Author Archive

Modern Day Ghost Stories

In contemporary memoir, like works by Kiese Laymon and Jesmyn Ward, the ghosts that haunt the narrators are past selves, dead loved ones, or other traumas that manifest in these writers’ lives.

Fact and Fiction in Tell Me How It Ends and Lost Children Archive

Reading both of Valeria Luiselli’s most recent books, which each center on the refugee crisis at the US-Mexico border, is a powerful experience—doing so can show us our own complicity in what is often a “background story.”

The Lyricism of Mundane Grief in Joy Enough and The Long Goodbye

Death’s lyricism, perhaps, can only be found after the fact, when one tries to prettify the tedium and make sense of inner chaos.

“The writer’s toolbox is for everyone”: An Interview with T Kira Madden

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T Kira Madden’s new memoir is ultimately redemptive—it is a book about growing back from brokenness and finding love after a childhood spent longing for it.

The Journey to Motherhood in The Art of Waiting and The Rules Do Not Apply

Where are all the books about miscarriage and assisted reproduction, about experiencing the loss of something you never had to begin with?

The Secret History’s Fates, Allusions, and Tragedies

By making her first novel’s characters classicists, Donna Tartt lets us in on the trick: that this book is, in essence, a modern day Greek tragedy.

Civil War Christmas Traditions in Little Women

Christmas calls the sisters of Louisa May Alcott’s novel to reflect on their bonds with each other and their parents, and on the kinds of lives they want to lead.

Revisiting Joyce Maynard’s At Home in the World

This memoir of nineteen-year-old Maynard’s relationship with fifty-three-year-old JD Salinger is a nuanced exploration of power dynamics in a relationship, and an important #MeToo read.

The Small Tragedies of Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children

9/11 is the catalyst to launch the characters of Claire Messud’s 2006 novel from their delayed adolescence into the sobriety and cynicism of adulthood among New York’s intellectual elite.

The Narrative Messiness of Chronic Illness

Memoirs from Paul Kalanithi, Lucy Grealy, Jean-Dominique Bauby, and Porochista Khakpour teach us about turning the story of an ailing body into a work of art.