Reading Archive

Insights into Celebrity Humanitarianism from Zadie Smith’s SWING TIME

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It’s not novel for celebrities to dip their toes into humanitarian waters. Actor Danny Kaye was named the first UNICEF ambassador-at-large in 1954, a full two decades before Angelina Jolie was even born. The trope of the well-meaning but clueless celebrity do-gooder is so entrenched that it’s become easy

Feminism and Tillie Olsen’s SILENCES

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Though Tillie Olsen published very little in her lifetime, her body of work had a great impact on the women’s movement of the 1960s and ‘70s. She was a champion of underrepresented writers. Olsen’s book, SILENCES, became a classic feminist text, and her works of fiction were met with

On Kindness and Barbarians

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Like many people, I’ve been thinking about the past few years a lot lately. Instead of looking at political events, I’ve been looking at stories and movies. Mostly I’ve been thinking about Wes Anderson and Stefan Zweig.

This is Normal: Reading Evil in the Everyday

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On Twitter, people keep saying this “isn’t normal.” In this story, the villain is an exception to the rule of normalcy. Maybe, I thought, that story is easier to tell than the real one.

Earing the Clink of Chisels: An Imperfect Love Letter to Reading Literary Magazines

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Every time I pause in front of a stack of lit mags at my house, I find myself flipping through one for a morsel. Gimme something good. I find myself re-reading things I’ve already read and feeling surprised by them again and again, as if the magazine keeps

The Readers: Katy Waldman and the Uses of Wit

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For the young, left-leaning reader, there are plenty of smart literary voices online to choose from, but I often find myself gravitating toward the work of Katy Waldman, a staff writer at Slate whose literary criticism offers some of the freshest takes on books that you are likely to

All the Lives I Marched For: Alana Massey’s Second Stories

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I learned I am a Winona in a world made for Gwyneths. From the onset, Massey probes how society shapes or punishes women based on how we talk about or dismiss them. She writes with as much empathy about the women we mock as she does the women we

The Psychopathic Gaze: Murder, Violence, and Misogyny in Natsuo Kirino’s Out

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Out is an exhausting but indispensable blood-and-guts novel that constructs real, complex, contradictory, and authentically credible female characters who transgress the social hierarchies of Japanese culture while also defying the sexist and stock stereotypes of women as helpless victims in both slasher and thriller genres.

The Current

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Lately I’ve been thinking more than usual, like a lot of us, I suspect, about the two stages I occupy at the same time, in each moment and with every decision: the personal and the political. My own small domestic stage has stretched.

On Being An Impostor: This Girl’s Life

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I should have graduated high school in the year 2000. I was young for my year and, as my mother put it, “immature.” Instead of plodding along through public school, I spent tenth grade begging my parents to allow me to apply to The Hill School...