Personal Essays Archive

A Moment of Grace in Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find”

At its heart, like so many of Flannery O’Connor’s stories, "A Good Man is Hard to Find” is a story about error at the level of perception, about a confrontation with reality, and the grace that can enter a human heart when a person is stripped down to nothing.

Judaism in “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” and “Ask for a Convertible”

How does one raise a child to be culturally Jewish, to speak Hebrew and find meaning in the familial and ritualistic aspects of the holidays, without going to synagogue, fasting, or talking about Hashem? How can we explain to our son that he can be American but also Israeli?

Can Twitter Make Trauma Generic? And If So, What Should We Do About It?

Author: | Categories: Personal Essays No comments
As a writer, I've been thinking about the importance of our trauma—the needle-pushing trauma of the #MeToo movement, of the interrogation of "post-truth," of the existential crisis necessary for confronting something like climate change, or the stories beyond the body counts of the drug war in Mexico.

For the Love of Boys

Author: | Categories: Personal Essays No comments
I don’t pretend to understand Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts. The materials she has read, the level of her intellectual thinking, as well as the life she leads—and conveys in this memoir—are several levels of complexity and depth beyond what I can comfortably claim to know.

A Mother’s Work and Rachel Sherman’s Uneasy Street: the Anxieties of Affluence

Author: | Categories: Personal Essays No comments
Spending less time working and more time with our children was a choice that was entirely in our control. We realized that most people didn’t have a choice—they either went back to work quickly after their children were born or quit their jobs in favor of full-time parenthood.

Olive Kitteridge and My Mother

Author: | Categories: Personal Essays No comments
Each day after her husband's death, Olive Kitteridge runs down the clock until she can go to bed with the sun. She has her routine, but it feels purposeless. Olive made me wonder if the days felt like this to my mother after my father’s death.

The Mother of All Fears

Author: | Categories: Personal Essays No comments
This week, I reread Alexandra Kleeman’s short story “Choking Victim”. I had first read it when it was published in The New Yorker in May 2016, when I was spending most of my days at home with a mysterious newborn.

A Lot of Sorrow, A Lot of Faith

Author: | Categories: Personal Essays No comments
I round a dark alcove in the Reykjavík Art Museum to find twenty or so people gathered in a space the size of a hip basement venue. Before them is a screen on which The National plays.

“Fake Kate,” or What I Learned From the Internet

Author: | Categories: Personal Essays No comments
This storytelling imperative has become a cliché in advertising. From cars to throw pillows to the credit cards you buy them with, a wide range of consumer products now claims that it will help you to tell and/or become a part of your “unique story.”

Embracing My Identity as a Black Woman

Author: | Categories: Personal Essays No comments
When Performer Magazine prompted me to write about being a Black female music writer, I was apprehensive at first. But when that essay was published, I realized how inherently political my writing is—and how important it was for it to stay that way.