“I just went with my gut (and shut down my ego) and let the story tell itself”: An Interview with Mira Ptacin

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Mira Ptacin’s new book is an exploration of Spiritualism’s history and its place in the current landscape of American faith practices. It also shows us, through the personal story Ptacin includes, how Spiritualism can help those still living and grieving after a loved one has died.

Shadows of Love, Secrecy, and Ownership in Celestial Bodies

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Jokha Alharthi’s novel is the first book by an Arab author to win the Man Booker International Prize. In it, Alharthi crafts a stunning rumination on love, responsibility, feminism, and freedom, as well as the unavoidably sour ramifications of the accompanying disappointment and betrayal.

Shifting Perspective in Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red

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Carson’s novel is driven by unlatching being: her protagonist’s narration progresses from the self-absorption of childhood through adolescence and into the comparative wisdom of young adulthood. Carson shows this journey primarily through changes in the way that the outside world, and those who live in it, are observed.

Sadness, Metaphor, and Pedagogy in The Sword in the Stone

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In the first book of T. H. White’s Arthurian saga, published in 1938, a young Arthur feels restless and sulky. Arthur’s stepfather shoos him away to Merlyn’s study for advice and a little cheering up, and Merlyn tells his pupil, “The best thing for being sad is to learn

Italo Calvino and the Form of Outer Space

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When the distinction between form and content is difficult to perceive, it can become nearly impossible to articulate the relationship between these supposed opposites. This tangle of questions is not limited to the arts; the problem of form and matter is important to anyone who deals with questions of

“What is magic but a story with solid engineering?”

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Coming from a culture where audience participation was an integral part of communal life, the novel does not offer my parents, Lao refugees, an easy entry point. So I wrote in a way where nothing would be lost if they added their own spin to the story.

Truth and Lies in Elena Ferrante’s Incidental Inventions

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Over the course of Ferrante’s new essay collection, her commentary on the contingencies of telling both truth and lies shines new light on the relationship between narrative and the frightening reality she has elsewhere called the "frantumaglia."

Mindy Aloff’s Dance in America: A Reader’s Anthology

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The challenge of Aloff’s project stands not only in relation to the mass of written material to potentially engage, but in how to remain in keeping with the Library’s undertaking “to celebrate the words that have shaped America” when dealing with an artform that creates a world “where there

Reading Kiese Laymon’s Heavy: An American Memoir

When I read Laymon’s recent memoir, I had a visceral reaction. It reminded me why I started writing. It made me wonder if my writing reaches my peoples and keeps us revising and growing in our stories. If writing protects us from the silence of memories lost.

Uncanny Masculinities

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If someone were asked to discuss contemporary British masculinity, it is unlikely that they would begin with superstition and folklore, yet that is precisely the framing this topic receives in novels by Sarah Moss and John Burnside.