Reading Archive

The Food-Centered Story: The many faces of hunger

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Ten years ago Random House published a wonderful anthology of food writing, Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink. All essays, articles, and fiction featured in the book had earlier appeared in The New Yorker. I bought the book a couple of years after its publication

Wanda Coleman, Colin Kaepernick, and The Refusal to Prioritize Patriotism Over Blackness

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The gravitational pull of reading any of Wanda Coleman's work is as elusive as it is startlingly raw and cathartic—the unofficial poet laureate of Los Angeles has always teetered between nuance and nihilism, between and distraction and destruction.

Re-Reading the ’80s: NEUROMANCER by William Gibson

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The brilliance of Neuromancer and what won it every literary award available—the Nebula, the Philip K. Dick and the Hugo—is its breakneck storytelling, which combines high technology, a classic tale of corporate greed, war, revenge, and politics with some dazzling writing.

On Topophilia and a Complicated Love of Jim Harrison’s Fiction

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Topophilia, coined by W.H. Auden in 1947, means the love of place; a straightforward word to describe thoughts and feelings I have with regularity.

Shirley Jackson, Madeleine L’Engle, and Motherhood

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I read much of Shirley Jackson’s memoir of raising four children, Life Among the Savages (1952), on a weekend when I was caring for three children. For a brief stretch—maybe five pages—we achieved a fragile equilibrium and they were all attached to me as I read.

What women really want when women want imperialism: Kushner and Rushdie on Queen Isabella

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In November, after failing to allow a woman to steer our ship of state, watching Netflix’s The Crown seemed punishing. After Hillary Clinton’s close loss, I didn’t know if I could handle watching a woman preside over the United Kingdom. But I capitulated and found myself watching a young Elizabeth

The Weather We’re Having

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The calamity of weather disaster in literature offers more overt indications of those who are vulnerable and exposed. From Shakespeare’s encroaching storms to Richard Wright’s floods, from Zora Neale Hurston’s hurricane to Haruki Murakami’s quakes, we learn that we have to keep our eyes on the skies and our

Nothing Doing

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It might be the case that either our understanding of the brain or our grasp of the cosmos recapitulates the other, and it’s language that pushes us further into both—if we can bend, torque, and look behind it for what it’s concealing, we might discover how it’s holding us

Harm Was Done: Subversive Sympathy in Anakana Schofield’s MARTIN JOHN

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In Martin John, Anakana Schofield presents us with a sexual deviant hiding out in London having fled the West of Ireland. Where does this novel sit in relation to such works as Nabokov's Lolita and A.M. Homes' The End of Alice, and what role do such works serve?

S-TOWN and the “Daunting Exercise” of True Crime

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Less than forty-eight hours after Serial and This American Life released their new true crime podcast, I got a text message from a friend about it. “S-Town podcast. Listen immediately. All seven episodes.”