Author Archive

Birds and the Conjuring of Grief

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There is no better depiction of the way grief perches in the heart than recent books by Helen MacDonald and Max Porter.

The Alchemy of Science and Storytelling

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As a writer and botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer weaves lyric storytelling with science, gleaned from both Western institutions and the indigenous wisdom of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation to which she belongs.

Writing the Unknown in Memoir

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Novelists, Vladimir Nabokov once said, are “more fully at home on the surface of the present than in the ooze of the past.” Great memoirists, on the other hand, are not fully at home in the present until they navigate their way through this ooze.

The Story and the Overstory

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Works by Richard Powers and Paul Harding use innovative structures to communicate the messages at their heart.

More Than Lines in the Sand: Fifty Years of Desert Solitaire

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Fifty years ago, Edward Abbey could already see the trampling of industry on the fragile desert country he had grown to love during his time as a ranger in what is now Arches National Park.

Stories of Displacement

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The stories in a new anthology edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen speak not only of estrangements from languages, loved ones, and countries of origin, but also of the pain of being in a new place that is not always accepting.

A Life in Fragments

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I have been most moved by writing that tells a story in fragments, often ones that are weighted with emotion and significance to the life of the narrator. Only after each fragment has been picked up, polished, and assembled in place, jagged edge to jagged edge, does the meaning

Reimagining Immigration in a World of Portals

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I would argue that there is on one hand literature that allows readers to escape reality, and on the other hand literature that forces readers to see their reality more clearly. Mohsin Hamid has accomplished the latter in his imaginative novel published last year, Exit West, and it is

The Incantatory Effect of Repetition in Memoir

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Roxane Gay’s Hunger and Melissa Febos’s Abandon Me both deal with longing to be understood and fighting the instinct to try to disappear. Both also use repetition as a literary device to achieve a lyricism, rhythm, and resonance that build power.

Flickerings of an Innermost Flame: A Hundred Years of the Hogarth Press

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In a 1917 letter to a family friend, Virginia Woolf announced a new endeavor with her husband, Leonard: “We have bought our Press! We don’t know how to work it, but now I must find some young novelists or poets. Do you know any?”