Critical Essays Archive
The line between fairytale and other narrative modes is one between distance—emotional and temporal—and immediacy. Martin McDonagh’s 2003 work consistently plays across this line, retreating from and then suddenly foregrounding moments of visceral horror.
Although our culture’s relationship to fiction and truth has evolved, autofiction, a form of fictionalized biography, has been around as long as people have written books.
Madhuri Vijay’s debut novel uses the problematic traditional quest story to reveal how the intrusion of blind privilege can do real and lasting harm.
I’ve often wondered about the efficacy of my academic training. What good did it do? The definitive effect hasn’t been a breadth of ready knowledge but rather a facility for surprise and a capacity for shaped responses to texts I call “creative criticism.”
In Patricia Engel’s 2016 novel, a family, having been exiled from Cartagena, Colombia to the United States, is separated from their country by a vast gulf. But the ocean doesn’t just act as a barrier—it is also the scene of the traumatic event that the protagonist’s life revolves around.
Though Catherine Morland may be neither Austen’s cleverest nor her wisest heroine, the story of how her naiveté is transformed to discernment is no less compelling, showing that understanding others takes a combination of good faith and imagination, tempered by experience.
Even before he began to devote himself to painting, Van Gogh was gathering layers of experience that provided a way of seeing far beyond the inspiration works of painters he encountered provided him.
Rather than simply being connected by the rampant consumerism or the refuse of the Cold War that populates this novel, the characters of DeLillo’s 1997 novel are deeply connected by their emotional response to the beautiful.
Little Dog, the narrator of Ocean Vuong’s debut novel, learns to be strategic in his use of language as a means of self-preservation.
If one purpose of a frame story in a novel is to prime the reader to listen to what might be a long or meandering tale, what’s the purpose of a frame in a short story?