Writing Trauma: Notes of Transcendence, #2–The Book as Companion

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Examining painful truths, I left behind the stories. I developed an aversion to reading. When I picked up a book, it was as if my brain closed a door. How could I, a writer and an English professor, no longer have a desire to read?

Review: INHERITED DISORDERS: STORIES, PARABLES, & PROBLEMS by Adam Ehrlich Sachs

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The shorts are wide-ranging. Some are heartbreaking in less than 500 words; others are unexpectedly hilarious whether outright or with a darker flavor to their humor. Disorders is a contemporary stable of parables not only about fathers and sons, but about the everyday struggle to live one’s life in

3 Chapbook Reviews: Own Your Past, Believe The Present, Anticipate the Future

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For August, I read three chapbooks that dealt with ideas of past, present, and future in both overlapping and contrasting ways. They also each somehow dealt with ideas of spaces that became place for the writers, though sometimes these places were more about time than physical geography.

The Best Essay I Read This Month: “Atlas Aggregated” by Walter Kirn

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LitHub recently introduced a feature called “Book Marks,” which it describes as “‘Rotten Tomatoes’ for books.” Under the Book Marks grading system, a novel could receive an ‘A’ (Totally Positive), or a ‘B’ (Mostly Positive), or so on and so forth. This obviously raises some questions.

The Inaugural Poem under a Trump Presidency: An Adynaton

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If Mr. Trump were to win the November election, all sorts of interesting questions arise: Would he ask someone to write and read an inaugural poem? Would the writer have to get the poem cleared by Trump? Most interesting of all, though: would the poet accept the invitation?

Writ in Water: Millimeters to the End of the World

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How do you write about the end of the world? Or avoiding the apocalypse? The drying up of our water or our adaptation to living with less? How do you imagine—and make real—global superstorms and cities swallowed by the sea and the hottest summers on record?

On Music and Story

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I had a professor in college who maintained that writers write about artists in other disciplines—painters, musicians, sculptors, etc.—when they want to write about writers without actually writing about writers. There’s probably something to this.

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.

A Sound Picture of Place: Baltimore

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In the days after the police killing of Tamir Rice, I came across the writing of Stacia Brown (including her essay For Tamir, Who Was Stolen). Her writing on Black motherhood drew in this young reader who rarely clicked on links about motherhood.

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?