Author Archive

Reading New York

In the New Yorks of Anne Roiphe’s and Vivian Gornick’s memoirs, isolation in an urban setting is a tired trope that neither Roiphe nor Gornick finds to fit her experiences.

Leïla Slimani’s The Perfect Nanny and the Perils of Female Desire

“The baby is dead. It only took a few seconds.” So begins Leïla Slimani’s French bestseller, translated into English by Sam Taylor. The thriller won France’s Prix Goncourt—Moroccan-born Slimani is only the twelfth woman to win the award—and uses an American news story as its source.

Maggie O’Farrell Pulls the Curtain Back on Death

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Maggie O’Farrell’s recent memoir takes its title from this allusion. I am, I am, I am tells the story of the author’s life through seventeen near death experiences.

On Being Keepers: Heidi Julavits and Sarah Manguso’s Diaries

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Diaries offer writers, particularly women who historically have not had a public voice, space to reflect on and process their lives as they happen, as well as space to record the daily routines that compose a life.

The Evolution of True Crime

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Recent true crime memoirs written by women who have experienced unimaginable violence increasingly describe the sorts of events we cannot read from a comfortable remove.

Ballet, Loss, and Longing in The Complete Ballet

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The Complete Ballet is a hybrid book, suggesting not only the format of a classical or romantic story ballet, but the sense that we can never answer Yeats’s question, “How can we know the dancer from the dance?” about the blurring of artist and performance, truth and fiction.

Netflix’s New Joan Didion Documentary Speaks to Pain and Memory

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I cannot watch a documentary about Joan Didion impartially any more than her nephew, Griffin Dunne, could make an impartial film about his legendary aunt. To say that Didion, now 82, has had an impact on me is an understatement.

How Do We Decide What to Read?

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There are too many beloved books and not enough prizes, and somehow they get lost underneath all the news about the really important books that I should be reading.

Thomas Hardy’s Rule-Breaking Heroines

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Hardy humanizes his heroines' ambitions, the intensity of their feelings, their fancies and passions. In both Bathsheba Everdene and Tess Durbeyfield, Hardy writes intelligent women who work hard and write their own rulebooks.

Florida’s Nonfiction Borderland in Sunshine State

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By switching back and forth between epistolary writing, imagined scenes, memoir, and journalism, Gerard shows her range of skills and voice while keeping her story contained to one location—Pinellas County, Florida, where Gerard grew up, and dips in and out of in her adulthood.