Reading Archive

Showing Up; or, Passing “Thirty Under Thirty” Eligibility

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In Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer had tapped into that well of invisible truth, while I—an aspiring writer struggling to sit my ass long enough in a chair to produce anything at all—could only hope to scratch the surface.

Flora and the Passage of Time

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From Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus, the temporality and fragility of flowers provide extensive ground for cultivating figurative meanings.

On Being Keepers: Heidi Julavits and Sarah Manguso’s Diaries

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Diaries offer writers, particularly women who historically have not had a public voice, space to reflect on and process their lives as they happen, as well as space to record the daily routines that compose a life.

Poetic Counterpoints: Emmanuelle Guattari’s I, Little Asylum

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In I, Little Asylum, Emmanuelle Guattari reflects on her childhood at La Borde, an experimental psychiatric clinic founded in 1951 in the Loire Valley, France. Are the textures of this novel cum memoir particular to its setting? Can we detect in the book’s rhythm and style anything that directly

Learning to Love the Long Poem

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I’ve been wired since girlhood, by factors ranging from my Catholic upbringing to low self-esteem, to shrink, to make myself smaller, to avoid bringing attention to myself. Perhaps my comfort with small poems has underpinnings I should interrogate.

Lines from Limbo

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When I began to make a concerted effort to study Irish in college, I could not help but feel at times that the process was less one of starting from zero than of anamnesis, the slow recollection of a dormant inborn knowledge.

Nightmares by the Border in The Line Becomes a River

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In the desert, by the border, Francisco Cantú dreams of wolves. They are strange, menacing figures whose appearances portend a message he can’t quite figure out. Are they stalking him, the way he and the rest of the Border Patrol trail Mexican migrants through the Sonoran desert? Are they

The Classism of Dental Work in Erin McGraw’s Short Story “Teeth”

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There are many ways in which teeth can also set people apart. In the short story “Teeth” from the January/February issue of Kenyon Review Online, Erin McGraw explores classism and the power of wealth through the symbol of teeth.

Toxic Friends and the Limits of Intimacy in Lauren Groff’s “Blythe”

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By providing characterizations that transcend the limits of traditional intimacy Groff creates a spectrum of dysfunction. Without boundaries, love becomes poisonous. Its removal is painful.

Time and Narrative Structure in Gina Berriault’s “The Infinite Passion of Expectation”

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The first time I read Gina Berriault’s story “The Infinite Passion of Expectation,” I experienced it as an inundation. The plot is strange but simple: a young waitress goes on frequent walks with an eccentric, aging psychologist, who eventually asks her to marry him—she’s unsure. The psychologist lives an