Author Archive

Meaghan O’Connell’s Lessons in Parenthood

I’ve always thought of stories of new parenthood as a cross between how-to manuals and cautionary tales. It wasn’t until I read Meaghan O’Connell’s memoir that I realized mothers don’t write their stories for the benefit of those without children—whether their stories scare me or encourage me is irrelevant.

Jesmyn Ward’s and William Faulkner’s Apocryphal Counties

Like Faulkner, Jesmyn Ward sets all her novels in a town loosely based on her own hometown in Mississippi, mapping a terrain that holds the various human experiences within its topographical confines.

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

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

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

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

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

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?

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.