art?” and, in more concrete form, “Why do we refer to the urinal in the bathroom as simply a place for waste when we call the urinal on the gallery wall a masterpiece?” Halfway through the semester, the professor, a 50-year-old woman with dyed-black, bobbed hair and a necklace that featured a grapefruit-size bust of Jack Skellington, instructed us to consume—to consume—the book Einstein’s Dreams, which, despite its name, was fiction. I did not have high expectations.