Reading Archive

In Land There is Life, In Life There is Literature

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As our world has become less personal, more reliant on screens and therefore removed from the natural world, a certain cohort finds itself being pulled toward nature. Consider the rise of urban farming, sustainable agriculture, and food co-operatives. People have looked to the past to find the kind of

Thomas Lux: An Appreciation

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When Thomas Lux died on February 5th, I thought a lot about what made his poems so resonant. Although there are numerous craft elements I could point to, it seems to me that their central quality is so often a large-heartedness that is difficult to describe, but unmistakable to

Sonya Huber’s PAIN WOMAN TAKES YOUR KEYS

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On the day I wrote this post, the Columbus Dispatch ran an oversized black and white banner above the fold reading: “Start Living Pain-Free Today.” We see messages like this every day in TV commercials, ads, and across the web, don’t we? Sonya Huber, however, makes the subject of

An Animating Strangeness

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I can’t resist impossibilities in fiction. Of course, a story’s fabulism is no guarantee I’m going to love that story in the end—but if a first line promises me a new world, I’m going to keep reading.

Tiny Stories: On Flash Fiction and Vignettes

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Flash fiction is normally defined as anywhere from five hundred to one thousand words. Within that relatively small range of words lies a huge gamut of what a flash fiction piece can entail. But is it possible for a writer to convey an entire story arc?

Seeking Amnesty in an Epidemic

Octavia Butler’s short story “Amnesty” is a tale in which an invasive species, called Communities, occupies desert areas on Earth and tests, uses, hires, and even “enfolds” (a sort of cocoon-like cuddle) humans for comfort and resources.

The Transformative Violence of Yakuza 0

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Violence in media has always been contentious. Violence is in everything, but there’s always a voice in the room trying to convince everyone of its corruptive force. This perspective tends to ignore how when we fictionalize violence, it stops being violence altogether, thematically changing itself into something that’s only

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.