Personal Essays Archive

The Distance of Home

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By leaving China, I demonstrated my freedom of choice and a quest for knowledge. Yet physical detachment only heightened my yearning for an emotional homecoming. In the decade since I first boarded a plane to the U.S., distance has lent me both a sharp lens and a soft gaze

On the Confederate Flag

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I’m driving in silence on State Highway 70, except for this truck that is motoring slow, and its exhaust pipe chokes like the engine is cutting off. The truck bed is rusted, exposing the primer. Still visible, though the paint is chipped, is the red, white, and blue star-crossed

I Will Always Be That

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Throughout transition, I’ve often thought of my body as a poem––one whose semantics is a web of social relations I can’t quite parse, that no one can fully parse. More than a “receptacle,” my trans body necessarily relies on the creation of new subjective semantics.

The Power of Reading About Your Home

Jaquira Díaz’s 2019 memoir resonated deeply with me in a way that a bronzed Al Pacino never could, and that a book never had.

Ray Bradbury, Literary Godfather

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Once or twice, if we're lucky, we may come across a writer who changes our lives. For me, the greatest discovery of my reading life, and the biggest influence on my writing life, was a box of fantasy and science fiction books my father left behind when he moved

Jewtopia

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As she got older, anytime someone was thinking of leaving town, my grandmother would implore them to stay, reciting the refrain that has now become a family catchphrase: “Don’t go no place,” she’d say. Family is the place. Nobody understands this interpretation of the utopian ideal better than immigrant

The Canonization of John Kennedy Toole

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We’ve spent so much time discussing Ignatius Reilly: his multi-dimensional, timeless creation, but have ignored saying the obvious about John Kennedy Toole—that much of the Dunces mythos is built on the back of his suicide.

Contemplating Infinity

Hilary Leichter’s debut novel is a shifting, surrealist tale of a young woman’s search for permanent employment that deftly captures the anguish of living inside such existential uncertainty, and more terrifying, the potential infinity of it.

Writing a Home for All My Ghosts

A home doesn’t feel like a home when there are structures built to immortalize those who dehumanized entire populaces. But it feels a little more like home when we’re marching, when we fill spaces with our bodies, our friends, our loves, our strangers, shouting out the names of the

The Shape of Nations

One cannot simply outgrow or outlive a colonial, racist history. In order for the system to change, we need to stare at it and acknowledge it for what it is.