Reading Archive

Mary Cantwell Lived There

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“Other wives, most wives...they had, it seemed to me, certain tools I would never possess, the marital equivalent of street smarts,” Mary Cantwell wrote. “What was their secret? What did they know?”
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Virginia Woolf and the Language of Trauma

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In reference to the sexual abuse Virginia Woolf endured by her half brothers, she once told her biographer Nigel Nicolson, “Nothing has really happened until it has been described.” This line stuck with me, especially after I’d been struggling with the words to tell the story of my rape.
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Enchanted Prose: Lyrical Language as Strength in the Mythic Novel

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Mythopoeia, the making of myth, is primarily considered a genre reserved for writers of high fantasy (Tolkien coined the term). But to restrict mythopoeia to fantasy alone—to think of mythopoeia as a genre rather than a technique—is a disadvantage to realist writers, who then miss out on the advantages
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Inherited Gender Roles in “The Makeover” by Janelle Greco

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In “The Makeover”, a piece of flash fiction published by Hobart, Janelle Greco captures the lives of three generations, exploring the way familial gender roles are passed on.
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The Meeting of Spiritual Forces in Louise Erdrich’s Poetry

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While Louise Erdrich’s fiction investigates the devastating impact that Catholic missionaries had on traditional Ojibwe practices, her poetry collection, Baptism of Desire, investigates a soul that exists in the hybrid space where the two spiritual forces meet.
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Narrative Structures of Diasporic Armenian Trauma

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Multigenerational narratives have become a natural route for Armenian diaspora writers; whereas, the average American consumer can likely approach stories about the Holocaust or Civil War with some prior knowledge, the Armenian genocide requires more grounding, both factual and emotional.
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Reading the Migrant Experience in Deepak Unnikrishnan’s Temporary People

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Throughout Temporary People, there is a strange, often violent shapeshifting between the human and not. Roaches become men, men become passports, tongues sever themselves from their bodies—what does it mean to be human when you’re not recognized as such? When you’ve left a part of yourself behind?
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A Moment of Grace in Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find”

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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.
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Virginia Woolf’s Pencil

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“No one perhaps has ever felt passionately towards a lead pencil,” begins Virginia Woolf’s essay “Street Haunting.” It is the idea of the pencil, and the prospect of its purchase, that sends her narrator wandering through the streets of London at dusk in winter.
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Umberto Eco and the Nature of Europe

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In the tradition of all good historical fiction, the past is a mirror to the problems and preoccupations facing its contemporary audience, and in the case of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, one of those problems is Europe. 
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