Author Archive

Where’s the Diversity in the Campus Novel?

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September’s as good a month as any to return to the campus novel. Since its inception around the 1950s—at least insofar as its American iterations are concerned—there’s been something inextricably optimistic about it. It implies transformation, a metamorphosis, and there’s energy in that.
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Field Goals

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August in the U.S. means football. It suffocates bar-stool conversation, seeps into family gossip. The whole business is as inextricable from the American identity as Protestantism. I can’t help wondering how an institution so all-encompassing has managed to dodge the pages of literary journals and publisher’s catalogs.
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More Known Things

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Since its integration into American culture at large, with the emergence of Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft and Hugo Gernsback, speculative fiction has always been willfully short-sighted in regards to race.
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Hidden Idiom

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Around this time last year, Jamaica held its first Pride parade. The whole thing took place in the country’s capital. There’s a smog that settles over Kingston in the afternoon, like this funk that pedestrians and motorists and bike-riders can’t avoid.
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The Veins of the Ocean and the Politics of Grief

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Despite the foothold grief retains in our lives at large, its portrayals in our art are often one-size-fits-all. It isn’t simply a question of what is appropriate to grieve—the world provides no shortage of reasons for that—but whether on the television, over Facebook, or, most perplexingly, within literary fiction,
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Place Matters

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I’ve been stoked for a number of novels this month, but maybe none as much as Chris McCormick’s Desert Boys. It’s his first collection, a series of linked stories. His progressions are thematic. The prose is lovely, and the guy seems like an ace—but more so than the subject
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Silent Anniversary

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Believe it or not, for better or worse, March marked the thirteenth anniversary of Iraq’s American invasion. Maybe you saw it on your newsfeed. Most likely you didn’t. But as far as remembrances go, the output was business as usual—we got the obligatory flag-waving on the local stations, the
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Other Countries

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Sometimes I have to remind myself that the Black Writer In America is a cosmopolitan entity. The news can do that to you, even in February. Obviously there’s Harlem, and before that, there was the mass exodus from the South to the North, to experience life among people who
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On Moving and Shaking

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Most weeks since last August, I’ve taught writing with some volunteers at Orleans Parish Prison. We usually head over around midday, parking just off Canal Street and the Goodwill on Broad. Sometimes we’re asked to leave as soon as we arrive, and sometimes logistics warrant spur of the moment
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A Recommendation

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Just west of Houston, before you reach Texas’ most remarkable stretch of nothing, there’s a crumbling Latin diner I take my kid brother on Fridays. It is refreshingly un-Yelpable. The family’s owned it forever. They’re almost native in their darkness, and when I order two beers, they’ve pitched us
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