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All My Cats by Bohumil Hrabal

Vulnerable and wise, Hrabal’s gorgeous memoir subtly probes the depths of a fragile, troubled psyche, turning a subject as potentially benign as pet ownership into a platform of interlocking drama and introspection.

The Spinsters of Barbara Pym’s Excellent Women

Barbara Pym’s spinsters are trademarks of her novels, and their lives—outwardly ordinary and richly interior—are symbolic of the fullness, rather than the absence, that shape their days.

Brexit and James Shirley’s Saint Patrick for Ireland

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While the Brexit-pushing advertisements that sowed fear of immigrants and raised questions of British sovereignty were more overtly propaganda than Shirley’s 1640 play, they all seek the same goal: to ask denizens to unite in the face of perceived oncoming chaos and adversity, whether that threat is manufactured or

Inherited Trauma in We Cast a Shadow

What the narrator of Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s debut novel doesn’t fully comprehend is that he is worried about his son inheriting trauma from him. Inheriting something that cannot be wiped away.

Green London

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Typically, people come to London to experience the best of a culture as it manifests itself in its great museums, libraries, and performance venues. London’s green spaces, however, present an allure equally powerful.

The Two Versions of Tender Is the Night

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Duality is a constant theme of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s final novel, and fracture along the resulting fault lines is its constant threat. Fitzgerald mirrored these fractures in a brilliant nonlinear structure, though whether he fully appreciated his own craft is unclear, given that he eventually decided to sabotage it.

Frolic and Detour by Paul Muldoon

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Like Ashbery in his final collections, or Cohen in his final albums, Paul Muldoon has nothing left to prove, and can take delight simply in doing what he inimitably does. And his delight is ours.

The Woman in The Woman in the Dunes

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Kobo Abe’s 1962 novel delineates one man’s experience of unjust capture and imprisonment, and the shifting lines between purpose and absurdity that experience foregrounds. Taken as a purely existential novel, the centrality of this figure and his experience can easily remain unchallenged. Yet, he isn’t alone in his imprisonment.

Self-Deception in The Wife

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Meg Wolitzer’s 2003 novel is not a story about how a “great” writer seduced his young student and how their marriage fell apart. It is a story of something far more compelling: a woman who has hidden her talent behind a man.

The Grief of the Anthropocene in Paige Lewis’s Space Struck

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Inextricably intertwined with the seeming power of the Anthropocene is a deep grief for the loss of a world that we suspect once existed, that we catch glimpses of, but that eludes us more each day.