Parenthood Fear in Orange World and Other Stories and Small Animals

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I love my son in a way that is so deep and fierce to be fundamentally at odds with the assumption that I’d be careless with him. I would breastfeed the devil, appease the wolf. But I know that even if I do, I am powerless against so much.

The Problem with the Quest Narrative

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Madhuri Vijay’s debut novel uses the problematic traditional quest story to reveal how the intrusion of blind privilege can do real and lasting harm.

The Poetic Instant and Creative Criticism

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I’ve often wondered about the efficacy of my academic training. What good did it do? The definitive effect hasn’t been a breadth of ready knowledge but rather a facility for surprise and a capacity for shaped responses to texts I call “creative criticism.”

Costalegre by Courtney Maum

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Maum’s coming-of-age novel probes the hypocrisy of the art world, the challenges of being a child of artists, and the dangers of not being loved. 

Water in The Veins of the Ocean

In Patricia Engel’s 2016 novel, a family, having been exiled from Cartagena, Colombia to the United States, is separated from their country by a vast gulf. But the ocean doesn’t just act as a barrier—it is also the scene of the traumatic event that the protagonist’s life revolves around.

The Unconventional Heroine

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Though Catherine Morland may be neither Austen’s cleverest nor her wisest heroine, the story of how her naiveté is transformed to discernment is no less compelling, showing that understanding others takes a combination of good faith and imagination, tempered by experience.

Van Gogh’s Letters

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Even before he began to devote himself to painting, Van Gogh was gathering layers of experience that provided a way of seeing far beyond the inspiration works of painters he encountered provided him.

Excavating the Past in Don DeLillo’s Underworld

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Rather than simply being connected by the rampant consumerism or the refuse of the Cold War that populates this novel, the characters of DeLillo’s 1997 novel are deeply connected by their emotional response to the beautiful.

The Wind that Lays Waste by Selva Almada

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There is a bit of incompleteness in every human soul, Almada seems to suggest.

David Grossman’s Ode to a Lost Child

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From the moment children are conceived, we become acutely aware of the fact that they could also die.