Author Archive

Essence and Absolute: The Storytelling Power of Perfume

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When you start selling perfumes, you are in the business of selling stories. You must learn to be adept in all the tools a writer needs to do their work well. Scent is the most primal sense, the surest trigger of memory, of instinct.

Netflix’s ANNE Bridges the Divide Between Us and Our Childhood Dreams

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The ways in which Anne, the mercurial, earnest girl at the center of the story lived, learned, grew, and blundered her way through life resonated with me, a perennial outsider and dreamer, wounded by things that, like Anne’s cruel treatment at the hands of the Hammonds and the orphanage

Is it Time for a Response to Lolita?

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If that reality was so vital to Nabokov, if its silenced heart is what makes the novel so haunting, then there is space, surely, surely, for the real, breathing girl to speak properly.

Ethnographic Writing and Poetic Discipline

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One of the most important parts of my education, both as a writer and a human being, has been studying anthropology--and in particular, learning to write ethnographically.

What comes through the fence: reading Paul Celan after the US election

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There are so many traumas coming to the center of our political life now, and what I am attempting to say, through the hundred breakdowns of speech, is that there are places where language is undone. The horror of it is always there, lives in the breath and the

On Jess Walter’s “Beautiful Ruins”

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In that moment, with the strings swelling to crescendo in your mind as you read it, as Dee Moray the beautiful (but not too beautiful) American actress steps off the boat and onto the shore, Walter writes how Pasquale, the dreamer, fell in love “Not so much with the

When Dolores Haze Gets a Tumblr: Online “Nymphet” Culture and the Reclaiming of Lolita

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If we look at the wider socio-political context of Lolita blogs, in which the bodies of young girls are continually claimed, fetishized, vilified, it makes perfect sense that a young girl would relate to a character who has had the same done to her. I know I did. I

Reading Ondaatje in the Age of Trump

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In the age of Donald Trump, of Brexit, of a refugee crisis that is a key force governing international decisions -- nations, demarcations of identity, loyalty, apparent belonging are the lifeblood of political discourse. And I despise it. I want to reject it on a visceral level.

She was wearing —

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It had been a rough week, and there, there, perfect and waiting for me, was a short robe on the sale rack, tissue-thin, in a pale turquoise redolent of Cannes, or what I imagine Cannes to be like, with sleeves made to drape on a languid arm.