Author Archive

The Destruction of the World in Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

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Olga Tokarczuk’s newly translated novel has been marketed as a murder mystery, albeit a strange one. It is that, partly, but underneath the whodunit is another novel: one about how our obsession with usefulness leads to greed, and the devastating impact of both on the environment.

James Joyce and Rebecca Lee’s Dinner Party Revelations

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In fiction, it is never a good idea to attend a dinner party. We read dinner party stories to get messy, to get everybody drunk, and to hear what they’ve been keeping quiet about for years. These fictional parties almost always end in a revelation, and usually not a

Dissecting Suspense in Rebecca

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A master of suspense, Daphne du Maurier’s highest skill lies in finding the latent dread in mundane domestic moments.

Reading Carmen Maria Machado’s Update on Carmilla

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In this new edition, Machado has taken on the duty of an antique frame restorer. The resulting work is a hybrid form, a beautiful and terrible monster that shifts whenever you look at it, back and forth between history and fantasy, repression and liberation, horror and desire.

Too Young to Know

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Great child narrators feel like a Oulipo trick, pulled off seamlessly. Instead of writing without certain letters, writers of child narrators blind themselves to certain truths.

The Fairy Tale Logic of Helen Oyeyemi’s Gingerbread

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Mutable logic flows through every aspect of Oyeyemi’s new novel—plot, character, and space—revealing the flexibility of structures and worldviews that we normally see as rigid and immovable.

The Language of Solitary Women

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In amplifying the tension that lies between a woman’s internal language and her external one, novels by Claire-Louise Bennet and Sayaka Murata examine the woman living on the periphery of her society.

Sanctuary in Ruins

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The house is often used as a symbol of security in literature, and a ruined home can speak to what a given writer thinks we need protection from. Both the threats to security, and the emotional impact of a literary ruin shift with the writer and her cultural moment.

Work, Love, and Partnership in Tove Jansson’s Fair Play

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Jansson’s 1989 novel serves as a particularly poignant antithesis of the “loner artist” narrative, dealing instead with a loving partnership that, rather than getting in the way of artistic work, lifts and expands it.

The Taiga Syndrome by Cristina Rivera Garza

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Garza's use of language and suspense is so skillful that she can remind us of the artifice of fiction in one moment, holding us up so we can see everything in its place, and in the next push our heads back beneath the surface of its conceit.