Author Archive

Max Blecher’s Landscapes of Illness

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Illness is not Blecher’s subject as much as it is the occasion that forces his protagonists into a world of previously unavailable experience—a world that makes it impossible for those who fall ill to ever be “cured” of the way of being, seeing, and thinking into which they have

Summer’s True Fictions

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It is the subjective “us,” that most basic of true fictions that we use to explain our existence in the present, and, more generally, in time, that interests Ali Smith.

Maria Popova’s Figurations of Inner Life

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It almost does not matter what someone does or what happens to them. Rather, what matters is what someone thinks they have experienced. As Popova suggests, the true changes in our lives are cognitive as much as they are biographical—or, rather, if they are biographically significant, it is only

Hilary Mantel’s Tudor Mirror

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The final book in Mantel’s award-winning trilogy completes the suggestion that time is the mirror in which we see ourselves, and that the uncertain reflections we cast change according to the source and quality of the light.

Reading Letters Summer 1926: Boris Pasternak, Marina Tsvetayeva, Rainer Maria Rilke

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In the summer of 1926, Rilke, Pasternak, and Tsvetayeva are poised on the brink of disaster, but instead of anticipating it, or of dwelling on what may come, they write. Their letters attest to a febrile, almost frenzied creative period.

Svetlana Alexievich’s Verbatim Theater

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In her exploration of the Chernobyl disaster, Svetlana Alexievich dramatizes history—as she insists, we can only understand events of this magnitude by recasting them on a human scale.

Becoming One’s Mother: Tove Ditlevsen’s Copenhagen Trilogy

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Devastatingly, Tove Ditlevsen’s three-part memoir suggests that acquiring a room of one’s own and becoming a successful writer does not preclude sharing the fate of one’s mother.