Author Archive

Rachel Carson’s Toxic Inheritance

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Carson’s invocation of the idea of an American pastoral penetrated by a dangerous, toxic presence is, as Lawrence Buell points out, neither new nor confined to ecological writings—or even American writings. Buell does, however, name the publication of Carson’s most famous book as the effective beginning of “toxic discourse.”

The Enigma of Desire

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André Aciman’s 2017 novel is a story specifically focused on desire in all of its forms, but it is the desire to reinvent oneself through romantic love that haunts the novel and is its motivating force.

Memory and Heartbreak in To The River

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While Olivia Laing’s 2011 book is a remarkable piece of nature writing, it is, at its core, a book about a heart mending itself and the unwieldiness of memory.

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.

Silence and Memory in Everything Is Illuminated

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By revolving the story around Augustine’s silent photograph, Foer draws on the elegiac nature inherent in photography while examining the limitations of representation.

The Women of James Salter’s Dusk and Other Stories

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Salter’s women remain ciphers throughout his collection, defined by their looks or their perceived demands on the men in their lives. But the women occupy powerful positions throughout the collection despite these spare characterizations because they allow the reader a chance to view the primary narrative from the outside.

The Threat of Forced Domesticity in Pond

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Throughout the twenty stories in Claire-Louise Bennett’s 2015 short story collection, Bennett engages with the relationship between the exterior, natural world and the interior, domestic spaces that her narrator inhabits.

Allegra Goodman and the Ekphrastic Impulse

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Reading with an eye for ekphrasis is reading for moments of productive trouble, spaces where the verbal and the visual clash, each vying for control over a story’s narrative. In these moments of contact, the sublimated desires and anxieties of the characters or narratives often make themselves known.

The Psychological Repercussions of Silence in Stewart O’Nan’s City of Secrets

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Silence is, necessarily, a fact of life for Brand, the protagonist of Stewart O’Nan’s 2016 novel, who has emigrated illegally to Palestine from the Soviet Union where he survived Gulag camps, and who has since become a member of the Haganah, a Jewish organization working to liberate Palestine from

Laurie Colwin and the Power of Domesticity

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In Laurie Colwin’s short story “The Lone Pilgrim,” the unnamed narrator describes her longing for the domestic lives of others: “Oh, domesticity! The wonder of dinner plates and cream pitchers…We domestic sensualists live in a state of longing, no matter how comfortable your own places are.” What the narrator