The Hills Reply by Tarjei Vesaas

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Vesaas’s language is rich and thickening, replete with extended metaphors that are visionary, haunting, and half-mad, recalling the ebullient, runaway brushwork of Van Gogh.

“I am a wanderer”: An Interview with Susan Straight

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Straight’s new memoir is part family history, part memoir, part love letter to her daughters, part US history, part reading list, and partly a discussion of the amorphous concept of the heroine’s journey. Like its author, the book is never one thing; it rests on opposite ends of various

Reading Know My Name and Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl

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New memoirs by Chanel Miller and Jeannie Vanasco are about their rapes, but also about what it means to move through this world in a woman’s body. What has happened to Miller’s body and to Vanasco’s body connects them with millions of women globally and across time.

Tess Fragoulis on The Goodtime Girl

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Fragoulis roots her 2012 novel in the Greco-Turkish blues, including lyrics of well-known rebetiko songs that she has translated to transport the reader into the world of Kivelli—who, like many of her fellow refugees, pours herself into music to forget the trauma of losing everything she has known.

Vignettes of Miscommunication

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Works by Lydia Davis and Philip Larkin capture a disjoint between individual and community, or individual and environment. Both suggest that speech doesn’t disappear or break down entirely when there’s such a disconnect. Instead, it just becomes difficult to access positive, generous, and honest speech.

What it Means to Be

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In her skin-piercing style, Sharon Olds demonstrates that legitimacy doesn’t always come from support and encouragement. Proof of existence, of value, can sometimes come from the darkest places.

The Longitudinal View of Rebecca Solnit

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Solnit’s approach has reflexivity built into it—a tendency to return to the past and to think through the same event multiple times in light of our current moment. Far from feeling repetitive, then, her most recent collection offers readers nuanced takes on old issues.

Shape and Space in the Revolutionary City, Personified

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In this historic moment of upheaval, Ahdaf Soueif’s memoir of Egypt’s 2011 revolution inspires and reminds us that cities will always belong to their people; as long as Cairo exists, its people will push forward.

Wuthering Heights and Language Play

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What if Emily Brontë’s achievement in her only novel is really its dramatic correlation to her own passage from child actor to adult novelist, serving as a natural extension of her language play, and espousing play as necessary work?

All My Cats by Bohumil Hrabal

Vulnerable and wise, Hrabal’s gorgeous memoir subtly probes the depths of a fragile, troubled psyche, turning a subject as potentially benign as pet ownership into a platform of interlocking drama and introspection.