Reading Archive

Field Goals

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August in the U.S. means football. It suffocates bar-stool conversation, seeps into family gossip. The whole business is as inextricable from the American identity as Protestantism. Depending on how the sport touches you, I can’t help wondering how an institution so all-encompassing has managed to dodge the pages of

Orphaned and Adopted Characters Are More Than “Convenient”

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Dear non-orphaned and/or adopted authors, The orphaned and adopted would appreciate your consideration the next time you take away a character's family just because it's interesting. Sincerely, an adoptee.

Literary Meals & Cocktails for the Summer

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Maybe it’s because I’m always hungry, but meals have always been some of the most memorable scenes in books. I drink tea from a porcelain tea cup while reading Oscar Wilde, and crave fried okra or salt pork between readings of Faulkner and Harper Lee.

Cool Girls Don’t Wear Dresses: Being One of the Boys in Classic Children’s Books

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Seminal children’s books are littered with girls who are defiantly un-girly. Just a few of the many examples are Harriet the Spy, who wears a toolbelt stuffed with spy supplies and Pippi Longstocking, the rowdy orphan with the strength of Popeye.

The 2016 Presidential Election Was Predicted by a 1970’s Absurdist Novel

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A middle-aged white man steps onto the political stage in a fancy suit. He makes speeches that are simple and direct, low on facts but high on rousing rhetoric. He touts an inanimate object as the savior of the economy and a metaphor for the American way of life.

A True Fable

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“The orders were given from Stalin’s country house at Kunstevo” begins Nathan’s Englander’s perfect short story “The Twenty-seventh Man.” In it, Englander uses a combination of the horror of history and the beauty of fable to tell a story about the power of story itself.

Go West, Young Man: America and the Literature of Place

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All literature is, in a sense, the literature of place—for all literature takes place someplace, calls up a setting with all its specificity of look, taste, sound. To ask the essential question of literature—How do we live?—is also necessarily to ask: Where do we live?

Nothing More Punk Than Poetry: The DIY Lit Scene

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For years, the Breadline reading series brought together Seattle's writers, performers, and artists. I saw fiction writers and poets read there alongside stand-up comedians, pianists, graphic novelists, and rappers.

We Read Our Lives Wherever We Can

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What happens when you read to manifest, rather than escape, your preoccupations?

Reading in a Brown Body

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During my first week of college, at the University of Iowa, several of us students were playing cards in my dorm room, when, unrelated to the game or to the conversation, one of the other freshmen asked me, “What are you?”