Ha Seong-nan’s Bluebeard’s First Wife

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Ha is invested not in the myth itself but in what it helps us see. In her hands, the fairy-tale works as a photo filter, bringing into clearer relief her actual subject: the horrors of daily contemporary life.

Fiction and Fault in the Age of Heroin

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I remember the books I brought to the sober home. I started talking to the other residents about them, even though I’d never opened them up. I would say this or that, something arbitrary or vague. It was intoxicating to displace myself, to wash myself with fictions I couldn’t

The Radical Grief of Obit

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The elegies in Victoria Chang’s new collection show us how grief radiates from a central loss inwardly toward self-examination, and outwardly toward collective grief.

The Musicality of Memory in The Hakawati

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Rabih Alamaddine’s 2008 novel unleashes music and sound to interrogate the deeply profound and sublime in the seemingly mundane and ordinary.

Truth and Memory in Speedboat and Sleepless Nights

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Renata Adler and Elizabeth Hardwick’s novels mine their author’s experience in order to present a kind of fictional truth that is separate from the mere external facts of their lives, even as they borrow and reincorporate some of those facts.

Lexicon Land

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Florida is in a constant state of post-apocalypse. Authors are not immune to this speculative affliction, and when they set their fantasies in Florida, the reinvention of language abounds.

The Garbage of Our Time

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A. R. Ammons's 1993 book-length poem, a meditation on excess and waste as the defining trait of our species, anticipated the worst conversations one wishes were avoidable: climate change and a non-hyperbolic global destruction.

William Gardner Smith’s International Solidarity Against Police Violence

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While there is much to improve in how we support each other at home and across the globe, Smith’s 1963 novel, which documents the 1961 police massacre of Algerian protestors in Paris, reminds us of the immense power in solidarity and our duty to rise up for justice and

A Carrier Bag Theory of Revolution

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In the bigger picture of the “life story,” there appear to be no fixed beginnings or endings—only changes.

Emma Cline’s Fairy Tale Gone Wrong

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To Cline’s Evie, a young girl whose parents are too preoccupied with their respective post-divorce transformations to truly see her and support her, leaving the mild, mind-numbing safety of her small-town and stepping onto a cult leader’s ranch is like stepping into a fairy tale world.