Recipient of a Pulitzer Prize for theater criticism, Hilton Als often writes about the intersections of performativity, popular culture, and reflection—that is, the ways art can and cannot reflect something resembling truth. I first found my way to his writing through his book White Girls.
If you listen to NPR, you might vaguely recognize Maureen Corrigan’s voice. Even and deliberate, it always has an elusive quality: Corrigan’s book review segments on Fresh Air, usually ranging from five to eight minutes, are self-contained things, and every word feels carefully chosen.
Carmen Maria Machado’s critical work reflects wide-ranging interests, and some of her most exciting writing takes place in reviews of fiction that resembles her own—literature that is speculative, scary, and queer.
I stumbled upon David Orr’s work through his piece “Why Is a Poet’s First Collection So Important?” published in the New York Times at the beginning of February. The Facebook preview of the piece featured pictures of poets Donika Kelly and Max Ritvo below that earnest headline.
For the young, left-leaning reader, there are plenty of smart literary voices online to choose from, but I often find myself gravitating toward Katy Waldman, a staff writer at Slate whose literary criticism offers some of the freshest takes on books that you are likely to find anywhere.
Bellot seems keenly interested in the power of stories, in the way that history is a story so frequently retold that it assumes the impunity of fact, and the way that time’s linearity—in social progress and our individual experiences—is sometimes as constructed as anything else.