criticism Archive

The Readers: Gabrielle Bellot and Writing Beyond the Binary

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Bellot seems keenly interested in the power of stories, in the way that history is a story so frequently retold that it assumes the impunity of fact, and the way that time’s linearity—in social progress and our individual experiences—is sometimes as constructed as anything else.

Our Ladies of Perpetual Sorrow

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There’s something happening with the personal in writing, and Jason Guriel’s highly circulated Walrus essay “I Don’t Care About Your Life” wants to warn us about it. “I Don’t Care About Your Life” isn’t as polemical as it sounds. For one, its title doesn’t so much reveal Guriel’s hand,

Looking Otherwise

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We are one month post-“Formation.” In the wake of Beyoncé’s video release (/Super Bowl halftime performance/world tour announcement), a frenzy of reactions and reactions to reactions has proliferated. Only they’re not just reactions, they’re readings. On the immediate surface of the song’s lyrics, “Formation” is about being Black, and

A Writer Writer: The Writing That Counts

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In an episode of HBO’s Girls titled “Free Snacks,” aspiring writer Hannah Horvath lands a job producing “advertorial” content at GQ. Characteristically sharp and observant, she immediately brainstorms circles around her coworkers; at this rate, they suggest, she could really make a name for herself. But Hannah isn’t interested.

Harold Bloom’s Song of Self

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Here’s the story of my first and only encounter with Harold Bloom. It was the first week of a new semester, my last semester of graduate school, and I was waiting in a stuffy seminar room packed with sharply dressed undergraduates. The luckiest students had secured seats around the grand

When a Workshop Goes Bad (Part 2)

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Last week, I wrote about some bad experiences that I’ve had in writer’s workshops. Some of my past workshops fell apart because of: Tit-for-tat commenting: Writers exchanging immature cheap shots with each other. Generic commenting: Lazy comments that don’t help anyone in particular. Focusing on political issues: Arguments that