Critical Essays Archive

Seeking Amnesty in an Epidemic

Octavia Butler’s short story “Amnesty” is a tale in which an invasive species, called Communities, occupies desert areas on Earth and tests, uses, hires, and even “enfolds” (a sort of cocoon-like cuddle) humans for comfort and resources.

Review: WRITING HARD STORIES by Melanie Brooks

Sharply written, these intimate and insightful exchanges dispel the myth that perhaps we all, writers or not, have come to believe about our own narratives, our own lives: “The worst story that we can tell ourselves is that we are alone.”

Author Worship

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The Canadian literary scene has been tumultuous lately, following Stephen Galloway’s dismissal from UBC following allegations of sexual assault.

From Manic to Magical: Reflections on Bruce Chatwin

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It took me less than five minutes via Google Maps to find where English travel writer Bruce Chatwin had lived during his time Edinburgh.

First Women in American Literature

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If you’re anything like me (and lucky for you if you’re not) then you’ve spent most of the last week wallowing your way from one shot glass to another and brushing your teeth with the cuff of your old college sweatshirt.

Bombing the Subway

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The subway has always been the great equalizer of New York City: it’s how the 99% of us get around. The best people-watching happens here, and the city’s art and culture scene extends deep underground.

The Artist’s Statement—How Visual Artists Find and Use Voice

Voice is an intangible but discernible sensibility that threads through and ties together a body of work. It can be loud or quiet, but we always feel it.

On Movement: the Writer as Walker

Many writers have explored the pleasures of walking, including the likes of Virginia Woolf and Amy Hempel. There is a whole canon that depicts and analyzes the connection between moving through geographical terrains and mental ones.

Serial, Timelines, and Fiction

In "Route Talk," an episode from the first season of Serial, Sarah Koenig and her producer attempt to recreate the state’s timeline of the murder of Hae Min Lee. As I listened, I was struck by how similar their exercise was to one creative writers perform.

Character & Setting; Figure & Background: A Painters Advice to Writers

Character and setting, figure and background. In literature and in art, they should work together to bring a concise picture into view.