Personal Essays Archive

The Othering Power of Fatness

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Although Raymond Carver’s “Fat” was written several decades ago, fat people are still often limited to existing and being written as metaphor and spectacle—fatness is a trope, a qualifier, a literary device. Fat characters are fat first.

Edward Albee’s “The Teaching Emotion”

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Albee believed deeply in education. He thought theatre’s job was to teach us something, and he carried that mission into other aspects of his life, like his exacting presence as a director, his occasional stints as an instructor, and his foundation, which offers time, space, and quiet to artists.

The Lives of Women

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Mariateresa Di Lascia’s modern classic, which won the Strega Prize (the Italian equivalent of a Pulitzer)—but is only now forthcoming as an English translation—is incredibly pertinent to the way our society is grappling with how a woman’s life is often marked by an endless series of hidden indignities.

Fearing Exile, Like My Family Before Me

Three years ago, I was thrown out of a Trump rally. A friend got circled by police officers, stared at by supporters. He protested. I jumped in. As the police officers wrangled me, Trump said, I can’t believe in Louisiana it takes this long.”

Kinship and Trauma

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Those of us who experience trauma find it difficult to put our experience into words in the first place. Many of us flounder, sputter, or stay silent, at a loss for how to adequately translate our experience into language.

Unmooring

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Those who write about their mental illnesses—Jane Kenyon, Susanna Kaysen, Andrew Solomon, Kay Redfield Jamison, and Elizabeth Wurtzel to name a very small few—often struggle to reconcile their character with the disease that riddles them.

Children of Exile

Between December 1960 and October 1962, around fourteen-thousand unaccompanied children arrived in Miami from Cuba as part of Operation Pedro Pan; my father, migrated here on June 29, 1961.

The Ripples of History in Howl

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I left Hungary in 1981, and never questioned that freedom of speech has always been a feature of the West.

The Legend of The Princess Bride

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This year, I learned that the emotional background to William Goldman’s famous novel is fictional.

The Making of a Poetry Reader

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Reading John Donne’s “Air and Angels,” I came to know that if I listened to a poem, I would know it, even if I didn’t understand everything it said.